I can't keep them, no.
Though I sure WISH I could - especially the brave one.
The brave one understood that I meant easy food the quickest. The first time I fed them I was stupid. I used my fingers, thinking hey it would bring my scent closer. They were SO scared of me, but SO hungry that their hunger flat out overrode their fear.
The timid one was actually the first one to eat from my hand, evidently he was the hungriest. Which now that I've been observing them I understand, the brave one gets the MOST food, because he's feisty and will stake a claim and fight for it, while the timid one takes more of a backseat, and thus eats less and over time gets far hungrier than the brave one.
So he ate from my hand first. Then the brave one saw it, and then HE took some food from my hand. And then, he decided he REALLY liked it, and I watched him slowly open his mouth, and so slowly bite down... and then watched his tiny little teeth poke INTO my flipping finger as he tried to GRAB my finger with the food and RUN off to eat it!
OMG it hurt SO bad! And I even KNEW better than to feed a wild animal from my hand.
So then I had a small rabies scare. LOL. Lovely huh? But it's been longer than 10 days and he's fine, so I should be fine too. But oh yeah it bothered me, especially since we first saw this family we saw THREE kittens and haven't seen the third after the second time we saw them all. So evidently that kitten didn't make it.
And we have a TON of squirrels, so that they could carry rabies I guess. Along with all the other junk they carry.
But yeah, after a few weeks of freezing in the cold while feeding them from a spoon I decided I wanted to feed them in the house so I could be warmer and then maybe they'd see how NICE it was to eat inside where it wasn't raining or cold (well it's still cold as we don't have heaters except in the back rooms .. but it's still LESS cold than outside) and get used to the smells and sounds and the way houses work (like drawers and cupboards, etc.
The brave one has been eating in the kitchen for a while now. It's old hat for him. In fact EVERY time we open our back door now, he comes a running. And if we don't have food, he gets pissy and starts mewing for it and running around our feet. He is QUITE sure it is his due. lol. He will climb up on my leg and eat from the can of food f I am too slow spooning it out.
We can pet him and even hold him. He will actually come to us FOR petting and rub against us once he's inside and used to us. He still shys a tad when we stretch out a hand to pet him, but loves a good scratching and has an AWESOME purr - VERY loud and throaty. He is also fascinated by TV. lol. We've gotten him to play with us too. He will climb over both of us after he's been inside for a while. Has NO fear once he's gotten used to something. Even makes a huge show as he passes our puppy in his crate , so funny.
The timid one is only in the last couple of days running right into the house. Before it would take 20-45 minutes of watching the brave one eating before he got brave and then he'd sneak a piece off the spoon and run a bit off to eat it and come back. However the last few days ... he's RIGHT there. They are now doing this meerkat thing that cracks us up. As I'm preparing a spoonful they will sit up on their hind legs trying to be the first to get the spoon, and they will GRAB the spoon with their paws and drag it to their mouths to eat. Or just grab the food with their paws like a hamster and eat it. Cracks me up.
Now if I shuffle my feet (which I do the entire time so they get used to sudden noises and movement from humans while eating so they can associate that with a good thing (food) and no harm happening (they get to keep eating and nothing actually threatens or touches them) the timid one WILL bolt a little. And sometimes right out the door. But it comes back quicker and quicker each time. I HAVE managed to get in some pets and even picked the timid one up a few times. My general rule though - with ANY animal - is that you get them to trust being in your arms and wanting your touch enough to come and get it on their own by allowing THEM to dictate the time spent.
In other words, you sort of force the issue a few times - just so they see that being there isn't a BAD thing. But as SOON as they make ANY indication that they want to leave, you put them down. he goal is that YOU put them on the ground BEFORE they try to escape. This reinforces the concept that being in your arms isn't a trapped thing. That at ANY time they can leave.
So they might try to jump as their first indication, but so I grab them as they vault off and then swiftly bring them to the floor, sort of allowing them to "spill" out of my hands, and then give a quick pet down their back and up their tail (if they have one) and then just leave them alone.
So both kittens have had that so far. But the timid one ... will take more time. I could already have the brave one - but I'm using him to bring our scent to their nest. Since he will roll on us and let us pet and scratch him and come into all parts of our house with us ... I want him to show the timid one and maybe even the momma that we are safe.
Momma kitty still is nervous. There was a huge commotion though a few weeks back when the neighbors were moving stuff, and the upstairs neighbors had their truck in our back yard uploading stuff, while we were feeding the kittens. At the time she would only look at us from the other side of the fence, she wouldn't come out for her share until we left. She decided that WE were safer than the neighbors - even with the truck in the backyard and the upstairs neighbors moving stuff around and actually came onto OUR side of the fence!
She will watch us with her babies. Last week, I think she came into the kitchen and stole a can of the cat food and took it outside to eat cuz all a sudden there was a can gone and we found it later outside.
Then a few days ago, I started trying to shut the kitchen door. Cuz it's flipping COLD and since we don't have a heater for the house, it takes HOURS to regain some level of warmth after we feed the kittens. And because I wanted to see how they handled no escape route and I wanted to force the timid one a little more to seeing us.
So I have this old crate that our puppy outgrew. Too small really for both kittens and a litterbox and a bed, but still. So I got the timid one into the cage at one point. And it wasn't happy. So I started having doubts. Started worrying that I'd pushed TOO hard too fast. That maybe this was just too much too soon for that one. And then I got worried that if that was true maybe if I let it out it would never come back. But in the end, I let him go.
But the kittens had been mewing at the door demanding to be let out for like ... an hour or so and so I thought well let's teach them that being inside is safe and doesn't mean they have to escape. Like the arms thing only with the house, right? Well it didn't occur to me that momma had been HEARING her babies and that maybe she was on the other side! So anyway I let them out and then tried coaxing them back inside. The brave one was in - no problem, he LIKES being warm and inside LOL.
But the timid one, would come in and just BAIL. So I decided to hide behind the door so I could close it. And so all a sudden I see his head scoping it all out and he's stepping towards the food away from the door, and then I see ANOTHER head and I think OMG! It's the OTHER kitten! It's still alive oh yay!!! But no, it's not! It's MOMMA!! IN MY KITCHEN! Like INCHES away from my feet! And she has NO clue that I'm RIGHT behind her! So I sort of make soem gentle noises to alert her that I'm there so she's not scared and she freezes. So I start to move away soooooooo slowly and of course she splits, but still. She come in I could have had her, and then I moved away so that HAS to be good, right?
And then last NIGHT - she came in to EAT. Right in the MIDDLE of the kitchen!! And sniffed the little litterbox that was for the kittens that my adult cat has been using, lol. I figured well it might show them what it's meant for lol.
So I laid down on the floor in the other room and she stopped and then started eating again. So that is VERY good I think.
I would be worried about my cat and dog, but both of my pets are fully vaccinated and as the vet pointed out, if they are in my yard, they are ALREADY in contact with my indoor/outdoor cat and my puppy so any diseases they might have would already be spread. So the real issue is getting them fixed and their shots and de-wormed - cuz they HAVE to be chock full of roundworms.
But yeah ... they are pretty and just something about the momma screams stray cat to me. That she used to be an indoor kitty. Will be interesting to see if she has a chip - maybe she got lost and someone has been missing her and looking for her! Her babies are another story though ... they need help for just themselves.