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Fostering hoarder kittens!

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
I'm getting two 10 week old kittens tomorrow! Woo-hoo! They came from a hoarder house, and are part of a larger litter. They have been in a cage at the vets office for over a week, and can be picked up and held, but need to learn to be nice pets. I hope we can tame them up nicely!

I will use lots of pointers from here at TCS to help me accomplish this!
post #2 of 54
Lucky gal! 10 wk olds are soo much fun - work too though!!
How do the big guys feel about this?
post #3 of 54
Thread Starter 
I ususally keep the kittens in a separate room. Since these guys are a little older, they might end up out in general population, but will start in the "kitten room" and in a cage. At this age I think I need to provide intensive attention for the kittens, and don't want to risk losing them in the house! And if I need to separate them, it will be easier if I don't lose them!

If they tame up quickly and don't act feral, I will probably introduce them to the others, since Garfield is usually very loving with any cats we bring in, and the babies might need that!
post #4 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, I have two little jet black kitties curled in the corner of their cage. DH said when he took them out of the carrier they were very quiet, but their little hearts were beating very fast!

Due to TCS, I am too smart now to mess with them tonight, although my hands are itching to get in there and try to pet them! They have all the food they will need, and a pair of dirty socks! LOL! And I laid down on the floor for a while after putting their food in, but since I can't LOOK AT THEM (again, thanks TCS), I left before too long. (I think that was my main mistake in my last semi-feral, just looking at her too much. Now I promise to only look beside the babies, and blink slowly if I am caught looking at them!)

Boys-girls-one of each? No idea, yet. But hopefully they will tame up nicely for us so they can become adoptable.
post #5 of 54
Aww.that's great to hear that you are helping this kittens.

post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
Sitting here holding one shiny black bundle of cuteness! I haven't named them yet, dh thought Pitch and Black would be good. I don't! He REALLY likes the name Pitch. I do not!!!

This one has a little white spot on its chest. They are both quite shy. They only seemed to perk up as being held when they saw a place that looked good to hide! The first one I held had its ears back part of the time I held it. This one is a little calmer-both do settle as I pet them.

I am off for the next 4 days, and my goal is to gently help them understand that people are good. My concern is that they will escape, and be impossible to find!

9 y/o dd sat on the floor by the cage and read them a story. DH held one and pet it for a while. I just hope they are still young enough to learn to be pets. Since they were apparently born in a hoarder's house, they don't even have the option of being outside cats if they don't tame, do they? Poor little sprites-and there are others from the litter who are less tame than these two!

The only sound I have heard them make is a hiss-first responding to Festus hissing at one of them (naughty Fest!), and then after I put the baby back in the cage it hissed at my hand! I would feel better if they made a little sound, and didn't just sit in a corner of the cage! DD did say she saw them use the litterbox today, although they would stop digging and become still if they saw her watching them. She knows not to stare.

I sure hope I can tame these precious black babies.
post #7 of 54
How, how cool Becky! You'll tame them up in time. If you are already holding them they will soon be putty in your hands!
post #8 of 54
Thread Starter 
I let their food bowl go empty overnight, they just had about 1/4 cup of kibble last night. This morning the bowl was empty, and I closed the bedroom door, opened the cage, and put some canned food on a plate outside the cage. (I really don't want them preferring the cage to the home!) The kitty with a white spot on its neck came right out to eat as I called "Here, kitty, kitty". I was sitting right there, and the kids were on the other side of the room playing video games.

The pure black kitty reached out to eat, keeping her (his?) back feet in the cage. It also ate off a spoon for me. Then I pulled out a straw, and the white spot kitty actually played shyly. Even played with 6 y/o ds for a bit. He was itching to pet her, but whenever he reached his other hand towards her, she shyed away a bit. I told him he can pet her later.

They both ended up outside the cage. There is a place between the cage and the wall, where they can crawl back and be hidden inside a piece of foam (actually a playpen pad!). White spot kitty went in and came back out to play with the straw. All black kitty went in and stayed until I pulled her(?) out and put them back in the cage.

