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A.C.'s Feral Feline Foursome Foray

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
So after reading on another forum how effective a limited space is in socializing ferals, I bit the bullet and moved my four feral kittens (see original post here ) into my bathroom. It took just as much chasing, spitting, hissing and clawing as I was afraid it would, but it's done and WOW, what a difference it's made.

CindyLou, the tabby, is a real character. She never stops moving, ever. She's all over my lap, up in my face, checking out the camera, everything. She still runs when I stand up or approach her on foot (they all do), but I am very happy with her progress.

Sweet CindyLou pic.

Checking out the camera.

Remo, the kitten I was most concerned about, has decided he absolutely loves to be scratched and petted. He has taken to pushing his little head under my hand when I'm petting another kitten and tonight, finally, finally, he let me scoop him up and place him in my lap without freaking!!!! He stayed a long time, too, for his first time! All the while, I loved on him and cooed to him and thanked him for trusting me after everything I'd put him through.

Here he is patting my hand.

And giving me little love nips.

Ellie and Sarah are still jumpy, but both of them will settle in my lap quietly purring for a minute or two before they begin to get antsy. And they will eat with me sitting right next to them, as long as I move slowly.

Here's Sarah (she was the last kitten I caught). Isn't she lovely?

I couldn't get a good pic of Ellie, as she's still a bit afraid of the camera, but here's one of Remo and Ellie (in front, left and right respectively) with Sarah hiding in back. And, yes, Remo and Ellie are almost identical. Ellie's nose is slightly different and her back legs have more white (Remo has four perfect white paws) and she's a wee bit smaller than Remo, but you have to look really close to tell who's who.

I truly had no idea how much time and effort would be needed to socialize these guys, but I'm grateful I was able to intervene early enough to make a difference for them. I only hope that 1) I have the strength to let them go when they're ready and 2) that whoever adopts them loves and cares for them as much as these little babies deserve.

P.S. Catchy title, eh? *grin*
post #2 of 33
They are just gorgeous and you are doing a wonderful thing!!
post #3 of 33
They're absolutely adorabel and you're doing a wonderful job with them!
post #4 of 33
An alliterative masterpiece!

And the kits are just adorable. Cindylou looks like she has some Maine Coon in her with the ruff and the ear tufts. Obviously, she doesn't look like her B/W sibbies.
post #5 of 33
What a gorgeous group of kits!!! That's so wonderful that you've made lots of progress with them!
post #6 of 33
Really wonderful work you're doing. Isn't it great when they come around and you realize your hard work is paying off.
post #7 of 33
They are lovely ...
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hey, thanks for the kitty compliments, everyone!

Lucinda, the momma kitty, has been with me for four weeks as of this Saturday. I'm giving it one more week and if she's not showing any signs of pregnancy - and she should be after 35 days!! - then off to the shelter she goes. That'll leave me with just her kittens, in a single room, to work with, which is a really good thing. Right now, I've got to split my time between Lucinda in one bedroom, the kittens in the bathroom, my cats (they've been soooo patient about all this!), and myself. That's a lotta splittin'!

Thanks again, all. It's awesome having folks to share this stuff with!
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
The kittens are doing great today. Two of them, CindyLou and, believe it or not, Remo, will now come out to greet me if I sit down and wait, purring and demanding head scratches. Ellie and Sarah will start purring as soon as I sit, but they aren't quite confident enough to come out on their own yet. Even so, this is major progress.

I'm going to leave them in the bathroom for one more week. Then I'll move them to my smallest spare bedroom after I've completely emptied the room. The only thing besides walls and a floor in there will be a large cat carrier. Although the carrier is considerably bigger than their current nest, it's still small enough for me to reach all the way to the back if I need too. I'll be sooooo glad to get them out of my bathroom! Plus, the added room will allow me to play with them again and I think that's important. Moving them might set us back a bit, but I think one more week in the close confines of the bathroom will be more than enough to establish me firmly as a friend.

