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Feral kittens in Ireland - rescued last night

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
I have spent the morning reading through this thread (and many other feral kitten threads) and just wanted to put my situation out there for advice (and encouragement!). I know a lot of this is touched on in other threads, and I am really, really grateful for everything on here, but I am feeling a bit scared (didn't sleep a wink last night - up worrying about the kittens!) and just wanted to see if this is all viable - I already love these kittens very much, so I want to make sure I do all I can to make it work!

About four months ago, my husband saw a group of kittens hanging outside our house. They were tiny and really skittish. They would run if we got within 20 feet of them! They would only come out at night, of course, but one night, we left a little bit of food out for them. The four of them (and their momma) yummed it up. So, we kept leaving food out for them, and after a few weeks, we started opening our front door and leaving food just inside the house. Soon enough, they figured out what was going on and as long as we were well in the house (but where they could still see us), all four of them would come in and happily eat.

Then, suddenly, there were only three. I am a huge animal lover and this just broke my heart. I kept hoping the other one would show up, but I fear the worst. So, the husband and I decided we needed to try and make an effort to home the three remaining kittens. Unfortunately, Christmas came and we had to travel back to the US (where I am from), so the socialisation process really couldn't start until after that. When we got back, though, they remembered us and were as 'friendly' as they had ever been.

About a month ago, they started coming in for long periods of time. They would come in for a feed around 6pm and then just go up to our bedroom and sleep in there (usually under the bed, but sometimes in other places). At first, they hated it if we even entered the same room, but now they happily hang out under the bed while we are in our bedroom chatting. They regularly stay in the house until it is time for us to go to bed. We worked out a system with them - they just go to the door when the want to be let out (one has started mewing - either when he is hungry or when he wants to leave). We named them, of course, and they seem to respond when I call to them.

Then last night, it was really cold here. We got home after a night out and they came storming in, so we decided to start the socialisation process last night. The first night went fine! No mewing, no clawing at the doors - nothing. They explored a bit (the sound of them knocking over a picture frame got me up!). They ate some breakfast and now are sleeping under our bed (I have our radio on quietly and whenever I go upstairs, I speak in a gentle voice).

We have been trying to figure out how we should go about doing all this - they are probably about 18-20 weeks old right now (not really kittens, but still very small), so I know that they are bit past the optimal age, but we have been working with them for well over 3 months. They seem to be in very good condition (we are going to get the final word from the vet, obviously!) - fat, clear-eyed, good coats, quite playful. And, even though they are feral, they have never, ever lashed out at us - no hissing, no clawing - nothing. We have occasionally managed to pet each of them (but, of course, when they realise we are touching them they back off), but their normal reaction when we get near them is to just kind of creep off. They don't seem particularly aggressive and are fine for us to sit with them while they eat. They trust us and have long relied on us to let them in the house and to feed them, so they seem like they might be good candidates for us to adopt, but I wanted to see what others thought - I guess I am a bit worried because they are a bit old. We are going to take them to the vet and get them checked out/spayed ASAP. We would do the same for the momma but we haven't seen her around lately.

Thanks in advance - this is my first time trying to adopt/socialise ferals so it all seems a bit daunting right now!
post #2 of 92
I really don't have much experience with a siltation like yours, but I love Ireland and the title of this thread caught my eye.

I know the norm in Ireland and the UK is cats are allowed out, but I wonder if it would be easier to tame them if they weren't allowed out? It seems to me that all your hard work could come undone if they are allowed back out into a feral environment. It sounds like you have made great progress so far! Good luck!
post #3 of 92
Thread Starter 
My husband (who is British) has agreed that they should be indoor cats. What we were effectively doing, I guess was having them be 'outdoor' cats. They came to us for food and a warm place to sleep for a few hours - the only difference is now we aren't letting them out again!

