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feral kittens,...can they be tamed/socialized at nearly 8 weeks old

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

  please give me some insight or anything helpful on taming feral kittens to trust me.

 I found a litter of 4 newborn kittens,..the mom is a feral I was feeding her for almost a yr.

 I found her litter,....touched & handled them for about 2 weeks,...then the mother moved them & I could'nt find them anywhere.

 well after about 3 weeks I gave up & thought they were GONE period.   well,....just 2 days ago I found them,...or at least 2 of the babys in my garage.  Of course they run & hide & hiss if you get near them now.  So,...they had human contact in the beginning....then none for 3 weeks,... whats the chances of me taming them to be adoptable kittens?

  & most importantly, do I begin?      the most I've done so far is put a small dish of food in there on top of an item of clothing I wore/for my scent purposes.     How do you catch a near 8 week old feral kitten?     I apreciate any input/thanks


post #2 of 21

You need to get a couple of large dog kennels..or cat kennels. Put a small cat box in the carrier with the cats. You can pet them with a long stick so they get used to touch. Do not stare at them or make eye contact..but blink your eyes very slowly and sleepy looking..move them into a bathroom and just sit in there with them not interacting but read softly from a book and work to touch them from that point

post #3 of 21

You need to get a couple of large dog kennels..or cat kennels. Put a small cat box in the carrier with the cats. You can pet them with a long stick so they get used to touch. Do not stare at them or make eye contact..but blink your eyes very slowly and sleepy looking..move them into a bathroom and just sit in there with them not interacting but read softly from a book and work to touch them from that point

post #4 of 21

they can definitely be tamed / socialized.

My current cat (now a year old) was feral up until about the age of 5 months, and, after an initial month of hiding under the bed and us slowly getting him more comfortable with us, he's now perfectly tame / friendly / cuddly around us. (though he's still shy of strangers, it must be said).

post #5 of 21
Hi, and welcome to TCS! wavey.gif

Awww.............. how sweet of you to want to do something for them! smile.gif

I've never used the method mentioned by Iris. dontknow.gif I know others do, I just never have (that stick thing).

If you have a room in your home you can provide as their "safe" room for socializing, I'd just use a live trap, trap them, take them to a vet, and release them in the room. I wrote a short article on socialization:

If there's a low-cost spay/neuter clinic wherever you live, they're probably old enough and large enough to be sterilized already. (8 weeks; 2 pounds).

At 8 weeks, they should "tame up" pretty quickly! An interactive wand toy will get the best of them. laughing02.gif But they do need to be confined to a room. Otherwise they'll probably become tame to you over time, but not make good inside-only pets.

You can also use that trap to trap momma and get her spayed. rub.gif

But you'll get lots more advice from others here! wavey.gif
post #6 of 21

The one room at  a time method is recommended by most feral cat tamers. My situation was a lot different as my feral was already 6 years old by the time we brought him inside. So it's possible to tame an even older feral if they have the right temperament. Kittens that age should be easier. We had to work with ours out of doors for years before he was ready to come inside. Took two years just to pet him.


As for trapping, you can get a humane cat trap. Sometimes shelters rent them out just for trapping ferals for TNR. Would be good to get the mom too. I have a friend who befriended a feral who then had kittens in his shed. He tamed the kittens and adopted them out. Sadly, the mom didn't make it. Rattlesnake or Coyote took her.


Good luck. There are a lot of TNR sites on the web offering advice for trapping and care. You might even have a local program in your area that might be able to help.

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the advice so far~   :) I so apreciate any guidance since I'm somewhat new to all this. However,..I did foster a litter last yr that were hardly wild at all.

they were born into ferals,...but I got to them very early so they had human contact from day 1.   the outcome there was great,... all 4  found loving homes with my help  :)

   And best of all I felt good doing my part,...since too me being a homeless feral cat is'nt the best life for a cat. I think every cat deserves a home,.... our winters here in NY are brutal,no cat should live outside in winter.  anyhoo,... I will try to trap the kittens asap & borrow a dog kennel & hope for the best. 

   I'm glad I found this active board for any questions or help I may need in the weeks to come.  thank you all so much for being here & doing what you do/and having a heart for animals~

  The mom cat is still around my home for food.  I have contacted the TNR programn in my hometown & they are willing to work with me to get the mom & a few others spayed/neutered.

   In fact I have one of their traps on loan.      wish me luck catching these lil ones  :)  TY

post #8 of 21
clap.gifclap.gifclap.gif Oh that's great about the rescue!!!!

