2 Feral Kittens - Rehome or Keep - Need Advice

Jesse James

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First - I have 9 cats of my own who were all stray/abandoned at one time. They are indoor/outdoor with their own cat door(s). They all get along with each other with no problems. The oldest is approx. 11 years old, the youngest is approx. 2 years old.

Around Thanksgiving 2020, I rescued 2 feral kittens (approx. 3 and 4 mos. old) who were suffering badly with upper respiratory virus (calici). My plan was to socialize them once they got over the virus, have them spayed and neutered, and have one of our local rescue groups adopt them out. I kept them isolated in a large room with a big window. They are now approx. 8 and 9 months old.

My problem (and mistake) is I've fallen in love with them and what's worse, I think, is they've fallen in love with both my husband and me. They are completely socialized with us. They are the sweetest, most gentle cats I've ever known. They've not once hissed, growled or raised a paw to us. They've been back and forth to our vet several times for their shots and spay/neutering and are used to going in their carriers back and forth.

Due to Covid 19, the only person who comes to the house is my sister. I've brought her into their room twice to see how they reacted. They ran and hid at first. Then they came out, but would not get near her, even though she offered them Temptations. They just sat and watched her from a distance. I think this is pretty normal, right?

Here's where I need advice. I would dearly love to keep them, BUT:

1. I think we're too old to have such young cats. We're 68 and 69. They would most likely outlive us which terrifies me.
2. We already have 9 cats which to most people is too many. 11 cats would probably be bordering on hoarding.
3. We put a screen door on their room so they and my other cats could get somewhat familiar with each other. This past week I've been letting them out of their room into the rest of the house with the other cats twice a day. I have to lock the 4 way locking cat door so no one can get out but my cats can get in when they want. The kittens of course are quite rambunctious and race around like maniacs. My cats aren't real happy with them - some more so than others.

My head tells me to rehome them, BUT:

1. Will they be too terrified going to a new home with "strangers"?
2. I'm not sure they're socialized enough to be adoptable? I feel like it would take a very special, "cat person" to want them and be willing to work with them a little.
3. If someone did adopt them, how would I know if they are the right people? I would have to be able to keep tabs on the situation every day until I felt comfortable that the kittens are ok with the new person(people). Are there people out there who would be willing to work with me on this for a while?
4. Is it cruel to give them away now that they love us?
 

catapault

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Is your health good? Were healthy genes passed on to the two of you - your parents and siblings health - has that been good? If your current youngest cat is just about 2 years old do you anticipate outliving that cat?

We none of us know what tomorrow might bring. Who anticipated covid-19? But

if you can love, feed, clean up after, vet, and care for 11 cats I'd say go for it.
 

fionasmom

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You are very kind to help these cats. I have had that many cats as well, although now I only have 6, not counting the outdoor TNRed ferals. I have also had multiple dogs with the cat, although I only have one very elderly and ill dog right now. I probably won't get another dog for reasons that have nothing to do with your questions.

We all need to make sure that someone can step up for our animals if something happens to us. You could be 25 and, God forbid, something happens to you on the way home. I have worked in dog and cat rescue and have been witness to people who left animals behind with no expectation that this would be their last day.

It is only hoarding if you have them all crammed in the same room in miserable conditions with no care or sustenance. If you can comfortably take care of your cats it is not hoarding. Yes, I agree that 40 cats is probably hoarding but that is not what you are doing. My max number of animals at the same time as pets, not ferals, was 5 dogs and 7 cats. Everyone was well cared for and received medical care as needed.

I do have cats right now who are more socialized to me than to anyone else, avoid all visitors and strangers such as workmen. A couple have no relationship with my husband either, so it could be a one way bond with your new kitties and you and your husband.

If you get to step 3 of section 2, it would be possible to get suggestions here for helping the cats to go to responsible people. There are ways that can be controlled, but it takes some legwork and forethought. I think that with cats you have to be careful as they can be throw away animals. People decide to take a cute kitten, then lose interest, decide to get a kitten because it can fend for itself and will be easier than a dog, etc.

I have never rehomed any animal except for an Akita years ago. They are a breed known for not liking other dogs and I had three at the time.
 
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Jesse James

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Is your health good? Were healthy genes passed on to the two of you - your parents and siblings health - has that been good? If your current youngest cat is just about 2 years old do you anticipate outliving that cat?

We none of us know what tomorrow might bring. Who anticipated covid-19? But

if you can love, feed, clean up after, vet, and care for 11 cats I'd say go for it.
:) OK one vote to keep. Our health is good so far. We have a few cats who may possibly outlive us. I'm already thinking about who we could entrust the cats to if something happens to us. But maybe the kittens are possibly young enough and haven't been with us very long to be happy with someone younger they could spent the whole rest of their lives with and I should give them that chance. On the other hand, what if they're terrified and can't bond with their new people? Of course, we would take them back in a second but would the new owners let us know and would putting the kittens through that be a cruel thing to do? I know there's no right answer, I just need some thoughts from cat people. So thank you for your input - it's helpful!
 
