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Help with pregnant stray

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hi, in the past month I started putting food out for the various stray/feral cats I always see around my town home. Usually, they bolt as soon as I open the back porch door. My purpose was to trap them and get them neutered/spayed and release them again. However, one cat had been hanging out for a couple weeks on my porch waiting for me to come home from work to feed it and it (I now know it is a she) is very friendly, crashing her head into my hand when I feed her.

Well, I noticed an abscess on her back which I figured was from another cat attack and her eyes are very runny. She is docile and sweet, so I decided to just grab her and take her to the vet. Vet said she is in pretty good health. Of course, it turns out that she is pregnant (I guessed as much when I felt her belly picking her up to take her to the vet but it was surprising because she is really tiny). The vet said she will have her kittens within three weeks or so and I had her tested for feline leuk/hiv and the test was negative and he gave me some antibiotics to give her. So, I set her back out on the porch and left some food and she bolted. I figured I might not see her again, but sure enough she was there 2 hours later again, despite the trip to the vet.

I have no idea how to care for her, and I certainly do not know how to care for a litter of kittens. I already have two indoor cats and I do not feel comfortable subjecting them to a new cat and a bunch of kittens and I dont want her giving my indoor cats any diseases.

Anyways, what should I do? I put a box out there for her to hang out in (now she is scratching my glass door whenever I get near there to come inside). She goes somewhere at night, but I have no idea where. In the morning she will be laying on my outside table and when I feed her she is very friendly.

I will continue feeding her, but once the kittens come will she be able to take care of them without my intervention other than food, and will they be safe on my porch, which is protected by a wrought iron fence? Will other feral cats attack the kittens? I have a garage, but there is not much room and I would need some sort of pen in there because it is the only place me and my wife can park our cars.

She is a feral cat I assume, however she is also very friendly compared to every other feral. Does that mean her kittens will be able to be adopted by someone or are they too wild? Anyways, I kind of wish I had never set food out there in the first place, but I did so now I have to care for her. My wife has been pretty understanding about all this although she was slightly annoyed about the pregnant cat but then said "you have a big heart and we will just deal with it when it happens."

This is a long story, so I guess my basic questions are this:

1. How will I know when she is ready to have her kittens?
2. Do you think she will choose my porch as the location to have her kittens?
3. Will she be able to care for them on my porch, if she chooses that location? I plan on getting her fixed after this and if the kittens are going to be ferals then getting them fixed as well.

Honestly, I don't even know what questions to ask because I have never done this before. Please help if you can. Thanks.
post #2 of 27
First of all, thank you for taking her to the vet...many wouldn't. Unfortunately you can't choose who is going to eat the food you leave out, and sometimes you're going to get heartbreaking cases like hers. Unfortunately the odds are stacked against these kittens if she is left outside. Also, she sounds much more like a stray rather than a feral...a true feral doesn't head butt your hand.

Here are options...some you may find unacceptable, but there are options:

1. Contact a shelter/rescue to see if they are willing to take her on.

2. Take her in yourself, but you would have to confine her to a room separate from your resident kitties. You could do some research here on how to take care of a pregnant/nursing mom. It's a lot of work, but very rewarding. Of course, then you would have to get the kittens and mom fixed later, and find adoptive families. A shelter might agree to take them on if you agree to foster them.

3. Have her spay/aborted. It sounds harsh, but it is an option. The kittens, if they survive the elements and the predators, will not be nearly as people-oriented as mom. It's unlikely that she will have them on your porch as there are probably other cats who come to eat. The kittens will likely be ferals, and thus add to the problem you're trying to help.

