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Have questions, new at this

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
A stray, seemingly feral, has decided to hide her litter in our yard. She and her 4 babes have taken up as squatters in the space between my fence and the neighbors. Momma cat hisses and refuses to allow and thing less than a 50 foot distance at all times unless she's inside the fence and is protecting her babes. Then we can get about 2 feet away, but she doesn't like it.

We are feeding and watering momma cuz babes are still nursing. Babes will come to me if I call "kitty kitty" and talk to them sweetly. They are tiny...no more than 4 weeks I think. Humane Society has no room at the Inn and to be honest, the woman I spoke with would rather that this be our problem and not theirs anyway. I don't want to call Animal Services cuz I know what they'll do.

So, here are my questions:
1) Since kittens seem willingly social can we just find good families to give them to?
2) When is a good time to adopt them out? I know in the case of feral cats sooner is better than later for the babes, BUT the average pet owner is not into high-maintenance animals and I don't want to take them away too soon requiring special feeding etc.
3) What do we do with momma cat after her babies are gone? We are unable to keep her for many reasons. We already have 3 animals (2 cats) and we're renters and not supposed to even have cats in the first place.
4) Will momma cat be traumatized if we just take her babies away? Is there a psychologically appropriate way to do it?

Sorry to ask so many questions. I just want to make sure we do the very best thing possible for these animals. Thank you for any help you can give.

post #2 of 10
Someone with more experience should be along soon, but I know that the kittens will take their cues from momma and she will teach them that humans = danger, so sooner is better than later.

I think at 4 weeks they are old enough to be removed from her for socialization since they can handle kitten food. You will need to spend some time socializing them. They may like you but not necessarily other humans.

Momma you should try for TNR (trap, neuter, release). It's possible that she could be socialized as well but it would take longer. Are there any groups in your area (where are you?) that might be able to help/advise you? Otherwise, get her spayed and then let her go. Can't speak to the psych. impact. Like I said, someone with more experience should be along later.
post #3 of 10
Hi Stepf,

Four weeks is really young to take them from her. Honestly, 12 weeks is best. The kittens are well rounded by then and mom has taught them everything that she knows.If you can get close to them and interact with them, hold them etc...you will acclimate them to humans.

Momma cat needs to be spayed after the kittens are weaned. Once she has been fixed you can re-release her outside and perhaps provide food for her as well as shelter and water?

if you wait the appropriate 12 weeks, she will be glad to get rid of them. Also something to keep in mind, it is possible she is pregnant right now. After they give birth they go into heat within 24 hours and if there is a Tom around, he will take her. I would get her spayed anyway- regardless if she is with kittens or not.
post #4 of 10
HI Stef, glad you found this site Id say take the kittens away sooner than 12 wks. just my opinion, the 2 Im attempting to tame were approx. 4 months when I was able to trap them & their making some progress but its extremely slow and what their momma taught them very well ingrained in their little heads. Id take the kittens away as soon as you feel their weened. And again that just my opinion. Ive been told that if you can snatch them between 6-8 wks do it! Wishing you all the best & glad you found this site!!!

post #5 of 10
I've heard the same thing from people who've fostered feral kittens: 6-8 weeks is the best time to take them in. As Nise pointed out, the longer the kittens are with mom, the tougher it can be to socialize them.

The other problem is that sorry to say, most people want to adopt young kittens, the younger the better. If you wait til the kittens are 3 months old before you take them in and you first need to socialize them, they could be 4 months or older before they're ready for adoption. 4 months isn't old, except to the people (and there are lots of them) who are looking for 8 week olds. The older a kitten gets, the harder it will be to get him adopted. Time is not on the side of an "older" kitten competing with 8 week olds.

I appreciate so much that you're helping this little cat family. Make sure to contact a reputable no-kill shelter or humane organization and ask for advise and a list of questions to ask potential adopters so you'll be able to adopt the kittens out safely. Thanks again for all you are doing for them!
post #6 of 10
If you can get a trap and you are going to be home for the day or a few hours at least, I would put one out and see if you can trap her. Put some yummy smelly wet food or tuna in there and put it as close to her as you can. Put a blanket over it so it looks warm and cozy and so that she doesn't freak out when you approach. Then catch the kittens and put them in a box and take them to a bathroom or spare room and let them be to calm down. But keep at least the momma in the trap til she calms down and then see how she is.

Is this a cat that just showed up to have her babies or one that has been coming around for awhile. There is a chance she might really not be that unfriendly. If she hasn't been around humans for awhile she could just be cautious of you and protecting her babies. I have had a few "ferals" that I trapped and they seemed horribly mean hissing in the trap and freaking out. Then I took them to my shelter and put them in a cage and they were perfectly fine and purring for attention.

Or she could be feral. I wouldn't just let them go into your bathroom or whatever. If you can get a very large like dog crate or something. Big enough for a litter box and some extra room that would be good. If not, maybe someone else will have a good suggestion.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much everyone for your replies and your help. In the last day or so the babies are getting brave enough to venture into the backyard. I am concerned for their safety if they wiggle through the wrong hole in the fence. I think we're going to try to adopt them out at 6 weeks. I know that's young, but I got my 2 cats at 6 weeks and they are happy healthy fat boys now.

Can somebody help me out with an age guestimate for the babes? Eyes open and blue, ears perking up, walking but wobbly, playing with each other, and they definitely have teeth because they love the smell of momma's cat food and try to eat it. As I was moving one out of her bowl she chomped me because she thought I was food...they DEFINITELY have teeth. So, I'm guessing 4 weeks? Not more than 5, not less than 3???

I'm thinking that they could even handle a good wet food for kittens, but I'm nervous to wean them too early just to get rid of them. Also, they seem so tiny (maybe that's cuz my cats are 20lbs each), but I'm scared that they are too little to adopt out. I don't want anyone squishing them.

Sorry this is so long. I just want to do the right thing for these little kitties. Like I said, I don't think it was just coincedence that they found our backyard. Someone else would have run them off by now and all our surrounding neighbors have dogs. Our beagle handles cats fine, she's just jealous that someone new is in her yard.

I still don't know what to do about the mom. We are plotting on how to trap her. If we even can.

post #8 of 10
Jen gave you some good advice about trapping, etc. You should get a trap NOW, though, don't wait til you're ready to try to trap the mom. The reason for this is so you can put the trap out ASAP to let the mom cat get used to seeing it. You can secure the trap door in the open position with a bungee cord, or string, and start to leave food near the opening. Once you see the cat eating near it, you can gradually start to move the plate of food into the trap. Little by little, over the course of a week or so, you can push the dish further into the trap. By the time you're ready to take momcat in for spaying, she will be used to going into the trap because she associates it with a good thing - food! It should then be easy to trap her when you're ready.

I agree with you about the kittens' age - probably about 4 weeks. You're right not to want to take them away at this point. Even 6 weeks is early, but that's in an ideal situation, and this is certainly not ideal! If you do take the kittens in at about this age, make sure to get them vet-checked first. You should keep them a week at least, and then try to get them adopted. Please remember to find out how to safely adopt them out by speaking with an adoption counselor at your local humane organization or no-kill shelter.

You might try some high quality canned kitten food diluted with water or KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) to thin it out some. That would be easy for the kittens to eat, and would help start to wean them.
post #9 of 10
We found Boo on the side of the road at 3 weeks old, we bottle fed her for several weeks until she was ready for wet food.

Hope all works out!
post #10 of 10
HI Stef just wondering how all is going w/ the momma cat & her babies??? Good I hope!!

Hugs ~Nise
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