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Stumped by two feral kittens: Need advice

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm wondering what I should be expecting, and what is the plan for two feral kittens who are showing little progress, if any. I've read articles on feral cats, but these are only two weeks longer in the wild, and from the same litter, than the two loving cats I adopted myself.

I foster kittens in my home and adopt them out of my home. These two came to me from a trap in the park where I live. They have not yet been neutered because I can't get them neutered before they're ready for adoption.

I don't believe they are ready for adoption. Here's what's been happening and where they stand now. The story of the FOUR total kittens from this litter are in my thread NEED HELP in this forum.

They've been in one room of my house where the kittens I foster have been coming and going. I guess I've had them almost a month now?

They are just about two pounds; they weigh less than my two who have been eating wet food three times a day. They use the litter box.

They started showing signs of wanting to play. The black one has purred a little, the white one has not.

They can be very affectionate with other cats and each other. Not so with me. After spending much time with them they still freak out when I pick them up. I wanted to weigh them and I had to make a kitty taco and hold very tightly. They are still looking wild and terrified.

I thought I would try feeding them wet food and having them eat on my lap; I've only tried this once and the white one shows NO interest. The black one will tolerate it for awhile.

Is this a good 'next step' in "socializing" them?

What in the world should I do to help them become adoptable?
post #2 of 17
There is no specific time span to socialising a feral,Every feral will adapt in its own time.

I have four ferals, two I caught about six weeks old, and are still a little edgy now and they are 18 months old.

The other two I caught at about four months old,last november,and they are now the most loving little darlings,Nobody can believe they used to be feral.

A little trick I used was using their food to play with them.

Before feeding time I would throw peices of chicken,cat munchies or sliced meat,and each time they ate the food,I would throw the food to land a little closer to they had to come closer.
over time I could get the cats to eat off my lap and touch them(not stroke them)that got them to trust I could touch them without hurting them.
Eventually I could stroke them.
After I got them used to eating off my lap,I started holding the peices of chicken in my lips,so they would take the food from my mouth.
I think this helped them to understand that I was now their surrogate mum and not a predator.
post #3 of 17
Diana's suggestion is a good one. Food is a powerful motivator. You can also try feeding from a spoon.

Interactive play is also a good way to work with them. Just make sure you don't look at them in the eyes as you play with a wand toy. Look over them, around them, at their forehead - just not in the eyes. To cats this is a sign of aggression.

You can also take an old t-shirt or something, sweat it up really good, and then put it down on the floor and put treats out on it, or put their food dishes on it. Or get a couple t-shirts good and sweaty, and do both. The idea is to get them to associate good things with your smell.

Other than that - just spend as much time in that room doing anything BUT trying to interact with them. Let them get used to you. Ignore them completely. If you can find a spare 15 minutes or half an hour a day, sit in the room and read aloud. Ignore them when you go in, ignore them while you're there, and ignore them when you leave. Go in later to feed them, or play with them. Make them separate visits.

Just being around them doing things that don't try to engage them will help them learn that they can trust you, and ultimately that's what socializing is all about.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for these replies. I like the idea of using the food as a bit of a play toy, and motivator to make them come closer to me of their own accord.

Recently I've had to start feeding them wet food. They are losing weight and looking ragged. I really do need to get them into the vet and this should be happening by early next week. I am also going to try to get them homes asap.

I'm thinking them in a room all day is not ideal. They've been here, with and some days without other kittens. They seem content with the situation but their physical body condition speaks to unhealthiness.

I've been using some of the suggestions, will use the others, but I guess what has me stumped is their youngness, and still so difficult to "tame."

Like I said, the two other siblings from this litter, caught two weeks earlier, are their complete opposites: very affectionate and unafraid. It is so sad to me.
post #5 of 17
I got my girl Jasmine and her sister Blue at the same time. Blue ended up fully tame, Jazzy still runs from me. She isn't scared of me anymore, but just prefers to run away. I know she isn't scared because she comes to me sometimes.

I have twin foster brothers, too. Dylan is a total love bug. The kids haul him around all day, and he just loves it. His brother Eugene remains skittish! Some kitties are just harder to tame!

Use feather toys, etc. Try to put a nice older kitty in with them so they will have a friend. Good luck...I hope they are adoptable. I had my doubts about Dylan, Eugene, and my other foster Wit, but they have all tamed up nicely.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
That's very good to hear, really. Even the two feral young kittens I have adopted are every day distinguishing themselves. They used to look like twin souls--drastically different in appearance but such buds in every way. Now they are laying in different areas of a room, and vying for my attention in unique ways.

For the feral fosters, I had a good food night with them just awhile ago. I was previously only feeding them the dry food and of course they love the wet. They are not with older kittens or cats, usually younger kittens who play harder than they do--they just look kind of baffled by it.

They are so cute when they play though. You can tell they like it; they just don't know what to make of it.

