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Need some feral help

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi. I just joined this site because I am a foster parent with a local humane society and I currently have two kittens with me for socialization. I have had them with me for a couple of days and have a couple of questions. Should I be keeping these kittens who are very skittish (they run when I approach) in the bathroom or is my bedroom fine? I don't know if the bedroom is too big for socializing them (they are 8 weeks old) as they tend to stay hidden under the bed (I am thinking of removing the bedframe from my room so they can't do that) or should I put them in my bathroom. I do need to monitor their weight so I have to be able to grab them at least a couple of times a week to put them on a scale. The problem is that my bathroom isn't very large and I still have to use it every day (I only have the one bathroom). I want to give them time to get used to my being around and not traumatize them by not giving them enough space. Is a smaller space better for socializing ferals? What are your thoughts?

post #2 of 11
Welcome to the site Cindy and bless you for fostering these scared kittens.

I'll move this to Caring for Strays & Ferals where our experts can answer your socialization questions.
post #3 of 11
I've never socialized ferals myself, but I have been told how. They recommend putting feral kittens in a small, enclosed area since they do tend to hide. It will actually make them feel MORE secure rather than less. So I would either switch them to your bathroom, or put them in a large cage.

Then you might wanna keep the lights off most of the time, and leave a radio in there on a fairly low volume. That will help acclimate them to human voices.

Once they get more social and less skittish, then I would let them run around the bedroom.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestion. I will try that. I don't like animals in "small" spaces and was worried I might be being cruel to confine them to the bathroom. If it is a security thing, then that is another story.

If I have to get on their level, I guess I could always sit in the tub and read gently to them. ha ha!
post #5 of 11
I deal with feral cats & kittens quite a lot and have found that a smaller space is best at first. I usually contain small (feral) kittens in a room with a small litter pan, food, water and at least 1 cardboard box turned on its side with some soft towels on the bottom. They love to sleep in the box and it makes them feel safe.

In addition, I put a small stuffed animal in the box or a cat bed for them...again, it makes them feel secure and simulates being with mother.

I have never left a tv or radio on for them but when I spend time with them, I do chatter a lot so they get used to human tone/voice. Also, do not stare at them...little or none direct eye contact. Even though you just want to stare at these cute little fuzzy's, staring is a threat to a cat and/or kitten.

Bless you for being a foster mom to these little ones and for being active with your local Humane Society
post #6 of 11
Thank you for helping to rescue these kittens!

When we brought young rescues into the house, the bathroom was always their first home. Do make sure they have at least one hiding place. I don't know how large your bathroom is, but if you can create two hidey places for them, even better. Put the litter pan as far away from the food as possible.

Leave a nighlite on for them - the low light is better.

A radio with classical music is great - very calming. Or a small CD player with classical CDs. Ferals, for some reason, seem to love harp music if you want to go that far.

And sitting in the bathtub reading to them is a great idea!

Did the Humane Society give you any instructions on how to socialize them? Because the very best thing to do is ignore them as much as possible. Just be in there with them as much as possible - even better if you can get a schedule going. Cats LOVE routine and it really helps if they know when to expect your arrival. Patience is the key ingredient!!!!

I don't know if you've read it already, but up at the top of this forum is a thread that's been "stickied" called "Socializing a Feral: The Story of Lucky." Although it begins with finding Lucky and then trapping her, etc., it is SO worth reading! There are so many helpful tips in that thread.

And - even better than a stuffed animal, consider purchasing a cheap tick-tock alarm clock - the old fashioned kind. Wrap it in a blanket and put that in their bed.

And - don't forget to post with ANY other questions!!!!!!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all of the suggestions. It is hard not to look at them because any time I hear anything fall over, I need to make sure they are okay. I have cat-proofed as much as I can but I still worry about them hurting themselves seeing as they are so inventive and active.

I have put their carrier in a corner with blankets which they seem to enjoy. The food is on the opposite side of where their litter pans are (two pans for two kittens, so I have read).

I have done other fostering before or I wouldn't have taken these ones because they are just that skittish. Last night, I read to them from a rather dull book lying down on the floor of my bathroom and they seemed fine with my being around. One of them even started playing with my stockinged feet when I dared to wiggle my toes. All promising. I have only had them since Monday night so I am not too concerned about them not being socialized yet. I have them for four weeks.

My only worry is that I do not want to pick them up if they are not used to me but I have to weigh them every couple of days to make sure they aren't losing weight. I tried weighing them this morning and only managed to weigh one and she was not very happy about that. I will have to wait a couple more days.

I will keep you posted on my progress.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Today I started playing with them with a ball on a wand and they went nuts. They were even running over me and sitting on me during this time so either they think I am furniture like the toilet or they are becoming used to me. I hope it is the latter. I was even able to stroke the girl's head while she was sleeping. The boy is still a little doubtful about me. But it has only been four days so I am pretty happy for what progress has been made. I am not sure what is usual progress, but I take what I can get. I don't dare pick them up as they are not ready for it but petting from behind seems okay at times.

I can't really use the baby food idea, much as I thought it was brilliant, as the humane society would rather I stick to their prescribed diet.

They are sneezing a little (not too much but more than twice) so I am going to take them into the clinic tomorrow morning first thing. Their eyes and noses are clear, poo is fine and formed and they are still eating well so it is probably minor but I still want them checked out.

I will keep you posted. Thanks for all of the suggestions.

post #9 of 11
Glad to hear it is going so well!
post #10 of 11
Bless you for taking them in . Happy to hear things are going well
post #11 of 11
So glad things are going well with the kittens.

It's good to hear that they are playing with you. One of the cheapest and best little toys that I have found for the little ones is a simple plastic straw. They love those straws!! I guess because they are teething, they enjoy biting on it. I just love when they grab on to it and give those little rabbit kicks. Also...shoelaces seem to be a big hit
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