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6 week old feral - any hope?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm in kind of a sticky situation.

I have a 6 week old feral kitten. Normally, we'd fix/vacc/release on a farm. But by the time she's old enough to get a rabies shot - it will be the last week in Nov. Far too late in the year to be releasing a kitten into the cold.

She will never get adopted here. Honestly. She's black. She'll never be that friendly. And she has a window of opportunity to get adopted - being about 8-9 weeks. Shoot, we have a dozen super sweet black kittens who are now 5-7 months old, who have grown up in their cages. Heck, we have (4) 8 week old friendly black & black/white tuxedos right now. She's just not going to get adopted here.

I could fix her & release her in the enclosure. She can be spayed at 8 weeks/2 lbs, & let go then, to be taken in for rabies when old enough. But the three cats in the enclosure are 9 y/o - 16 y/o - 18 y/o. I think they'd take a baby under their wing, but that's a lot of energy......and another cat for me.

She bit me again today, hard. I realize it hasn't been long, but I can't help but feel I'm fighting a loosing battle. I just can't keep her indoors here forever. If she returns to the shelter she'll be euthanized (actually I decided to euthanize her - then changed my mind & decided to use her a companion kitty for a 4 week old orphan I have).

I'm not exactly sure how to proceed from here. I've been reading up on socializing ferals - and I just don't know that I have it in me to do so, that I can successfully socialize her - and even if I do - then what? I can't keep her forever - the bigger she gets the faster Ophelia will realize there's another "female" kitty in HER house - and she doesn't tolerate other girls very well at all.

I'm kinda really sentimental right now - but I haven't a clue what to do with her. We're having such a hard time adopting out any cats right now - there's just no way she'd find a home here. And none of our rescue contacts can help out.

As of right now - she's loose in a bedroom. I set food down & she'll come fairly close to eat. I talk to her, compliment her (corny I know), try to entice her to play a bit. I can stroke her a few times with one finger - but 2 fingers leads to attack. She's in there with another VERY friendly kitten, so I'm hoping she'll learn from the other kitten.
post #2 of 21
I sent you a PM with some suggestions.

If she doesn't get adopted, can you hold her until the Spring maybe? Then it will be warm enough to transition her to a barn if necessary.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by clixpix View Post
I sent you a PM with some suggestions.

If she doesn't get adopted, can you hold her until the Spring maybe? Then it will be warm enough to transition her to a barn if necessary.
That is something I considered. She can live in the enclosure until Spring, when I can either release her here or transition her to another farm. Or thinking wishful she'll be friendly enough I can get her adopted out!
post #4 of 21
I really don't think it would take her that long to get socialized. My new kitten Abbey was totally feral, I brought her indoors because she was sick, she was probably older then eight weeks. She trusted me by the very next day. How long has she been home with you?
post #5 of 21
Natalie, Ophelia came into our lives when she was ~6 weeks, and we were the first humans she had ever seen. She acted a LOT like the baby you've got there - very hissy, swatty, antisocial. She learned a LOT from Trent, watching him play and watching him get loves. Still, it took her a couple weeks to allow me to touch her, and at least a month before allowing any kind of petting, no matter how small.

Funny story - when she was ~9 weeks, and had been confined to the bedroom for at least 3 weeks (I'm terrible with remembering time), watching Trent, and me working with her every evening, I let them out into the rest of the apartment. It had been quite a few hours so they were feeling OK about being out. Earl had never really interacted with her (computer was WAY more important at that time), and the first time he reached toward her she SMACKED his hand so hard the sound echoed in the apartment. I'd been working with her so I knew that wasn't a good idea (and had told him so) but she put him right in his place!

Anyway, the point of that really is that while she is still feral, and probably always will be, she can be socialized. Ophelia chose Earl as her human, and I truly believe that is because while I was working with her (knowing nothing about ferals at the time) he ignored her. He played with Trent and if her if she was interested, and loved on Trent because he was "easy" to love on. Suddenly she decided she could trust him and the rest is history. Mary Anne always advocated ignoring ferals to get them curious about you, and it definitely worked for Earl and Ophelia!

I also really like Kelly's suggestion of keeping her inside until Spring when she could more easily be transitioned to outside. She'd still be young enough for your crew to accept her as a kitten, but old enough to learn from them and take care of herself.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure that I can get away with another cat in the house until Spring. I have to interesting balance going - I've never seen my Ophelia this relaxed! I do wonder though, if I could swing something - but at the same time should I really take on another cat, let alone a kitten? With my aging population? (3/4 of my cats are seniors over the age of 7) And will Ophelia *kill* another girl? Or will Ophelia *love* a baby black version of herself?