I have extremely high hopes for the white spot kitty. She is almost on pace with a tame kitten, playing with the kids, etc.

I gotta find out if they are girls-I think so. And we need some names. It is too weird to call them white spot and black kitty! (I already had a great cat named Spot, so that won't work). Star and Night Sky? Vincent and Van Gogh? Midnight and Dawn? R2 and D2? Oh, the possibilities! If the second kitty doesn't tame up, we will probably keep it. So I need a name I can live with. (Says the woman with a Festus and a Garfield, no Odie!)
post #9 of 54
Peek and Boo?
post #10 of 54
Thread Starter 
Ooh, that's very cute! DS thinks Whitey and Blackie would be good. I can just see taking the one with the white spot to an adoption show and trying to explain why a jet black cat is named Whitey! LOL!

They just spent about an hour exploring the bedroom. White spot is comfortable doing a little exploring, running back into the cage if frightened. All black came out of the cage, but hid under a large toy. I am very pleased with their progress!
post #11 of 54
Originally Posted by Beckiboo
I am very pleased with their progress!
Becky, it sounds like they are doing very well.
post #12 of 54
AW, this is great! You have done an awesome job with the children: I am very impressed with their insight on connecting with the kittens, esp. reading the story outside the cage I am so happy that these little furballs have your home for a sanctuary! You're doing an awesome job!
post #13 of 54
The separate room is definitely smart until they get used to your approaching them.

Kittens are different from adult cats when it comes to socializing. With kittens after the first 24 hours or so you should force yourself on them. The biggest mistake I made with my first two was being afraid to scare them. I waited for them to come to me - big mistake. They were only 8 weeks old when I got them and almost 5 years later I still can't touch them except on the rare occasions when they let me. Actually one of them has never let me touch him. They live indoors fine but if I'd forced myself more on them when they were little they'd probably be a whole lot better.
post #14 of 54
Thread Starter 
I found this great link at the top, on the sticky's.
Based on this, I have gone from forced holding and petting-which they did accept, but did not seem to enjoy-to hand feeding. My hope is that rather than turn out to be kitties who allow petting, they will be kitties who see humans and hands as the source of good things. This makes intuitive sense to me. A momma cat is warm, loving, and brings food to the babies. Now humans will replace at least the food.

The way they sneak around the bedroom when loose is just not what I hope for them in the long term. I don't mind a shy cat, but as you said, Semiferal, to have a cat who you can never touch. And I realize that it is not very safe to have a cat in your home that you rarely see, and could not catch to take to the vet if ill.

Thanks for all your prayers and vibes for these precious babies. They truly are too beautiful!
post #15 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, I feel a little like a mean meowmie! I separated the kittens. Today, when I went into the kitten room, the tamer kit approached the front of the cage, as if expecting good from me (lunch!). But by the time I sat down with the can of food, opened the cage, and scooped some food onto my hand, she had cuddled with her sister. Then she wouldn't come out. I think the "scared" vibes from her sister were too much to overcome. And the scared one isn't taming much.

I tried holding scared kitty, but she wouldn't eat out of my hand. When I picked up tamer kitty, she ate off my hand as I held her on my lap. Then after she jumped off my lap, she continued to eat from my hand.

Scared kitty is now back in my bedroom watching sports with dh. DH is convinced we can tame any kitty. He is used to outside cats, from growing up on a farm. I will keep hand feeding both kits, and hope they get more and more comfortable with us.
post #16 of 54
I think your doing okay Becky since it only has been 4 days or so. Black kitty may just take a little longer to adjust. Glad your DH is convinced you can tame any kitten - I think its good to sometimes have that attitude. Especially since these ones are so young.

Good work!! and how wonderful that your DD & DS know the rules of how to work with new kitties (ie: no eye looking at such). That really is great.

thinking of you all
post #17 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, from what I have read about ferals, you have to get them tamed by 12 weeks. Since these two are already 10 weeks old, I am not willing to give them time to adjust. To me it is like caring for an abused child, you can't let them keep thinking you will hurt them. They must learn that you are the "good guy"!

