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Please help! found 3 feral kittens what to do!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this. I found three kittens up at the gas station on the corner. i've been feeding them every night now for about a month. they have started to relax and i've been able to sit really close to them while they eat. just three days ago, i brought up one of the dangly toys and they all played with it through the fence.

last night, i was playing with one of the kittens for a long time. he stopped and started eating so i inched closer and closer. he didnt mind. i began to pet him gently. i could tell he thought it was weird but he let me. then i picked him up. he freaked a little at first and then i started talking softly and cradled him in my arms. he laid there and buried his face in me and fell asleep. he started purring but i know that cats can do that when they are upset and trying to calm themselves.

have i ruined everything with the kitten? is he traumatized now? i will feel terrible if i've done the wrong thing. i want to take him or any of them home but is it bad to separate them?

please help... sorry so long...
post #2 of 21
Thank you for helping these kitties!

You haven't ruined anything. If he didn't want to be in your arms, he wouldn't have been in your arms. Think of a small helicopter with claws. He was happy and content.

Do you know if there's a mom around? The guess is they're weaned - no longer nursing?

Here's your options:

Bring them all home and foster them while you work on getting them adopted out or finding a rescue or foster network that can take them. If you do this, it's best to confine them to one room - and to get them to a vet as soon as you can (they may have fleas, ticks, internal parasites - and who knows what other potential problem(s)).

If bringing them all home out of harm's way isn't possible, if you want to adopt one, you can certainly do that. Bear in mind, cats often do well in pairs (not that three isn't a great number! ) - especially if no one is home long hours because of school or work. ...But I would at least look into contacting rescues and foster networks to see if you can find anyone to take the other(s).

If you decide to adopt one or two (or all three), they really should be confined to one room when they first come home. Cats are territorial animals - and these little guys have never lived inside before, so having a small territory to make "theirs" initially really helps the transition.

We have lots of tips on socializing them and helping make that transition go more quickly and easily.

If you want help on how to look for rescues and/or foster networks, just let us know.

post #3 of 21
He didn't scratch his way free of you, he's not traumatized. It sounds, instead, like you've made some progress and he choose to trust you. You should really try to catch all of them soon, if possible. Terrible things can happen to stray kittens.

You'll need a spare room that doesn't have too many hiding places and to be ready to take them to the vet. They'll have fleas and need worming. After that you just have to work at slowly gaining their trust.
post #4 of 21
Not much feral in these kittens, they should be fairly easy to catch.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much! You don't even understand how crappy work was today for worrying about the babies...

Okay, issue #2... I have 2 cats at home now- one is almost 3, very good natured and the other is just now 6 mos... I have a spare bedroom but how can I do this?

Thanks for all the help so far... And how will I catch them all?
post #6 of 21
Originally Posted by Kittay40 View Post
Thanks so much! You don't even understand how crappy work was today for worrying about the babies...

Okay, issue #2... I have 2 cats at home now- one is almost 3, very good natured and the other is just now 6 mos... I have a spare bedroom but how can I do this?

Thanks for all the help so far... And how will I catch them all?
Kittens go in the spare bedroom, your cats stay out.
Have your other cats had all of their vaccinations - especially the 6month old? Your youngest is still a kitten and there's some diseases that spread to kittens easier.

Can you borrow some humane traps from anyone? You may even be able to ask a rescue group or shelter if they know you do intend to keep these kittens (you can work at rehoming them later, but generally a shelter does not want anything feral/semi feral). If you can find someone to loan a couple traps to you, have them show you have to set it up.
Unless you think you could actually pick up and stuff each kitten into a carrier - that's harder than it sounds, though, since there will always be one that's trouble.
post #7 of 21
Can you get a hold of a large-ish dog carrier? One that's large enough to pretty easily fit the three kittens? Know anyone you can borrow one from? I'd actually go to our vet and ask them if they had one we could borrow, if any of the staff had one we could borrow for a week or so... because if you started bringing it with you, putting the food you're feedng them in there - IF they go in there to eat and are comfortable you're not up to anything and you manage to get all three of them in there.... it can take a few days, though, because you definitey do NOT want to shut the door if there's any chance one of them is going to get out before you get it closed. This is really not as easy as it sounds.