Twenty-four hours in and everything seems to be going smoothly! I am not trying to rush things. I stayed home today and spent some time in the bedroom - just doing my normal sewing activities. They pretty much stayed under the bed, but came out quite a few times and just sat in the room with me. I brought them their food and introduced them to the litter tray - and that has since been used by all three! I don't know why, but that really excited me - when the husband came home I proudly announced their progress. I spent some time playing with them - one of them took the toy off my lap and one of the others just sat and watched (the other was more interested in sleeping...). It is very exciting - there has been no mewing or demands otherwise to go outside. We will see how tonight goes.
post #4 of 92
Although I am not an expert (my only experience with ferals is the two male kittens we got when they were ~5 weeks old and are now 8 months old). I think you're doing pretty well... Maybe get an interactive toy for them to play with (feather on a string/rod, etc.) so that they start to really associate you with FUN. Also try feeding them treats, or extra-yummy wet food from a spoon or moving it closer to you each day.

Other than that, what sex are they? At that age you should start really thinking about getting them altered, as they will start spraying and going into heat soon and the last thing you want is more kittens. Although some vets say 5 months, we got ours done sooner and our vet said that when they hit 2lbs it is safe.

If you do want to wait until they are 5-6 months old, you will need to seperate the sexes and pray that they don't start spraying.

post #5 of 92

I think what you and your hubby are doing is fabulous. Of course.

All six of our kitties are feral rescues, and they were rescued from ages 10 weeks to almost 1 year old - though he knew us as a kitten outside, and he didn't ever complain about being brought inside full time - and never tries to get out.

What you are doing is perfect. Keep them confined to the bedroom for now. Cats are very territorial, so when socializing it's best to have a defined space they can make their own - and the bedroom is perfect. Couldn't have picked a better room - because sleeping people are the ultimate non-threat, and it will help them a lot.

Just quickly - they're at the age where they're likely teething, and they need appropriate stuff to chew on. If you can get them bendy straws - or even straight straws - we've found those to be the best things. Do not EVER use hands or feet as toys - this is a message you do NOT want them to learn.

In socializing, the goal is to gain the trust of the cats. These are feral kittens, and they know you mean food. As yet, they don't really know what play is, or that love is good - cats are SO not dogs! They WILL come to love you - but the first lesson they need to learn is that you want absolutely nothing from them. When they've learned that, they'll get that you mean love and fun and food, health and safety - but the first most important lesson is that you are there to provide them with food, clean water, and to clean their litter boxes. With three kittens, it may seem a lot for your bedroom - but I would have three boxes. They don't need to be too large because the kittens are still small, but it's safer for your bed and clothes and floor to have three.

Because they already know you, they'll probably come around fairly quickly. But sitting in there sewing, reading - reading out loud, singing, watching TV, folding laundry - whatever it is - just being in there helps them get used to you. And not focusing on them is really important.

Do not look them in the eyes - to cats this is a sign of aggression. Look at them on the forehead, or over the top of the head.

Get down at their level as much as possible. Sitting on the floor sewing, reading out loud, whatever. And if they come out, not moving - and certainly not reaching out towards them - also really helps build that trust factor.

Patience is the key ingredient - turn your clock off. And if you NEED to pet - grab a stuffed toy and love on it!

Especially for ferals, it is important to not leave any kind of toys with string out - make sure you put your sewing away. Ferals LOVE to chew on stuff like that (attracts them like mouse tails). But it is good to put toys out - just make sure you rotate them every week or so. They, especially, tend to get bored having the same toys around all the time.

Food is your friend. It's probably best to let them free feed - they should self-regulate. But get a couple of t-shirts really good and sweaty. Put one under the food dish. Leave treats out for them on another before you go to sleep. This will help them come to associate you with good things. You can also entice them with other treats. Boiled chicken (boiled with nothing but the water) - and the broth- are fabulous treats. Same with plain meat baby food - make sure it has no garlic or onion powder added because those are dangerous to cats. But when they're feeling a little more comfortable in the room, holding out baby food on a spoon can be a helpful tool.

But mostly - it's just time and patience. Wand toys (interactive toys - sometimes a laser toy) can be good tools too.

