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two five month old kittens are caught and feral

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi there: We finally trapped two little strays this morning. They went balistic in the traps and in my bathroom where they are safely resting (more like frozen stiff with fear). I have no experience with feral kittens. How long until I can pet them because now they are terrified. What should I do to start the process of socializing them? I really want to move them along. I have other cats and am keeping them separate for everyone's good.

I am keeping a diary of their progress. Any of you cat experts have tips and tricks to help me? I don't want to terrify them any more than they already are but I do want to get them used to me and my home ASAP.

Your thoughts? I really appreciate any help that you can send my way!!
post #2 of 17

Are you working with a rescue or TNR group? Or is this something you're doing on your own? Will you be adopting them or are you fostering them? to the rest, well.... the first thing we do when we have kittens in a trap is get them to a vet. We already have arrangements set up whereby we don't need an appointment, we just drop them as soon as we trap them, and the vet calls us when they're ready to be picked up. They could be carrying any number of diseases that you definitely do not want you existing pets to catch. Are they flea and tic free? They probably have internal parasites that need to be treated. And at five months old, they could have that hormonal shift, so they DEFINITELY need to be spayed or neutered as soon as possible! And they need to be vaccinated. And since you're not going to be releasing them, they ought to be tested for FIV and FeLV. Do you need help finding a low-cost place? Are you in the U.S.?

But at five months old, if born feral and raised by a feral mom with not a lot of people interaction, be prepared to turn off any kind of clock you've got in your head about how long it will take to socialize them! Depending upon their history of interaction with people, it could take some time.

Do you have a cat proof room ready for them where they can spend a couple of months? I don't know how long it will take to have them interact with your cats - but they may need their own room for a few months anyway. They should have places to hide but where you can get at them if you need to, any window screens or sides of air conditioners or whatever should be INSANELY secure...

Are you already armed with Feliway spray and harp music? Flower Essences - preferably Bach's Rescue Remedy?

I'll go find a link to a thread that's currently active where we're talking about socializing, because it is all directly appropriate here.

But they do need to see a vet for a check-up, vaccinations, definitely a spay and neuter at that age and likely parasite treatment before you can do much of anything.

But this is a wonderful, wonderful thing you're doing, and it is SO rewarding!

post #3 of 17
Ok - here's the thread. I think you'll find info here REALLY helpful re: socializing them.

And, of course we're here for any and all questions!
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your reply. I am in Arizona. No fleas or ticks in this area. I hand caught their sibling a few weeks ago and he has completely mellowed and fits in beautifully with my clan. I misstated....they are about 3 months old. It is 4PM here and I have gone into the bathroom to visit several times today. They are frozen in their positions but I just gave a good scratch behind the ears to both with only one tiny hiss. They have had no food or water since 5AM or before so I will surely worry about that soon.

I trapped their mom last week and spayed her. No way on socializing though...she is too feral. But I feed her every morning like clockwork. Her name is Mommy and the new boys are Oli and Opi. Little brother is Sweetie Petey.

I hope they will settle in. My friend and I are deciding who will keep them but I am promising them a forever home...even if they don't like me much.

I have worked with AZCats and Altered Tails here in Arizona. I have three humane traps of my own so I can work at a moments notice if need be. I will definitely get them to my vet as soon as I grow the courage to pick them up and into a carrier. The good news is that their mom and the sibling were disease free. I have hopes they will be also.

You are so kind to answer me. I will try to find a socialization forum. Not sure how to do that. Any tips?

thank you so much
post #5 of 17
Well, the link I provided in the post before you should just be able to click on and it'll take you to a thread where socializing is being discussed.

This forum you're in has a lot of great advice - and I'm sure you'll get plenty, but it's summer, so give it a few days. You can click on "search this forum" when you're at the forum level and just search on social* or taming or tame will pull up lots of threads on socializing.

Honestly, I'm not aware of any better advice out there on the net than you'll get here.

I'll go find some more threads for you to read.

post #6 of 17
Useful links for you:

Feliway and Rescue Remedy: Both can be found cheaper, but good descriptions of what they are if you're not already familiar. There's also a link in the upper right hand corner for soothing music.

Harp music to help calm your scared kitties: This will really help.

If they have a problem using litter boxes, try filling them with dirt first (organic potting soil is best). This is what they're used to. They're also not used to going where anyone else has, so keep them REALLY clean, and I'd recommend at least three litter boxes for the two of them. Once they're using the boxes with dirt, put a layer of litter underneath - it'll get mixed up when they dig. After a couple of days, dump it again, use mostly litter, with just a light layer of dirt over the top. You should be good to go from there. You can also consider using cat attract additive - it seems to work for all cats, feral or no: (this is a good price for it!)

Good thread with a lot of socialization tips: First Time Foster - Very Confused!

An article on introducing cats (once they're a little more socialized):

An article on working with feral cats:

An article on socializing feral cats:

Another article on socializing feral cats:

post #7 of 17
I always used my bathroom to isolate the ferals too. I found that it helps to calm them if I put as large a cardboard box as the space would permit in for them to hide in when the bathroom was being occupied. Just cut out a doorway and set it down upside down. You can put their food in it, far to the back, if they feel safer they're more likely to eat. Baked chicken still warm tends to get their attention no matter how scared they are.

