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advice on approach to an abandoned/ferral kitten

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Apologies if this has been asked many times but I am looking for some advice on taming a stray kitten.

My boyfriend lives on a farm and last thursday we noticed a kitten (we think 5+ months old) wondering around. We think has been abandoned along the road and found its way onto the farm - there haven't been any cats around for a good few months. On Saturday it came looking round the house, I left the back door open and when I came out to close it the cat was standing in the hall but when it saw me it ran off.

Since then we've been leaving some milk out on the door step and in the hay shed where it seems to sleep at night. we've seen it drinking the milk but when we approach it runs off a bit and stands and looks at us.

So basically my question is - we'd like to take it in and look after it. how would you recommend going about gaining its trust. would you keep feeding it and trying to get closer or would you trap it? is there much hope of taming an older kitten - alot of the things I read say it's v difficult after 8 weeks.

I should say - we've already made enquiries about getting it spayed/neutered if we catch it!

thank you in advance of your help!
post #2 of 5
I have been taming a stray for about 9 months, first it was food put by my door, then I would put out food but stand about ten feet away, moving a little closer, that took a few weeks, now we can pet her but still can't pick her up, she does venture inside to say hello, but it takes a long time and a lot of patience, but they do come around , just keep feeding him, you meet his needs and he will rely on you.
post #3 of 5
That is wonderful of you to take this on!!

I would trap it and take it to the vet for exam, frontline application, possible de-worming, shots and spay/neuter. Then when you come home do not let it back out- work with it inside.

You will need to confine the kitten to a very small room with a hidey hole under a box or in a closet. Contrary to what you would think, once you take them inside for purposes of socializing, they are more comfy in a very small space and will stay that way for a while.

Here is a link about socializing a feral kitty. There are lots of guidelines on the internet if you just type in "socializing a feral kitten" on google.


Also even though it likes the milk, cats do not tolerate milk well and it gives them diarrhea. So you would want to give it cat food or something other than milk when you trap it. Most people recommend tuna since cats love that.
post #4 of 5
Thank you for wanting to rescue this kitty!

Older ferals can be socialized, it just takes a little longer. This kitty, however, must be a former pet (at some point) or it would never have come into your home, so socializing this kitty will be a little easier than socializing a true feral.

Barb is right. If you want to rescue this kitty as a pet, the very best way to do it is to trap it. Put cat food out at a regular hour every day and leave it out for 1 - 2 hours. Do not approach kitty. When you're ready, put the trap down where you've been putting the food, and put a very stinky food in the trap. If you borrow a trap, clean it thoroughly before putting it out so it doesn't smell like other cats' fear. Good stinky food that works almost all the time are KFC (no skin, no bones) or herring (no sauce) or Tuna (not in the can).

Have your car ready to go - have a thick plastic liner covering the seat where the trap will go (kitty will be terrified and will likely eliminate from potentially all of its orificies). Have a light blanket to throw over the trap, and leave windows open on the way to the vet.

To be really prepared for kitty, have a room prepared. Put water and food down on one side of the room. Have hidey places ready for kitty (boxes on their sides are great). Put a litter box down on the other side of the room. Have a few toys out. To really help, if you can afford it, Feliway is great (it is a hormone that mimics the "friendly" marker in cats' cheeks) - spray it around liberally (directions are on the bottle).

Kitty will be absolutely terrified. Here's another good article on socializing feral cats: http://straypetadvocacy.org/html/soc...feral_cat.html

The very best thing you can do to socialize kitty the most quickly is to spend as much room as possible - ignoring kitty. Let kitty get used to her new space, the new sounds, the new smells, the new people. Remember that the people she has experienced are people who abandoned her - so she doesn't really know yet that people are "good," and she doesn't know what love is - and she doesn't know love is good.

Read, sing, work on a laptop, iron - whatever. Regular times in the room help. Schedules help. Tap on the door lightly before entering - let her know you're coming. The most important thing is to let her know - by ignoring her - that you don't want anything from her. You simply want to provide for her needs and when she's ready - not when you're ready - you're there for her to investigate.

Keep the light level in the room low, though if there's a window she can look out of, that might be nice.

But let her hide, let her be scared, and let her come around in her own time, and the bond of trust that you will form with her will be like nothing you've ever experienced before.

Cats learn by association, and there are things you can do to help her associate you with good things. Get an old t-shirt really sweaty. Put it under her food dish. If you have another one you can spare, put treats out on it for her at the same time every day (you don't have to stay in the room while she eats them).

As she becomes more comfortable in the space and if she stops hiding in your presence, try playing with an interactive toy - like a wand toy. But NEVER leave wand toys out where she can get at them (feral cats or cats that have reverted to feral behavior tend to like to chew on string - and it can get twisted around their intestines if they ingest it).

To find a trap you can borrow, call around to local vets. It sounds like you're in a rural area, and they usually have traps to lend. Otherwise, you'll have to try local groups - sometimes they charge "rent" for the trap. But you can look up local groups here:

...and spend a little time searching threads in this forum. There are other great tips. In fact, this "stickied" thread is long, but full of fabulous information: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11395

...and Barb is also right about the milk. Everyone associates cats with milk - but most adult cats are lactose intolerant. Milk is a wonderful treat - if it is kitty milk, which most pet stores sell.

Please keep us posted, and feel free to ask any questions along the way!

post #5 of 5
Sorry - one last thing. It is very important to be able to trap kitty when you can take him/her directly to the vet. She's probably got fleas, maybe ticks, and almost definitely internal parasites. She'll need to be de-flead, de-ticked, and she will need meds for internal parasites. You will have to administer these in about three weeks after the initial treatment.

And if you want to search for low-cost spay/neuter services, just click on the picture in my signature line.

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