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Feral Kittens - Mother Left 1 of 6 on porch

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
A feral pregnant cat showed up on our porch in July sometime. I've seen her around our development for a year or so. I was feeding her for weeks before she had her kittens outside (probably under my neighbors porch) in mid August. She continued to eat food I put out on my front porch after she gave birth.

Then she moved her 6 kittens to under our front porch. They were fed several times a day on my porch. So it's been about 10 weeks. Halloween night was the last time I saw all the kittens. We live in a cul-de-sac & only had 5 kids show up for candy. So I don't think anything happened due to trick-or-treaters.

On Nov 1st the mother & 1 kitten showed up for food. Then I saw the mother cat leave our porch & left the kitten behind. It meowed for awhile & then went under my front porch. She showed up for food that same evening. I haven't seen the other 5 kittens since Halloween eve.

Why did she abandon the 1 kitten on my porch? And where are the other 5? Perhaps this kitten is sick? But it looks perfectly fine. It comes out from under our porch am & pm for food. It is very scared & lonely!

I have 5 indoor cats (1 from a shelter & the other 4 were strays).

Any ideas as to why she left the 1 kitten on my porch?
post #2 of 40
Maybe something tragic happened to the other babies and the Mom trusts you and knows you would take care of this baby for her? Poor little things... I do hope that the remaining babies are all right.

Welcome to TCS!
post #3 of 40
Thread Starter 
The mother was just here on my front porch.
I put out food. And as soon as she started to eat the black kitten appeared on the porch. They ate off the same plate, the kitten tried to nurse & shortly the mother cat left. So I assume she is done with this litter. Perhaps she's already pregnant again.

I don't understand what happened to the other 5 kittens.
I only ever saw them at the house across the cul-de-sac from our house...under their porch. To my knowledge they never knew the kittens were under their porch. I might call them to see if they saw any kittens.....they are not very friendly people but do like animals........
post #4 of 40
Welcome to TCS!

Is it possible the kitties are around 12 weeks old? It wasn't clear whether they're 10 weeks old or a little older. Because moms tend to "break the bond" at 12 weeks - and while some moms tolerate being nursed for different periods of time, kittens are usually fully weaned by 7 -8 weeks (depending upon mom).

Was there extra activity in the neighborhood because of Halloween? We had a feral family disappear and leave one kitten behind on the 4th of July (though that's a loud weekend!). In fact, that's how we wound up with our first inside-only feral rescue. The mom brought the rest of the family back after four days ... but they were only 8-9 weeks old.

We borrowed a trap from the vet and got mom and all the kittens spayed & neutered so the population wouldn't explode....

But mom definitely left her behind on your porch because she knows you'll look after her. Because I found TCS when our feral family showed up, I knew to wait until the kittens were 12 weeks old to trap mom to spay her. But she left her kitties behind here. And four of the five have lived inside-only with us since (though brought in at different times), and one we adopted out to a vet tech that fell in love with him.
post #5 of 40
Thread Starter 
The 6 kittens were born in mid August.....around 8/18/10. So they are about 10 weeks old. It's getting down into the lower 30's here in central NJ.

I've checked my front porch every 1/2 hr & no sign of the other 5 kittens...and no food touched.

Is there a chance that the mother left this black kitten on my porch but is still looking after the other 5 kittens? This kitten was more "bold" than the other kittens & was always first to hit the food dish!!

If the other 5 kittens are still alive, they are so used to eating canned cat food on our porch......I think they should have showed up by now.
post #6 of 40
I'm sorry to say it... but I agree. They're used to eating there - cats know a good thing. I'd do what I could to rescue the one that's left!

Do you need help searching for rescues in your area? (BTW we're in NW NJ). Can you take him in (isolate him from any other kitties) and get him to a vet? Work on fostering/socializing him while you work on finding a foster network or shelter - or getting him adopted out?
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 

Thanks for replying! I'm in central NJ......Flemington area.


