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Abandoned Cat And A Kitten - Advice?

Discussion in 'Caring for Strays and Ferals' started by FeebysOwner, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    As you are all used to by now - another long story:

    A pretty small cat showed up in my neighborhood recently and my neighbor has been feeding it and trying to befriend it, in the hopes of trapping it and taking it a no kill shelter. As it turns out, we also have now found a kitten that is sort of hanging around the small cat. We are guessing that the kitten is the small cat's baby, and perhaps is totally feral. The little one will run away when my neighbor gets anywhere near it. The small cat will sniff my neighbor's hand, but is still somewhat leery.

    Even though my neighbor made a little home with a cardboard box/blankets/etc., and both the small cat and the kitten have been in it at least a couple of times, it is apparent they have another spot or two - we believe in her backyard - that they are also hiding out in, as we don't see them daily.

    The small cat, as far as we can tell, is not nursing the kitten at this time. So, I am not sure how much the kitten is getting to eat. Although, once my neighbor figured out one or both of them has a hiding spot in the backyard, she puts food in that area as well as food by their little cardboard home.

    There's more to the story, but I'll stop there for now. The current question is how to get the kitten to stop running away. My neighbor wants to have the chance to catch them both - not to leave one or the other behind - and personally, I agree. Do we just have to wait and be patient and diligent with the food/water in the hopes the kitten will start to feel more secure?? Thanks for any advice you can offer!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2019
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  2. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    Thank you both for looking out for those 2 precious little lives!!! If you could find a drop trap (provided that you have enough room, which is often difficult to find because ferals know that they are safest in congested areas, such as in brush, among abandoned machinery, lumber piles, etc), I would aim for trapping both kittens at the same time. With winter coming on, it is difficult to separate them, depending upon how extreme your temperatures are.
    To encourage them to choose a more conveniently located area for you to work with, I would try to create a desirable shelter area, perhaps with a heated pet mat inside of a winter shelter. And I would create a partial barrier in front of the portal. It is important to use material for the barrier that the kitties find acceptable. The barrier will make them feel safe from attacks by predators such as dogs & large raccoons so they will be more likely to use the shelter. One shelter that I created that is really ugly but a big success with some of my wildest ferals is an old cat carrier with the door propped open, lined with dry leaves and loosely covered with sheet plastic. I have draped the plastic over the door but leaving a little tunnel for them to use as a portal. I also anchored the sheet plastic so that there are gaps on either side of the carrier that the kitties sometimes crawl into and nap. I tried using a square of plywood for the barrier (I leaned the top of the plywood against the carrier) but some of the cats did not trust that. So I replaced the plywood with a large round of cottonwood that I was using for a chopping block, with only enough space for the cats to enter from the sides of the round. They like that the best. In another area, I leaned some old shovel and rakes against the wall of an outbuilding and put the shelter in the gap that is created between the shovelheads and rakeheads and the wall. I have tried nicer looking setups but I have to go with what the cats instinctively trust.
    Once you have your area, you can use canned food, boiled chicken, baby food, goat milk/kmr, etc., to discover their "currency of choice". And then feed their preferred treat in tiny bits on a certain plate. Once you spy them eating regularly from that plate, when you have time, you can add larger amounts of food and wait quietly nearby in a chair, gradually moving your chair closer to the plate as they become more accustomed to your presence. Of course, at first, you never look straight at them or do any sudden movements. That is the extended version.
    The expedited version is to have a place prepared indoors where the kitties can hunker down to destress until they can go in for spaying and into a permanent placement and trap them individually. Sometimes when one is left alone, they will seek your companionship albeit from afar. the other risk is that the loner will drift off in search of its buddy.
    I am sure that you will get better suggestions soon, but those are my thoughts so far. That is how I work with the colony on my property. With the other colonies in town, along fenced creek and at the road maintenance lot, the set up is much different.
     
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  3. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    Thanks. I think the biggest issue we face right now is getting the kitten to become more accepting of having a human around. Since we've seen it a couple/three times now, perhaps that is starting to work. Initially, we only saw the small cat, and didn't even have an idea there was another one. At this juncture, the second the kitten sees a human it is off and running.

    But, other than the kitten hanging around the small cat, we have no evidence that the small cat is mothering the kitten or even protecting it. I am not sure my neighbor has actually seen the two together in a small area - just one or the other. But, we do know both have been in the cardboard home at some point in time.

