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Need help to protect wild kitten from winter

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My husband began helping a young mother cat and her 3 kittens who come to our yard. This began in May. There were 3 kittens and the mom, then just 2 kittens and now just one. I can only guess that the other 2 didn't live. We have all sorts of wildlife in our area and of course a car could've hit one, but the other two kittens are gone. The last kitten, about 5 months old now, and weaned from the mom comes by every day. My husband who is highly allergic to cats is the real softy. We have an African Grey Parrot who is our 6 year old baby, as well as a 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter. I call her Oreo because of her coloring. She is sooo sweet. The mom still comes around sometimes and is very cautious. She'll hiss at you even if you're just leaving food for her. Oreo will come by the sliding door to the deck and roll over, rub against the door and just meow so sweetly. She has us eating out of her paw. I open the door just enough to put my hand out and she just nuzzles it with her neck. Then I wash my hand quickly. Then I just read the thread about the woman who found a feral kitten with worms! Ugh. Someone answered her thread that all kittens have worms. Is that true?

Maybe I should not be petting her. There's all sorts of poison ivy and poison oak in our yard and I'm sure she's brushed against it. Oreo is tooo hard to resist. I cannot bring her in the house because of the parrot and my husband and my daughter with asthma. However, the winter is coming and we've heard of igloos. Of course what prevents another cat from going in and who says that Oreo would go in if was snowing. Perhaps she will just live under the deck or find her way in the shed like her mom has survived. (I really don't know where the mom spent last winter.)

I'll tell you nothing is more cute than when I call for her in the moring and she's been cat napping on our swinging lounge on the deck or curled up on my husband's lawn chair. There is a huge huge tom cat that comes around sometimes, perhaps her father. We don't feed him. Actually one night the mom and her 2 kittens at the time brought us a dead rabbit to our front door (I guess for us to cook). That wasn't a good night.

So what does one do for a stray kitten to protect it from the winter. Tonight it's low 60's and she's at the sliding door displaying signs that she wants to come in. I can not do that. Can she be crawling worms and germs that I shouldn't ever touch her? She's soooo soft and sweet. Place to buy an igloo would be so helpful. Someone with a heart please respond. We are so new to this. What if we get an igloo and she won't go in it? How do you keep it warm or is that its special function?

Thank you in advance for your help and suggestions.
post #2 of 12
Well you have a few things you can and should do:

-find her a home or take her in yourself, even into the garage and don't wait until winter. I wouldn't be suprised if she is pregnant again already which is extremely unhealthy for her to have litters so close together especially if her baby is a male he could very well be the father.

-spay and release her, spaying will need to be done no matter what and since you are caring for her that comes along with the territory of caring for them. There are low cost clinics everywhere so let us know the city you live in and we can help you find one if money is an issue.

-Remember that if her kitten is a male and 5 months old HE can get her pregnant again. So if that is the case you need to seperate the two of them NOW and if she is already pregnant and he is indeed a male you need to have her spayed now so she doesn't have another inbred litter so close to the litter she just had. If some of her kittens died it could be disease too so letting her bring another litter into the world would be irresponsible.

Good luck and let us know if we can help you find a low cost clinic because that should really be your first concern here. Since she knows you she will bring all her future litters to you because you are trusting and provide food and attention. If nothing else then call a no-kill shelter and get her in to be rehomed and properly cared for.
post #3 of 12
oh and about the worms. if they are outdoor you can almost guarentee the mother and kitten have worms. the common ones come from fleas and they have fleas too I'm sure since they are outdoors all the time. I wouldn't worry about them for now but you will want to deworm them when they get altered and vaccinated. You can still pet and hold them and everything. Tapeworms are the ones that come out the behind and you will see little gooey pieces of rice hanging around their behind areas. There are other worms but they will be vomited up and look like spaghetti and they aren't as common I don't think.

