Adopting older kitten found under a house

fancyferal

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Hi everyone! First time posting here but I’ve been lurking for a few days reading through relevant threads.
So about a month ago, my mom found a kitten under her neighbor's house and took it in. The neighbor has refused to fix her cat, so there is pretty much a revolving door of kittens coming through my mom's house to be taken care of and adopted out when they're older.
This kitten is older (my best guess is 4-6 months, but I'll post a pic in the thread) and obviously hadn't really interacted with humans before my mom found her. She's still extremely skittish; the first time I saw her she was hiding under a dresser and it took about 10 minutes of gentle coaxing and sweet talk just to get her to come out so I could see her. Later that day, she actually let me hold her and was purring for a minute until she decided she was done.
After thinking about it, I told my mom I'd like to adopt her. Since she's still very skittish and shy around people, I think my house might be a little calmer for her than my mom's, which is a lot more active with people over a few times a week. I do have two small senior dogs that she'd have to get used to. They've lived with a cat before in relative harmony and with a recent cat visitor, they followed him around to sniff him and figure out what he was doing there, but weren't aggressive by any means, so I'm hopeful that they'll come to terms with a new cat pretty easily.
I'm planning on bringing her home right after the holidays when we won't have any family in the house. I'll have a week off of work to spend with her and take her to the vet. She'll have her own room with a baby gate that she'll stay in separate from the rest of the house so she has a safe space until she's ready to explore more. My grandmother also lives with me and is home during the day, so after I go to work she'll still have someone there to look after her.
But anyway, that's a very long ramble to say: any advice on how to bring her home and settle her in as smoothly as possible? This is my first time owning a cat, though I've been around them a fair amount and know the basics of taking care of them, and I know it's going to take a long time for her to really get comfortable with the house, me, and the dogs.
Also, I've booked a vet appointment for her a few days after she comes home with me. I'm not sure if this is the best idea as I'm sure she won't be happy to be taken to a new strange place, and I'm not even sure how she'll handle a carrier, but I'm really worried she could have fleas, parasites, etc. from living under that house for so long and I want her to get her vaccinations and vet exam done quickly so we can address any health concerns she may have. Any tips on this?

CC6E9DF1-4A5C-4A42-BC21-AC4B806EE6A1.jpeg

Here’s a (blurry) picture from about a week ago. She gets along great with my mom’s big, laidback ginger boi.
And below is her the first time I saw her. She didn’t want to come out from under the dresser and I didn’t want to push her so I turned to leave and she snuck right out to look at me go!
 

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fionasmom

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How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home – TheCatSite Articles
New Cat Checklist: What You Need To Get Before Bringing Kitty Home – TheCatSite Articles
Bringing Home A New Cat – The Complete Guide – TheCatSite Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles

Thank you for helping this cat and welcome to The Cat Site! You are doing the right thing by giving her a space of her own to help her to settle in. Can you put her in a carrier? If not, try putting an open carrier in her area with treats in it, or catnip, so that she sees it as a friendly place. Since you are able to hold her, that is a very good sign.

Taking her to the vet is a good idea for the reasons you mentioned. I think that you are off to a very good start with her.
 
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fancyferal

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How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home – TheCatSite Articles
New Cat Checklist: What You Need To Get Before Bringing Kitty Home – TheCatSite Articles
Bringing Home A New Cat – The Complete Guide – TheCatSite Articles
10 Must-know Tips For Happy Living With A Shy Cat – TheCatSite Articles

Thank you for helping this cat and welcome to The Cat Site! You are doing the right thing by giving her a space of her own to help her to settle in. Can you put her in a carrier? If not, try putting an open carrier in her area with treats in it, or catnip, so that she sees it as a friendly place. Since you are able to hold her, that is a very good sign.

Taking her to the vet is a good idea for the reasons you mentioned. I think that you are off to a very good start with her.
Thank you! I'm glad to hear I'm on the right track. She hasn't been exposed to carriers yet as far as I know, so I am worried about how she'll do. I got a carrier with a top door to make things as easy as possible, and I'll definitely be making it as snug as possible with blankets and treats. Since I'll have to use the carrier again to get her to the vet, I'm hoping the first time using it goes okay.
 
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fancyferal

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Update: day one with the new kitten went pretty well. She’s already letting me pet her and was eager to play after a while. The only thing is we realized that she’s just small enough to be able to squeeze under our doors, so our plan of keeping her in one room is now a bust. She seemed pretty curious to get out of the room after a while, so I’m not sure if I should stick to that one room and figure out something to put under the door that she can’t move, or just give her free reign over the house. I’m just worried if I do that I’ll never find her again given all the potential hiding spots. We also have two little inquisitive dogs to worry about. Any tips on how I should approach this? I want to do things at her pace but given that it’s been less than 24 hours since I brought her home, just letting her loose around the house feels a little premature.
 