This wasn't the case when I posted this (they didn't look like they were losing weight) but the food is helping one and the other is scaring me. I have a postal scale I use to weigh them (which they hate of course). A vet check is definitely in order and probably sooner than later if he still looks the same to me in the morning....need some kitten vibes.
post #7 of 17
Sending "be well, kittens" vibes out your way!

Could be they've got worms - if it's bad, this can cause weight loss. Glad you're getting them to vet. Make sure he checks for worms while you're there.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Okay, I hope they don't give it to all the other kittens! I'll bring them in tomorrow when I pick up the new batch of kittens or Monday, whichever works best for the vet....doing this at the mercy of a charitable vet but he may see them Saturday if I bring them in early...

They are both warming up to the food. I feed them both a little then put some on a spoon and they've come all the way up onto my lap to eat from it--and they seem to be warming up in general. The trick I think is not to push them too fast; maybe I was doing that, I don't know. But I am going very slowly this time.

I figure I will start pulling them out of the "kittery" room into another small room to feed them from now on. Since I can't feel ALL the kittens wet food, so now starts my most intensive work with them. All the moving them around, to the vet, etc., will likely heighten their awareness they are being singled out, let's hope the food desire is more than the desire to be left alone.

Still need vibes though I do think they will recover.
post #9 of 17
Aww well done Vik,I hope the good progress keeps going

Stay brave little ones,you have a good life ahead of you

{{{{sending many health vibes for the little ones }}}}
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much. I just wanted to report a very friendly evening feeding with the little feral boys.

I fed a bit less and used the spoon so they were all over my lap. After the food was all gone, they hung around me, even on my lap and close to my lap.

It was good just seeing them bathing, like normal kittens, afterwards, and looking contented.

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
And this morning, after feeding, I had the two tough cases rubbing their heads into my hand. You know how normal cats, when you put your hand near their head, will rub up against it?

It started after feeding when they were grooming. I used the back of my finger to "lick" the backs of their heads, where they can't reach, around the back of their ears and necks too. And oooohhh, they were reaching up with their heads into my hand, stretching, so naturally. I must've looked funny with my mouth hanging open, but they didn't laugh.

Wow, they were doing this, snuggling, like complete strangers. Crawling into my lap and staying there. (Of course this is where I fed them most of their food, in my lap.)

Thank you so much lovely people. I don't have the type of food to toss around and play with them yet. I will pick up some real chicken and lightly boil it to make food toys today.

I pick up about five or six new fosters today too, so I will have to start taking the two ferals out by themselves when I work with them. It just hasn't been working up until now, when they are fairly alone. I've got to keep the good vibes rolling.

**Will be taking some stool samples in and picking up medicine at the vet for them today as well.

Would anyone care to help me name these two darlings?

post #12 of 17
What adorable kittens! I hope you come up with beautiful names for them.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Shadow and Streak.

I would like to report that after three days of antibiotics, wet food feedings from my lap and rough play, these kittens are ready for adoption, to the right home.

I started sending my Peeka in to play with them first, then I joined them. They are eager for play. I spend loud time in the room with them each day, talking with a friend while holding some cord for them to play with, moving about noisily, etc.

I rub them vigourously and they love it. I even clipped their front claws today, they allowed it.

They have gained amazing weight in a short time--I'll take some pics--I can hardly believe it. They look clean, alert, are purring. Wow.

I guess their being sick wasn't helping with the socializing. Now they are feeling better and getting good food they like...I can't say enough about how well they are doing. Their stools look good. At this time Streak weighs 2 lb 11 oz! Shadow wouldn't sit still...

I'm almost giddy. I was so worried. Thanks so much again y'all.
post #14 of 17
Just caught this thread........sounds like things are going along just fine! Good job Vik!!!
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you but now shadow may have ringworm!

And I am out of money for the month so I am going to bring them into a no kill shelter that offers vet treatment for their animals. Ours doesn't.
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by Vik61 View Post
Thank you but now shadow may have ringworm!

And I am out of money for the month so I am going to bring them into a no kill shelter that offers vet treatment for their animals. Ours doesn't.
That's a good idea....also, you need to go around and clean everywhere that shadow was thoroughly.

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Katie the way it works is you bring the kittens into animal control and then call animal rescue league. They then go over and retrieve them within three days and take them into their program, which is a really good one, I feel.

However it's no consolation dropping them off because they are now out of my control. I was uncontrollably bawling, making the uniformed men uncomfortable. And I couldn't get a handle on it. Usually I can at least hold back until I'm alone. I couldn't just now.

I first tried taking them to the vet who does the spay/neuter for our fosters. I was hoping he would stick Shadow under the lamp and check him but all they told me was, "Yeah, it could be ringworm." I knew that. I hate this vet's office and obtained two new ones to work with this program last week. They're just plain rude and were responsible for the cement feet kittens I got awhile back.

Please tell me how to go about cleaning up. Shadow was in two rooms but he was also in contact with all my cats but Pixel. Do I need to bathe them in a special solution (wait, I know someone posted about this...I am exhausted and not thinking too clearly right now...).
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