How is that for grossing you out? Sorry bout that
post #4 of 12
You can pet the cat, but just wash your hands thoroughly with hot water; i'm sure you won't be letting the cat lick you, and for sure you won't be eating anything that has been in contact with the cat or its fecal matter. I agree with Jen that spaying/neutering should be a priority. TNR1 is a great resource for getting more info on that.
As for the shelter, you can make it as simple as a box under the porch or in the shed. I would offer several. If you can provide an old Hollowfil vest, that would really increase the comfort. Some people here have put "space blankets" in their cat shelters. Bless you for caring for these cats
post #5 of 12
The best thing is to trap them both and have them spayed and neuterd and de-wormed. There is other people of the forum that can give you links to low cost clinics.
If it is difficult to find homes for them it is possible to put an isolated shelter where they like to be. They seem pretty safe with you so I guess they will use it.
Worms in cats are art-specific. They will not infect humans but they can really make the cat ill long term. There is de-wormers you can hide in the food and also dot-ons that you place in the neck if you can touch them. You can find dot-ons that also helps against fleas.
Maybe there is a TNR-group in your area that can help you.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
thank you all for responding so quickly.
Oreo is the female 5 month old kitten that lives on my deck. Thankfully she seems so clean, healthy and playful.

Being so ignorant, however, I would love to hear more about what dot-ons are because they sound easy. Also what is a TNR ? I'm trying to learn but that one has me.

I have to be careful, because as playful as she is, she might scratch me if I try to pick her up or place a flea collar on her.

Also, if I did put her in the garage...isn't that cruel in that she can't get out and might go crazy for the long winter. Or do I open the garage door time to time and let her go? I'm sure my shed is open enough for her and her mom to go in, but I wonder if she knows enough to. Her mom must be teaching her the wild ways. I just thought an igloo of some sort would be convenient to our sliding door where she appears and it could keep her warm from the snow that's bound to come. My heart melts when I hear her meow. Even last night she was just looking like she wants to come in. When her mom was near the other day and I rubbed the kitten's neck, the mom was angry with her and jumped on her as if to say stay away from the humans. I thought that was so odd. How old do they have to be to become pregnanat...she's only 5 months old.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by softhearted View Post
thank you all for responding so quickly.
Oreo is the female 5 month old kitten that lives on my deck. Thankfully she seems so clean, healthy and playful.

Being so ignorant, however, I would love to hear more about what dot-ons are because they sound easy. Also what is a TNR ? I'm trying to learn but that one has me.

I have to be careful, because as playful as she is, she might scratch me if I try to pick her up or place a flea collar on her.

Also, if I did put her in the garage...isn't that cruel in that she can't get out and might go crazy for the long winter. Or do I open the garage door time to time and let her go? I'm sure my shed is open enough for her and her mom to go in, but I wonder if she knows enough to. Her mom must be teaching her the wild ways. I just thought an igloo of some sort would be convenient to our sliding door where she appears and it could keep her warm from the snow that's bound to come. My heart melts when I hear her meow. Even last night she was just looking like she wants to come in. When her mom was near the other day and I rubbed the kitten's neck, the mom was angry with her and jumped on her as if to say stay away from the humans. I thought that was so odd. How old do they have to be to become pregnanat...she's only 5 months old.
Cats can get pregnant as early as 4 months of age..which is why it is important to get this little one in to the vet (along with her mother so she can be spayed). Once she is at the vet, they can put flea treatment on her (I don't recommend flea collars).

TNR is a comprehensive plan where entire feral colonies are humanely trapped, then evaluated, vaccinated, and neutered by veterinarians. Kittens and cats that are tame enough to be adopted are placed in good homes. Adult cats are returned to their familiar habitat to live out their lives under the watchful care of sympathetic neighborhood volunteers.

TNR works. Cat populations are gradually reduced. Nuisance behaviors associated with breeding, such as the yowling of females or the spraying of toms, are virtually eliminated. Disease and malnutrition are greatly reduced. The cats live healthy, safe, and peaceful lives in their territories.