If you need trapping tips, ask away! Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And vibes! vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #9 of 21
Welcome to TCS!!!! For sure those little ones can be socialized! Even older kittens can become very loving kitties. It takes a bit of time and a whole lot of patience. You are doing a wonderful thing for this litter of kittens. I wish you much luck in trapping the mom and any other feral cats in your area. I always love to hear about others TNRing cats. I feel so badly for the kittens born into that life. Thank you for caring! hugs.gif and GOOD LUCK!!!!!!! cross.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #10 of 21

Another trick for young kittens is to wrap them up in a comfortably towel, like burrito / roman toga, and carry them around, friendly babytalkong...  One of our experienced forumites do so. Works marvellously as long as they are young she tells.

You catch them preferably with a trap, like the one you had lend.

Avoid to run after them and try to catch by force.  They are fast now, and if may get traumatized....




Good luck!

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks....I have'nt began trapping since my friend loaning me the crate can't get it to me till tomorrow evening  & have nothing to put them in yet.

  But each day I go out there a few times a day & speak to them & bring food out.   I also put a small litter tray out there.

   I talk to them quietly  & today I saw one peeking out of its hiding place looking at me.  but as soon as I take a step closer, runs way underneath a workbench that barely

 has but 5 inches of space under it,..& I can't reach the depth of it to even get my hands near it.     so I will just do what I'm doing for now & try to trap soon, I realize the sooner the better as far as socializing them goes.   I hope its not too late   :(      I hate the thought of more strays in my area & I'd so much rather them get homes sometime in the future.   & although my citys shelter says they are a NO KILL zone,..I think they'd put them to sleep considering they act wild.   They are def not adoptable as is.

   I will post when something new happens.   :) thanks again

post #12 of 21
It's not too late. rub.gifhugs.gif
post #13 of 21
It always makes me sad when people think "it is too late" to socialize. It is never too late. Honestly, all it takes is time, time and more time with lots of patience. Yes - some older feral cats will never be socialized and it can often times be cruel to keep trying IF there is just no progress over many, many months. I have seen many, many feral kittens even close to a year of age become socialized and loving, sometimes only towards one person. Strangers rarely. They usually are one or two person kitties. Having said that - even cats that are imprinted by humans as babies can become one person kitties too and will run and hide when anyone comes over. Most feral kitties are the same - but not all. Take each kitten/cat as an individual and just keep in the back of your mind the "statistics" about socializing feral cats - meaning not all feral cats will follow the rules about socialization protocol. Am I making any sense here laughing02.gifheadscratch.gifbluelaugh.gif GOOD LUCK!!! vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #14 of 21
Of course kitties that young can be socialized! biggrin.gif My cat Boots was pretty much exactly this old when I got him as a feral -- hissy little thing he was too! laughing02.gif -- and now he loves me to death. rub.gif He's slowly warming up to strangers too.
post #15 of 21

I brought 3 feral kittens in at about 8 weeks.  It has been a month of working with them so far.  They will crawl up on my lap for breakfast, (I put a dish of wet food on my lap every morning.)  They will crawl on me and play with a toy on a string.  I can hold one at a time and pet and they each will purr and fall asleep on me now.  The only thing they don't do is approach me when I am standing up.  I still keep them in a separate room, since I am trying to tame the mama as well, and already have 2 old indoor cats in the house.  It does take time, at least a couple of hours a day, and lots of patience.  I also used Canned baby food chicken with gravy when I am trying to get new  behaviors out of them.  I also rigged up an old tshirt into a kitten carrier by sewing a large flannel pocket onto the front.  Then I can carry them close and still do some multitasking.  One great thing I have learned about feral kittens is that mama has trained them to stay in one spot, so I can keep a kitten on my lap for hours if I really want to.  Good luck to you!

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you sherry52.................... great ideas from you.  I'm working with these 2 babys in my garage. they are 10 weeks old.

 And it looks to me like the Momma is trying to lead them outside through an open window she uses to get in and out of the garage.   the window is somewhat high up but the babys are close to making it  :(  now I'm not sure what to do.

