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Using babies to catch mama cat?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
One of my ferals is largely pregnant. I saw her and the gray tom (whom I have since caught and neutered) going at it on March 10th, so I calculated that she should be having the babies on Tuesday, if she goes 63 days.

So, I'm pretty sure I know where she'll have the babies. If I find them and I can get to them, is there any way I can use them to trap the mama cat? She's a smart one and will NOT go into the trap no matter what I use for bait. I just can't figure out how to do it without hurting the babies or taking the risk of having to raise the kittens myself because her maternal instinct isn't strong enough to overcome her fear of the trap.
post #2 of 18
Yep, I read you can put them in a carrier and put it outside the back of the trap.
post #3 of 18
I think it is somewhat risky. As you say, not sure she will take the bait.

But forumist here did witnessed it is (often) working.
Usually as Willowy and Kscatlady tells, them in a carrier behind the trap. Or in the trap if it is big enough.

But some had them even inside the house in the hall: mom went in after them...

I suspect these cases was where the rescuer was somewhat known by the mom as a helpful, not threatening human, and thus - this desperate step was something very difficult to do, but not impossible.

There was lately even a remarkable case, where the rescuer managed to trap the family and get them indoors, but the mom managed to run away. But after a couple of minutes, she returned! Searched through the house, found her babies, and stayed there with them...


So, if the mom knows you as her helper, try. It is a chance worth taking.
post #4 of 18
Sometimes a feral mom will become very friendly while she is raising her kittens. Doesn't happen all the time, but you might be able to use it in your favor (see Sarahp's threads in fur pictures, as she is going thru this right now).

If you can get a large carrier or wire cage, place the kittens in there with the door open, wait for the mom to enter the cage then close the door. If you don't monitor it closely, there is a big chance that mom will move the kittens. If you have success, then move the entire cage into your home (or where ever you are going to raise them). Make sure it fits through the door.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
If you can get a large carrier or wire cage, place the kittens in there with the door open, wait for the mom to enter the cage then close the door.
I'm afraid that if I do that, she'll freak out and hurt the kittens (by stepping on them or whatever) when I shut the door. All the other ferals I've caught have been very wild in the trap. So I would rather try putting them in a separate carrier instead.

She's definitely had the kittens....I think late Saturday or early Sunday. They're most likely in my neighbor's machine shed, and he only comes around on Saturdays, so this weekend I'll ask him if I can go in and look around. The shed is a MESS, so who knows where she gave birth. So many places to hide.

If I can't find them as babies, what age should I try to trap them? I want to get them young enough so that they can be socialized, but not so young that they'd suffer without their mother.
post #6 of 18
If the mom continues to feed at your place, chances are that she'll bring the kittens with her when they are about 4-5 weeks old. If she does that and the kittens remain close to your house, then you can trap them anytime. If they are feral and you want to socialize them, try to catch them about 6 weeks old. I know that is too young to take a kitten from their moms, but if you wait until 8 weeks, they are harder to tame. Yes, kittens learn a lot in those 2 weeks.

I had a feral cat deliver in my garage one time. I went out everyday to handle the kittens so that they got used to me. The mom would sit on the side and watch, but never got mean to us (she was very wild). I'd bring her food and try to get the kittens to eat. The day that the kittens actually ate the kibble, I took them away from her. They were about 5-1/2 weeks old. I wouldn't suggest doing this any younger - I really stretched it with that litter.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yeah, she brought the last litter around when they were about that age. I didn't try trapping them then, and I wish I had. I managed to trap 2 of them and have them fixed, but now her other daughter is pregnant, too. I think I can trap her before she gives birth, but I have to get my trap back from my grandma's house (I was trying to trap her feral toms....I can't believe one them tripped the trap, took the bait, and wasn't caught!!!!).

She is pretty wild, but will let me within about 5 feet of her without taking off. I think she'd let me handle the babies if I could find them and have regular contact with them. But if they're in the shed I'd need to ask the owner if I could go in there without him. I don't think the door is locked but I don't want to be charged with trespassing. I'd rather trap her so I could have her spayed. Poor thing has probably had too many litters by now---she doesn't look young.
post #8 of 18
What kind of trap do you own? Havaheart is a very popular brand, but the ones that I've used are small enough for large tom's to reach out their necks and grab the bate over the trip plate. I own a Tomahawk that can also be used as a racoon trap - a little bit larger than a normal cat trap and it hasn't failed me for any adult. The problem with a bigger trap is that it doesn't always go off with kittens, so I've had to resort to the "grab" move on them while they eat.

