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Advice for a Newbie? Pregnant Stray rescue...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone!

Been a lurker for quite a while, and found this to be a very experienced and helpful group of people. I'm hoping that you all wouldn't mind giving this newbie some advice. I'll try to keep it short, but I should probably start with some background.

My husband and I are cat lovers like the rest of you, and moved into an apartment building about 2 years ago with our two kitties. When we got settled, we noticed that there were quite a lot of kitties living in the wooded area behind our building, but two in particular were very social, and always hanging around the building and sleeping under the first floor balconies. They werent really afraid of people, but they would run of course, if we got too close.

Once we started getting to know some of the neighbors, we learned more about the two kitties (one boy, one girl). Some of the neighbors thought that they were throwaways from the building, but they were definitely "together" and had had at least five litters out there. A couple of the neighbors had taken in a kitten or two, but for the most part, whichever ones they couldnt rescue dissapeared. There are racoons in the area, and the neighbors suspected that they were getting to the kittens.

Pretty soon Mama was pregnant again, and with this newest litter, my husband and I managed to capture all the kitties, and bring them to one of the neighbors who was a volunteer with a rescue center. We tried tirelessly to get the mama and papa so we could at least have them spayed and neutered, and then either adopted out, or released back by the building. No avail there.

A couple of the neighbors were taking turns feeding the two on a daily basis, but soon enough, both of those neighbors, and a third one who cared about their welfare, moved out of the building. One of those neighbors came to my husband and I with a ten dollar bill and asked if we would take over their feeding, since they would be gone. We could hardly refuse, and so for the last appx. 8 months, we have been feeding Mama and Papa religously. They had gotten to the point where they would let us pet them, and come running when they heard our car in the parking lot!

Between the time we moved in, and today, Mama has had another three litters, (making appx. 8 litters total). We have managed to rescue another ten or so kittens, taking one of the kitties in ourselves, and bringing the rest of them to shelters, but I have a lot of concern and worry, and wanted desperately to finally get Mama and Papa so that they could be spayed and neutered, and she wouldn't have to carry yet another litter of kittens. This last few weeks we have learned Mama is VERY pregnant, again, and so the situation is even more urgent. If she has her babies outside, most if not all could be lost again to the racoons, or who knows what... We needed to hurry before it was too late.

My husband and I are struggling a great deal, but we managed to scrape enough money together to get a racoon trap. We FINALLY got Mama and Papa both within three hours of eachother, and have been keeping them both in our bathroom with a nice warm bed, litter box and food and water.

Unfortunately, we can't afford to bring them to the vet, but they look very healthy, and miraculously don't seem to have fleas or worms. The plan for now is to keep them seperated at night in the bathroom, and roam about supervised during the day. They are very much "in love" and spend half the day grooming one another and cuddling, anyway. So I'm not too worried about them getting into trouble.

The long term plan was to wait for Mama to have her kittens, wait a good six weeks for her to nurse and mother them, and then adopt the kittens out. In the meantime, we will hopefully find a place that can spay her, and neuter papa, so they can live out their lives happily without poor mama having to make more babies. I don't know what we will do after that. That is where I am hoping some of you can help...

I want to do what's right by them, and have spent much time deliberating with myself as to what I should do. My husband and I adore them, and would not mind keeping them, even though we are already one cat over our limit according to apartment rules. We are willing to break that to give them a warm place to sleep at night, but is that the right thing to do? They are clearly stray, and not feral, since they have always relied so much on us. And I wonder about those bitter cold nights and stifling hot days... they have managed to survive this long, but are they miserable during times like that? Since we have had Mama and Papa in our apartment, Papa spends alot of the time that he is not cuddling with Mama meowing incessantly at our balcony door. I know he sees and smells the outside, and he has tried desperately to find a way back out. It breaks my heart. I don't know what to do.