Last night I saw 4 of the 5 kittens back on my front porch!! I am so relieved.
So I cleaned out my Hav-a-Hart trap & set it. At 3:30 am I woke up.....when I checked the had a kitten in it!! I guess the noise of the trap shutting woke me up. It was an orange tabby kitten. And strangely....the other kittens were still on the porch too. The other kittens are: black, dark gray, buff tiger and 2 are white (1 has a black streak of fur down the top of it's head). In fact this morning, the mother & the 5 kittens were on my porch looking for food. The mother tolerates them while she eats & then she leaves them.

I am planning to take the orange kitten to the vet this afternoon. I was hoping to trap another (vet charges reduced fee for 2nd, 3rd pet etc.). But I want to make sure kitten is seen by vet.

The kitten is not happy.....meowing away. I have the kitten still in the Hav-a-Hart trap....will be going to vet 1 hour from now. I did not want to handle the kitten....I'm a little nervous about that.....will let the vet examine the kitten & then put the kitten into a travel carrier. I put a small bowl of water & some food in for the kitten.

I have names of rescue group.....but I believe one has shut down due to lack of adoptions. I'd appreciate any names you might have.
post #8 of 40
Thread Starter 
Sorry......the beginning of my message should have said GOOD News
post #9 of 40
Thread Starter 
I was able to get the kitty to the vet.

The vet did a FVRCP Series and FelV / FIV Test.

The kitty is a "she". And the vet was surprised to find out this orange tabby is a female & not a male. (When I checked out, the receptionist said "Wow, rare to have a female orange tabby". )

Unfortunately, about 1 hr after I got home, the vet called to say that the test came up +ve for FIV. I was surprised. None of the stray cats I've brought into my house ever came up FeLV or FIV positive. The vet said not to panic but keep her separate from the other cats & repeat the test in 1 month. Also, the vet suggested trapping another kitten from the litter & doing a FeLV / FIV test on that kitten.

I am very concerned & a month is a long time to wait for the results of another test.

Also, didn't get much sleep last night.....the kitten started meowing at 4:30 am. I fed her but she is not happy (she's in a large dog crate to keep her separate from my other cats).

Any advice?
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
I forgot to add.....last 2 mornings & evenings, the mother cat & the 5 kittens are on my front porch for food.
post #11 of 40
I'm going to move this thread to our Strays & Ferals section.

Welcome to TCS!
post #12 of 40
Just noticed this thread over here. The kittens may be ok, but you have to catch that mother cat. If she's FIV positive, and it's likely, you can't leave her to run the neighborhood popping out litter after litter of kittens. (not that you should if she was negative, either)
post #13 of 40
I am praying the other test negative and that the kitten does so too when re-tested. These tests aren't 100 percent.
post #14 of 40
the kitties are back! Boy do we know THAT relief!

I actually saw your thread in the health forum before I caught this one. I addressed questions about the FIV+ thing in that thread, but to summarize, there is just no point in testing kittens that are younger than six months old. Kittens can have the antibodies from nursing from an FIV+ mom, but not contract FIV. These eventually cycle out of their system - so really, it's just a waste of money to test a kitty that's younger than 6 months old. The bummer is that the vet you took them to didn't know that, or didn't inform you of that.

The problem is that I don't know of any shelters/rescue groups (around here) that will take FIV+ kitties. We ended up adopting Chumley because the choice was - release him back outside (where he can infect other cats if they pick a fight with him) - or keep him ourselves. We really didn't want an 8th cat - but had we surrendered him to any group, their policies would have been to kill him.

Sadly, this is because FIV+ kitties are hard to adopt out - because people are so mis-informed about the disease (for instance, a vet that would even bother testing a kitten that's not older than 6 months. Even most - or at least many - vets aren't up on information and research on the disease).

FIV+ kitties, however, can live inside - just fine - with FIV- kitties, with almost no risk of infection to the FIV- kitties.

One thing you can consider doing is using to search for rescue groups you can get to - and call them. Ask! Also, if where you live is like up here, there are a fair number of vets within a 30- 40 mile range. Call around - ask them if they know anyone rescuing FIV+ kitties, or anyone with FIV+ kitties that may want to adopt.
post #15 of 40
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your advice & experience!

I did read on the web the following:

Once a screening test identifies a cat as positive(for FIV), the next step is a follow-up confirming test called a Western Blot. Once this test is positive, the cat is considered to be truly infected.