I know those are tough choices. I know your heart was in the right place when you started to feed, and unfortunately that good deed rarely goes unpunished.
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by clixpix View Post
Also, she sounds much more like a stray rather than a feral...a true feral doesn't head butt your hand.
so true - mine won't come nearly close enough for me to touch them, much less request attention like that!
post #4 of 27
What a huge heart you have for taking on this stray cat and tending to it's injuries at the vets. If you dont want to bring her into your house putting her in a large dog crate in your garage is a nice option, if not now, but closer to her due date. It would be better if she had the kittens away from the dangers of prey, and in a warm, cozy and safe environment. I also think it is unlikely that she would choose on your porch, but may choose under it if there is access. Cats (especially feral or stray) like to be secluded, not as much for privacy but safety. She could possibly have them on your porch if you provide her with a cave of sorts. But you cant guarantee she will leave them there or that others couldnt get to her.

As you probably know... mother cats can, will and do have kitten and raise them by themselves all the time. The odds are better with human intervention, and honestly if you are willing, you can put as much time into raising these kittens as you are able, after all... if they are outside on the porch or in your neighbors car by themselves, what difference if you bring her into your garage... but under supervision.

I foster pregnant and nursing kittens from our local no-kill... honestly, they could have the kittens in a cage, in the middle of the night (for the most part) just fine, but it is nice when the mothers are in a semi-familiar but loving home. AND, the most important part... the kittens are away from any disease that the shelter might expose them too. It is very rewarding for us.

When the time gets near there are signs to watch for. We confine our fosters to my room. For the most part, the mother cat does everything on her own. I am there when she has them, but it's not a necessity. And once the kittens are born she really does everything on her own. I am merely the chef.

A pregnant cat should have her calories upped in the last weeks and a nursing mother requires even more calories. Other than that... she's pretty self-sufficient. Well... you might also consider changing her bedding periodically. And if you do decide to confine her to a cage, of course you will have to provide her with a litter box.

Now I've gone on a lot... just wanted to let you know that a pregnant cat isnt necessarily a lot of work. I mean they can be... but remember, they do this in the wild on their own all the time. If you intervene - all that much better!

Of course you know there are other options. But if you do decide to house her, know that we are here for you. You are doing a wonderful job already!

P.S. Welcome to TCS!
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
I forgot to add, I live in Texas so my garage gets very hot and stuffy. I am not sure if a pregnant cat and kittens could stay in there if it gets really hot outside, which it usually does around this time. Perhaps if i put a fan near the large dog size carrier I would put her in after she had her kittens. Is it possible she could have a heat stroke or is a warmer environment better?
post #6 of 27
Bless you for helping this little mama. Most people, particularly men, (no offense to you guys on here) would just turn a blind eye to her plight. I don't have a lot of advice, but the fan sounds better than having her out running loose, and kittens must be warm, so I think that may be a good solution. Like I said, I don't have much advice, but did want to make sure this post gets bumped up to be sure it will be seen by our resident experts.
post #7 of 27
What about putting the crate on the porch on hot days? Only if it isn't in the sun or the wind.
I have the largest dog crate , hard plastic shell, and it has enough room for the litterbox at one end, the kittens in the middle and food/water next to the door. They also make a small battery-operated fan that hangs on the crate, an idea for whe they are a bit older.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
I could definitely do a large crate on my porch. It is protected from any potential dogs by a fence, and I doubt anything else could mess with a carrier. Would the kittens need a heating pad or something? It gets about 75-95 degrees around this time of year outside. Also, do the kittens know to use a litter box from birth? How would I go about making sure the carrier is sanitary? Any tips for giving away kittens?

As an aside, that cat was much more aloof today so I am not sure she will even choose to come back to have her kittens. Probably didn't help that I was doing noisy work out on my back porch. I gave her kitten chow, thats what the vet said. I think she is getting more than enough food now because she doesn't eat it all like she did at first. I also fed her the antiobiotics, however it was a big struggle. I weigh 215 pounds but I was having difficulty holding her down even though she is only eight pounds. Next time, I will go about it more intelligently and use leverage.
post #9 of 27
yeah, they're strong little buggers, aren't they? at least 2 of the ferals around here chose to have kittens in my garage [there's a dog door there from a previous resident] & @ least one was during the 'dog days' of summer... i don't think the heat will be an issue, but the stuffiness might be.
post #10 of 27
You'll have to clean out the crate periodically as the kittens will have accidents for awhile. Towels on the bottoms of the crate are easy to switch out, though you'll have to figure out how to keep mom in there while you do it. Maybe pull the crate into a closed room?