But most importantly - not reaching out at them, waiting for them to come to you - pays off. Waiting for them to make that first head-bump (if you haven't had a cat before, don't worry - you'll know a head-bump when you get it) is something I REALLY recommend before making the first move to reach out to them. The one cat we did this with is THE most loving kitty we have. Now that they're five, the rest love pets and purr and knead when we pet them - but if we'd waited that extra month or two to wait for them to tell us they WANTED the attention like we did with the one kitty (the head-bump), I'm pretty sure the rest would have been big lovers like he is long before they were.

But being at their level helps. Yawning, stretching - "looking" at them with your eyes closed - doing other things in the room - all of this will help. When they're more comfortable in the room, playing with a wand toy, a laser toy, or offering them baby food on a spoon will all help them come around.

Also.... you're close to the time when they really should be spayed and neutered. The rule of thumb is around six months - but some females do reach sexual maturity earlier, and can become pregnant as early as four months old. And if there is a mix of females/males, a brother will get his sister pregnant. Male cats will spray to mark territory - and you do NOT want this habit even forming. Neutering males before that happens will help make them more loving, less aggressive animals - MUCH better pets - and will save your house a lot of stink.

Obviously, you should feel free to ask ANY questions you have - and we LOVE updates here!

I'm so excited for you! Feral rescued pets and the bond you develop with them when you've earned that trust is THE BEST.

post #6 of 92
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for all the encouragement and big thanks Laurie for all the advice! The kittens seem to be doing well - sleeping, eating and using their litter tray as they should. I do have a quick question though - two of the kittens have kind of fallen in love with the actual litter tray! Is this normal? I have never had cats (only dogs!) but the husband was raised with cats - but his were all outdoor cats. The little tabby one (who we call Niamh) really just loves being in the box and the big one (Conor - though, my husband suspects she is a girl...we will probably keep the name though) was actually curled up around the litter box! They are using it like champs, but they love to just spend time with their box - my husband thinks that they *love* it because it is theirs - ownership and all that. The boldest one (Paddington....after my husband's favourite train station in London) just uses it and moves on.

Thanks for the advice on the music - I have a radio upstairs that I listen to while I sew, and I have just taken to leaving it on (very quietly). They have really responded to that, as well. Conor sat under the table with the radio on it (when not curled up with the litter tray) for a few hours last night.

Big thanks again. All the tips have been so useful. Will try and post some pictures - we have older ones, but want to capture them now. Going to find out what vet our friend uses here and make an appointment to take them in. We haven't been able to sex them ourselves yet, so that will be interesting to find out if we have a gaggle of girls or boys (or a mix)!

Just a quick note - we stopped by a vet on our way home today to have a bit of a chat with him and it went great! No kittens with us this time, but he was really nice (and let us hold the feral kitten - now cat- that he himself had rescued). He gave us worming medicine for them, and explained all the costs to us and we discussed spaying/neutering. We will be calling for an appointment very soon to get them all vaccinated and fixed.
post #7 of 92
Wonderful news! And yes, feral kittens often love the litterbox. Many use it as a bed for a time - one of ours used to play in it. They usually grow out of this. But I think your hubby's right - it's a comfortable and safe place and scent to them.

I still think you need at least two litter boxes - and when they're comfortable enough with you two and the room, when you open the door (let them come out on their own) - which will probably be time in a couple weeks to a month or so - I'd really recommend leaving the litter boxes there, but putting another one or two somewhere else in the house. Then, when they're freely roaming the house, you can get rid of the extra litter boxes in the bedroom.

The babies probably do have worms, so I'm glad you're treating them. I don't know if the vet discussed this with you, but the meds only treat the adult worms, so they need to be given the meds again in three weeks after this round of meds is finished to get the rest. Then three weeks after that second course of meds is done, we always take poop samples to the vet (don't worry about getting it from all the cats - just one poop sample will do, because if it's clear, the rest are probably clear, and if it indicates worms, the rest still probably have them). Might want to ask about that.

They sound like they're doing great.

post #8 of 92
Thread Starter 
The vet (a really, really kind man) gave us enough dosage for both worming treatments. We are going to try and give them the first dose tonight - any tips? We tried this morning to give one of them a dose - wrapped up in butter, a trick my husband used on his cats, but they don't seem to like butter. Any tips that might work?