Next Saturday, if she is still not showing any signs of a pregnancy (and I really hope she isn't), momma Lucinda will go to the shelter. That'll free up some of my time (yay!) and for sure make my own feline family happy. Lucinda keeps trying to dart out of her room, but every time I feel sorry for her and let her out, she picks a fight with my cats. Then no one's happy, so back into her room she goes.
post #10 of 33
You ought to be a photographer! Those pics are so awesome! They look like triplets! They are gorgeous!!! I know exactly what a demand the ferals
place on us, but it is so worth it when they do come around! You are a hero,
heroin, I just have never figured out how to give mine up after all of that, so I keep them! sucker! yes that would be me!
Keep up the fantastic work, and all the love you have shared with them!!
post #11 of 33
If you are planning to adopt out the kittens, I suggest that you get others to spend time with them right now. Feral kittens/cats sometimes bond only to their caregiver, so while you might be making great strides with them right now, they could relapse into feral behavior once you adopt them out. A true test if you are making progress is if someone else can handle them like you are.

They are adorable!
post #12 of 33
They are all cute as can be, but I must admit to being partial to CindyLou. She looks very much like my Fluffy.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
So much for that plan...

I wrote earlier today that the kittens were progressing so well in my bathroom that I was keeping them there another week before moving them into a small bedroom....

Well, apparently, miss CindyLou has other ideas. Despite the fact the other kittens won't even approach the baby-gate I've got across the bathroom door, CindyLou not only went right up to it, the little brat jumped it and started roaming the house.

So I put a folded heavy-duty cardboard box across the door frame above the baby-gate.

That lasted less than an hour. CindyLou now jumps to the top of the gate, clinging with the tips of her nails and teetering precariously, then leaps to the top of the cardboard box, which sways alarmingly but doesn't faze her a bit. She holds there just long enough to chose a landing spot, then scrambles over the top and leaps.

I didn't want to keep the bathroom door closed because the room doesn't have a fan and it gets humid in there real quick. I'll guess they're gonna be a little damp this next week.

Here's some more pics:

My little escape artist...

Looking totally innocent...

Remo, a very handsome fellow indeed...

Remo checking things out...

CindyLou and Ellie playing, Remo trying to chill...

BTW, Momofmany, you are exactly right in suggesting I get others in here to handle these guys. I'm already working on it.

And thanks for the compliments, everyone!
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
I am in sooo much trouble. Every day that passes, every step in trust these kittens make, every time Remo lays down next to me and rubs his head on my leg (and, yes, can you stand it - he's come that far), I get further and further away from the ability to send them off to the over-crowded, URI ridden, steel-barred cages of the rescue shelter.

Remo snuggling with mom.

And giving me a lick.

Even beat to heck and back, DaBird is irresistible.

Remo's gonna get him some. : )


And the sweet Sarah.

Hope y'all don't mind that I keep posting pics - I just love sharing my furry friends.
post #15 of 33
Please keep posting pics!
They are so cute! Congrats on winning their trust!
post #16 of 33
Oh, I know.

I have never rescued ferals, but I get sooooo attached just to the shelter cats and kittens I look after. I can't be involved in the adoption process, cuz I cry.
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 
I'm disappointed to say that the shelter I was working with took the kittens this past weekend and declared they were adoption ready.

Um.... no they're not. All of them still run when approached and Ellie still hisses when I get close to her. Granted, Remy and Heather (I renamed CindyLou) will come to me after I sit down and wait a few minutes, but that's the best these kittens can do right now, and Ellie and Sarah are no where near that calm or secure with people!

*sigh* I can only assume the shelter wants them for the Christmas adoption season, which makes me even more disappointed. I mean, it's just irresponsible to adopt out during Christmas; too many kittens are picked up as impulse buys and either end up back at the shelter or out on the street after the 'newness' wears off. I didn't ask if the shelter froze adoptions during December, I just assumed they did, but then I brought the kittens in for their second deworming on Monday and, poof, that was that. I didn't even get to say goodbye.

I left without saying much because I was so taken by surprise, but I've called the shelter twice since then and spoke with two different people, including the shelter manager. They are adamant that the kittens are ready to be adopted and they're not going to give them back to me for additional fostering. I think that really stinks and I feel awful for the poor little kittens. In fact, I'm pretty po'd about the whole thing.

