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Exciting breakthrough, but looking for thoughts

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
So I'm dealing with my first bunch of 3 'older' feral kittens. I got them about 1 1/2 weeks ago, they are about 8 weeks old and came from a colony that is all in pretty bad shape. The best looking one of the bunch won't stop hissing at me, and when not hiding they seem to want to sleep all the time and show no interest in their surroundings.

Well, tonight when I put them away in their cage I noticed the hissy one seemed particularly alert. On a whim I dragged out the feather toy, and he went for it. I was so surprised. He kept playing. I lured him and the black one out of the cage and played with them until *I* tired out. They didn't try to hide and only startled a little bit when I moved around.

So now I'm wondering, what brought this on? Is it possible/probably that they are nocturnal? I've never heard them play or move around a night before, but usually I am asleep anyway. Does someone who has worked with feral kittens before have any ideas? I suppose when I see how they are tomorrow it will help, I did try to wear them out a bit.

I imagine the fact that they are finally getting fed well and stronger can't hurt either. And they are still skittish with me of course, but I'm just so excited to see them show interest in something besides hiding and hissing.
post #2 of 8
Mine started to play with toys and react to me holding wands etc for them two days ago, and they are quite a bit older than your three. So I guess it just takes time for them to realise that it is a safe thing to do. Also, I htink they need to know that all their physical needs are met before they can give energy, mental or physical, to play. It is a wonderful moment, though!
post #3 of 8
Rowan is about the same age, and is probably a feral cat's kitten, but he wasn't ever hissy with me. Scared, yes, but no hissing from this sweet little boy.

Anyway, for the first few days that I had him, he was pretty lethargic. After maybe four days, he was suddenly full of energy, and spent every second trying to escape from the bathroom (several successes didn't exactly make him stop). I just figured that he had become used to his new surroundings and was finally being fed a healthy diet. I don't know that he was ever more nocturnal than my other kitten, but neither of them sleeps all day or all night.

Have you thought about putting them in separate cages? It might make them more dependant on humans, but feral-ness is a bit contageous.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well, in the dim fog of morning he's back to hissing at me. But at least now I know deep down inside, he does want to play.

They're doing ok in a cage together so I'm going to stick with that for a while and hope the friendly one rubbs off, and not the hissy one. No one seems to be rubbing off right now.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Now they are out running and playing in the office. I hadn't let them play here much because it is so large with so many places to lose them. But the small poor looking tabby is even playing with the big hissy tabby.

I'm still getting looks of terror and hisses, but I figure this is still an improvement.
post #6 of 8
The play therapy is a great idea! The fact that they can forget their fear to play is a good thing! So is separating them. Maybe sometimes you can put one in the office with you alone for a few hours, or somehow let them get one on one time as they get more accustomed to you.

I think with cats, if one kitten is sending out "be afraid" vibes, that overrides you letting the others know everything is ok. Of course, give them time to adjust to their new life with you, but sometimes by separating them, and putting them with tame kitties, they make good improvement.

Do you have a big old friendly cat who will help tame them? My Garfield is real friendly, and can be helpful with the wild ones. Maybe just an older cat in the room playing with you, while the kits watch from the cage will help show them that you are a good kitty person.

Best of luck with these babies...it is amazing how much they can learn.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
My girls couldn't be less interested in my fosters. They are appalled that I keep bringing these malnurished orphans into their stately lives.

HOWEVER, I realized this morning that right before the kittens got playful last night the girls ran in and out of the room chasing each other. This morning when they weren't as interested in playing, I played with my girls in front of them a little and they got excited again. So I think you are right.

Looks like they found another kitten in the colony too, so I may end up picking up kitten #4 this afternoon!
post #8 of 8
Sounds like Festus. She doesn't like when we get new cats, either! With Sugartoes, sometimes Festie will stick her nose right in Sugars butt, then hiss when she turns around! They are tolerating each other pretty well, now, but Festus makes it clear that she would rather not have Sugar there!

Sounds like your girls make good models for the babies, though. Cats are so smart! No way would a dog learn from watching an unknown dog! (I like dogs too, they are just different!)
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