I hope she stays on the tame side while she is taking care of her kittens. One of the allusive ferals that I dealt with for a while fooled me 2 years in a row. She was very wild, but would get actually loving when she was nursing her kittens. Just about the time I started to think about trapping her (kittens just weaned), she'd disappear and leave her kittens behind. Then show up the next year with more kittens. My Stumpy and Eightball are 2 of her kittens. Don't wait too long to trap mama - she may turn temperment in the matter of a day.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Mama cat isn't any tamer than usual.....in fact, I don't see her very often any more. I suppose she's staying with the kittens most of the time. The machine shed's owner didn't show today so I have to keep an eye out for him. If I don't see him in the next couple of weeks I'll call him and ask permission to go in to look for the kittens. He's 82 and lives at the nursing home, but he usually comes to the shed at least once a week to check it over. Nice guy.

I have a raccoon-sized Havahart trap. Quite a few of the ferals have learned how to steal the bait, but I don't know how he managed to set the trap off, closing the door, and still get away! If I have to trap the kittens I'll use a carrier with a rope on the door. I'm afraid to use the trap because one of the other kittens might be standing in the doorway when one steps on the trip plate......the door closes hard enough to bruise my arm, so it would probably injure a kitten.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
If I don't see him in the next couple of weeks I'll call him and ask permission to go in to look for the kittens. He's 82 and lives at the nursing home, but he usually comes to the shed at least once a week to check it over. Nice guy.
Cant you call him right now, or even visit him at that nursing home, and ask?

Even if you dont need the permission now immediately, it is surely good to have everything prepared. IF a chance appears, you can immediately move on.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StefanZ View Post
Cant you call him right now, or even visit him at that nursing home, and ask?
*Shrug* I don't see the hurry. If I do take them and she doesn't have the maternal instincts to go in the trap after them, it's better for them to have more time with her than less. No hurry. They're only a week old today.
post #12 of 18
Whatever you do, when you touch the kittens, do it with those surgical gloves, so they wont have your scent, otherwise, the mother might not feed them again
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I haven't found that to be true in my experience.....I even found a nest of baby bunnies in my yard and I handled them daily (for some reason I was afraid their mother wasn't feeding them so I checked them all the time) and she never abandoned them or even moved them. And cats really don't seem to mind if you handle their babies, even if they're feral.

Have you had personal experience with a cat abandoning her babies because of human handling? Personally I believe maternal instinct is stronger than that.
post #14 of 18
I've always handled the kittens of feral moms when I know where they are. And I've never had an issue with the mom abandoning them. She might move them, but she wouldn't abandon them.
post #15 of 18
Make sure, that whatever you do, the kittens are within hearing & seeing distance of mother cat, or she'll freak out and might not know where they are.

If you're going to move the babies, set a professional trap, and move her into a locked room when you catch her and make her feel safe and secure and well fed.

You really don't want to have to hand-rear them if she decides to cut her loses, not so much that she abandons them as she can't work out where they are.

Remember though, don't get them spayed/de-sexed until the kittens are weened or they will possibly run dry of milk.
post #16 of 18
I have had an experience of a semi-feral cat (She would let me pet her only while she was eating) killing her kittens after handling. I located the litter in the back of a truck in a scrap yard, and planned to leave them alone for at least 3 weeks. But at 1 week old, there was a severe thunderstorm (up to 8 inches of rain predicted for it, but we only got 6) and I knew I couldn't leave them unsheltered in that weather. I collected all 5 kittens, and the mother was easier to catch since she was going crazy from hearing her babies wail. Once I had the kittens in, she went into the carrier without a problem.

I got them home, and put them in the laundry room. I had a box prepared for them, but the kittens were soaking wet, so I took the time to dry off each one. When I left them, the mother was nursing them and I was feeling pretty good. But when I came in the next morning, she was only nursing 2 kittens, and the other three were, well, mangled. It was terrible.

Stil to this day I wonder if I did the right thing. I knew the risks of moving them, but never expected her to kill her own young.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamhainBorn View Post
I got them home, and put them in the laundry room. I had a box prepared for them, but the kittens were soaking wet, so I took the time to dry off each one. When I left them, the mother was nursing them and I was feeling pretty good. But when I came in the next morning, she was only nursing 2 kittens, and the other three were, well, mangled. It was terrible.

Stil to this day I wonder if I did the right thing. I knew the risks of moving them, but never expected her to kill her own young.
You did surely the right thing. Any bookmaker would bet on you.

It may have been something else triggering off the killings. Some sound or such making her extra - extremely - nervous - adding to her overall stress...
Cat moms if enough stressed can kill their kittens. It doesnt happen that often - but it is entirely possible. Out in the open, where they dont always have good and safe, undisturbed nests - it is not uncommon.

Also, cats are no automatons. There are some rule of thumbs, but you really never know for sure. Not even an experienced rescuer.

But this is also partly the beauty of it: sometimes you can stumble upon solutions you never though possible.
post #18 of 18
Also, mother cats will kill or eat some of their young if there is something wrong with them and they have to choose between focusing on the healthy kittens vs. feeding kittens who she thinks won't make it. It probably wasn't you handing them (otherwise she would have done all 5), but maybe her mothering instinct telling her that the three she killed would not make it anyway.
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