I called again yesterday and told them I was adopting Heather; they were ok with that, and I sent them an email today telling them I'd also be taking Remy. I haven't heard back about Remy but I hope they don't give me any issues. If I was confident I could logistically handle seven cats, I'd keep all four, in a heartbeat. I've got the money and the room, I just don't think I realistically have the time to care for that many cats on my own.

This totally did not end the way I was expecting.
post #18 of 33
Seven is really not a problem. I have seven. Get in the floor and use the wand toys to play. Everybody at my house will get in on the game or they take turns. They seek me at different times for pets or food. It is no different than having three except for the amount of food.

If it is in your heart to have these four babies and you can take care of their needs, do what's in your heart. Wishing you the best.
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Skimble, for your encouragement - I sorely needed it.

I am most pleased to say that I finally talked to someone at the shelter who agrees with me, and the kittens will all be returned to me on Saturday. I am so very relieved; these poor babies should never have left my care!

And getting them back doesn't mitigate the damage that's been done or change how mad I am about this whole thing. It doesn't help that the women I spoke with confessed that Ellie, the kitten I was most concerned about, has spent the last three days totally terrified.

That's so wrong.

*deep breath*

I'm going to put my upset aside, though, and concentrate on helping the kittens. They were all spayed and neutered this week and they have now received all their shots, therefore, there is no need to bring them back to the shelter until I'm good and ready to bring them back. God willing, I will find suitable adopters for Ellie and Sarah on my own and the kittens can go directly from my home to theirs. Of course, they'll have to be processed through the shelter, but I'm not concerned about how the paperwork feels while it's being processed.
post #20 of 33
oh gosh, those poor little babies MUST have absolutely terrified I'm so glad you have them back and that they weren't too traumatized

and 7?? Ha!! What's 7?? I have 14, and while sometimes I wonder if they're getting enough attention from me, the furry pile I sleep under every night says they love me anyway If I had 7 I'd probably be bored
post #21 of 33
They are beautiful and I'm glad you got them back. I would have a hard time giving back little Cindy-Lou-Heather too!

Keep up the good work! you are an
post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
Good news: because of the crazy blizzard we've got going on, my boss all but kicked me out of the office early today, so I scooted over to the shelter and picked up my fosters.

Bad news: 1) The girls did NOT get spayed after all, so I'll have to bring them back in a month whether I want to or not. 2) The shelter gave me two of my kittens and two of their own kittens. Completely UNTESTED and UNTREATED kittens who then spent an hour crammed into a tiny carrier with my Heather and Sarah.


I'm glad to have two of my babies back, but sheez-louize, I'm gonna need some serious Valium by the time these kittens are adopted.
post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well, it's official. Remy and Heather belong to me. I'm such a failure as a foster mom.

Heather has been here since yesterday afternoon and apparently she's decided she no longer belongs in the kitten room. She started crying this morning when she heard me moving around in the kitchen and when I opened the door she scooted right out. She's been wandering around the house ever since. Silly kitty!

Doesn't she look like she knows she's home?

Totally fascinated by the falling snow.

She spent a long time at this window. Isn't she cute?

Here she is being greeted by Allen.

Remy clearly remembers me but he seems a bit spooked by everything. I'm going to keep him in the kitten room until he starts greeting me at the door, which should only take a couple of days.

Ellie and Sarah are definitely going to take a while longer. Poor Ellie is still hissing at first sight of me and I can't pick either of them up, although both will start purring not too long after I start scritching them while they're tucked away in their "safe spot" in their carrier. I have to bring everyone in for their final shots in four weeks - I hope I can get Ellie and Sarah to come around by then 'cause I'm sure the shelter will want to try to adopt them out again.
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
MAJOR breakthroughs today!