We have the second litter tray as well. The kittens are still all very much in love with the tray.

They are adjusting very well- and we may have a bit more insight into their lineage. Their mother, we have realised, is a cat at the local pub- kind of a barn cat for the pub (they have a large beergarden and a brewery - the don't want mice eating all the grains and hops, so they take in a few ferals to ensure this doesn't become a problem). She is all fixed and taken care of now (by the pub) and they don't mind us taking the kittens in, as they had intended to not have any more kittens at the pub (they get the cats fixed as soon as they reach sexual maturity...but these managed to slip through). The father, they think, is a tabby who also lives at the pub. This might explain their semi-tame nature -the father is quite affectionate (though, apparently, was a feral kitten they took in)- constantly mewing for attention whenever we go to the pub! They aren't totally sure on the father, obviously, as momma tends to roam around the neighborhood, but the pub people had seen them 'together' before the got the father fixed. Funnily, I remember when the 'parents' were kittens at that pub.

Thanks again - this is all going really well, and I really think a lot of that is because of places like this board. What did we do before the internet?
post #9 of 92
I assume it's a pill then?

Buy some baby food - meat only, no garlic or onion additives. Take a spoon and kind of spread it over a plate, so it's gonna take a while to lick it off. Get down behind kitty on your knees with your butt on your heels so your legs are in a "V" shape and there's no way out when they back up. If you're right-handed, have the pill between your right index finger and thumb, ready to go. Hold the head with your left, push the jaw open with your left index finger at the back of the mouth, push the pill in with your right index finger. Try to get it over the hump of the tongue. Don't worry - you are NOT choking them even if Kitty gags. Kitty may bite down - it'll hurt just a little. But then hold the mouth closed until they swallow - and let them go back to gobbling baby food.

The trick is to be confident and be quick. You'll get the hang of it.

post #10 of 92
What a wonderful story to be following Yes, this internet community can be such a positive thing sending lots of taming vibes out to your ferals
post #11 of 92
Thread Starter 
The first worming treatment, in the end, went well! The husband bought some really fancy cat food and I covered the pills in the gravy and meat bits. When Paddington (the boldest of the lot) came out for his breakfast, I slipped in the nice food and he gobbled it all up. I hung out with him for a while to make sure he didn't spit it up (something my dog used to do all the time!) but no problem. Then, I did the same thing with Conor - luckily she is a greedy piggy so no worries there. Again, spent some time with her after to make sure the pill was taken and not spit out. The hardest one was our little tabby, Niamh. She only tends to come out when the others are out - obviously a problem as piggy Conor and bold Paddy were keen to eat the nice food! But, I managed to isolate Niamh and she too ate all of her fancy food.

Will definitely remember the tips, Laurie! We have the second treatment to go, and who knows if they will fall for the same trick again - my husband's cats rarely did. Still waiting for some pictures - I have old ones on my facebook site, but we haven't managed to get any new ones yet (the husband hadn't charged up the digital....). It is so fun to look back at the old photos though and see how much they have grown.
post #12 of 92
SO glad it went so well!

...and they do grow up so fast, don't they? Get that camera out - you're going to miss it all!

post #13 of 92
Your doing a marvelous job taking care of the 3 kittens. My cat Blossom was dumped at 3 weeks old. I didn't consider her feral though, my son saw a man tip something out of a plastic bag & when he later investigated, found Blossom. I had her spayed at 5 mths old. A male persian I had many years ago I had neutered at 6 mths. Breeders usually have them done at 10 weeks before they go to thei new homes. So as soon as you can pick them up it will be time to take them in. It would be good if a friend could take them to the vet so they don't associate you with taking them.
I don't mind seeing baby photos, most of my best Blossom photos are when she was little.
post #14 of 92
Thread Starter 
Oh, thanks for the tip, Kalikat! I hadn't thought about having a friend take them...some of our closet friends here in Ireland are cat lovers so maybe we could ask them to help us out.