Use of the new vaccine recently released will cause a cat to test positive on both of the above tests. We do not currently have a test that will distinguish a vaccinated cat from a truly positive cat. Some veterinarians do not recommend the vaccine, and some do.

So if a cat had been vaccinated for FIV, gets outside & picked up by some well-meaning person & then taken to the vet & tested for FIV the results would be +ve for FIV.

Is this info still current thinking?
post #16 of 40
Thread Starter 
I have another concern:

If a kitten isn't tested until 6 months of age for FIV and people are adopting kittens at much younger ages that 6 months, there is a risk that the kittens could have FIV. Unless the person who raised the kittens knows for sure the kittens couldn't be FIV+
post #17 of 40
Originally Posted by BHNJ View Post
So if a cat had been vaccinated for FIV, gets outside & picked up by some well-meaning person & then taken to the vet & tested for FIV the results would be +ve for FIV.

Is this info still current thinking?
Yes. Hopefully well meaning people don't over react and research before deciding euthanasia.
When I took in Siri, an adult female cat that had obviously had a home at some point, I worried she might have had a past vac for FIV. Had she been positive I would have just done the best to integrate her into the home (mind you she does scuffle with the other cats, scratches are common, but no biting).
Some vets still see FIV as being the end for a cat and will recommend euthanasia, though. Including my own.

And yes, it's going to be a big problem for you unless you want several kittens underfoot for months. This is why I asked if you had any friends that don't have cats already or are willing to learn about FIV. If you can rehome them as only cats it's not as big of a concern for you and any future owner. They could then retest after 6 months.

How tame are these kittens right now, though? If at least reasonably wild you'll be facing ~ 10 weeks of taming on them.
Again, catch them all if you can, keep them separated while being treated for standard stray cat issues (fleas, worms, any other viruses), tame them and then work at integrating them into your home. As long as no one seriously bites each other (which you wouldn't want healthy cats doing, either), you're fine. Retest as soon as possible and work on homes when the socially kittens are ready.
Some on here can help you find some low cost solutions for vacs and spay/neuters. Others, in the nutrition section, can make suggestions for cheaper but good quality foods to help you save money there.

And also. Get the mother cat. If she's not too far pregnant her kittens can be aborted and she can be spay. Though it's likely she will be FIV positive so you'll have to figure out what to do with her. How tame is she?
post #18 of 40
Originally Posted by BHNJ View Post
Sorry......the beginning of my message should have said GOOD News

God IS Good!
post #19 of 40
Originally Posted by BHNJ View Post
I have another concern:

If a kitten isn't tested until 6 months of age for FIV and people are adopting kittens at much younger ages that 6 months, there is a risk that the kittens could have FIV. Unless the person who raised the kittens knows for sure the kittens couldn't be FIV+
Well, the overall presence of FIV in the U.S. cat population is about 2.5% (the studies indicate a range of 1% - 3%), so unless an area is known for having a problem with FIV, the risk is pretty low. Because it's mostly passed via a bite (can be via sex, but still pretty low risk), un-neutered toms fighting over females or territory are the highest risk group. But it spreads slowly through a community, where it's far more common to find areas with endemic FeLV, because once it's in an area, it spreads pretty easily, because it just requires transmission via saliva.

That said, unfortunately, many (most) rescues test for FIV anyway, and the kittens are killed if they test positive. Either they don't know the kitties may not actually be infected, or they know better, but test the kitties anyway, and kill them because they were exposed to it and they don't want to waste the resources on a kitty that will likely be hard to adopt out because they've had to keep it from whatever age it was rescued until it's 6 months old - and then it may turn out to actually be FIV+.

Personally, I think rescue groups should stop testing for FIV in kitties less than 6 months of age. I think they should "market" their adoptables has having been sterilized (if that's the case), treated for parasites (if that's the case), and vaccinated (if that's the case), and tested for FeLV.

Once kitty's been in a home for several months (if they even think to ask to have the kitten tested), their new family is far more likely to learn about FIV before making a decision to kill the cat. The biggest problem with this is that so many vets are not properly educated about the disease, and most people don't think to question the "wisdom" of a vet.

