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HELP! taming older feral kitten -&she's in heat

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
i was asked to take this feral 5mos old kitten (i actually know her, she was a stray that i trapped about a month ago, along with her pregnant mom)

i do not know anything about ferals so i don't know why i said yes

i have her in a cage up on a table in the living room
she is in heat so she wails all night- i haven't slept since she got her

the volunteer who asked me to take her will bring her in to be spayed next Friday (not soon enough!!)

in the meantime, is there any point in working with her? she is burying her food with cat litter, she cries if you leave her alone, but she crouches and tried to hide if you go in the room
she calls out to the other 2 cats in the house, sounds like she is begging them to rescue her!!

any ideas welcome, i am at a loss
i am thinking i should have said no....
post #2 of 14
Please don't put her in a cage. If you have a small bathroom she could be in, that would be so much better. You are taking a kitten whose instincts and urges are to roam the world and you are putting her in a cage. She may not just be howling because she is in heat, as it is fairly early for her to be in heat- plus not that time of the year anymore (thank God) but she may be yowling for freedom, even if just a little bit of freedom to a larger room.

Here is an article about Ferals in captivity. I really do beg you to take her out of the cage, she simply doesn't belong in one!

Handling Ferals
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
i hate seeing her in a cage too, but i am SURE that if i let her out, i would never be able to get her again, and she needs eye meds 3 times a day

i hate seeing her so frightened- the way that i have always known her was as a free roaming stray who played in the tall grass and climbed trees and hung out with her mom and other strays
she was happy and playful then
she is miserable now

i am toying with the idea of adopting her once she is spayed and allowing her to be an indoor/outdoor cat, only thing is, i don't know if i could get her to come back in to get out of the cold....

unfortunately she is very very small so the shelter people think she is young enough to be tamed- however i KNOW how old she is, and she is at LEAST 5 mos old now, and was the wildest kitten of the four in the litter.
the shelter will let other cats go to a barn home before her because they think she has a chance of being adopted
i would hate to see this baby stuck in a cage til they finally realize she is too old to tame

i don't know what to do
it is heartbreaking to see her this way
post #4 of 14
You can't put her in a bathroom? Where she can hide from you but not that effectively?

Perhaps you could at least get her a snugglekittie to help her anxiety level.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
well i am hoping to be able to put her in the bathroom to play, but the way my house is set up, my bathroom has two doors, there is a room in back of the bathroom that has to be kept open as it is where the litter boxes are for the other cats (can't change that cuz of the blind guy, i tried putting a box in a bedroom but he goes on the carpet, he doesn't always realize when he is fully in or out of the box) plus it is the only fresh air i get up here on the third floor

so i can put her in the bathroom for an hour or so but that is it
there is no other room that is available

i really should just call and tell them to come and find someone else, it is upsetting to me to see her so unhappy and i have this absurd urge to set her free (i won't- it took too long to trap her to get her spayed, she is at least going to get spayed first!!)
post #6 of 14
I don't know anyone in your area that could help you. But if she is in heat, and you do let her outside, you'll likely never see her again. Perhaps it would be best if you returned her, although she would just be swapping one cage for another.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
yes i know i can't set her free- she must be spayed!
but after that, i am not sure what i will do
the volunteer really should not have called me to begin with- i have NOT been approved by the shelter as a foster home for ferals, i AM approved for ill/injured

if she had talked to the shelter manager she would have found out that i had no interest in ferals or in kittens!!

i really think i am being used- i can't believe the volunteer who had her didnt' know that she is in heat-
she was in a really big hurry to dump her on me!! i am sure she was keeping her awake

i'm a wimp and a pushover
i should have said no
oh well, i won't make THIS mistake again
post #8 of 14
Please understand that this kitten is scared of you. She has not been introduced to humans, and it is likely that if she did come in contact with people, the results were not good. Cats do have long memories. She misses her littermates and her mom, and she doesn't understand what has happened to her world. At least cover her cage with a dark cloth, leaving of course enough air for her to breathe, unless is really hot where she is. Is it a large enough cage for a litterbox and food? Are you keeping the litter pan as clean as possible, because in such close proximity she will stop eating and that can be fatal for her. Make sure she has water, for in her stress she will dehydrate quickly. If you have any classical music, play it for her softly. I put a CD on endless play and just let it soothe them when they are this stressed. Don't let your frustration that seems so clear to me in your posts carry over to her. This is not her fault. Taking care of ferals can be a rewarding experience, but it takes time to understand them and to read them. They are not like the domestic cats at all, they run on a totally different circuit.
post #9 of 14
What did you end up deciding to do?