My husband and I have taken quite a few pictures tonight. My husband worked from home today and I think he did more kitten-watching than working! Understandable, of course - it is hilarious. Their absolute favourite toy is balled up pieces of newspaper. I made some toys for them, but the balled up sections of the newspaper are the best. It is so cute to watch them play and play and play and then just pass out from exhaustion!
post #15 of 92
YAY - the camera was out!

kittens are SO entertaining (or exasperating!) We stopped buying cat toys a while ago - while they enjoy some of the wand toys and the little furry mice, for the most part they love all the stuff that's around every day the most. Nothing better than a box - unless it's several boxes taped together with holes cut in them for kitty mazes! OR a kitty maze of boxes that also has multiple levels with in/out holes on top, on bottom of upper levels, on the sides into other boxes.... or kitty mazes with treats hidden inside! Or a box with newspaper or tissue paper in it! Or a small box - like a tissue box with a wadded up piece of paper in it that kitty has to work to get out. Or a box......

post #16 of 92
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to update quickly. The three kittens are doing very well! We had an escape a few nights ago - my husband opened the window in our bedroom and promptly fell asleep (I was downstairs watching Super Tuesday election coverage with the other two kittens). So, sweet little Conor - our curious cat- jumped out onto our roof. She sat their mewing the entire day, but eventually figured out how to get down and came running back into the house (after a brief play session with Yogi, our neighbours outdoor cat). She is happily back in the house, and the husband is under strict orders to keep the window closed.

They are more and more playful by the day. They are getting more used to us now, as well. They don't linger under the bed anymore, but rather sleep out in the open. They feel perfectly comfortable coming downstairs now - much sooner than I expected - and Paddy in particular spends quite a few hours both in the morning and the evening sitting with us. He particularly likes to watch us on our laptops and preparing food. Niamh - the most skittish of the lot - has really taken to watching TV. She likes to sit downstairs with me on the ottoman near the tv. Both her and Paddington are also obsessed with the washing machine/dryer. They sit and watch its entire cycle.

Everyone is doing pretty well - one of the kittens is having some digestive issues, but the vet is pretty sure it is related to new food and stress from the environment change. He told us if it gets worse or doesn't go away to bring a stool sample. We are not too worried right now, but will monitor the situation. As our vet pointed out, it is a big lifestyle change for them, so we should expect a few hiccups.

We have a few pictures that were taken a few nights ago - hopefully this will work! My flickr account is having some problems uploading. Anyway, here is a link to a facebook album (which should be available for public viewing). Niamh is only in one of the pictures, as she wasn't out during our photo session.

post #17 of 92
Wow, I've only just seen this thread! It sounds like you're doing a fabulous job with the kittens! The photos are great - Paddy seems like a real character, and very fascinated in everything you're doing

It's great that when Conor got out she came racing back into the house once she could. She obviously sees you guys as her family now, and the house as a safe place.

We got our Lily when she was 3 months old, and she's nearing 2 years old now. We lost her so many times initially, because she would hide and we'd have no idea where she'd gotten to. She's really only started coming out of her shell in the last couple of months! It took her about 6 months to realise we were safe, and she started sleeping on our bed at night - she knew when we were lying down and it was dark, we were less likely to kill her Once she realised bed was safe, she loved her snuggle times in bed.

She now demands attention often by mewing at us and arching her back for a pat. She's still very shy, and will only accept attention on her terms. Niamh sounds similar, and like our Lily, it may take her a long time to get comfortable, and she may never fully trust you. Those moments when they do let you snuggle with them are very special though, and will melt your heart. Don't expect it to happen any time soon though. Just keep doing what you're doing
post #18 of 92
The link works and they are ADORABLE!

I can't believe how far they've come so fast! You guys are doing something right.