Its only been four days, and I know he is adjusting. But I am very conflicted and am almost considering letting him back out. I won't because I know he needs to get neutered first...but its heart-wrenching. We spoil our kitties, and I know if he was truly ours he would have tons of love, and food whenever he's hungry, and toys, and chinscratches on command, but will that mean he is happy?

Mama seems to be oblivious, but I think thats just because she is exhausted, and ready to burst. But one thing I know for sure is that they are two peas in a pod, and must stay together. If I let him back out eventually, she will go with him. Even if we don't adopt them ourselves, if we do decide to make them indoor cats we will absolutely adopt them out as a pair.

I'm a very emotional person, especially when it comes to cats, and I just think I need reassurance that I'm even doing the right thing. Will Papa get over his misery? Is it better to let them both roam free together? Will they still even be a couple if they are neutered and spayed? Am I even going about any of this the right way?

If any of you are even still awake, I'd love to hear your thoughts...
post #2 of 13

personally I'd take a small fee for the kittens when they are ready to be re-homed and use this to get mommy and daddy neutered. Not sure what people would be prepared to pay for a healthy, well socialized kitten in the USA, but if you explain why you must take this fee you might find people willing to pay it.

Mommy and Daddy seem to have been able to fend for themselves pretty well, so I'd suggest that they should become indoor/outdoor cats. I realize that this is not common in the States, but it does sound like daddy will not be happy as an indoor cat only. You might want to wait a while to see if he'll eventually be OK as an indoor cat- but if he isn't you may not have a choice. In any case you won't be able to let them out untill the litter is weaned and they are neutered.

They can get use to being let in and fed when you come home and leave the house with you when you leave in the mornings. They should have a dry spot to wait for you if the weather is bad.

I would also advise you to get them checked for FIV and leucose.

And YES, you are doing the right thing. It's a dreadfull thought that so many kittens haven't made it and mommy will be much better of if she isn't constantly having one litter after the next.

Oh and yes- they will still be a couple if they get neutered!


post #3 of 13
Is there a shelter in the area that has a low-cost spay/neuter or TNR program? You may be able to get some assistance instead of having to pay for everything yourself. Will the shelter help with the kittens once they're old enough for shots and spay or neuter?

One reason the male is wanting to go back outside is that he wants to find more females to impregnate. Your two may be tightly bonded, but cats are not monogamous. I would definitely not let him out until he's been neutered.

Bless you for taking in these kitties. Do you have pictures? And pictures of your own kitties?
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, we have had a bit of a development.. Papa has escaped. We have spent the better part of the night trying to get him back. We just stepped out of the room for 10 minutes, and had our balcony door opened only a few inches. Somehow he managed to push the door open further, and literally break down the screen to get outside. We live on the second floor, and by the time my husband heard, and got out on the porch, Papa was already jumping down. Fortunately he is completely unharmed, but he has been meowing nonstop, (for Mama, I assume) and pacing around the entrance door to the building. We have set up the trap again, but I doubt he'll be caught so easily this time. I am so terribly saddened about this. He must be so miserable, calling for her. I know she will be wondering where he is.

We need to get him neutered, but I'm not sure we'll be able to now.

Goldy, We do have programs around the Chicago area that should offer us assistance when the time comes. I don't know if they will help with the kittens' shots or not. We'll have to find that out.

I do have pictures of everyone, even Papa. I'll make sure to post them tomorrow.

Christine, thanks for the advice. I don't know how many people would be willing to pay for kittens in this area, since there are so very many of them, but it might be worth a shot if it will help with Mama and Papas surgeries. Thanks again for the advice and reassurance. I wish I could say I felt better now, but unfortunately with Papa escaping I only feel worse, and even more conflicted. *sigh*
post #5 of 13
Oh, my, poor kitties
I would contact your low cost spay/neuter place, and get Dad done right now(if you can get him). I would do that because he can get mom pregnant again, right after the babies are born, even after he is neutered(for 3 weeks after). If you want you can ask around and see if anyone you know wants a cat/kitten too. I'm not sure about Dad, but make sure you keep Mom in the house because you don't want her to have kittens outside again.
If you want more info about pregnant cats/kittens go the the pregnant cats and kittens forum(
I hope everything goes ok!
post #6 of 13
I just wanted to take a few minutes and I guess, share some thoughts.