Below is a list of TNR groups in New Jersey:

http://www.alleycat.org/orgs.html#nj

I would try to get both cats trapped and get them both spayed. Typically you can borrow a humane trap from a humane society or from a TNR group. If both mom and kitten are too wild...then they can certainly continue to live outdoors (once they are spayed) but I would make them an outdoor enclosure:

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

http://www.petfinder.org/journalinde...cats/1.5.1.txt

Katie
post #8 of 12
Yes TNR works greate here in Belgium where I live to. The Igloo you are talking about ia a good addition.
What I call a spot on is fairly new to me also. There is a lot of brands so you need to talk with your pharmacy.
It is a medication in the form of a liquid you place on the neck of the cat or between the shoulders. The liquid reaches the blood through the skinn.
I just used Stronghold on the feral cats we have taken care of. Stronghold helps against fleas and the grown stages of common worms. There is dot ons that only kill fleas but also stronger ones for different kinds of worms and parasites in the ears.
post #9 of 12
Here are some suggestions from an earlier thread

Here's the address/link:

http://indyferal.org/index.php?page=shelters

I lined the inside with
that stuff you put on your water heaters - a reflective bubble wrap.
Costs like 1.50 or less per yard.... it insulates and reflects heat back and
can be used to make / line structures (like a cardboard box or tupperware
container. Then because I had no hay, I went and raked up pine needles
from the trees around... I made sure they were dry, and placed a thick
layer (about 2 inches or more) inside the shelter. It was free material,
and the kitty seemed to like it plenty!!

Maybe you could use that stuff? You can get it at most ACE, TrueValue, or other hardware store, or at home improvement stores like Home Depots, Lowes, etc I believe? In your area you can also purchase plastic foam board that you can cut to size/shape with an exacto knife and line containers/shelter areas with...


Which is another thing - a large rubbermaid container, with lid attached,
lined with the bubble wrap or with the foam board insulation, filled with hay, put on its side with holes
cut in lids for cats to go in/out works really well... just put a piece of ply
wood or some stiff cardboard and prop it up in front of the entrance holes so the cats can get in/out
of hole, but the wind doesn't enter it...

Supplies will run you about 30-40 dollars
or less (some home imrovement stores will let you
take "left over scraps.. you don't need much!!) and will shelter around 4 or 5 cats depending on the size of the container you use....

Here's instructions/ideas for other low cost shelters and warmer ideas
(using solar pool blankies for example..)

What a stroke of genius! Debbie Peterson of the Chicagoland Stray Cat Coalition uses solar pool covers/blankets to keep her ferals warm during winter. Solar pool covers are used to attract and retain heat from the sun, to keep water in swimming pools warm. Debbie saw them as a way to upgrade her feral cat houses to solar energy! On a 10°F night the temperature inside could easily reach 70°F! Torn but usable solar pool covers can be found curbside on suburban garbage pick-up days. Purchased new, prices vary based on construction and thickness. A 15 mil premium-grade 12' round blanket costs $32. Cut them with standard household scissors. Drape one over your feral cat house silver-side down, and the purring will start. Aim for full exposure to the south. Check the temperature until you know how much heat is generated; it may become too warm inside on milder days! Consider setting up a solar feeding station a distance from the sleeping area

Here's some more good info from this web site;

costing around $15-20 this idea comes to us from a feral cat caregiver in Villa Park, IL.

Finding one plastic bin to fit inside another is the most challenging part of this project.
The larger bin was $6, the smaller was $4. A 4x8 sheet of styrofoam insulation costs about $7, and is enough for 2 shelters with some left over.
Consider surrounding your cats' shelter with bails of straw. Did you know that straw is a fabulously efficient insulator? Homes insulated with 18" wide bails of straw could save 75% on heating & cooling costs. Just think what that could do for your cats!