BTW - the room in which you choose to let the cat go does not have to be a bathroom. It can be any room that can be closed off, like a bedroom, guest room or sun room.

I know you're frustrated (and perhaps a little nervous and scared) right now. But ferals, with work, become wonderful, loving animals. Especially if she's only five months old. Have you read Lucky's story? It's up at the top of this forum in red (it's been "stickied.").

Also, at five months, she probably isn't in heat. It's possible, but that's still quite young. She's certainly old enough to spay - and to have been spayed. I'm sorry you trapped her a month ago and she's still waiting for this procedure!

Just for your future information, although many vets are unfamiliar with this study and haven't worked on animals that young, early age spay/neutering has been proven to be safe and have no ill-effects on cats versus waiting until they're 4 - 6 months old. Here's a link:

Early Spay/Neuter in the Cat
post #10 of 14
I have worked with a number of ferals of all ages and know how frustrating it can be! Each time I looked at another frantic, hissing cat in a trap I thought "What was I thinking of??" But each of them did come to be sweet and loving pets eventually.

I understand the need to keep her in a cage for now - I put mine in a large dog crate until they settle down, or until after they have been spayed or neutered, as trying to catch them (before they are tame) again is very stressful for them. Putting the cage on the table would upset your cat terribly, as she feels very exposed and vulnerable. Can you put the cage in a quiet corner, and cover it with a cloth? That should help calm her down.

Once she is spayed, you can start working with her. Just remember that nothing can be accomplished until she trusts you. This will take time, but will be worth it in the end. Patience is the key.
post #11 of 14
I have caught 3 different litters of kittens from a feral momma that was(haven't seen here lately)around here(I have tried and tried to catch her but no luck).I ended up spaying/neutering all of them and keeping them inside,all except for one.The one I put back outside(she is spayed)was a little over a year old when I caught her(I caught her littermates a lot sooner).
I would always keep the cats in a cage for a few days and then let them out in my bathroom(I saw where you could only do this for a little at a time,but that will be better than nothing).I saw where you are concerned about not being able to catch her if you let her out of the cage and into your bathroom.Well,every one of the cats I had would run back in their cage when I would go into the bathroom,and would stay there till I left.It took them quite a while before they quit doing this.I guess they saw the cage as their "safe place",so I don't think you would have a problem with letting her out for a little while in the bathroom(I just think the bathroom is a better place cause they have no beds or furniture to get up under and hide)just leave the cage in there for her to go back into.
I have gotten many of scratches and a few bites from my ferals,but I still love them.
Good luck and I hope you are able to let her out some if you decide to keep fostering her.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
hi thanks for your reply- unfortunately the cage would not fit in my bathroom- i have a tiny bathroom and the cage was a pretty good size- just not very tall.
so i was not able to catch her and had to call for someone to come get her
they are looking into putting her in a barn home.
they have already had someone work with her for a month, and she really got nowhere with her.
we have so many cats and just not enough foster homes for them all so sometimes the best choice is a barn home for a feral.

bless you for taming so many kitties! i just dont think i have the personality for it, if they are frightened, it makes me nervous and that makes them more nervous, you know?

i am MUCH better with older cats and ill cats, that is something i know i can do.

thanks! i didn't have time to get back earlier and let everyone know that she has moved on
post #13 of 14
I hope they can find her a barn home.They are still gonna spay her though,right?

I guess you will stick to older and sick kitties from now on huh?

The cat that was over a year old when I caught her and is outside,well,she is actually pretty tame now.She has smacked me and several others that were visiting(they WERE warned,it's not my fault they were stupid and didn't listen to me.LOL.)and brought the blood.She didn't really like being in the house and is a lot more content outside.She is still here and lets me pet her and lets me pick her up for about 2 seconds before she starts wanting down.

Anyway,thanks for trying with the feral kitty and good luck with fostering the old and ill cats.
post #14 of 14
It sounds like being a barn kitty is the ideal solution here; I hope you guys can find a place for her. Although you didn't really want to deal with a feral, you still helped out for a bit and that's very good of you. Also, it's so nice that you specically request to take care of elderly and sick cats. We need more people like you in the world!
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