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She's adorable! I'd keep her in the 1 room and train her to come when you call (crinkle the food bag when you feed her, or whatever, so there's a sound she comes to) - once she reliably comes out of hiding in that room, give her a little longer every day until she's out all the time. Have you introduced her to the dogs yet? I'd let them sniff while she's in a carrier, or from under the door, etc until the curiosity is dealt with and she's used to their smell as well. I'm glad it's going so well for you. :)
 
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fancyferal

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That’s a good idea! She doesn’t seem very good-motivated so far but maybe I just haven’t found the right treats/food. She actually can come out under the door any time she wants since I haven’t found an effective way to block off the gap at the bottom of the door, but I did put up a baby gate in the hallway so she can come out and look into the living room if she wants without the dogs being able to get to her. Both my dogs are seniors and the younger one Gigi has seen her a couple of times through the gate (the cat hissed when she saw her this morning and that made her back up a bit from the gate - hopefully a good sign for respecting boundaries?) but the older one Buttons is deaf and doesn’t seem to have really registered there’s a cat here at all. Before the gate was up they didn’t seem to be at all curious about sniffing around the door to the cat’s room, so I’m not sure if that’s because they know the cat is here and don’t care or what.
Is it okay that she can get out when she wants? She was roaming the house last night and cried a couple of times, which scared me because I thought she got into something. I guess this is a temporary problem since in a month or two she could be too big to fit under the door, but in the meantime I’m not sure if the gap under the door is an issue I should address or leave be since she seems interested in exploring.
 
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fancyferal

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5312871E-20C0-441E-B79C-C733E7B9C299.jpeg
A16EB2DB-A2A8-40EA-831B-130CDC5830EC.jpeg

Also some requisite pics of her last night while we played. She’s as soft as a cloud and this morning she even put her paws on my chest and booped my nose! I was shocked since she’s only been around people for about a month and I had to fish her out from under a sofa just to get her home!
 

kittymama18

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Letting her explore with the gate is a great idea, but she'll be hopping over the gate in no time, lol. I would be leery of letting her explore at will unless you're baby-proofed. No electrical cords where she can chew, no blinds/drapes cords hanging where she could get tangled, no food she could get into, etc etc. Rolling a few towels and putting in front of the gap would probably work. I put up door-gap flaps on my bathroom since the gap is large enough for a grownup cat to squeeze through!!! (And I use that bathroom for any kitty who is ill or needs special TLC)
 

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View attachment 405650View attachment 405651
Also some requisite pics of her last night while we played. She’s as soft as a cloud and this morning she even put her paws on my chest and booped my nose! I was shocked since she’s only been around people for about a month and I had to fish her out from under a sofa just to get her home!
She is PRECIOUS!! <3 Yes, the nose-booping is a very good sign. She'll be a lap-kitty in no time. :)
 
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fancyferal

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Letting her explore with the gate is a great idea, but she'll be hopping over the gate in no time, lol. I would be leery of letting her explore at will unless you're baby-proofed. No electrical cords where she can chew, no blinds/drapes cords hanging where she could get tangled, no food she could get into, etc etc. Rolling a few towels and putting in front of the gap would probably work. I put up door-gap flaps on my bathroom since the gap is large enough for a grownup cat to squeeze through!!! (And I use that bathroom for any kitty who is ill or needs special TLC)
That makes total sense and I’m glad I’m not paranoid for feeling like it’s too soon to be giving her full access to the house unsupervised. I’ll see if the towel trick will work for the meantime until I can get something more longterm/permanent in place. There are definitely some things I don’t want her getting into in the main living area, so having her in one room at night will definitely help me sleep better at least!
 

fionasmom

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She is a beautiful little girl, even possibly not all that feral. It is hard to tell given the situation described in your first post with the neighbor. The pics show how happy and relaxed she is in your house. Truly scared ferals don't stretch out and sit for pictures looking directly into the camera.

Definitely don't allow her to roam at will yet though. She may be curious but you don't have to give in. If she gets herself into a hidey hole, or worse, into trouble you will have a situation on your hands.
 
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fancyferal

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She is a beautiful little girl, even possibly not all that feral. It is hard to tell given the situation described in your first post with the neighbor. The pics show how happy and relaxed she is in your house. Truly scared ferals don't stretch out and sit for pictures looking directly into the camera.