The flip side to this is older strays. FIV and FeLV both take time to develop in the cat's system. I don't know the numbers for FeLV, but with FIV it takes about 4 - 6 weeks before the infection is detectable after exposure to it. So someone rescues a stray that got bitten yesterday. They get it to a rescue group, who treats the animal, tests it - and it tests negative for FeLV and/or FIV, because it was only bitten within a few days of the test. Because cats infected with FIV often don't suffer from the progression of the disease to the feline equivalent of AIDS per se, but the weakened immune system over time makes them more susceptible to other illnesses - the only way a family would figure out this cat is infected with FIV (or FeLV) is if a kitty has something like - a URI that just seems really hard to treat - and it occurs to the vet to suggest the test. By this time the cat has probably been with the family for years.
post #20 of 40
Thread Starter 

Regarding how the kittens are socially....

The orange female tabby that I trapped has already settled down. I have her in a large dog crate in our Living Room so she sees us coming & going. I keep 1/2 the crate covered with a large blanket so she can hide if she wants. I put a small pillow in there & when I checked back in 15 minutes she was already asleep on the pillow!! She's very quiet and when I approach her to pet her she no longer has her nails out.

The other 5 outside kittens are used to me putting out food & lately are trying to eat from the dish before I get the food out of the can.

The mother will sit about 6 inches from our front door when she arrives for food. When the door opens she goes back a few feet. I don't know.....maybe she isn't feral. I live in a cul-de-sac & we are surrounded by woods at the side of our house & huge open fields behind us. Maybe she was dumped here.

I've brought 7 strays in over the years we've lived here & none have had FIV.
post #21 of 40
Mother doesn't sound feral, just very skittish. What have you been feeding her? If no canned food, take a can out and open it right in front of her. If she used to have a home and had can food before she'll get excited and maybe even come to you. Another thing you can try is bits of meat.

Do you have somewhere you can keep all of the kittens if you can catch them? A bathroom or spare room? The easier to clean the better. If they're just in the skittish category you'll still want to have them separated into a room that makes it easy to socialize with them.
post #22 of 40
Thread Starter 
I was putting out cat food last night & one of the kittens started eating. I reached down, caught it & brought it into the house. Big mistake....I got a few scratches. Now it's hiding under the couch & when I try to get it to come out it runs. I really wish I had used the Hav-A-Hart trap because then I could have transferred the kitten from the trap to a dog crate. Any ideas how to catch it now? It finds all kinds of places to go where my daughter & I can't reach.
post #23 of 40
Do you have any regular carriers? If so use that and the trap. Cover them both with large towels or blankets. Make them look nice and inviting - and dark. Shoo kitten out of it's hiding place and towards the carrier and/or trap. Hopefully it will run inside in an attempt to get away from you.

Then leave the kitten alone for a while. It will be really riled up and should not be handled until it can calm down.

You're very lucky you haven't been bitten.
post #24 of 40
Ah, you learned "the kitten windmill" the hard way. So did we. It's something we never tried again.

I'm really glad you didn't get bitten! But DO treat those scratches!

My advice is the same as Strange Wings.

Good luck!
post #25 of 40
Another thing I forgot to add. Towels or a stretched out and held up blanket (with the help of another person) can be used to guide the kitten - the same method is used to herd various animals into pens. Much safer than getting your hands down there.
post #26 of 40
Thread Starter 
The kitten is loudly meowing @ 4:00 am. It's not settling down. My husband thinks we should let it back outside. I'm afraid it's going to bite one of us or one of our cats. Our 1st floor is a very open design & we can't get the kitten contained. The orange kitten I trapped is hissing at the other kitten when it comes near her.
post #27 of 40
What about putting food in the crate or trap near kitty?
post #28 of 40
Thread Starter 
There is some improvement......this morning when I got up the kitten was lying on top of the crate that I have the orange kitten in. I have an old comforter draped over part of the crate. The gray kitten's meowing has decreased somewhat.
post #29 of 40
Oh good. I hope the poor dear settles down. Does it hiss?
post #30 of 40
Thread Starter 
He/she was hissing quite often the 1st day. It's lessened somewhat.

What a difference from the 1st kitten I trapped from this litter. She is already licking my hand and looking for attention. A very sweet orange tabby.
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