A part of me wishes we had just euthanized her. I mean, I'm very happy to give her a chance, but at the same time I'm not sure what we'll do with her. I just don't think I can ever get her friendly enough to be adopted into an indoor home around here. And that in itself is really bothering me - how narrow minded people are.

Why must she be black???? All well - we'll give it our best shot, & only time will tell!
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've just posted new pictures of Camille (the feral) & Itty Bitty here.
post #8 of 21
I usually don't poke into this section, but I want to tell you don't give up on little Camille. I've taken on older feral kittens than she is, and managed to tame them down. Though, admittedly, they were pretty much starving when I found them and food is an amazing motivator. 10 to 12 weeks, malnourished, still make a fuss, though.

Lots of time, food - treats (share some of your supper with her ), and her seeing another cat interacting should help. Because she's extra tiny, be very careful about approaching or standing over her - cats get upset but it scares kittens senseless.

I just had three 7 week old ferals dumped on me tonight. They're not hissing or acting aggressively tonight, but I'm sure they will be tomorrow and for the vet.

I don't understand why anyone wouldn't want black kitties? Older age groups may be superstitious, but those in the 20s that are out looking for pet shouldn't be. I have black kitties, the only thing I consider different about them is that they don't shed light fur all over my dark clothes.

O/T - slightly. DH had a tens delivered the other day and while the guy was here showing him how to use it my black female cat Siri strolled through the room. He said he had a black girl cat at home just like her - his son had adopted her and couldn't take care of her so he gave her to his parents. He then went on to talk about his cat more and how she was "such a cute little black kitty". Maybe there's someone out there for a cute little black Camille?
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, so far she's proven not adoptable....and it doesn't help she has coccidia. I haven't been able to catch her (she's confined to one room) since yesterday AM - I finally got ahold of her again tonight. She'll relax as long as I only pet her with one finger & she doesn't realize it's me petting her. She is a very reactive little kitty still - meds every day aren't helping - but it has to be done.
post #10 of 21
Remember Zoey was 6 MONTHS ... and unfortunately it took Years .....



and If I win the lottery or get a large inhertance from a lost relative I will build a house big enough for many Camilles

I vote enclosure but remember the Kandie and Zoey tale ... the Witch and the Feral it had a great ending outside of the witch dying
post #11 of 21
I made the tough decision to release a feral kitten last year. I had a litter of kittens and this one kitten was straight out MEAN. The other kittens were scared, but this little tabby would go mental at us, and even worse, she would run up to one of her siblings, sit next to them and THEN spit at us, which was freaking them out even more.

At 8 weeks she was still not showing any signs of improvement, and was a little cow, so I ended up spaying her and releasing her with her mama who I had also trapped. It was a hard decision, but I see her around still and she still hangs with her mama and is doing well.

Sometimes I think releasing them can be an acceptable option if you can release them into a safe environment.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahp View Post
Sometimes I think releasing them can be an acceptable option if you can release them into a safe environment.
We talked about that - but the shelter does not release any cats to farms without rabies shots - and she has to be like 14 weeks for one. That puts it at the last week in Nov/first week in Dec when she can be released - it will be *very* cold by then.

Would it be safe to release her without a rabies shot? If so she can be fixed in a few weeks & released. That is if I can find a farm, or else she stays here I suppose.
post #13 of 21
Oh yes, that's right, I forgot that detail. So your choices are releasing her (at your farm?) soon without rabies, being euthanised, or living possibly unhappily with your other cats and possibly being released if not adopted next year some time.
post #14 of 21
Uh, perhaps I'm being dense here... but man, 6 weeks is YOUNG...

I have recently had a litter of 8, co-raised by the two moms. Now, I had been handling these babies since birth..... man, at 6 weeks, the babies who still had their moms weren't very interested in me or socialisation with me at all.

If I annoyed them or scared them too much, then yeah the only way they could show their fear was to nip at me or scratch me to pieces....

I find, from past experience, a kitten won't become your furry, purring lap buddy until about 4 and a half months +... before that, they are filled with amazing kitten energy and prefer to keep to themselves and their litter mates.

At 6 weeks of age, you have plenty of chances to socialize her. Keep at it, petting her, letting her come to you, showing her warmth and love. You may still find her a home, she is still very, very young, and although black, because of her age is most likely still adoptable.