Honestly, in a room in the house would be best - if you can keep them separate from the rest of household. Not always possible, I know.
post #11 of 27
Actually, your garage may seem hot, but it's still cooler than being outside. I live in Texas, too.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Well, I have been feeding her antibiotics, which is still not easy, but I think I got the technique down. Her abscess is now a bald spot (it burst while I was trying to feed her antibiotics.) and I can see that she is licking it. The puncture wound actually looks like it was pretty wide, and its still bleeding a bit, but she seems in much better health.

Her eyes are no longer watering.

Its hard to time seeing her on weekdays, so I was wondering if I should give her the daily antibiotic dose all at once instead of trying twice daily every 12 hours?

Also, how will I know when she is ready to have her kittens?
post #13 of 27
Thank you for taking care of this kitty.
Here are the Signs my cat Sophie had before she gave birth
About 48 hours before delivery Sophie was looking desperatly for a place to nest she even got stuck behind the refridgerator and television so I had to confine her to a kennel.
36 hours before delivery I noticed her belly had dropped. Instead of being fat and wide like she the babies were hanging low and she didn't look pregnant from the top anymore.
24 hours before delivery she had bags of milk and her nipples were more swollen and pinker than they had been.
5 minutes before delivery I noticed her mucus plug (they usually loose this 12 or less hours before delivery)

Can you please put her in a room/large cage/crate. She will have kittens and then can get pregnant 24 hours later causing a never ending cycle of kittens. Not only that but her babies could be birthed in brush pile or somewhere out in the elements. I hope the best for them and momma cat.
post #14 of 27
You need to try to give the medication every 12 hours to keep the level of antibiotics as constant as possible. If it was a time release antibiotic, you could do it once a day, but that's not what you have. Just do the best you can.


And hang in there. We all appreciate you taking this on.

Did you see the tornado in Frisco today? Thank heavens IKEA is okay - an the people too!
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips regarding antibiotics. I guess its better if I only give her half a daily dose (i.e. I only see her once a day on weekdays) instead of the full dose at once?

I have a spare bathroom attached to my office that I could use, however she would not have much space and I also have a guest bed room (carpeted )that never gets used. I am willing to spend a good deal of money getting a large cage for her to stay in, but I am not willing to have her roaming free inside my house. Also, she probably has fleas and who knows what else, so I have to absolutely separate her from my other cats. How long does the de flea stuff take to work? If she has somehow contracted feline leukemia or aids in the time since the last test, is there any possibility my cats could get it WITHOUT coming into contact with the stray cat but being in the same house?

Since she passed her feline leukemia/aids test, I guess I should bring her in asap so that she is not further exposed. I will probably have to get her tested a couple weeks after I do that to make sure. I cannot imagine putting her to sleep, so I really hope that does not happen. One good thing is that the other cats who I have seen try to intimidate her while she is eating seem to realize that I am protecting her and have left her alone while she is eating "their food."

One of my wife's co workers who has dealt with this before said to bring her inside and that since she is so small (eight pounds plumply pregnant) it is likely she will have a small litter. I am asking everyone I know if they want a kitten, but no luck so far. Its probably a lot easier to give away kittens once their cute existence begins. I am going to a pet store after work tomorrow to price out an indoor cage. The one thing I do not want is a room that smells like cat urine for months after the kittens are gone.

Also, thank you to everyone who has responded. I honestly had no idea at all what to do. I am surprised that this seems to have all happened so quickly - it is a bit stressful!!
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
How long after she gives birth can I take her to get spayed?

I assume the kittens will need some sort of mothers milk for awhile and also the presence of their mother's warmth. Do I need to do anything with the kittens at first, or will mom take care of them? How likely is it that one or more of the kittens will be born dead?