Place shelters where they will be protected from wind and snow drifts -- particularly those without protective flaps over the door(s) -- otherwise snow could blow in and bury/trap the cats. If there are fixed objects, such as buildings in your feral cat shelter area, pay attention to the way the winds tend to circulate, and place the shelters where there is the least amount of blowing & drifting snow. This could be a lifesaver, particularly for those who endure extreme winter weather, in which roads may be impassable for 1-2 days.

Depending on predators and other animals/hazards in your area, some cats may not use shelters unless there are two exits -- one for them to sneak out should another unwanted animal enter. Consider an emergency exit with a flap that opens from the inside only.


"Cat"illac Ranch

Following the instructions from Alley Cat Allies, Diane & Manfred of Glen Ellyn, IL constructed the this Cadillac of feral cat shelters, complete with a tile floor and stuffed with straw in the winter.

Download Alley Cat Allies' instructions for Building an Inexpensive Feral Cat Shelter to make your own "Cat-illac Ranch".

Here's a few other good ideas:

Originally designed by Karin Hancock of Port Washington, NY, the Feral Cat Winter Shelter shown here has many advantages. The two inch thick hard Styrofoam is excellent insulation and traps the cat's body heat, effectively turning the feline into a radiator. Air space is purposely limited, so there is less volume to be heated. Typically, 3 to 4 cats can fit comfortably inside, although more might curl up on a severely cold night. The plans for the shelter can be downloaded from this site

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

The shelter is lightweight and should be weighed down. Best is to place two shelters about a foot apart with the doors facing each other. Bridge the gap by laying a piece of plywood across both roofs. Now the shelters are fully protected against the elements.

After the cats have begun using the shelters, you might try adding a flap door which can be easily pulled back. A piece of of a clear vinyl mat will do, attached by drilling (or poking) two holes above the door opening and using plastic nuts and bolts (like those used to attach toilet seats). Bowls of food can be placed in the shelter, but never water (which can spill and threaten the cats' health by getting them wet).

The cost of the shelter will vary from place to place, but on average, the 8 foot sheet of Styrofoam will run about $9 (uncut). A few linoleum floor tiles, a tube of silicone sealant, some contact paper for the interior walls and enough deck paint will run the total cost up to somewhere from $15 to $25.

The CSM Stray Foundation Winter Shelter
Here's another idea inspired by the CSM Stray Foundation in Kew Gardens, Queens (email: csmstray@aol.com):

Materials needed are: a large Rubbermaid storage bin, an eight foot by two foot sheet of one-inch thick hard Styrofoam, a yardstick, a box cutter or utility knife, and straw, shredded newspaper or other insulating material. Then assemble as follows:

1. Cut a doorway six inches by six inches in one of the long sides of the storage bin towards the corner. To prevent flooding, cut the opening so that the bottom of the doorway is several inches above the ground.

2. Line the floor of the bin with a piece of Styrofoam, using the yardstick and box cutter to cut out the piece.

3. In similar fashion, line each of the four interior walls of the bin with a piece of the Styrofoam. Perfect cuts are not necessary. Don't make the Styrofoam go all the way up to the top of the bin, but leave a uniform gap of at least three inches between the top of these Styrofoam "wall pieces" and the upper lip of the bin. There needs to be room for an interior Styrofoam "roof" to fit.

4. Cut out a doorway in the Styrofoam where it is lined up with the doorway that has been cut out already in the storage bin. Trace the outline of the doorway on the Styrofoam first before cutting.

5. Stuff the bottom of the bin with straw or other insulating material to hold the Styrofoam interior wall pieces in place.

6. Cut out a Styrofoam "roof" to rest on top of the Styrofoam interior wall pieces

7. Cover the bin with its lid.

This shelter can be cleaned by taking off the lid and the Styrofoam roof. It's also lightweight and may need to be weighed down. A flap over the doorway is optional. Catnip can be sprinkled inside at first to attract the cats.