First, Remy greeted me at the kitten door this evening while I was still standing and moving, so, yay!, he'll be out roaming the house during the day for the next two weeks (I'm off until Jan 5th). He also gave me a lovely surprise. After stepping up onto my folded knees, he reached up, rubbed noses with me and then head-butted my cheek. Even my own cats don't do that!! (Is there a teary-eyed-happy icon?) I melted right on the spot. *sniff*

Even more importantly, first Sarah this morning and then Ellie this evening walked up to me and asked to be petted. Their body language was surprisingly clear, they were greeting me and wanted me to pet them. Then they STAYED IN MY LAP on their OWN for several minutes apiece. Yippee!!!!

I'm so happy right now.
post #25 of 33
That made *my* fur stand up. That's why I really dislike animal control and try not to have anything to do with them if I can. They don't understand ferals and they don't seem to even want to try.

I am so glad you got your babies back and you're making such progress. I was getting so worked up by the time I read the part that you got them back lol

post #26 of 33
sounds like are doing great now that they're back with you! I'm so glad Remy and Heather have a home with you and I think the smiley you were looking for is this one
post #27 of 33
Thread Starter 
My ferals are coming along wonderfully - I'm so very proud of them! Ellie and Sarah will now let me approach, pet and pick them up from a standing/walking position, as well as stay close when I put them back down. I can even, as of today, bring their faces close to mine without a panic ensuing, although they're still a bit sketchy with that.

Heather and Remy have had the run of the house all week now and, except for an occasional freak-out which they quickly recover from, are nearly as calm as my own cats (well, as calm as kittens can ever be LOL!). Remy is turning into a total love bug and even sleeps with me on my pillow sometimes, but Heather, I think, is going to be one of those 'I love you but I'm really too busy doing this wonderful thing I'm doing' kinda cats. Maybe she'll mellow as she ages.

I've decided to bring Ellie and Sarah to the shelter on Saturday. It breaks my heart to see them go, but they're ready and I know I can't keep them forever. I'm proud of them and I want the best for them, and it's so incredibly hard to let them go to an unknown future. I have to keep reminding myself that I've done my part and I have to trust that they'll be ok from here. But, knowing the statistics on kitten adoptions, that hope is slim indeed.

Maybe the shelter will allow contact between the adopter(s) and I? That would be certainly be helpful.
post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Lucinda, Sarah, and Ellie have all been adopted through the shelter. Spencer was adopted by me a few weeks ago and today, I officially adopted Heather.

And so closes this adventure. The shelter's not allowing any contact between me and the other adopters and didn't even call me when the adoptions took place, so I was not able to give the new owners any information or the care-packages I had planned to donate. Nor did they keep Sarah and Ellie together as I had requested.

I'm disappointed, but ok. I got the whole family off the streets and I gave them love and warmth and security. I showed them that people can be good and that inside is a wonderful place to be. I gave them a chance to have the life we all wish for our furbabies. As incredibly harsh as this winter has been, the kittens would surely be dead now if they had remained outside. Spencer and Heather will spend the rest of their lives with me, and I will have to trust to God that the others will do as well in their new homes.

Rescueing and socializing these kittens was a lot of work, and a huge, unanticipated amount of stress, but worth it in the end. I can't do it again because my fur-family seems to be content with the mix I have and I absolutely don't want to mess with that. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who do this on a regular basis. May God bless every one of you!

Here are some pics of my furfamily to make you smile.
Rachel and Spencer

Spencer and Heather


Left to right: Heather, Rachel, Allen and Spencer

Left to right: Rachel, Meghan, Heather, Spencer and Allen

post #29 of 33
What a beautifully happy and sad story!!! Your furbabies are absolutely adorable and I am so happy for you! God bless you for your love and devotion to our wonderful furry loving friends!!
post #30 of 33
Originally Posted by Auntie Crazy View Post
The shelter's not allowing any contact between me and the other adopters and didn't even call me when the adoptions took place, so I was not able to give the new owners any information or the care-packages I had planned to donate. Nor did they keep Sarah and Ellie together as I had requested.

That's not right. As the foster mom, you should not have been locked out of the process. We don't do that! As a potential adoptee - I would WANT to communicate with you about the cat's personality, habits, etc. And keeping kittens/cats together when they are bonded is always preferable, not not always possible and I know our reviewers have had to make that tough call.
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