Wow, so many things I have not thought about...sorry I am bombarding you guys with questions. I really care about the well being of this cat and I am not even sure why, but it is important to me.
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmaniac View Post
How long after she gives birth can I take her to get spayed?

I assume the kittens will need some sort of mothers milk for awhile and also the presence of their mother's warmth. Do I need to do anything with the kittens at first, or will mom take care of them? How likely is it that one or more of the kittens will be born dead?

Wow, so many things I have not thought about...sorry I am bombarding you guys with questions. I really care about the well being of this cat and I am not even sure why, but it is important to me.
I think you can have her spayed when the kittens are 8 weeks old at the earliest. But maybe 10 or 12 weeks would be preferable.

The mom should take care of her kittens. But it's possible that she might get tired during birth and need your help. (If she is too tired to clean them off/stimulate them to breathe, break the sac they're born in, stuff like that.)

If all goes well, you might not need to do anything at all

Don't worry about asking questions, people are generally helpful here and can give you good advice based on experience. You might also want to check out the pregnant cat and kitten care forum. (There are plenty of pictures, stories, and questions that you might be able to relate to.)
post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
Just to update you guys, I decided to put the cat in my garage tonight. She has an open wound that looks pretty deep where the abscess burst and it is still bleeding. Still feeding her antibiotics, which she is now taking without much struggle at all.

I am not sure what I will do with her tomorrow during the day. My other cats are going crazy next to the door to the garage (scratching the door) and I can tell she wants to come inside. I am hoping she can figures out to use the litter box in the garage so that I can let her live in the guest room in my home until she has the kittens. Since the room is carpeted, I am unwilling to let her occupy that space unless she knows how to use a litter box.

She lets me pick her up and hold her without struggling at all, so I am assuming she was someone's cat at some point and knows what a litter box is. If worse comes to worse, I have a bathroom which is very small, but safer than outside that she can stay in which is all tile. If she is unable to figure out the litter box thing, does the smell of cat urine go away or would I have to get my carpet replaced? At some point, I will post a picture of her. If I am unable to find adopters for the kittens, they will become outdoor cats that I support with food and water. Only AFTER I get them fixed and spayed, of course. Her as well. She seems like she is still a kitten, so I am hoping the size of her litter will be small like her.

Anyways, I am still figuring this all out. Thanks again for the outlet guys.
post #19 of 27
One nice thing about cats is that they really really really like to bury their poop and pee -- so if you show her the litter box, and put her inside it so she can feel it's good digging material, she will probably gravitate towards it instinctively. If you're really worried, putting some dirt in with the litter will help solidify the idea for her.

I've taken in 3 rescues -- two kittens, one adult, and had only 1 accident on the floor in the entire experience. I immediately doused it with spray-on pet stain remover, and then also left it covered with a pasty mixture of Oxy-clean and water overnight. The cat never looked at it again, nor did we have any more accidents, so I'm thinking it worked to get the smell out. I certainly can't tell anything ever happened, and it's a white carpet!
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
You are not kidding, she already figured out what the litter box was for which bodes very well for me letting her occupy the guest room after I get her rechecked for all the potential contagious diseases and parasites that could hurt my other cat. Things are looking very good for this cat to have her kittens and get spayed. If I cannot find an owner for her, she will become my cat and the other two will just have to deal.

If I cannot find an owner for her kittens, I will feed them and let them live outside, vaccinated, spayed and fixed, ect....

After this ordeal is over, I plan on doing the trap, spay, and release thing that I had originally intended upon before this sweet cat came into my life.
post #21 of 27
For protecting the carpet from little kitten accidents I got a large cheap piece of linoleum floor covering. You can buy a pre cut roll at some of the dollar stores or a leftover piece from a home improvement center, or a flooring store. When you no longer need to protect the carpet it can be used in a storage room or the garage floor, etc. There are urine removing products that work great. I have four ferals and two kittens. A product I ordered called "urine-off" did a great job for me. No lingering smell of urine.