At 6 weeks, I wouldn't be releasing her outside, they shouldn't even really leave their mothers at that age... 8-10 weeks is best. Her immune system is still developing, can you even vaccinate that young? I thought it was 8 weeks and 12 weeks. Please give her a chance, she is still really, really young and most likely very small and unable to fend for herself.
post #15 of 21
Maybe she can tell that you just don't like her as much as you like Itty Bitty. Cats do catch on to this kind of thing. As you said in the post in the lounge, "Camille's not that cute but itty bitty is all that and a bag of chips".
post #16 of 21
At 6 weeks old you should have no trouble at all socializing a kitten. However it will take time and patience to do so.

I alsways put the kittens in a medium sized crate w/ a litter box and a place to sleep. I leave out dry food for them all day. however, as many times a day as I can I bring either wet food or baby food and I start of feeding them this off of a spoon. I then slowly try to get them to eat off my fingers. I place the cage in a busy part of my home so that the kitten(s) can see, smell and hear normal every day stuff that he/she would in a home. Once you have them eating off your finger (or trusting you enought to eat in front of you) start trying to pet the kitten. Get on his/her level so they don't feel intimidated. Blink a lot if your looking at them. Be patient. She will come around.

I have a litter of kitten right now, that were very feral, scared and hissy. I got these kittens at about 10 weeks old. It took me about 4 weeks for them to trust me enough to pet and hold them. It took about 8 weeks for them to become big cuddley love bugs! One has already been adopted and two are leaving next week.

I wish I were closer to you, I would take her in a herat beat.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
She is now 8 weeks (the DOB that was guesstimated was Aug 13 - I thought she was a bit younger than that), which doesn't make that much difference....but anyways.

Well – the negatives.

Camille & Itty Bitty have coccidia. This requires bare minimum 10 days meds.
I have to treat 3 of my 7 cats, as they now also have coccidia.
I can’t let the kittens near my other cats – as some don’t have coccidia & the ones who do are on the different treatment schedule.

God – I literally cried when I found out they had coccidia. We *were* making progress until then. I know the potential is there – but I can’t see how I’ll get anywhere when I have to medicate her – and with coccidia we’ve had some cats we have to treat for 2+ months to get rid of it.

I see her options as:
Be euthanized
Stay here
So I’ll keep trying – I’m just wishing for a miracle that she’s coccidia negative ASAP!

At night she’s up on the bed with me, playing with toys, pouncing around, destroying rolls of paper towels (oops on my part – didn’t shut the cabinet door tight!), & climbing curtains. The moment I move she’s gone like a bolt of lightning. I set up a camera in the room – every time someone walks past the door she races to hide.
Quote:
Originally Posted by proudmamiof4 View Post
I alsways put the kittens in a medium sized crate w/ a litter box and a place to sleep. I leave out dry food for them all day. however, as many times a day as I can I bring either wet food or baby food and I start of feeding them this off of a spoon. I then slowly try to get them to eat off my fingers. I place the cage in a busy part of my home so that the kitten(s) can see, smell and hear normal every day stuff that he/she would in a home. Once you have them eating off your finger (or trusting you enought to eat in front of you) start trying to pet the kitten. Get on his/her level so they don't feel intimidated. Blink a lot if your looking at them. Be patient. She will come around.

I wish I were closer to you, I would take her in a herat beat.
I wish you were closer, too - I'd happily hand her over to someone who knows what they're doing. I feel like I'm making things worse.

As for caging - I hate caging coccidia cats because they can't get away from the litter as easy. IMO, the ones in foster care who have a room to run in/space to get away from the litterbox more are the ones who get over coccidia faster. For now she is confined to a 12 x 12 room. Once she's coccidia (-) it's something I'll consider - I was trying to decide if it was a good idea or bad once until I found out she had coccidia.

She's getting canned food from a plate as I dole it out - but only if she eats off of the plate literally right next to me. The moment I move to put out more wet food (a bite or two at a time) she runs away, or the moment I move to pet her she bolts. I spent 3 hours just sitting, talking to her, hanging out in the room near her, tossing toys, playing with Itty – she has to see that Itty is fine with me. I did catch her & make her sit in my lap last night - she relaxed enough to purr until she realized I was petting her - then she flipped.

At 10 weeks you were successful, that gives me hope to socialize her - it's the adopting her out I'm worried about (once she's socialized).
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamhainBorn View Post
Maybe she can tell that you just don't like her as much as you like Itty Bitty. Cats do catch on to this kind of thing. As you said in the post in the lounge, "Camille's not that cute but itty bitty is all that and a bag of chips".
Camille isn’t cute – she’s “just a black kitten†to 99% of the population. Itty Bitty is an adorable, bubbly, cute calico. To put it bluntly – Itty Bitty is adoptable, Camille not so much. Camille will take someone with a huge heart – hard to find in this area when we are so overpopulated/swamped with cats as is. There are a dozen other black kittens Camille’s age to 6 months who are friendly needing homes – I have little reason to think anyone will jump on Camille – but I’ll still give her a chance to find her home. I've been going over & over how to word her petfinder biography - once she's coccidia (-) I'll be featuring her in some local newspapers, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumnblueangel View Post
If I annoyed them or scared them too much, then yeah the only way they could show their fear was to nip at me or scratch me to pieces....