Other Alternatives
An adequate shelter for one cat can be made from a simple Styrofoam cooler available at any hardware store for about $6. Glue the lid onto the cooler, turn it upside down and cut a hole in one side (anywhere but in the middle of one of the long sides). The Styrofoam containers used to ship meat can be turned into shelters in the same way and can, depending on their size, house 3 to 4 cats. If you want to get fancy, get a large Igloo cooler and, with a jigsaw, cut a hole towards the left or right of one of the long sides. The attached lid will allow for easy cleaning.


Hope these ideas help you out. If you need anymore info the people on this site can help alot.

PS. Are your feral/outdoor kitties fixed yet? That's so you won't
pick up more cats than you can handle, LOL!!

well, my ferals made it thru the 'teens' weather! the mylar 'blanket' [more litk a sheet, if you ask me] arrived - so large that i cut it in half, then taped it into the shelter & put the rice warmers & towel on top of it. but i've seen them both, so i know they got thru okay!
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post #10 of 12
Hi!
You got some really great replies on your questions and hope they have answered a lot of them! If you CAN catch them and get them neutered/spayed, and still cannot find a home for them, an outdoor shelter will work, like the others said.....
I have a few pics of some I made for the cats/kittens at a local abandoned grainmill. They can get out of the rain/snow there, but that wind just whips through there! So, I have feeding stations and a variety of shelter boxes up there. One shelter box a neighbor person put up there, IS one of those Igloo type dog houses and the cats do use it a lot! I don't know if they have a floor in them? If so, and you do use straw, you need to make sure the cats don't get the straw all soaking wet, as the kitties will still use the shelters, wet or not. I went to Goodwill and got a bunch of old woolen rags and I change them DAILY. The wool wicks moisture away. I told them at Goodwill what I wanted them for, and showed them a picture of where I was putting the rags. They gave me BIG, BIG bags of old woolen blankets, and coats, which I "pieced" up and am still using....
But, like I said, wool AND straw both hold water/ice and the kitties will still go inside the kitty shelter.
Here are a couple pictures of some of the shelters/feeding stations I have made:

This first one is made from those Styrofoam Coolers that online food businesses (like Omaha Steaks) sends out to their customers: I use DuctTape to tape the lids on and tape around the door entrance too. (My KatyKitty is checking it all out! haha )


This is just a simple box covered in HEAVY landscaping-type vinyl (Sold at Home Depot or Lowes). These work in an emergency, but can get wet very quickly, if snow or rain blows inside.... I have used these in VERY protected places, where it was WIND only, that they would come in contact with.


These are some of last years shelter boxes. This photo was taken after the winter was over, and they obviously were WELL-used! I have almost all wooden, styrofoam or Rubbermaid-type Tubs made into shelters up there now....
The Rubbermaid type tubs, work very well. I caulk around the edges of them too, to make sure no rain or snow creeps in. The cats like the CLEAR Rubbermaid-type tubs the BEST! That way, they can see out through the walls, if any intruders are lurking close by!


This is a feeding station I made from a Rubbermaid-Type tub:



--Hope these help a bit!
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
I can't thank you all enough for the ideas. I can work those ideas with what I have on hand to prepare shelters for them. I just can't get over how playful the little 5 month old kitten is. She is black and white and always sweet.

Thank you again.

Alex
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by softhearted View Post
Also, if I did put her in the garage...isn't that cruel in that she can't get out and might go crazy for the long winter. Or do I open the garage door time to time and let her go?
I know someone who lets their cat live in their garage/shed. The took a piece of wood(about 8 inches high) and cut a small square out that was just big enough for the cat to fit through. He then stapled some strips of rubber along the opening to make it into a "cat door". He opened the garage door just enough to fit the wood underneath. With that "contraption" his cat was able to get in and out whenever it wanted to and the opening was too small for racoons. Maybe you could do that for the kitten.
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