Trapping is usually the best, but rarely do you get all of them at once.

Either way, whatever you get, it should be washed before you go - get the smell of other animals and fear off of it. Hope you have a yard with a hose? If not, it's tough.

...and since you're going to help all of them until you can figure out what to do with them, you'll probably want Feliway anyway. The Feliway spray will help de-stress them when released into the spare bedroom - but it can also be sprayed on the trap or carrier, and that will make it more "friendly" smelling.

...In the meantime, knowing you're going to release them into the spare bedroom, I'd go ahead and get it set up. You'll need food dishes, water dish, and a couple of litter boxes. Maybe some toys &etc. Boxes make great kitty beds. They are going to want to hide at first. Under the bed is usually popular. Also, if there's a table in there, a cloth draped over it makes a nice hidey place. But boxes turned on their sides with the top flap hanging down are great too.

I'll go find some threads with info on socializing them. But they're young enough it shouldn't be much of an issue. Just spend as much time in the room with them as you can - but not trying to interact with them. Let them get used to you and the new environment at first. Talk out loud, read out loud - and being down on the floor sideways to them makes you a lot less threatening to them. Having all of their needs taken care of (food, water, clean litter boxes) is what will bring them around.

You likely will be the big scary thing that takes them to the horrible scary place (the vet) - but you will also rescue them from that nightmare and bring them back to food and warm hidey places - so that works.

I'll also get up some links to help you look for rescues and foster networks.
post #8 of 21
OK - here's a thread with lots of good tips, even though this is with an older feral:

Similar advice put differently and for kittens:

To find rescue orgs or foster networks...

First of all, bear in mind that many will put down feral cats. So when hunting for help, let them know these are kittens you are socializing.

You can search for rescue orgs here:

...and since these listings are rarely complete, you can google things like "cat rescue Los Angeles, CA" or "Cat Shelter Los Angeles, CA" You can also try using the name of your county instead.

And you can go to Type in your zip code. Search on just cat. Every cat that comes up has a rescue org listed next to it. Each org will have some kind of link to contact info somewhere - either a phone number or an e-mail address. Just scroll through the millions of pages to get a good list of orgs. Now most rescues are under-funded and over-crowded - and most of the contact e-mails will be personal e-mail addresses. So grab a piece of paper, and write down the name of the org and the contact e-mail address next to it. That way when (if) you get replies, you'll know (from your piece of paper) which organization just responded to you. You can conduct what I call an e-mail campaign... letting them know you just rescued kittens, you can't keep them long term, you're fostering them right now, but you'd prefer they be in a proper foster network or at a shelter where they have a chance of getting adopted to a good home...

....again... only if you don't plan on adding three more cats to your family. We were going to stop at just 2. We live in an RV - it is 38' long and 8' wide. We kept rescuing... and fostering... and adopted out the cute, easy ones, and kept the challenging, health-compromised kitties. We now have 7 living with us.

I think most of the people around here have lots of cats - way more than planned. The most important consideration, of course, is your existing kitties, and your ability to afford the care of how many cats - and to have time for all of them.

But if you need to rehome all three - or two - or one - of them, send the e-mails, and don't expect replies from all of them or right away.

Of course, if finances are a problem, then you have to play on their heart strings - you rescued the kitties, but you cannot afford their care kind of a thing...

The other thing you can do is try to get them adopted out directly. You can list them yourself through the classifieds at Petfinder. Our vet always helps us get the kitties adopted out. The most important thing is to use adoption papers, actually screen the people adopting them - get a vet reference, for instance, and charge at least a small fee. Anyone serious about adopting will understand that vet care, vaccinations - and if you get there, spaying and neutering cost money.

