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Feral Cat and kitten advice

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello all. I have to first admit that I do not have a cat. I'm the proud mommy of an American Pit Bull Terrier named Maximus

However, I was owned by a siamese cat named Simon when I was a child- I miss him to pieces!!!!

Now to the point. I run a Pet Community at www.IHeartPaws.com and a young woman joined our forums looking for advice on caring for a Feral Cat and her kittens. I really cannot offer TOO much advice as most of the rescue work I do is for dogs. (although I've worked with cats for many years none were ever feral)

This is the direct link to the thread http://iheartpaws.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1173 but it is a members only forum so I will post the contents below for anyone willing to help us out.

I run a rescue referral website, and someone recently emailed me asking if I can take in a feral cat and her litter of 2 week old kittens... I don't know what to do. I've checked at some of the no-kill shelters in the area but most won't take ferals and all are full... I would hate to see the kittens grow up and become feral like their mother!

I want to take them in but I don't know if I can handle a feral cat, I am afraid if I did take her in with the kittens she would be terrified and hurt them or abandon them, or not let me anywhere near then so they would not be socialized. I also have no idea how I would go about finding a home for a feral cat after the kittens were older. (I would not be able to keep them permanently, even temporarily is difficult as I am currently living with my parents while I am in college and they do NOT like me bringing in strays.)
I just don't know what to do but I really want to help them!
The only other thing I could think of was either wait until they are 4 weeks old so they are old enough to be weaned, then take the kittens home to raise, and take the mother to get spayed and re-release her... Or take the kittens now and bottle-feed them (I've raised a litter of orphaned kittens before) or give them to a surrogate mother... I don't know what to do...
Any tips for her would be greatly appreciated! After all... you're the cat experts!
post #2 of 5
Welcome....here are a couple of things she can do:

1. Check out the Alley Cat Allies website:


It has lots of information on caring for feral cats

2. she can join the Feral Cat Yahoo group:


They have lots of advice in their files section and lots of knowledgable individuals

3. She can reach out to TNR groups in her own state to be a mentor to her:


post #3 of 5
It seems to be several possible solutions here. Some thoughts:

IF you take away the kittens - bottle or not, it is very good to have a fostering cat. Female or possibly friendly male spayed. (there ARE tomcats known to be motherly to kittens - but it is a lot easier to find a friendly spayed than friendly tomcat)
- In such a case taking away the kittens isnt too bad.

IF you take in mother with children - the beautiful solution - it too is very good to have a own, friendly homecat to help fostering in mom and kittens.

She semiferals usually get along easy with homecats, easier then bough home-raised cats do. Of course, a mom cat is usually cautious, even hostile to unknown cats...

So the friendly homecat is perhaps something to enforce first when the kittens are a little bigger and the mom not longer watchful.
Fostering a semiferal with help of own friendly homecats is easier than without.
But people DO manage with fostering alone, without the help of a cat.

This homecat, or fostering cat or milk-giving shecat must of course be fully vaccinated...
Many homeless and ferals have chlamydia, especially the kittens. But this is not the most usual vaccine for homecats.

most important: As I know, semiferals moms with kittens usually accept surprisingly well to be taken and kept inside - if you manage the moment of cathing. Say you catch them in a trap (when you trap the mother you MUST know where the kittens are and collect them immediately, otherwise...). You take the trap to the prepared quarantene-room (some shelter, blanket, water, food, litter, no openings to run away or hide too deep), open the trap door and leave she alone some hours.
When she notices nobody is threating and nobody is evil she calms down. Is shy and hides much - is defensive but not aggressive or threating.

Have the kittens released there simultaneously with mother-cat? Frankly, I dont know. Momcats in extreme stress ARE known to hurt their kittens - not at all unusual. Perhaps best to release her first, and let her cool down, and when you notice she is seeking after kittens - bring in the kittens in their transport box, open the door and leave. (dont touch them too much so they wouldnt smell of you, let them simply wait in the transport box).
- This depends if the semiferal IS accustomed to you. Feks handtame as you probably was giving her food some time... In this case you do not must overdo the non-smells...

It is of course extremely important they feel unstressed being there. Have some shelter (a asideturned cardboard box with an old blanket in is OK). No dogs. Etc. You may also try with Feliway.
Possibly a friendly homecat as seen throught a net door.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
thanks for the great advice... I will certainly relay the information you've both given. I appreciate it very much!!!

Have a wonderful day!
post #5 of 5
Originally Posted by StefanZ View Post

As I know, semiferals moms with kittens usually accept surprisingly well to be taken and kept inside - if you manage the moment of catching.
Im thinking on this. How come??

I think there are some natural answers.

a) These taken in arent the most feral or aggressive!
They usually did seek or accepted human help. With food, but sometimes even they seek human help for shelter.

b) What is most important for a momcat? Freedom? No, security for her children.
She knows well it is a harsh world out there, MANY deadly dangers and hardships - and triple so when you have helpless kittens with you.

And here; sheltered from bad weather, enemy animals, have food and water aplenty. Here are these unpleasant and possibly dangerous humans yes - but these exemples here seems to be harmless and even docile...

This is why most momcats do buy this.

Why, there are even examples where after some days the door was let open. Thus the cat could easyly get away, even take her kittens with her.
But the momcat, still very semiferal, shy, defensive and hissing as soon anybody nears - CHOOSE to stay, to let the kittens stay, even to let the kittens get medical treatments and get fostering by the humans...
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