I find, from past experience, a kitten won't become your furry, purring lap buddy until about 4 and a half months +... before that, they are filled with amazing kitten energy and prefer to keep to themselves and their litter mates.

At 6 weeks of age, you have plenty of chances to socialize her. Keep at it, petting her, letting her come to you, showing her warmth and love. You may still find her a home, she is still very, very young, and although black, because of her age is most likely still adoptable.

At 6 weeks, I wouldn't be releasing her outside, they shouldn't even really leave their mothers at that age... 8-10 weeks is best. Her immune system is still developing, can you even vaccinate that young? I thought it was 8 weeks and 12 weeks. Please give her a chance, she is still really, really young and most likely very small and unable to fend for herself.
We do distemper vaccs at 6 weeks (due to the shelter situation - the sooner we vacc the better because we never know when we'll have kitties come in with distemper). Rabies isn't until 14 weeks. She can be spayed at 8 weeks/2 lbs. I'm not talking about just turning her loose - if she was going to any farm she'd stay here to live in the enclosure outside. It's far from ideal.... If they are often 4+ months before they socialize, I suppose I'll sit on her as long as I can & keep working with her. Give me a scared adult over a kitten anyday.


When she's coccidia (-), would it help to let Dory in the room with her? She *loves* Dory - she's very much so smitten with him, literally tripping over herself when he's around.

I wish there was a manual for these types of things - so I didn't feel like I was screwing up all the time or making things worse. Or better yet - wouldn't it be wonderful if she just woke up tomorrow morning & decided from here on out she was a social people loving little kitten??? I can wish, right?


As soon as I can sneak her in - I'm going go get her spayed so we have that "bump" out of the way. I figure she'll freak out if we make progress, than I take her to be spayed. Might as well get her spayed while she still hates me.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
When she's coccidia (-), would it help to let Dory in the room with her? She *loves* Dory - she's very much so smitten with him, literally tripping over herself when he's around.
He must be a special kitty, because it sounds like a lot of your cats like him. And yes, once it's safe to do so take advantage of putting her with a cat that is completely socialized and friendly. I've had kittens brought to me by their stray mothers that had no reason to even come near me - yet when they see their mothers walk right up and completely trust me they've followed suite.
I've almost always used other cats to tame ferals.
The exception was a pair a few years ago, they tamed for food. The orange kitten of the pair became very out going and friendly, but never did lose that urge to run if approached in a way he didn't like. I had another one that tamed but never really accepted more than a handful of people - so don't be surprised if once this kitten does settle more that she only bonds with you.

I'd take a young feral kitten over a older kitten or adult any day. Working with a 8+ month old is tough. He seemed to be a naturally gentle and curious cat, but he had a terrible habit of slapping me. That one tamed to the point of me being able to walk up to him, call him (and have him come), follow me around, and being able to pick him up for short amounts of time.
post #19 of 21
Here is a picture of the kittens when we first trapped them ( you can see the mistrust and fear in their eyes) and that is all it really is. It is not that she dislikes you. I would try to feed her more times a day, not offering the dry (for now). Slowly putting the food closer and closer to you (until eventually she is on your lap eating) Also as she is eating try to pet her (from behind...a big hand coming at them is scary)


Don't get discouraged! She WILL come around eventually. Also try sitting in the room with her, and totally ignoring her. I have always had luck with this move...Cats hate being ignored

Good luck, and if you need any help you can pm me. I will be glad to help in any way I can!

These kittens would hiss, spit, bite and scratch me if I came anywhere near them! They also had coccidia, a uri, pink eye, fleas and ear mites. Needless to say I had to pick them up several times a day to medicate them.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
She's still here. Doing OK - not biting near as hard as often. She's less responsive to wet food, so I'm trying some treats to tempt her. She doesn't even want Meow Mix wet.

She does sleep near me in bed at night when I'm not moving much, so every night I slowly reach out to pet her. She's getting used to one finger moving towards her, but if I use even 2 fingers reaching out to pet her she's gone like a flash of lightning.
post #21 of 21
Wow, mine aren't aggressive and will handle petting (two will even purr) but they sure as heck wouldn't choose to lay near me. Let alone sleep. That's a lot of progress whether you realize it or not.

Does she have any special spots that she likes petted? Chin? shoulders? above her tail?
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