    This is all in a fenced in yard - hoping it helps to keep them away from other outdoor, roaming cats - and whatever else may be out there. If they stay behind the fence, then Step 1 of the battle has been won.

    BTW - we are in Central Florida, so weather, thankfully, not too bad.
     
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  4. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    I would get the cats on a feeding schedule. Put food at in the morning and again early evening. Calling to the cats and even shaking the dry food or clinging the fork to a bowl to get their attention. I would not leave food out over night. It will only attract other unwanted visitors. Get them on a feeding schedule and trapping will be easier.

    I would trap ASAP. The kitten is getting older and it will take longer to socialize. Most no kill shelters will not take feral cats as they are deemed unadoptable. So you will have to work with the kitten and Mom to get them socialized before taking them.

    Thank you for helping these kitties.

    Btw..... love your avatar! Go Bucks Beat Michigan!!!
     
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  5. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    Hi. Thanks! And, YAY go Buckeyes!!!!!!!!

    My neighbor only sees the cat(s) early in the AM or after dusk. I will tell her about shaking the cat food - I have already done that a couple of times at dusk to get the young cat's attention. Never has gotten the attention of the kitten, at least not by me. I think we in for a LONG haul...
     
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  6. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    My guess would be that the kitten IS hearing when you call but chooses to remain in covert status. My friend taught me to call "chow chow!" and it seems to work universally among all the colonies. The cats' schedules are definitely crepuscular so that tells me that they are still very feral and don't trust being out in full daylight. I am finally able to feed lunch and early dinner in my yard; a stray (with clipped ear, thankfully) showed up in our yard in the dead of winter early this year & fought so bravely with the resident cats that I relented and adjusted the feeding times to include snacks in the wee hours of the morning, when the temps were in the teens and below. I know that the raccoons wound up getting a good portion of the food but it was the only way to prevent the cat from starving. I set up outpost feeding stations all over the yard but the resident cats are pretty good about posting sentries in every direction :frustrated:
     
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  7. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    Thanks. I really don't think the young (possibly mama) cat is feral, I think she was dumped - likely along with the kitten but before the kitten was completely exposed to humans for the most part.

    I'll talk to my neighbor about how to handle feeding times and calling for them, and to ensure keeping all food behind the fence, just to reduce 'moochers'. She can't keep the cats, and I cannot either - Feeby would eat them alive. She has already tried to attack the young cat when it came up to my front screen door. The young cat hasn't done that again!

    Right now, I am pretty bummed... I am not in control of the situation, and can only offer suggestions to my neighbor. :(

    Oh, yeah, we did initially see the young cat in the day time hours. I am thinking that since it is aware that there is someone providing food, it is likely hiding more during the day and coming out when there is less activity around??
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  8. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    Please don't be bummed! I know how tough it is to just be an onlooker. I will pray that your suggestions are accepted by your neighbor. I sure hope that she is able get them into rescue very soon before there are more kittens. And don't feel bad about not being able to keep them - when they are rescued, others will undoubtably fill in the void. I know that cat rescue is unending but it doesn't hurt to try to "turn a river into a stream" - and every rescue is that much closer to that goal. When I get really discouraged, I like to recall the African proverb quoted in The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency : "Every day without rain brings the rain one day closer".
     
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  9. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    That is, assuming one is looking for rain... Down here, in our circumstances, I am hoping against rain.

    Yeah, we have a black cat that roams free, has for a long time now, and I have my doubts about whether he is even neutered. Started to mooch off of the food that was left in front of the fence. But, it was worth it to leave it there initially, as that is the first food the cat accepted from my neighbor. Now, I hope both young cat and kitten know the food will always now be behind the fence. Must discourage the black cat from even coming close to the area...

    Thanks for the thoughts and support.
     
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  10. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    Is there any way you could ask a TNR group to TNR the black kitty? Poor guy, he is trying to make a living, just like the rest of us. It must be so sad to be a lost cat, all alone. And there are too many lost cats, especially after all the natural disasters.
    And I will try to be specific in my prayers for rain...not in FL, only in CA. I read about the Camp fire in Northern CA; the day that the fire took off, when the winds first began, the area had "reverse rain" wherein the air was so dry that it sucked up the little remaining moisture out of the soil and the vegetation, creating exceptionally volatile fuels.
     
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  11. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    I should have commented about California seeing that you are from there - sorry.
     