Here is a link to a brochure maker, and you'll see a link to adoption advice on the same page... ...and more great links and resources, actually:

post #9 of 21
If you can catch any one of them, take it home. The others can hopefully be trapped. If one winds up alone, it will get lonely and be glad for your companionship when you come by. Sending mega prayers & vibes for your efforts, esp. with this storm rolling in
post #10 of 21
More vibes coming for your efforts. Bless you for caring.
post #11 of 21
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
Think of a small helicopter with claws.

OK, I have nothing to add I just had to say that is the perfect description for the truly feral kittens we have had at the shelter.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
okay, it's become an even more urgent situation. last night, i went up to see the babies and we set out the food as normal and they came out to eat... about 5 minutes later a huge racoon appeared above us - the babies freaked out and ran. we grabbed the food and jumped in the car. the racoon looked around behind the fence for the kittens who were hiding and then proceeded to eat the food that had fallen off the dishes...

now i'm really worried that this raccoon is on to the schedule. i need to get them all tonight - i'm scared but i think with all of this advice i can do it.

we went back up about an hour later to make sure they were alright. we didnt see them at first but found their other hiding spot and spent some time before leaving. the situation is dire. i will be able to catch two of them for sure - i think the third is sick and there is a fourth cat that cant be more than 4 months old that is part of their little clan. he has warmed up quite a bit but i dont think i can catch him. i dont want him to be alone.

this is so hard... appreciate the good vibes... operation kitty rescue is going down tonight...
post #13 of 21
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
You haven't ruined anything. If he didn't want to be in your arms, he wouldn't have been in your arms. Think of a small helicopter with claws.
Or a running chainsaw.
post #14 of 21
Happy vibes your way Good luck to you tonight. The raccoons are bad news - they could definitely hurt those sweet little kittens.

Even if you only get one tonight, that is one out of harm's way. Could you get one, bring it home, then go back for the rest?

I found kittens in my window well this summer - that was quite an adventure. Rescuing them was not as easy as I expected. I thought it would be like picking fruit off a tree, but it was more like ... well, chasing kittens all over my yard.
post #15 of 21
Just wanted to wish you good luck
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone, thanks for the good vibes. I was able to catch one tonight. It was tough because of the rain... He freaked out and bit and scratched but he's safe.

I'm going to try for the rest tomorrow. He was screaming when I picked him up, it was tough.

We have a long road ahead of gaining trust but I'm down for it.
post #17 of 21
He bit you? Not good. Please keep a very close eye on it, cat bites nearly always get infected and can be very serious.

Good luck with the rest. Ideally you'd use a humane live trap and save your hands/finger...
post #18 of 21
I'm not sure it's going to be such a long road ahead with the gaining trust. Being grabbed in the rain is not at all the same as being fed in a warm, dry place.

As to the bite - do keep an eye on it. You may want to get some neosporin for it. And if you do have to see a doc, tell them you were working with stray cats - NOT that you have the cat. Some places force you to put them in quarantine for a period of time.
post #19 of 21
good luck kittay40... I've been thinking about your great heart & determination... wishing you all the best & please update asap!
post #20 of 21
Me too - I'm eager to hear how things are going. I had rescued kitties a few months ago so the memories of that are still very fresh in my head. They were such little scaredy pies (and I was scared of them!!) but within 5 days, 2 of them were purring. (The 3rd didn't purr until his brothers got adopted out! He was scared of people until he became an only-kitty.) I'd pet them a lot when they were getting sleepy, and then the purring started.. Each kitty is different though, but mine came around with time, patience, slow movement, gentle voices, food, gently handling them when they were half asleep so they wouldn't resist as much, and more time.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone, things are going ok...

As of right now I only have the first little kitten and have been feeding her brothers every night.

I don't have the humane traps yet for the others.

You were all right! The little girl loves me and it only took about 15 hours... I'm spending a lot of time with her but am now worried about how to socialize her with my other two cats and two dogs.

One of my cats got into the room with her and she just hissed and growled- I got him out but don't know what this means.

I'm trying to find her a home, acquire some traps for the others and then TNR with them. I couldn't possibly release her now, she's already become a spoiled brat.

Any word of wisdom?
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