Sarah's right - little Niamh will come around in her own way at her pace. But it's gotta feel great just knowing she's loved and safe - whether or not she knows it.

post #19 of 92
Thread Starter 
Thanks Sarah for your story about Lily! That is really helpful. Little Niamh is really sweet and adorable but just so shy and it has been a frustrating few days with her. Their diet has (obviously) radically changed over the past few weeks and she is still a bit stressed out over the whole change in circumstance (though, obviously we are trying to limit that stress as much as possible!). I worry about her because the other two kittens are coming along in leaps and bounds - Paddington is extremely active and playful with us. My husband and I made a toy hung on a string the other night, and with this toy, he will happily hop onto our laps and roll around. My husband was amazed the first time he did this! Paddington also likes our morning routine - he sits with us, watching us on our computers as we get ready in the morning, drinking our tea and eating cereal. Conor is doing well, also. She just likes to sit and sleep, but will come out for a bit of play as well. She is growing so much - a lot of our friends can't believe the kittens are all the same age.

We are trying to be particularly patient with Niamh. Unlike the other kittens, she still scampers away whenever we enter the room. She pretty much stays under the bed and though I know she is eating and using her litter tray on a regular basis, if she gets too stressed out, she sometimes has accidents. Sometimes, we can't avoid surprising her, so it really upsets me to see her so upset that she just can't make it to the tray. Luckily, our house is small, so we almost always find the accidents right away. She is a bit better with me - I work from home so I spend more time with her than my husband - so after their 'naps' today I am going to try and engage her with play (via Paddington - Paddy is always up for some playing!). I hope that when she sees me playing with her brother, she will join in, too (eventually...not thinking she will today, but maybe we can get her to come out and watch). She has been curious in the past, but her nerves almost always get the best of her.

Anyway, she seems to have had a bit of a bad few days, and that has set her back a bit. Hopefully we will have a quiet week at home, and she will gradually come out of her shell like her siblings. To be honest, I just want her (and her siblings, of course) to be happy. We are certainly happy to have them here!
post #20 of 92
Sending "taming prayers and vibes" out to little Niamh The pix are really cute, BTW
post #21 of 92
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the vibes! Much appreciated and seem to be working! Niamh has realised over the past day how nice it is to be out from under the bed and basking in the sunshine cast by the window. She only goes under the bed when she is really scared. Small step, but very encouraging nonetheless. She sat there with us the whole time during a morning play session as well. Didn't participate, but was very interested. We are taking steps to prevent accidents. We moved our second litter tray so it is easier for her to access in emergencies.

I have a quick question for y'all though. I didn't want to post another topic, but it is something I have just been wondering about. Are their any side effects for the worming treatments? Our vet gave us Milbemax, and though we haven't had any problems, I just wondered if anyone knows or has experienced any? Like I said - there has been nothing out of the ordinary, so I am not wondering for that reason (just personal curiosity!), but shortly before I gave the kittens their first dosage, I tried to do some research on the topic and all I could find was 'some side effects may occur' with no explanation of what those side effects might be. Just got me wondering!
post #22 of 92
I'm not familiar with Milbemax, but I think the side effects of any worming medication can be diarrhea or nausea. All de-worming meds are, in fact, poison - just in doses that kill the worms but not the cat.

I'm so glad little Niamh has discovered the wonders of sunshine in your home! Yesterday was a very sunny day here, and we have these large deck doors - but with trees that cast shadows. We found all six kitties lying in a spot of sunshine. I think it's a rule that cats must pass out in a ray of sunshine!

post #23 of 92
Thread Starter 
You are so right Laurie! They love the sunshine. The kittens have also discovered the wonders of the window sill.

The husband and I came home the other night after a friends birthday and were (happily) surprised to find all three kittens asleep on our bed! This was a big step. Then, today, the husband went upstairs to do some work (sitting on the bed - he is an academic and has to read lots of papers) and two of the three kittens remained on the bed with him.

They are settling into a routine very well - I feed them dinner at 6:30 and they are learning about 'dinner time'. I was on the phone with my folks in the States at that time, and they sure let me know it was time to eat. It is nice to see them settling in so well.

Niamh is now regularly out and about and plays with us often. Still more timid than the others, but she seems to learn from them. So much progress in only two weeks. It has been so much fun. The only slightly weird thing recently is that Niamh had started drinking from the toilet! I know cats are attracted to running water, but it was only after I saw little kitten prints from the bathroom to the bedroom and a cat with wet back legs that I realised what was going on! I have started leaving another bowl of fresh water in the bedroom, where they spend their days, and that has somewhat relieved the problem...