I'm just trying to do this pretty intensively, without pushing them beyond what they can learn.

Scared kitty pooped in the crate she was in. I don't know where I read that a pie tin makes a good kitty litter pan, but she dumped out all the litter trying to bury a poopy! While dh held her, I changed to a bigger litterbox. And while he held her, she did eat a little from my hand. She would eat if his hand was still, but quit when he pet her. Poor little sprite, I'm sure she will eat more at the next meal! That is the beauty of kittens-that hunger urge, and the urge to play can over come fear if we let it!

Now, rather than sitting in a separate room, she is in the carrier facing dh. And dd is going in to feed the tamer kitten. (She fed them yesterday, too. She is my little catlady in training!)
post #18 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, here we are on day 5. This morning, tamer kitty was meowing at her cage, and stretching as if to reach us. Later, ds was playing with the tamer kitty, and then when he was petting her she purred. Then as dd held her, she purred some more!

Scared kitty is still pretty shy, but I have spent time carrying her around buttoned inside my shirt. I am afraid to keep them totally apart, because I know young babies, human or not, can die from lack of attention. And the carrier is too small for exercise. So this morning, after breakfast, the kittens were together while we were gone from the house.

Then they were separated, and the purring happened. Now they are together again, loose in the kitty room. Instead of slinking around the kitty room, tame kitty is exploring, climbing up on things, etc. And even shy kitty is walking around, grabbing at toys. They don't cower in terror when I stand up or move.

Of course, dd's face just dropped when she was holding the purring kitten, and I reminded her that she will make a good kitty for someone else. It would be so easy to keep them! Hopefully the other kitty will begin to make great strides with her sister as a role model when they have playtime together!

I do not think it is only our treatment of the kitties, I am certain that the prayers and good thoughts from TCS are working for these babies, too. Thanks!
post #19 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, day 6. I was at work all day, so couldn't spend much time with my babies. When we got home, 16 y/o ds hand fed them, then read to them for about 30 minutes. (So handy for the kids to have reading homework.) I hope the babies enjoyed Huck Finn! LOL!

While the girls did well at eating out of our hands tonight, and had a rollicking good time racing around the room together, there was basically no petting happening today. It is kind of hard when time is short, because I do not want them to think hands are for grabbing. So we played with the feather toy, and brought the big kitties in to visit. But mostly we just let the babies play with one of us nearby.

They look so sweet and adorable, if you don't try to pick them up! The wild child still hissed at me when I picked her up. The tame one was like a crazy girl, up on the TV, up on the cat cage, crawling up the outside of the cage...she was just everywhere.

I'm off work tomorrow, but have some running to do. However, it will be hand feeding all day, and I think that helps a lot!

Well, I'm off to bed. Too bad, because Garfield just climbed up on my lap, and fell asleep with his head on my arms. I love this boy so much! He really is the sweetest love-bug ever!
post #20 of 54
Thread Starter 
OK, here we are on day 10, and the tamer kitty (Blue) was having a WILD time tonight. She goes crazy for that feather duster toy! And for the first time, her scared sister (Red) played with the feather duster a little.
Maybe because I had Sugartoes and Festus in there. Although how they can calm the kittens down when they growl at them and try to whack them, I just don't know.

But the babies do see the big girls who are not afraid of Meowmie, and Sugar gets a little crazy over that feather toy herself, sometimes!

I love Hissy's hint to "shoo" them back into the cage with a blanket. I was having trouble getting them to go back in, because they have so much fun running around the room!

It was a fun night with the girls, while old Garfield layed in bed with dd and nursed on her giant horse's fur. He is such a big baby himself!
post #21 of 54
Ooh, what a fun thread. Keep posting, Becky, I'm fascinated.
post #22 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, I was wondering about when do I let them out of their room. Nice kitty wears a blue collar now, so I call her Blue, and the more scared kitten has a red collar, so she is Red. (I don't know why I can't come up with names we are happy with!)

