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Need immmediats suggestions - reclaiming my feral kitten!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am a new member and need any suggestions urgently.
Brief history: last fall I took into my home 2 feral kittens, brother and sister, about 8 weeks. I have a senior female and a young adult male, both neutered of course. Both were indoor/outdoor cats. The kittens were the offspring of my male cat's sister. They are now about 10 months old and still not tame. I have had to accept they will live with me not as my cats but as my male cat (Orlando)'s cats; he adores them and they treat him as their mom. I cannot approach the kittens without them running. I did get the mobile vet to come spay/neuter and vaccinate. Because I can't pick them up and they don't come when called, I was not letting them outside.
So ... the problem. Last Thursday they got out accidentally. I won't bore you with the details. I saw the male (Rudy) several times over the weekend. It was clear Orlando was watching out for him. I did not see the female (Margot) at all and worried that something terrible had happened to her. There are raccoons and birds of prey where we live and she is very small and not "street smart".
At night I left the kitty door open, contrary to my usual practice, hoping the kittens would come home, if nothing else driven by hunger.
Early Sunday AM Rudy came home. I immediately locked the kitty door and fed him. He is fine physically, although he seems to have picked up a crop of fleas. He is even more skittish than usual and inclined to cling to Orlando.
Sunday night I went out to bring Orlando inside since it was getting my bedtime and saw, to my surprise, Margot, in the garden. I knew I could not approach her or she would run. For the last 2 nights I have shut Orlando and Rudy in "their" room at night and left the cat door unlocked but she has not come home. This morning she actually got as far as the front porch (cat door is in the back). I opened the door but had to stay nearby to keep Rudy from running outside. Margot poked her head in the door and then ran away. So I get the impression she does want to come home and Rudy is calling for her.
I got a trap. I read up on trapping and decided to wait until tonight to set it. I wanted a day to establish a place where I set her food and then set the trap in the same place. Also, I did not feed her this morning so she will be good and hungry this evening and plan to get a can of kitty tuna (they usually eat dry food, Science Diet kitten formula) since it has a strong smell. I brushed Orlando last night and will put his hair in and around the trap so his familiar smell will be there. And put some catnip nearby.
I know I will get one and only one chance to trap her. And that is assuming she does not remember being trapped 8 months ago. If it does not succeed, she won't go near the trap a second time and she appears to be too timid to just come home on her own.
Please, I apologize for such a lengthy post my first time here, but if anyone has any suggestions on how to improve my chances of a successful trapping I would be very grateful. I have left phone and email messages and no one is responding. I want my little Margot back and so do Rudy and Orlando.
If everyone comes home, maybe I can discuss with others whether there is any way to tame them. I've tried everything. But I need to get her home. She is not safe outside.
post #2 of 17
No advice - you seem to be doing all you can, but just to say I hope you get her in safely soon!
post #3 of 17
All I have to say is to cover the trap with towels or blankets to it looks like a nice safe place to hide. Tuck it in a shadow or under a bush or something rather then right out in the open. As near as possible to where to are feeding her now.

Use some litter out of your cats litterbox rather then fur, or in addition to it. The fur will pick up other scents from outside, but the litter will have the strong odor.

And use some really stinky food like tuna or sardines in a can, something nasty smelly like that. Be aware that you could also attract raccoons and skunks too Or even other cats.
post #4 of 17
A lot of trappers swear by Kentucky Fried Chicken with the skin removed. You also may want to join this group for advice:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/feral_cats/