Thanks for the info on the worming meds as well - I figured those were the side effects. We noticed slightly loose stools in two of the kittens (Niamh and Paddington) and after research and a chat with the vet, he said that was normal. He said as long as they are eating, drinking and playing normally, we shouldn't be concerned. I just wanted to check in with the online friends as well!

I have photos of Niamh - will have to post when we get them uploaded. And, the husband took photos of Conor after she fell into a trash can (nothing really in this particular can but old fabric scraps - it is under my sewing table). She was so sleepy that even after she slipped in, she just chose to stay. Silly kitten!
post #24 of 92
Thread Starter 
Just an update...the past few days have been a bit trying, so just need to vent a bit, I guess! The kittens are definitely getting bigger, healthier and happier in a lot of senses. They are playing a lot, getting more vocal (which is a great surprise - previously, only one of them made any noise, and now all three of them are making the same kind of chirping noise when they play). I suppose the difficulties have come from my own life as well - totally external of the kittens - but dealing with that and dealing with three kittens has been tough.

Two steps forward, a step back. They have discovered the comforts of our bed, so they regularly sleep there. The days of hiding under the bed are over, which is nice. But, at times, they have been more skittish than normal. The husband and I just keep reminding ourselves that they too have good days and bad days, so we are just trying to keep the playing and stimulated to distract them from their bad days. It seems to be effective. I suppose the other issue is the husband is so busy with work this week, it has been me dealing with all the little issues that come up. His load will lighten in the near future, so I am sure that will alleviate that problem.

Other than that, not much to report. Just wanted a little vent, I suppose. I am so happy to have them here and love being with them, and I just keep remembering that when times get a bit tough....and find comfort in the successes of others on this thread!
post #25 of 92
Thread Starter 
After the minor 'setbacks' of last week, things have been fine the past few days. The kittens are once again acting like the happy and strange little creatures they once were! Phew!

No big breakthroughs, but just a general sense of being comfortable. Paddington sits with me on the sofa frequently in the morning and Niamh is making progress on feeling more and more comfortable, which is great. The only big thing this week was I (accidentally!) picked up little Conor! I was feeding them their dinner and I am trying to teach them that they each have a different bowl (because I worry about Niamh not getting to eat her fill of dinner!). Anyway, I had put out Conor and Paddington's bowls and had just moved Niamh's over to her. Conor immediately abandoned her food and ran over to eat Niamh's. We had guests over at the time, so I was not totally focused on the kittens (but still feeding them at the regular time to ensure routine), and so I just kind of reached over and scooped her up! She didn't move at all. I put her in front of her food bowl and proceeded to stroke her for ages. We only stopped when they heard one of my guests coming up the stairs. I sat there, amazed, trying to call out to my husband without disturbing little Conor! Our poor guests - they are not cat people and then they had to listen to us go on and on about what a big deal this was. It felt great and keeps me motivated!

They were great with our guests around as well. They stayed in a hotel, so there was no problem there, but we were aware that last time we had people over they got a bit freaked out. We moved food, water and a litter dish into our room and they had no problem at all. Phew. Our new worry - we have to go over to England in two weeks time for a wedding. I am starting to worry about this now! We are trying to decide if we are going to have our friends (who have three cats of their own) to come over twice a day and feed, change water and clean litter or if we should put them in a kennel. I am leaning towards having the friends come over - I just don't think the kittens would be ready for the kennel yet. We will only be gone for a weekend, so we shall see...
post #26 of 92
Originally Posted by wendyr View Post
...No big breakthroughs, but just a general sense of being comfortable. ...The only big thing this week was I (accidentally!) picked up little Conor! ...I put her in front of her food bowl and proceeded to stroke her for ages.
I love it when the general sense of being comfortable is no longer a breakthrough! And picking up Conor and not having her freak out is pretty big in my book!