Once the vet has okayed them having contact with your other cats, the others are the best tool you have for socializing them.
My closet doesn't have a door, only a curtain hung, amd that has always been the spot the kittens make a beeline for when they venture out of the bathroom. I'd go lie down on my bed, ignoring the new kitten, and the other cats would swarm all over me for loving. After a few days I'd see the newbie peeking around to see what all the purring was about.
A week or two later most would sniff my feet and run, then peek out to see if anything bad happened. A few weeks more and they would be investigting me while I slept, but from that stage to feeling safe around me varied wildly. One is just now after 22 months feeling safe (as long as I don't make any sudden moves), one compacted almost all the preceding steps into three days.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
You have all been so helpful. It is growing late here so off to bed I go. I am hoping they will eat or drink something during the night. How long before I should worry if I see no evidence of litterbox activity or eating or drinking? Will they starve or thirst themselves to death? I have dry, canned, milk, water all in the room with them...they have touched nothing on day one.

Thank you again...I don't feel so alone with your comments
post #9 of 17
It isn't unusual for them to not eat the first day or two. Some people have had issues with sick cats or young kittens not eating, and that can result in a fatty degeneration of the liver, but this is rare. They're around three months old, so still kittens... if they're not eating by day three, I'd work on finding something else to offer them.

Gerber's chicken baby food (no additives) is almost universally loved by cats. Same with boiled chicken (just boiled in water with nothing else). You can serve them a little shredded up chicken in the slightly warm broth it was boiled in.

One of our little guys was eating - but wouldn't use the litter box. And we had it filled with dirt, not litter (not even clay litter - just dirt!). He preferred laying in the litter box (that's what he was used to being on outside, right?). He held out for over 24 hours! He was about 10 weeks old. Once he went pee, we scooped out the area of dirt he peed in and put it in a litter box that had litter in it. He "got" it right away, hopped in there and pooped. That was one relieved little boy.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well they have eaten a smidge...I have everything in there from wet food, special milk for cats, baby food, three kinds of dry including kitten food, water of course.

Someone did pee overnight in the litter box and they are moving around more. I bought them a cat tree today with a little box at the bottom so they can hide in there. There is also a soft sided carrier with a soft blanket in the bottom. They both hopped in there today and I bet they are in heaven. I've heard it is easier to socialize if they are separated but I can't bring myself to do that. They are so cute together....hissing at me however.

It has been scortching hot here in Arizona and they are so comfie now in air conditioning...but need a warm blanket so they can stay warm.

I am keeping a diary of their progress so I can share with others.

I am still hoping to see more food eaten...maybe by tomorrow morning.

Thank you again for your advise. I really appreciate it!
post #11 of 17
Oh good! If they've eaten a little bit, I wouldn't worry much, they'll come around. They're just still adjusting.

I've read that about separating kittens for socializing too. It may help - I don't know. The woman I learned the most from doesn't separate kitties. I'm with you - their world has been turned upside down enough, no reason not to let them enjoy each other's company.
post #12 of 17
I wouldn't reccomend seperating them. Arch and Mitty were seperate for the first night because we were unable to catch her until the next day, and he spent the whole night crying for her. He was hiding in my closet and by morning he was so hoarse it hurt to hear him meow.
As soon as we caught her we brought her to him and not only did he quit crying he started to explore his surroundings, and the strange large beasts in them.
She was a more agressive kitty, (still is) and went absolutely wild when captured, but as soon as she saw him she quit growling and yowling even before we opened the crate. When he started cuddling with me she started watching and eventually came to me.
As I didn't have other cats around at the time to set an example for them, I think it would have taken a lot longer to socialize them had they been seperated.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
5PM day two and Oli just moved his paw to play with a red ribbon....all is sooo much better than yesterday!
post #14 of 17
I rescued 2 kittens from our barn and they turned out to be about 5 months old. That was about 4 mo. ago, and they are both spoiled and doing great. My daughter took one after I had both inside for about a month. I kept the other. They both have been spayed and are social butterflies, ok..mine is only like that with me. anyone else and she's back to her feral mind set. i got another 5 mo old female feral trapped and spayed, and she is also a sweet heart. She used to run from people, but now she just stays on the window seat and doesn't run. it just takes a lot of patience. Good luck.
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by bmac99 View Post
5PM day two and Oli just moved his paw to play with a red ribbon....all is sooo much better than yesterday!
Ahhh..... the temptation of movement. Can't be resisted for long by any 3 month old kitty!

Glad to hear things are going well! Love the sound of such smiles in your "voice."
post #16 of 17
I'm just catching up with this thread. How are things going with the new kittens?
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello: All is well. My little friends are all settling in nicely. One is extremely great and cuddly...the second is warming up nicely, and the third will be a little shy for life I imagine but is enjoying his new brothers and sisters and even tolerates the lady that keeps trying to pet him and pick him up. As I write he is getting a nice bath from one of my little females.

All is well. Now I need to get them all neutered. The two most recent acquisitions are still living in my office space but soon will be out and about the house

What a relief
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