Katie
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
My neighbor has 2 cats who sometimes come into my yard. I am going to explain the situation and I'm sure she will cooperate and keep them inside. Orlando will have to stay in even if he meows (he will). Raccoons I can't do much about. I plan to sit outside, out of sight of the trap, until I can no longer stay awake. If necessary I will leave it out all night and hope I get Margot and not a raccoon. The location is about 2' from my bedroom window so if she is caught during the night I will surely hear her.
I'll try some litter. Today is box change day.
post #6 of 17
You sound like you have it well in hand. Good luck getting her back!
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry to say Margot did not go near the trap all evening/night.
About 2AM I was awakened by noise in the trap. It did not sound like a cat in distress but something was there. I got up and got the flashlight. It was my senior cat Rosalind. I closed Rudy and Orlando in their room but allow Rosalind run of the house at night. At age 20 she is entitled to her privilege as head cat. She had exited the kitty door and was sitting in the trap, calmly eating the kitty tuna. I let her out and put more food there and went back to bed, now unable to fall asleep.
This morning I saw Margot out front. I shut Rudy in his room (Orlando was having his morning run), propped the door open and went outside so that she was between me and the door. Talked softly to her. I had put food just inside the door. She started walking to the door, and then Orlando appeared out of nowhere and chased her! Right away from the door into the backyard! I can't recall every being truly angry with Orlando before. He was probably just wanting to play, not realizing she is a hungry kitty who needs to come home!!
At least I know she is alive and well still. I will keep setting the trap every evening. Or maybe some morning she will get up her courage and come in on her own. I am afraid she does remember the trap and won't go near it.
post #8 of 17
How frustrating!! I am sending good trapping vibes.

Here are some suggestions you may want to try:

http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/hardtocatch.htm

Katie
post #9 of 17
My thoughts go with you - sending vibes for her safe return.
post #10 of 17
Oh, how heartbreaking. I fear that if my Jasmine ever snuck outside, that she would never come to me, either. At least Margot is still nearby. That is great news. Keep trying.

The first time I tried to trap a feral cat my tame barn cat ate so much canned salmon that I thought he would explode. Then he sat and guarded the salmon so no one else could have it! But I did end up trapping a wild tom, and he got neutered the next day!

I wonder if you should put the trap out with food in it, but block the door open. Then Margot will see other kitties go inside and eat, and will figure out that it is safe. Then you lock all the other cats up, rebait the trap, and hopefully catch Margot. The downside is it will take a little longer.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
I talked to Animal Rescue and they had some suggestions. Margot is not going into the cage. They said to put it under the shrubbery where she hides and wire the trip door open. Then put her food just inside. Even if other cats eat it, she will get used to it being a food place. Gradually move the food further back. Then after she is used to eating there, set the trap with mackerel or something really smelly.
I am afraid she remembers that this is how I caught her when she was 8 weeks old. How well do kitties remember? She is 10 months now.
I did not see her this morning. But I think Orlando is helping her hunt. She seems pretty energetic and is clearly not starving. My big garden probably has a decent supply of prey.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
This is beginning to resemble a soap opera. How will it end?
I talked to Animal Rescue. They said it can take time for a cat to be willing to enter a trap, especially if Margot remembers being trapped. Per their suggestion I moved the trap to under the grape vines (anyone who grows grapes knows this is not easy) and wired the trap door open. Then put her dish of food just inside. The idea is to move the dish back a few inches each feeding until she is used to walking right in, then finally setting the trap.
This morning the food was eaten and I took the dish inside to clean and replenish. I walked out with it and there was Margot. I put the dish on the front porch and IMMEDIATELY realized my mistake. I should have put it inside the door! But by then it was too late, she was on the porch and would have run if I'd gone back out. Margot ate about 3/4 of the food in the dish and then sat there licking her chops. I had the door propped open the whole time while keeping a sharp eye on the other kitties (except Rosalind, who is staying out of this). For some reason Rudy was silent, I kept telling him to call to his sister. And I was all but sitting on Orlando to keep him from running out. Margot walked to the door, actually put a forepaw over the threshold, then ran back. I carried the rest of the food out and saw her sitting under a tree. I shook the little dish so she could watch me put it under the grapes.
It's like part of her wants to come home but she has gotten even more feral this past week. I am really hoping over the holiday weekend to either finally get her to walk inside (preferred) or get her trapped.
Rudy is not playing with any of the kitty toys. He and Margot used to play all the time.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by crandc
This is beginning to resemble a soap opera. How will it end?
I talked to Animal Rescue. They said it can take time for a cat to be willing to enter a trap, especially if Margot remembers being trapped. Per their suggestion I moved the trap to under the grape vines (anyone who grows grapes knows this is not easy) and wired the trap door open. Then put her dish of food just inside. The idea is to move the dish back a few inches each feeding until she is used to walking right in, then finally setting the trap.
This morning the food was eaten and I took the dish inside to clean and replenish. I walked out with it and there was Margot. I put the dish on the front porch and IMMEDIATELY realized my mistake. I should have put it inside the door! But by then it was too late, she was on the porch and would have run if I'd gone back out. Margot ate about 3/4 of the food in the dish and then sat there licking her chops. I had the door propped open the whole time while keeping a sharp eye on the other kitties (except Rosalind, who is staying out of this). For some reason Rudy was silent, I kept telling him to call to his sister. And I was all but sitting on Orlando to keep him from running out. Margot walked to the door, actually put a forepaw over the threshold, then ran back. I carried the rest of the food out and saw her sitting under a tree. I shook the little dish so she could watch me put it under the grapes.
It's like part of her wants to come home but she has gotten even more feral this past week. I am really hoping over the holiday weekend to either finally get her to walk inside (preferred) or get her trapped.
Rudy is not playing with any of the kitty toys. He and Margot used to play all the time.
Oh, were are root for you and Margot - at least she hasn't forgotten were home is.