Definitely don't allow her to roam at will yet though. She may be curious but you don't have to give in. If she gets herself into a hidey hole, or worse, into trouble you will have a situation on your hands.
Yeah I definitely wonder if she had more contact with the neighbor or other humans more than we thought. Granted my mom’s house is a lot louder and more rambunctious so that environment probably didn’t help her come out of her shell very much to begin with. They were shocked when I told them about how cuddly and friendly she’s been.
I’ll definitely be keeping her in her room for now. She and the dogs have seen each other and the dogs have started sniffing around the door so hopefully we’re on the path to getting them used to each other! I think the dogs’ presence has her a bit nervous so she hasn’t tried to creep under the door today, which is fine by me!
 
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fancyferal

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So I figured I’d throw an update on this thread for the people that offered such great advice when I first brought the kitty (who we’ve named Daphne) home. She’s been with us for a little over two weeks now and I’m absolutely blown away by her progress.
She’s turned out to be the most affectionate, playful, inquisitive little girl, obsessed with the bathtub, the laundry room, and her wand toy. She chatters at me all the time to complain that I’m making dinner or sleeping instead of playing with her. She’s even slept on my chest a couple of times and follows me around - last night she insisted on watching me take a shower, but I think it was mostly to silently judge me rather than give me company.
While I’d originally planned to keep her in her room for at least a few days while she acclimated, we have a true escape artist who can squeeze under any door and make an unholy amount of noise if she’s somewhere she doesn’t want to be. So we just gave in and let her roam. We found her under the sofa or the dining room table a lot for the first few days, and if the dogs got too close she would hiss at them, but gradually she’s gotten more comfortable and will now cautiously sleep on the couch and the bed next to them and watch with disdain from nearby as they bounce around while I get their dinner.
The only major hiccup (and it has NOT been fun) is she went into heat a few days after we got her. I woke up multiple nights in a row to her trying to climb through the window AC unit next to my bed, and fell asleep listening to her caterwauling every night for a boyfriend. Thankfully that’s over and she’s getting spayed today so I don’t have a psychotic break from lack of sleep.
The vet also told me that she’s upwards of 6 months old, maybe even 8 or 9, and since she’s not even 5 pounds yet, she’s going to be a tiny girl! She wasn’t microchipped so I guess we’ll never know for sure what her life was like before we found her under that house.
I’ve included a better picture of my Daffy Girl posing for the vet.
 

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What a charmer! I have no advice here but am just utterly won over, what a charmer. Glad she is making headway with the dogs— do you mind me asking what species they are? (Glad you are getting sleep…my boy keeps me up at all hours too). The name is just perfect: looks like she knows she has a good home.
 

fionasmom

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Thank you so much for the update! It is absolutely possible to adopt a seemingly feral cat like Daphne and have them adapt almost immediately to their new home. She is gorgeous and evidently so happy to have you. My avatar was a feral born under the house next door and she (and her sister) have turned into almost annoying lap cats.

Going into heat is a pain for you. I have had it happen with rescued females but you got through it and once she is spayed she will become even calmer and more affectionate.
 
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fancyferal

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What a charmer! I have no advice here but am just utterly won over, what a charmer. Glad she is making headway with the dogs— do you mind me asking what species they are? (Glad you are getting sleep…my boy keeps me up at all hours too). The name is just perfect: looks like she knows she has a good home.
She’s a cutie and she knows it! We have a 9yo toy poodle and a 14yo deaf chihuahua who both sleep most of the day and spend their waking hours hounding me for food and pets. She and the poodle get along more or less fine and I think they’ll be good friends in time but she’s a little less certain about the chihuahua because she likes to do zoomies around mealtime that Daphne interprets as her trying to chase. But overall great progress for having only known each other for two weeks!
 
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fancyferal

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Thank you so much for the update! It is absolutely possible to adopt a seemingly feral cat like Daphne and have them adapt almost immediately to their new home. She is gorgeous and evidently so happy to have you. My avatar was a feral born under the house next door and she (and her sister) have turned into almost annoying lap cats.

Going into heat is a pain for you. I have had it happen with rescued females but you got through it and once she is spayed she will become even calmer and more affectionate.
Haha I guess I’ll just have to squeeze all three pets onto my lap somehow! I think her heat may have accelerated her cuddliness a little but I’m not complaining at all! And here I was expecting it to be weeks and weeks before she was warmed up to me.
 
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