When we trap/neuter/release we sometimes get a pregnant female and have to spay/abort. It is hard to do emotionally, but after rescuing kittens that die from flea anemia and infections it's the right decision for the situation. Thankfully this girl has you and she and her kittens will not have to suffer.

There is also an inconspicous type of cat fence that will attach to your exsisting fence to keep them contained in your yard when/if you allow them to live outside. I have no experience other than looking at this kind of cat protection fencing. Best of luck to you and your momma kitty.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmaniac View Post
You are not kidding, she already figured out what the litter box was for which bodes very well for me letting her occupy the guest room after I get her rechecked for all the potential contagious diseases and parasites that could hurt my other cat. Things are looking very good for this cat to have her kittens and get spayed. If I cannot find an owner for her, she will become my cat and the other two will just have to deal.

If I cannot find an owner for her kittens, I will feed them and let them live outside, vaccinated, spayed and fixed, ect....

After this ordeal is over, I plan on doing the trap, spay, and release thing that I had originally intended upon before this sweet cat came into my life.
Hooray! I bet she is so happy that she came into your life!
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hello again.

She is still in my garage. Luckily, it got cooler here in Houston. She does seem a bit freaked out and was cowering in the dirty corner next to her litter box when I came home (even though I laid out a nice fresh towel for her to lay on!!!!) but as soon as I said "here kitty" she came right over and started rubbing her face on my legs. She is friendlier than my calico, that is for sure! I have to put her in a carrier until my wife gets home so that she doesn't, you know, get run over.

She looks really pregnant now, and I cannot tell if its because she is about to have her babies or because she has been getting a steady supply of food. She seems much bigger (not just her belly) than the first time I saw her. I know she is just a kitten still, the vet said she weighed just 8 pounds last weekend with babies and she has a very high pitched meow like a kitten. She let me give the flea treatment to her with no problem, almost as if she didn't even realize I was doing anything. She still struggles a little bit with the antibiotics, but it is far easier to give them to her than my house cats.

The vet seemed to think she was not that far along, but she really does look quite plump now. I will post a picture later tonight and hopefully you guys can give me guesstimate as to how far along she is. I might take her back to the vet tomorrow, but this is starting to get expensive.

I am really hoping for a small litter. I don't want heartbreak and I am really really hoping that she is still negative for feline leukemia or hiv, because then I would have to euthanize her.

Also, this is kind of gross, but I noticed her stool seems to look like the crinkled paper you see after unwrapping a Christmas present. Do you think she has worms or is that normal for a pregnant cat?

Thanks guys, you have really helped out this cat more than you know with your advice.
post #24 of 27
My daughter has a feral cat she has been feeding for over 2 years. Its been impossible to trap her for TNR. Anyway she had a litter late last fall and moved the kittens into my daughters shed. When the kittens were about 7 wks. old my dght. was able to get them away from the mom. I know, a lot of people on this site thought that was cruel, but those kittens would have froze to death over the winter. The local shelter has paid their vet bills, including all vacinations and neutering/spaying. Just last week they were all adopted into good homes and because they were socialized with people and my daughter's other 2 cats they did not have a chance to become feral. They were put on Pet Finders and homes were found thru them. If you can I would encourage you to do whatever you can to help this pregnant cat. If you feed her she could have the babies somewhere else, but may bring them to your porch for feeding. Thats what this mom has done for two litters so far. My daughter always has dry food out for them. Unfortunately the mom is pregnant again. If only she could be trapped. She will sit near us in the summer outside but will not let you approach her or pet her. Poor kitty. ayou will nevere regret helping this cat.
post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ok, here she is. She looks pretty pregnant to me.


post #26 of 27
I have no idea how pregnant she might be, but just wanted to say she looks like a lovely little thing! It is so great what you are doing for her!
post #27 of 27
What a sweetie.
Poor girl does look pretty pregnant.
She has a loving personality.
What a kind man you are.
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