Does Rudy have anything that he simply must have when he sees it - like fish or whatever? Maybe dangle some of that over his head next time so he will call out for it and Margot can hear him - if you're very lucky she might even get curious about what he's getting that she isn't.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Margot is home!!!!!

Thanks to everyone for their good thoughts.

Friday evening I sprinkled a trail of catnip. She actually came inside, but she was between me and the door and when I tried to close the door she ran out.
I stayed up racking my brains trying to think of a plan to outwit a kitten.
Finally had an idea.
Saturday morning early I let Orlando out for his morning run. Margot emerged from behind the shrubbery onto the lawn near the front door. I wasn't dressed yet but I knew if I took time to shower, dress and put in my contact lenses she'd be gone. So the plan had to be carried out in my pajamas (fortunately most of my neighbors were still asleep).
First, put Rudy in his room and close the door so he stays in.
Then, a dish of food was placed on the floor in direct site line to the door, but several feet inside the house.
Then a trail of catnip sprinkled from the food, across the floor, out the door, on the porch, down the steps and to the lawn.
Then opened the front door and since the screen tends to slam shut, propped the screen open with a sneaker.
I then ran out the back door, grabbing the broom on the way. Crouched behind the garden gate so Margot could not see me. Orlando ran in and started to eat the food but that was OK, since I thought his presence might help bring her in. Margot started cautiously sniffing the catnip, but as she got stoned she got less cautious, finally trotting inside and joining Orlando at the bowl of food. Not wanting to get too close to the door, I used the broom to push the sneaker aside. The screen door slammed shut. I ran around the house and let myself in the back door.
After 9 days, Margot was safe inside.
She seems well. She was freaked at first, ran back and forth between the two doors and howling when she saw they were both closed. But Orlando calmed her down and she is back to her normal self (that is, afraid of her own shadow), eating normally and starting to play with Rudy.
Never even used the trap.
post #15 of 17
I am SO glad.

I don't know what to suggest about making further progress with her, but I guess you know that you'll have to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't do a runner again.

Hopefully things will get easier for both of you as she gets a bit older.
post #16 of 17
That is GREAT news that she is back home!!!

You did an excellent job !
post #17 of 17
crandc your a saint and a true crazy cat woman! Your story made me laugh and cry at the same time because I've been through simular situations

Glad you have them both back safe and sound!

I'll have to remember the catnip trick! great thinking!!!!!
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