So Friday I let the big kitties in to play with the kittens. When I opened the door to let them out, Blue followed them out slowly, and spent maybe 5-10 minutes exploring the house. Then something scared her, and she ran back in her room. Red stayed in the room, although I had kept the door open for Blue to come back.

Yesterday was a wild birthday party for 10 y/o dd, so the babies were put back in our room in a carrier, so they wouldn't be scared by the noise. Today I went to church, then to the airport to p/u ds. So basically they have been largely ignored for 2 days. Eating off a plate rather than out of my hand.

Tonight, after the big kitties went in for playtime, the kittens wanted to follow them out. So I let the kittens loose, and they both came out. Festie and Blue are like crazy girls. Blue runs behind the couch, Festie runs over it chasing her. Part of it is those collars for the kittens-they have bells on! I almost think Festie thinks Blue is just this great jingly toy. It runs, it bats back if you bat at it, it likes crinkle balls!

So Blue is running around having a jolly time, stopping back in the kitten room frequently as if it is home base in a game of tag. Red moves around a little, but mostly is hiding under the sofa table or behind the couch. So here it is 11:30pm, way past my bedtime, and Blue continues to jingle around the house.

I guess they will just grow up to be wild nighttime playing girls! I'll go put another litter box in the front room for Red, just in case. Silly kittens!
post #23 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, I was wrong. Red was hiding in the bedrooms, down the 30 ft hallway. So when I left the living room, where the computer is located, to go get another litter box, I saw her peeking out of ds's doorway, only about 5 ft from the kitten room doorway.

So I backed off and watched. Blue ran up and down the hall, in and out of bedroom doors, including the kitten room. Red just watched. But finally she ran out and up to Festie, about 3 ft from her. Then she turned sideways as if to say, chase me too! But then she ran into the kitten room, followed by Blue. I said goodnight and closed the door! (Had already put down fresh food and water, etc.)

Well, maybe Red will calm down and start interacting with the cats, and then us. Anyhow, I'm off work tomorrow, so will let them out again. (May be running to Michigan to p/u a newfie puppy from a shelter-oh won't that complicate things! LOL!)
post #24 of 54
Thread Starter 
Well, they have been out all day. (No new puppy .) Blue played with me a lot this morning, and they both kitties slept all day. I think they were under dd's bed. Blue ate with the big kitties, but Red didn't come to me in their room. DD tried calling her for food from under the bed, but she didn't come out. The food is gone now, hopefully she got some before one of the grown cats inhaled it. (2 cans of food for 3 cats and 2 kittens.)

Now Blue is running around the front room, playing alone. She even batted at the TV for a minute, after noticing the picture. She is curious, and playful, and although she shys away from me at times, is willing to approach for food or the feather toy. The big guys leave her alone, although Sugartoes growls at the babies. But I have seen enough interaction to feel safe leaving the babies free. My hope is that Blue will get in bed with dd tonight. That is always a sign that a kitty is tame-jump in bed with dd, where Garfield and Festus often sleep.

I guess I need prayers and vibes for Red. I can't really cage her separate from Blue. She is more afraid of everything, so maybe it is partly personality differences. Maybe she will calm down in time. I really need to get some more Feliway for her!
post #25 of 54
So Becky, could you expect Blue's outgoingness (or lack of fear) to sort of "rub off" on Red? Or does it not work that way? I hope Red can overcome her instincts...
post #26 of 54
What a lucky kitten to find someone like you to take it in and give it a loving home. Gongrats on the new baby!!
post #27 of 54
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by kluchetta
So Becky, could you expect Blue's outgoingness (or lack of fear) to sort of "rub off" on Red? Or does it not work that way? I hope Red can overcome her instincts...
Honestly, I think it works the opposite way more often. Cats pick up "scared" vibes from a litter mate. Red has been consistently quieter, more shy, more frightened. I don't know what her chances are of becoming comfortable in the house. Yet if she was trapped at 5 weeks, I'm not sure she could ever be an outside cat. (I have plenty of "people shy" outside cats here.)