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Jesse James

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You are very kind to help these cats. I have had that many cats as well, although now I only have 6, not counting the outdoor TNRed ferals. I have also had multiple dogs with the cat, although I only have one very elderly and ill dog right now. I probably won't get another dog for reasons that have nothing to do with your questions.

We all need to make sure that someone can step up for our animals if something happens to us. You could be 25 and, God forbid, something happens to you on the way home. I have worked in dog and cat rescue and have been witness to people who left animals behind with no expectation that this would be their last day.

It is only hoarding if you have them all crammed in the same room in miserable conditions with no care or sustenance. If you can comfortably take care of your cats it is not hoarding. Yes, I agree that 40 cats is probably hoarding but that is not what you are doing. My max number of animals at the same time as pets, not ferals, was 5 dogs and 7 cats. Everyone was well cared for and received medical care as needed.

I do have cats right now who are more socialized to me than to anyone else, avoid all visitors and strangers such as workmen. A couple have no relationship with my husband either, so it could be a one way bond with your new kitties and you and your husband.

If you get to step 3 of section 2, it would be possible to get suggestions here for helping the cats to go to responsible people. There are ways that can be controlled, but it takes some legwork and forethought. I think that with cats you have to be careful as they can be throw away animals. People decide to take a cute kitten, then lose interest, decide to get a kitten because it can fend for itself and will be easier than a dog, etc.

I have never rehomed any animal except for an Akita years ago. They are a breed known for not liking other dogs and I had three at the time.
Hi fionasmom - thanks for responding. We're able to take good care of our 9 cats and they get along with each other. We could take good care of 11. I'm worried about the few cats we have now who seem to be upset with newcomer kittens. Maybe they would get over it in time maybe not. I'm also concerned about the kittens going outdoors at such a young age. All of our cats have come from "the street" so I knew they were ok going outdoors.

I agree you need to be VERY careful about who you adopt out a cat to, but I know there are people out there just like us who spoil their pets rotten and consider them part of the family. How do you find that person? I've never adopted out an animal before either - I'm just not sure I can do it at this point.
 

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I often came across cats that I would very much love to bring home. But I know I cant save all cats in my neighborhood.
That is the cruel (but unavoidable) side of the problem: I cant do all the good I would like to. Even more, I know that the more cats to care- the little attention to each one of them, and of course the little time to all other things in life.
===
I really do not know why and how I got a cat. He just pop up in my life. Somehow. Needless to say this in a cat lovers forum - my life got more smiles.
That is the beautiful side of the problem: what the Heart dictates, the brain cant refuse.
===
In my life I learnt that there is always an way out, but I must keep looking longer.
That is the comforting side of the problem: one can always reconcile the rationality and the sentiments.

Should you keep or rehome? Lets investigate alternatives:
- would it be possible to rehome one or more of the pre-existing cats and keep the new ones?
- could be possible to check whether the new cats like some of your friends or relatives who may adopt them, invite them home (so the cats themselves may decide :-)) ?
- could be possible to expand the cat's territory ?
...

So in my opinion, the point is to re-elaborate the question in order to escape the dilemma "keep or re-home".
 

fionasmom

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A few things on rehoming, or at least what I do.

If you provide food and medical care for the cats you want to rehome, always ask for compensation. It will immediately eliminate those who are too cheap to actually care for an animal, aren't serious about it, or are bunchers. Don't do "free to a good home." I should mention that Miss Akita went to a rescue but I followed up on what happened to her and gave them money toward her upkeep.

Don't feel that because someone shows up that you have to give them the cat. Or because they are the first person who calls. There is no order of being "fair" since you are looking for the best home.

Contracts may or may not hold up in court; that is debated. However, there are rescue/adoption contracts that you can find online and ask people to sign. The one that the dog rescue I worked with years ago was legal enough to allow us to repo a dog who was adopted and then kept in a 105 degree garage. If nothing else, a contract of some sort will also scare off the people you don't want to adopt your cat. Include that the cat comes back to you if it does not work out, for the duration of the cat's life.

Try to use contacts you personally have, or sites like Nextdoor. It at least gives you some kind of idea of who and where people are. Even at that it can get wonky as someone knows someone who knows someone who wants a cat. If your instincts are not telling you that someone is okay, they probably are not okay.

If there are reliable rescues near you, that is another option. Many cat rescues are swamped and do not take in newcomers but it is an option. Reliable is the key word...not someone who supposedly rescues.
 
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Jesse James

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Thanks fionasmom and solomonar - all good thoughts!! We do have several reliable rescue groups in the area. If I did decide to go that route, I would want to keep the kittens with me and have them adopted from my house, so the rescue group wouldn't have to take them in and support them until they're adopted. I would still make a sizeable donation to the group for their time and effort in finding the absolute right person. I think they would work with me on that. The fees they charge are usually $125.00 for a female kitten and $75.00 for a male. And yes, there would be a charge for these 2 kittens (who would have to stay together by the way).

If anyone else would like to comment or give me input, I would be appreciated.

I love this site.
 

fionasmom

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You have a very good plan and with those adoption fees you will only attract serious interest.
 
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