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Not a cat person but can't let the little ones go hungry.

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi. I'm new to the cat forum and new to taking care of cats/kittens. My mom was real allergic to cats so we never really had any. Two that I know of but they were both killed. Anyway, I came home from work Monday and to my surprise a momma cat and three little kittens are in a building in my back yard. I have a pet yorkie who stays in the house so I didn't have any cat food so I opened a can of recently bought tuna and took it out to her with some milk. She ate as if she'd never ate before (the momma cat). Well, the next day I bought her some cat food and have been feeding her that with some milk each day but shes a mean ole gal and hisses at me whenever I get close to the building. Her kittens are furry (and cute a a button!) but they are still nursing from her. How could I tell how old they are? Today was a break through though, after my husband got home from work we went out there and brought her some food and milk. She hissed at us but never tried to attack and even let us hold two of the kittens that got close enough while she ate. Then after she ate she gathered her babies and went into the back of the building and let them nurse. Now they are sleeping.

I dont know much about cats but the mommy is always sleeping it seems and even when shes hissing at us its like she can't barely keep her eyes open. The kittens are playful, romping around and cute as can be.Anyway I just try to feed her so she can keep her kittens strong. I'd like to figure out how old the kittens are. Also, has anyone introduced a kitten to a 1 yr old small dog? I wonder how hard/easy that would be. Thanks for your time!
post #2 of 14
Welcome to The Cat Site!

What a find in your backyard and good for you for taking care of the mom and letting the kittens stay there.

First of all, you should probably NOT give mom any more milk. A lot of people dont realize that cats are lactose intolerant. Hard to believe because they love it so much, but true. I learned this the hard way after taking my cat to the vet for fever and distended tummy.

I dont know much about socializing stray or feral cats, but I'm sure someone will come along that can help you. However I do know that the more the mother allows you to handle the kittens, the better their chances of becoming companionable and finding furr-ever homes later! So you are doing the right thing by playing with them when you can. Perhaps the more the mother learns to trust you with her kittens, the more she will stop hissing at you.

Also, there is a link http://www.kitten-rescue.com/ that has a lot of information on it and can help you age the kittens by milestones and characteristics.

Good luck with your new family and I have to tell you - we love pictures around here!
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply and the info with the milk. I gave her cat food and water at first then brought her some milk and she drank it like crazy. I gave her some milk this evening but I won't anymore... but I noticed she didn't drink the milk when I put it down for her like she had been doing. The kittens eat some dry food, too. They are cute. I'm still not sure what to do with the little guys. I want to keep them all! I wish she'd let me take a kitten (and they wouldn't claw me to death) so I could bring it over to my yorkie and see what he would do around the tiny thing.
post #4 of 14
I was shocked the first time the vet told me cats were lactose intolerant. I was like,

"Yeah right!

...are you serious?"

I had adopted a pregnant cat from the pound and 4 weeks later she had her kittens. I thought I was being nice by giving her milk!! Anyway, the fever was totally unrelated to the milk, but the distended tummy was not. Turned out she had an infected mammary gland and that was what the fever was from, but when they did an x-ray to check other possibilities that's when they showed me her tummy! and told me about the milk.

Oh well, live and learn.

My daughters will still sneak their cereal bowls on the floor for the cats to eat despite my warnings and the stinky kitty litter. <sigh>

As for sneaking a kitten away... I foster pregnant cats from our local no-kill shelter and here's what I do to get a kitten from it's mother without her following me like a mad-woman:

In fact I jsut had to do this recently when one of my fosters had a stillborn. I had to sneak the kitten away without her panicking, especially since she was still in labor.

Pick up two kittens at the same time. When she starts to follow you, cleverly hide one (trying to stop it from whining or meowing) and place one back with her. Cats cant count. Usually she is happy when you put the one whining kitten back and gets busy cleaning that one off. Makes it easier for you to sneak away. I would combine this with the distraction of food and/or treats.

As for introducing them to your dog, in my experience most family dogs do ok with cats as long as they are introduced as kittens. The kitten is likely to hiss at your dog and stay his distance for a bit, but will surely come around after a bit. One thing I would watch for though, is that Yorkies are Terriers, so naturally they are small game hunters. You'll want to be sure that your dog realizes the kitten is part of the family and not bait!