...as to the being skittish? Sometimes it's partly just the personality of the kitties OR the timing of the moment. All of our cats sleep on the bed with us at various points. Last night, Gary woke up and coughed - and Lazlo went FLYING off the bed. This is almost 6 years later now! Other times he'll sleep through it - so ?????????

Originally Posted by wendyr View Post
Our new worry - we have to go over to England in two weeks time for a wedding. I am starting to worry about this now! We are trying to decide if we are going to have our friends (who have three cats of their own) to come over twice a day and feed, change water and clean litter or if we should put them in a kennel. I am leaning towards having the friends come over - I just don't think the kittens would be ready for the kennel yet. We will only be gone for a weekend, so we shall see...
I would DEFINTELY have the friend come over if that's an option. We've put our kitties in boarding while we go. We had them put two each in pen (with small kittens, we would have put all three together) and we leave them with their beds inside of a covered hidey thing. All of them just hunkered down inside their hidey thing. They barely ate and only came out to pee or poop. We had to leave for a week once, and they all lost weight. They were miserable.

The scents of home are so much more comforting. They may hide from visitors - but at least they'll know the kitties are OK from the food and scooping.

I know how frustrating it is sometimes. But it sounds like things are really going so well! They're sleeping on the bed with you! That's just HUGE! Does that include Niamh?

post #27 of 92
Thread Starter 
My accidental scooping of Conor was such a triumph - I felt so good about it for days! My husband was amazed as well. They are all doing so well, it just makes me really happy. They are playing like madmen and settling into a routine so well.

They love to sleep on the bed - all of them, including Niamh! We were amazed. The other two have always been bolder, so to have her up there as well is just great. They definitely view me as their play buddy and food provider, which makes me feel good. Since I work from home, I am with them all day, so I can take breaks for play and food. The husband and Paddington have a great bond, so it looks like they are really settling in well.

We don't mind the skittish part so much anymore as they are getting comfortable. Since I have never had cats, I am not fully used to how they operate, but since the husband has always had them, he doesn't find this all to be too odd. His family had taken in a feral kitten when he was really young, so he can't remember how they socialised her, but I did know her (Rosie was her name) and she was a great cat - but still a bit skittish and not a 'lap' cat. I have hopes that our kittens will turn out like her and I think they are definitely on the road towards that.

Our friends said (when we first got the kittens) that they would be more than happy to come and feed them if we went away for a few days, so we are going to just ask them this weekend to make sure they are available. If they are not, I have another friend who might do it, but he doesn't have cats so the litterbox might freak him out a bit (though, he did ask me if I knew where he could get his own cat, so this might serve as practice for him...)! Anyway, I am sure we will get it sorted. I wouldn't feel comfortable putting them away, just because they are still adjusting. I totally agree - they might hide but at least our friends can keep tabs on them! Our friend is a huge cat lover, so I am sure she would be more than happy to come over. I bet they would get tons of play time as well! Fingers crossed that they aren't going out of town that weekend!

Conor is off to the vet to get fixed and then the others will soon follow. We are planning on getting them all taken care of before we go. It will be quite an ordeal as we don't have a car, but our friends (the ones who might watch them for us) are letting us borrow one of their large cat pens (they are huge - the cats travelled in them from Canada to here in Ireland in them!) so we can transport and then keep them comfortable in them while they recover.
post #28 of 92
that your friends will be in town while you are going to be out - AND that all goes well with the transport and spaying and neutering.

They sound like such little loves - and it seems that things couldn't be going better, really!

post #29 of 92
Thread Starter 
The appointment is all set up for Conor to get fixed - Tuesday morning. We are going to chat with our friends tonight over a drink to see if they will come by for the kittens whilst we are away. If not, I already have another person lined up (the one who doesn't have a cat, but is interested in getting one) - he agreed to be our back-up if our other friends can't do it. Relief! At least I know we won't be stuck in the lurch!

The sun is shining here today, and Conor is sitting on the windowsill, basking in the glory.

Here is a new photo album of the kittens! Niamh is even pictured (yay!).

post #30 of 92
Wendy -
It is such a joy to see your pictures of these very happy little kittens. Who says ferals don't play with toys?
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