What you are doing IS going to make a difference. Even if only Momma gets spayed, you have helped curb the pet overpopulation and you should consider yourself a blessing to society. In the last 17 days that I've had a pregnant stray in my care, I've realized that it only takes one person to start the change. My husband isn't thrilled that I've taken on the expense of another cat, that in a matter of days will be multiple cats but after a long talk last night I think he better understands why its important to me. I know I can't change the world. But I can make a difference in Ginger's life--she'll never have to mother another litter of kittens, and none of her kittens will ever have to mother a litter of kittens or father a litter of kittens.

I know it seems hard, in your head you think all they've known is a life on the streets so you think they can't adjust to life in a house. But I have two cats who lived their lives on the street and they want nothing to do with the outside world. They love a warm house on a cold day, and cool house on a warm day. They love knowing there will always be a meal when they are hungry.

Just keep doing what you're doing. I do firmly believe Matthew 6:20 that we are storing up our treasures in heaven.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much guys. I do feel a bit better. I'm sure we'll eventually be able to get Papa once again, and if nothing else, have him neutered. I hope he'll be able to stay with us for Mama's sake, but I'll take what I can get.

Fortunately, Mama seems to be okay with the whole thing, but again, she is so pregnant that I imagine she doesnt care about anything right now. I'm looking forward to her having her kittens.

Anyway here are the pictures of my kids (and foster kids)...

This is my Winston, Mama and Papas baby boy, whom we took in about a year and 3 months ago. He's a big, playful boy.. lover of chicken, yogurt, and face rubs. He is endlessly amusing, and we love every bit of trouble he causes.

This is Sadie, a persian mix whom we took in about 5 years ago, when her family decided that since she had grown out of kitten-hood she was no longer worth keeping. She is the sweetest, most gentle girl..who loves to spend her time nuzzling my neck and drooling all over me in the process. :p

This is my Princess Simon. (yep, she's a girl) She was my first kitty, and she is now 12 years old. She is the royalty of the household, walking around as if she is above it all. (of course she is!) She has become a lap cat in her older age, and enjoys kicking Winnies but every now and then, just to show she still can.

And here are some pictures of Mama and Papa, together and seperately. I think its pretty obvious how much they look like Winston, and maybe eachother. (I've wondered if maybe they are related, too) Such pretty kitties.

The two of them together. This is how they sleep, always some part touching. Aren't they sweet!?

Papa, on the day we caught him, dirty and scared. Poor thing.

Here is pretty Mama. This was the best shot I could get of her. I wish it were more in focus!

I hope these pictures aren't too big!
post #8 of 13
Awww, they really seem to love each other!
post #9 of 13
Funny she looks very much like my Ginger--the pregnant stray I took in--who by the way gave birth to 4 adorable babies on Monday.

post #10 of 13
Beautiful fur crew! lots of that you can get the Daddy cat back into your care.
post #11 of 13
I doubt anyone would pay for the kittens but you might ask for a donation to get the parents fixed. That might raise some money and give you a good idea about what kind of home the kittens are going to. Even if all you can do for the cats is have them altered then release them, you are making a HUGE difference. I work at a shelter that is not no kill. It breaks my heart to see animals destroyed not because they're sick, not because they're dangerous but simply because there isn't room for them. Every time we spay or neuter an animal we're slowing the rate of overpopulation and sparing good animals from destruction.
post #12 of 13
They are all beautiful and bless you for helping kitties in need
post #13 of 13
I think you are doing a wonderful thing. Most likely papa will lose most of the urgency to get outside once he is neutered.

4 years ago I brought home a pregnant stray that I had spent several months taming. She gave birth to 8 kittens, got me to put my first post on TCS, and is now a very happy spayed kitty in our home. (She does go out still in our backyard - we have a cat fence.)
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