Blue does run to her sister sometimes. Gives away her hiding spot, to tell the truth! LOL! And after I logged off last night, Red did come out and go into the kitten room.

On one hand, I am afraid I won't give little Red every opportunity to become a tame pet. I don't want to miss anything. On the other hand, maybe she just needs more time. I just don't want to look back and think "if only I had spent more time doing this or that..."
post #28 of 54
Beckiboo -

One of the litters of kittens I rescued and then
found homes for were sort of feral - tame mom, but born
in garage with no known owner. The owner of the
garage wanted me to take, so at 8 wks we grabbed
Momma - who went to Arlington Animal Welfare
League. I volunteered to take the litter home
at 8 weeks, and socialize / adopt.

The little guys were mostly
very friendly, but one little calico kitten was terrified.

She would huddle under the sofa and shiver, hiss and
not warm up to anyone...neither playtime nor food worked
with her.

Then, when I was pulling my hair out at how to get
her to become a love bug something wonderful happened...

My big kitty Sheba, a purrr ball if ever there was
one (who didn't on *principle* LOL like those damned kittens!)
sat down next to me, and not noticing the callie was in my lap shivering - turned on her purr motor. And when Shebs purrs, you can hear it across
the room, LOL!!

I put the little kitten down next to
Shebs (who was so into her purring with eyes closed
she didn't notice) and volia, little kitten stopped shivering
turned on HER own purr motor, and as I gently stroked her,
nestled down next to Shebs!!

After that - she was completely unafraid - she began to
purr everytime she was held, play fearlessly and
became totally a love queen. I found her a home
with a little girl who was very lonely (her Dad was in the service
and always away) and needed her love. She became that little
girl's beloved pet - Princess!!

So, IMHO kittens that aren't socializing can learn from
adult cats - if there are any around - who are warm
and loving and comfortable round people....esp.
if they purr loudly, LOL!

I know my feral Maj. Grey is closely watching my
interactions with Lexi girl (who is completely at
home with me) outside and inside (he watches through
the sliding doors...).

He is getting much bolder, less
afraid and ready to stick around and even, GASP
come in the house. All because I think he's seen
me interacting with both Lexi and Diablo outside.

Cats do learn from each other, and I think it goes
both ways - fearful and/or outgoing....
and in, and knows there's nothing to fear.
post #29 of 54
Thread Starter 
I do hope the other kitties will model good behavior for them. Blue sat and watched today as Garfield gave me kisses. I had Red in the bathroom with Festie and I a few days ago, and Festie was talking to me and engaging me in a game of fetch. So hopefully she will get the hint and see that I am on the good team.

She did sneak out into the front room a few minutes ago, but when she saw me she left. If all she needs is a good role model, hopefully she will find it in my other cats, and her sister Blue.

That is encouraging though, that your shy kitten ended up adopted. My fear is that Blue and Red will have to stay here forever because they don't become "good pets". While I don't mind adding a kitty or two, it would eliminate my ability to foster if I have too many cats here. (I know lots of people can tolerate a lot of cats, but I'm just not that way. I already see that the outside boy Will is getting less attention since the babies came here!)
post #30 of 54
Beckiboo - I suspect with my callie kitten that it
was the "purr" that did it. Probably that little
kitty heard Shebs and thought it was her Momcat
since they often use purring to let kittens know
they are there... then the kitty was reassured
and relaxed. In my experiece the callies are either
great love balls or total scaredy cats... seems to
be all or nothing with them!!

But I suspect letting them see the big guys
is a good thing... esp. if the big guys are
gentle with them.

My Diablo was odd - he once fostered a
young black male kitten - even to the point
of suckling it, and purring for it!! LOL. Guess
some cats hve a mother instinct...
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