Good luck! I look forward to your updates.
post #5 of 14
Welcome to TCS ... I think your doing a wonderful thing
post #6 of 14
Bless you for taking care of mommy and her babies!

I didn't know that about milk either when I first started dealing with cats so don't feel bad. A little milk for a treat won't hurt them (may give them the runs a bit) but a lot can cause problems if it is cows milk. We nomally use goat milk if we have to nurse kittens because for some reason they can handle that but not cows milk.

But, the mother really shouldn't need milk. If she is producing enough milk for her kittens they should be fine. The next time you buy cat food, buy kitten food. Dry is fine. Kitten chow works great and is pretty cheap. Not only will the kittens start munching on it, it has extra vitamins and minerals for the mom that keeps her healthy since most of her energy is going to feed the kittens now.

If the kittens are just starting to try regular food they probably need a few more weeks with their mommy. Are they still at the tumbling all over themselves stage? Where they walk or run like they are drunk? If so, the mother is just starting to wean them. They COULD be taken from their mother right now, but it's not what I would recommend. They are still learning social skills from their mom and their siblings. They are at their cutest right now it sound like (probably around 6-8 weeks) but they should be with their mom for a few more weeks.

If Mommy is letting you pick up her kittens, that is a good sign that you are gaining her trust. She knows you bring food and you aren't a threat. Handle the kittens as much as she lets you (it gets them used to being picked up) but don't try to reach out and pet Mommy out of the blue. What I do with our barn cats is just hold out my hand (palm down, just a limp wrist) and give them the option what they want to do. The first time, she may only sniff it and ignore you. But, she knows your scent now. The next time, or the time after that, she may rub her face against your hand. That is scent marking you, especially if she rubs her chin against you. If she does that, you can try to just hold your hand open and see if she wants to be petted. If not, just back off. You may never be able to pet her. There are some barn cats here that won't tolerate any petting, but will let us handle their kittens and are fine with it.

The kittens are the ones you really want to concentrate on right now. Get them used to humans and give them a few weeks and then think about introducing them to your puppy (BTW, I have 6 cats and 4 dogs so cats and dogs CAN live in harmony).

Oh, another thing. The half closed eyes could actually be from an eye infection that is common with feral cats. It's pretty easy to clear up usually with an antibiotic...IF you can get the cat to trust you enough. Is there discharge from the eyes that you can see? As in a crust around them?
post #7 of 14
As much as it's great what you're doing...I would consider trapping the mom and kittens. If you don't, the pattern of overpopulation with continue with the mother PLUS her new kittens.

It's unlikely, if the mother is and has always been feral, that the mommy cat will ever be a 'pet.' But, you can certainly have her spayed and socialize the kittens. That would require trapping them at an age where you can wean them and not have to worry too much about health issues. (IF they are at least 8 weeks, it's fine to trap them and start having them around humans...every week that goes by makes it a bit more difficult for them to be rehomed as pets, and I'm assuming you're not interested in adopting a bunch of outside cats right now).

They will not learn the kind of skills and such from the mother that will make them suitable to rehome...They will be wary and frightened of people...
I guess the point I'm stressing is, the sooner they're indoors, getting used to things, etc, the better!

It can be a lot of work, but it seems like you want to help the mommy and her kittens...The likelihood of any of them finding homes is slim to none without your help, (unless you give them a home).

If you'd like to know more about doing all that, I would suggest talking to several local shelters, reading material, etc.

In the least, I would suggest feeding the mother kitten food if possible....Kitten food and specially formulated food for pregnant cats are the best at this time.

ALSO: I just thought I would add this. I would NOT introduce the kittens to your current pet(s) until they've been dewormed and flea-treated...Outbreaks start that way and then it becomes a bigger project/mess.

Links for you:


PS: Gerber Chicken & Gravy baby food is a mircle worker...
post #8 of 14
Thank you for wanting to rescue this mom and her kittens!

I agree - I definitely would not try to introduce the kittens to your dog until you're sure they don't have parasites (inside or out) or are carrying other diseases.

My usual advice to people when they find a litter is to leave the mom and kittens alone. But it does not sound at all like she's feral if all she's doing is hissing at you - a feral mom would have moved the nest once you sought her out or touched her kittens.