 My intent was'nt to keep them myself as pets as I have 2 inside house cats. I just wanted to socialize them so that they were possibly adoptable if I brought them into my local shelter. Or my other option I suppose is to just let them be where they are & get them fixed through our TNR program & continue to feed them.  ??   I'm not really sure where I'm going with all this.  I just knew I did'nt want to see them put to sleep.    Should I let them come & go?  I have no clue.  or should I cage them?  only then the momma cat could'nt get to them no longer.        BTW,...they will somewhat play with a string toy with me,..and I have pet them a few strokes at a time.   they are def getting better,..and never hide anymore when they hear my voice.  I just don't know what to do about them getting out of my garage.  coming & going as they please.    thanks for your advice on whats working for you  :)   & best of luck  :)         they are fun animals

post #17 of 21
Oh dear. Is there anyway to close that window? My concern is that the mom will or is in heat and wanting to breed - she could get pregnant right away! ohno.gif I would try to keep them confined to the garage until you can at least get the mom spayed. And there is nothing wrong with getting them all TNRd and releasing them in your yard and be their caretaker. BUT hopefully, the kittens can all find homes cross.gifbiggrin.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #18 of 21

Mama should be caged and fixed right away, she could get pregnant again once she has stopped nursing.  In our case, we have too many wild animals around and letting them stay outside would be a death sentence, maybe you have a safer environment.  Babies can be neutered after they are 2 lbs or around 4 months old.  So even if you don't want to keep them inside, I would eventually trap them to get them neutered.  We have a program in our area that pays the cost of this, your local shelter might have some information for you.  The shelter will probably give you a humane trap and advice on how to use it as well.  (We trapped our wily mama with tuna and by covering the bottom of the cage with newspaper.  Good luck, whatever you decide.  I am typing this with Gizmo, the lion-looking ex-feral sleeping on my lap.  Gotta love em!



post #19 of 21

Yes Tandy, they can be socialized at 8 weeks old. We have rescued many feral kittens, some older than that and some a little younger we and the people who have adopted them have had no problems. They may be a little more skittish than totally domesticated kittens, but they will be as loving as any kitten. Just ask our three rescued ferals. One we rescued was 4 years old and she is very affectionate with us, but when strangers come around she hides.


Your local Humane Society should be able to help you. They may be able to provide you with a safe trap and show you how to use it. If you keep them in a separate room from your own cats until they can be picked up or taken to your local society, it would help to socialize them better. We have had a lot of success in doing this. We have kept them in a room in our basement. They are quite happy to be warm and dry. They don't expect posh surroundings.  Just give them a box or two with blankets in them for sleeping, a littler box and a box or two for playing hide and seek. Cut a doorway and stand the box upside down. That will be their safe zone when they want to hide. Interact with them, gently play with them. Just roll some of those nerf golf balls around to peek their curiosity. Scrunch up some paper. But let them come to  you first or you will lose their trust. Just lay on the floor and their curiosity will get the better of them eventually. Never force them to be picked up as they will panic and you will have to start all over again. Put your hand out, palm facing you and just let them sniff you. Give them treats once or twice a day. They will eventually come around.


At 8 weeks old, you can buy wet kitten food  to build up their health and water will be enough. They do not need to be bottle fed at that age. If they have trouble breaking up the food with their teeth, either break it up for them or add a little water to it.


Let us know how you do.

Edited by boblynrain - 7/16/12 at 5:18pm
post #20 of 21
Just checking in ....... has the garage window been closed or blocked off? How are they doing? Again, I would not let them come and go until they are all neutered. There will be more kittens that way. sigh.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #21 of 21

I really have no suggestions for taming the kitten, but 3 years ago we adopted a beautiful Russian Blue kitten, about 5 weeks old, that we found under our poach.  There were no mama or other kittens, but we have many feral cats that roam our mobile home community and one of them is a Russian Blue that appeared to have recently had kittens, so we suspect she was the mother who apparently abandoned her baby.  We were told by our vet that a feral cat was always a feral cat, and to be prepared for most any kind of behavior.  Well, he was right!!  She is the most loving [at her own time] mean, playful, standoffish  - well, I guess you can get the picture.  My friend and I are 81 & 82 and think she is the best thing that ever happened, even with her sudden mood changes!  She keeps us entertained with the things she does - the funny and sometimes very weird things!  We have never regretted keeping her and wouldn't take a million for her.  BUT be prepared for anything!  She had never been outside except for trips to the vet, has a diet if dry food with meat as the first ingredient, grass sprouts we raise so they will be fresh and tender, and two other brand of dry food , also with meat as the first ingredient, that she only gets as treats.  One of them she only gets when we leave the house and will be gone all day, the other she gets when we play her best game which we call 'mouse hunt'.  We throw them in different directions in the room, and she chases - hunts them - and pounces!  sometimes she even catches them in the air.  She is healthy, active, and seems happy with her life.  So enjoy your feral, four legged, furry child that doesn't talk too plainly, but as all mother's do, you will soon know what most of the 'words' mean!

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