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  12. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    I talked with my neighbor, and she showed me the 'accommodations' she has made in her backyard. The original little covered cardboard box (with a rubber overhang for rain protection even!) and food/water all right behind the fence at the front of the property; and she has now added another little home for them underneath her deck farther in back in the yard for more security and privacy, along with food nearby. She wants to move the original cardboard box back near the deck, but I told her to do so in little moves, like 3-4 feet away at a time so that they can find it easily.

    She is going to use the food shaking in a bowl to call to them, and wants to sit nearby as she can in the early AM and PM, and talk to them. She has again seen the kitten, which this time did not initially run from her, and she talked to it. So, that is progress as well.

    She thanks everyone for offering help and advice, and I told her I would continue to let her know other tips I get through all of you. I will be in touch with her daily, as I cannot see anything going on with them now that everything is behind the fence. But, that is OK, they need to get used to her first before anything else.
     
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  13. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    NEW DEVELOPMENT!!!! I heard terrible screaming, growling, howling from my screened in patio. Feeby was out there and ready to find a way to get to the little cat who was for the first time in my fenced in backyard. Tbh, she seemed almost unfazed at Feeby's behavior. I chased Feeby inside, while she was hissing at ME, and called my neighbor who came over. This cat rubbed up against both of us and let me pet her - first time ever. We coaxed her over to my neighbor's back yard to give her food (so that she doesn't associate my yard with food), but something is bugging her about staying there. I searched my backyard for the kitten, to no avail.

    Does anyone think she was looking for the kitten? I am SO confused.

    My neighbor just took this pic of the little cat, and said no baby has showed up yet. output.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  14. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    Another update. Young cat has now let my neighbor pick it up! Baby kitty has been back (or, maybe just came out from hiding) but still runs off when seeing my neighbor even though young cat is nearby. Is there anything else to do besides just keep feeding baby, talking softly to it, and waiting for it to realize my neighbor is not a threat?
     
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  15. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

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    What great progress!! YC is so beautiful :loveeyes: I think that using "scent soakers" might help. Your neighbor can wear old sweaters (or Tshirt, etc) for a day or so, maybe try to work up a little sweat, then once her own scent saturates the sweaters, put them in the shelters and as little mats for the kitties to stand on while they eat. She can put their drinking water in a jar or glass and drink from that for a bit then pour the leftovers into the cats' water dish. That way, her scent becomes associated with good things in a safe area.
    And it did sound like YC was concerned for the baby (and hopefully not coming into season).
    Thank you for working so hard on helping your neighbor and those homeless kitties :rock::heartshape::cheerleader::happycat::clapcat:
     
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  16. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    Thanks so much for the scent soaker idea! I had told my neighbor to place something with her smell in the beds she has set up for them. But, doing the same thing with a mat/rug under the food/water is even better!!

    Yes, I was worried about the 'coming into heat thing' with the young cat because she was very affectionate that night. I haven't talked to my neighbor yet today, so I am hoping she will tell me that both kitties were in her yard last night. That will help me think YC was in fact looking for her baby the previous night, and not hunting down a mate. That is all we need to happen now (NOT).
     
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  17. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    A horrible set back - I am not sure. My neighbor, who I haven't seen since Thursday, had a small heart attack Friday. She just called me from the hospital. She had a stent put in and is doing better, but won't be released until Monday. Her nephew is staying at her house and is now in charge of the cat & kitty. The young cat has already accepted him (the in heat thing -??) but kitty is staying away from him. However, it seems as if they are staying in the backyard, as far as anyone knows.

    I wish the best for my neighbor and her total recovery. So, I feel bad for worrying about how this could affect the progress made with the two babies. Sorry, I am just venting... Ugh.
     
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  18. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    Oh dear. At least the young cat is getting cared for. Yet, she really needs to be spayed soon. Can you help out? The other cat might need to be trapped as he/she needs spayed/neutered too. You could offer to help out during her recovery. I hope the best for you neighbor.
     
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  19. FeebysOwner

    FeebysOwner Thread Starter TCS Member Top Cat

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    My neighbor wants to get the young cat spayed (and, I will help), but until we can get the kitten to stop running away neither of us are wanting to remove the only thing we think is keeping the kitty nearby - it's Mama.
     
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  20. Kflowers

    Kflowers TCS Member Top Cat

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    It's okay to focus on the cat and kitten and wish your neighbor the best. I'm sure part of what is helping her recovery is knowing you are there with the cat in your thoughts and actions and that her son is there also helping. Perhaps you could ask her if you could talk to the son?
     
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