Thus in this situation, I guess handling the kittens is probably a good thing to do, it does help socialize them, though if it's stressing mom too much, I wouldn't keep trying.

What this mom really needs is to be picked up by people experienced with rescue and foster. There won't be too much to caring for her kittens as she's producing milk - but it would mean a chance for her babies to be adopted out into loving homes, be spayed and neutered, and then for her to be spayed so she can't have any more kittens. Anyone fostering her would be able to tell if she should be released where you found her after she's spayed, or if she can be adopted out.

I'm not familiar with the links Jane posted, but if you want to find a foster home for her, the best way to do it is to look up rescue orgs and shelters and conact them to see if they can help.

Type in your zip code to search here: http://www.pets911.com/local-shelters-and-rescues

And at Petfinder, just select cats, and leave everything else blank (except your zip code) for your search. Some rescue orgs have pages of cats, so just keep clicking "next" if you have to - but if you click on the organization listed for the cat, it'll either link to a website or a webpage at petfinder, and you can scroll through those to find contact info - either phone or e-mail.


You can also contact Alley Cat Allies (a national organization that promotes cat rescue and trap-neuter-release, or "TNR" programs) http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity...=444&srcid=355

(You may want to spend a little time in the resource section of their site - you may find it VERY helpful!)

Another great resource site for what to do, how to foster, or how to get kittens adopted out is the No More Homeless Pets Campaign of Best Friends (another national organization that helps co-ordinate animal rescue, both individual and when there's been a disaster in an area): http://www.bestfriends.org/nomorehom...ts/thenetwork/

If you have a guest bedroom where the mom and her kittens can be separated from your Yorkie, you could consider fostering her and the kittens yourself! This would give the Yorkie time to get used to the smell of cats around - and the kittens would "grow up" in the presence of a doggie....

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. I haven't done anything with the cat yet but try to bring her some water and food. She won't let me get close but she lets my husband in there. I went out of town this weekend and came back today (left Friday night, back Sunday afternoon), left her some food out there.. they are still there, hissing at me like crazy. Anyway, I'll figure something out.. call some shelters tomorrow and see if they will take them.

Oh, not to be gross, but when I got home today there was this huge, pink glob of hair/puke in my yard. Is that normal? After traveling an hr and 1/2 with my puking yorkie I just went in the house. My husband said it was a hairball? EW.
post #10 of 14
Yup, that's a hairball. Quite normal.

Whatever you decide to do, thank you for helping and caring!

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well I'm glad the hairball wasn't anything serious. Sometimes I think momma cat is sick but hubby assures me that cats sleep A LOT. She always seems sleepy but I guess looking after 3 little ones would do that to anything! We went out there this evening and one of the little ones looks sick. It's one of the white ones (two whites and a gray/black) well the one I'm talking about eats a LOT of the cat food I leave out for the mommy cat. The other two don't eat as much (but the little gray/black one was eating some). This white cat has some gunk under its little eyes and I've noticed it sneezes. A neighbor said it looks like it has "cold in its eyes". I'm sure it needs to go to the vet but I'm not off from work again until next Sunday. Plus momma cat doesnt let us get to close. Is there anything you can do for it? My husband did get a hold of the sickly one and it just sat there on the towel in his hands. He brought it over to my yorkie and after sniffing the kitten for a minute he snapped at the little thing. Broke my heart. Hubby pulled the kitten back or I think my dog would have bit it! I would like to keep the gray/black cat, its more scared then the two white ones though but I dont want to cause it or my dog any harm. *sigh*
post #12 of 14
Yes, it sounds like the little one needs attention.

If I were in your situation, I'd go through the list of rescue orgs, leave phone messages and/or e-mail (probably both). If you can afford it, momma and the kittens should probably all go to the vet - and maybe they can sit it out there until a foster for them turns up. The vet staff may even know of someone or volunteer to do it themselves.

post #13 of 14
Good on you for helping out the family of kitties! Rescue groups are amazing allies, they should be a great resource. Which area do you live in?
post #14 of 14
You can call around to rescue organizations and see if any of them have onsite vets or coupons for a vet visit. Or you could follow some of the links others have posted and still see if a vet office can send you in the right direction.
These cats need to be seen. Especially the babies.
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