Desperately seeking advice🫣🥺🐾

CatladyJan

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KodaBear KodaBear I don't think there is much advice I can add but I do encourage spending time in the room, just talk to them w/o staring them down. Turn your back to them as that gives them a chance to examine you in a non-confrontational manner. I think we all may have our little tricks.... for example, I will act like a cat (literally lie on the floor and purr and meow) :) Also, if you are able to have a computer in there, stream some Cat Music.
Thanks for rescuing these beautiful babies.
 
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KodaBear

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Just checking in. I am guessing the kitties are catching up on cat naps. Hoping all is well. :)
My sincere apologies for just now responding. Besides the demands of work, I've been preoccupied with caring for my lil 14yo chihuahua, Bindi. She has a slew of conditions she acquired last year including MegaEsophagus (ME), IBD, and Acid Reflux. When a flare up occurs, it takes days to get it under control.

I do hope you're feeling better and so appreciate you taking the time out to offer helpful advice, especially under the circumstances. The one thing I noticed with you and many others here is the TIME you all take to write thoughtful, caring, supportive words of advice. Rescue folks never cease to amaze me!

I am learning so much here, especially the advice about scent. I had placed a t-shirt in the trap on the second day after trapping Maxi. The next morning, I discovered she urinated on it...lol...obviously, too soon to introduce her to my scent :) !! I also bought the Feliway plugin and have classical music playing constantly on Alexa. Their toys have catnip already infused in it and they (the babies) love playing with them. I love the idea of putting catnip on my person when it's time for them to explore outside the Catio and have full access to me. Thank you for that helpful tip.

SO, the good news is Babycakes, the mama, is getting more comfortable in the Catio. She explores it when I'm not in the room, sleeping on the top perch of the cat tower, gazing out the window, and I think now PLAYING with the vertical window blinds that are within reach. The night I wrote my initial post on here is when I witnessed her through the camera reaching for the blinds in what I thought was an attempt to escape. And maybe she was trying to escape because she looked unhappy and swatted at Cupcake (her mini-me look-alike) when they crossed paths causing Cupcake to cry out. Since then, she seems to have calmed down a lot. Although the babies are not snuggling or grooming with Babycakes as they routinely did outdoors, they ARE sleeping within inches of one another in the Catio itself, particularly on the tower itself. It has three levels and often times, I observe each cat sleeping on the tower with Babycakes on the top level, Maxi on the second, and Cupcake on the lower level. Now when I enter the room, that's another story! Babycakes, who is usually on the cat tower or other perch of the Catio will retreat to one of the cubbies in the corner. The babies, esp Maxi (grey color), will remain out in the open and Cupcake will soon join, watching me with curiosity. I am able to interact with the babies using a feather wand and feeding them Temptation treats every night before I exit the room. I feed them using a long thin baby spoon. I will continue to lay on the floor beside the Catio, belly up, so thank you for that advice. I noticed the babies are fascinated with my feet as I lay beside them, staring so intently! I wear thick socks and will at times, place my feet within reach of the Catio so they can smell me. They reach out paw at them and I try my best not to react or flinch. I am still learning their body language to understand if they are content, angry, or about to attack. I do the slow blinks all the time and will not stare. Babycakes, of all the three, is the one who will slow blink back (at times), yet she still isn't comfortable exposing herself to me when I'm in the room!! Only two times has she come out of the cubby but it was when I was on Zoom with my back towards the Catio. The babies get excited when I feed them the Temptation treats but Babycakes stays in her cubby watching. I toss a couple of treats to her hoping she will eventually come out on her own.

I read on another post on this site that baby food is way to bond with them. I bought the stage 2 Gerber turkey food but am thinking I should wait to introduce it to them until they have come out of the Catio so they have an opportunity to get closer to me physically...and possibly eat out of my hand? Not sure how I should approach that though.

Thank you again for your helpful tips and encouragement. It means the world to me to know I will not be judged. Sending you healthy vibes and lots of virtual hugs....
 
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KodaBear

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KodaBear KodaBear I don't think there is much advice I can add but I do encourage spending time in the room, just talk to them w/o staring them down. Turn your back to them as that gives them a chance to examine you in a non-confrontational manner. I think we all may have our little tricks.... for example, I will act like a cat (literally lie on the floor and purr and meow) :) Also, if you are able to have a computer in there, stream some Cat Music.
Thanks for rescuing these beautiful babies.

I appreciate your advice!! AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE QUOTE - you are my people:yess:!!

I love the idea of talking to them in their language. I can mimic the meow but not purring (can't trill my r's:ohwell:...lol)! I started to meow at them and Cupcake showed interest by tilting her head as if she was responding by a "say what now?" I have a feeling she and I will be best buddies because she's loves playing with the feather wand when I have it out and she sits at the edge of the lowest perch of the cat tower in the Catio when I'm laying on the floor. I feel like once she has access to the room, she will be the first to explore me as I plan to lay or sit on the floor with treats.

I have an Alexa in the room and started out playing cat music but it would stop playing after a few hours. I then found a classical music channel that will play for days; it's so soothing and relaxing, plus human voices are heard during the intervals so the cats are getting used to human voices as well!
 
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KodaBear

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I am so glad that others have weighed in here with great advice. Thanks to those who posted with positive help and hit that purraise button! Hugs to them and to you! I am under the weather a bit right now but logged in to see how you are doing. Very well, I see! :woo:I do not feel you are. “ in over your head” at all! That is a beautiful space and I have seen much smaller spaces. Oh my! I was trying to save cats from an emergency situation and I had to buy and borrow crates from every source I could find quickly. Most of the local rescuers I know personally are sometimes taking care of a lot of kitties at once and have to figure out where they can put them. Recently I found four kittens and NO shelter had space but a rescuer knew that I needed help and did take them. It was a scramble for us both but three were adopted within a week. It was just a matter of us doing what we could to save the lives and figuring out the rest later. Lol We survived and lives were saved. The kittens are all doing great now.
I agree with tabbytom tabbytom that spaying and neutering of any kitty with active hormones will help to keep the peace. If the mom is full feral then she is going to need more time than a semi feral or stray:dumped kitty to adjust. I can tell you that of all the ferals that have stayed with me as resident cats, they have ALL found happiness. In fact, they prefer the bed or sofa over outside any time. I do have a room that I finally converted to a cat room. Windows all around and all kitty stuff everywhere. However, they still want to be where I am after some watching time.
Keeping the catio as their safe haven is an excellent plan. Slow and steady. Keep a routine going and enjoy spending time just laying on the floor (belly up) keeping them company, napping in the room with them or sharing mealtimes with them. Announce yourself when you enter the room. Maybe look up some “cat calming” music online for them. Feliway makes calming diffusers that many find helpful and I always try catnip. I rub it on my shoes, clothes and new toys. Some cats don’t care about catnip but mine love it. I find some brands of catnip are not great while others are a big hit here. You might leave a shirt you have worn or a blanket you use with the kitties so they get to investigate your scent. Scent is important to kitties and it helps them to recognize you. Don’t do any long stares at them because predators stare and you want them to understand you are never a threat. You obviously love these kitties already and that tells me that you will be quick to use your instincts and they will know. Cats are so smart! Be very patient. They may not all be “lap cats” but they will all figure out that they are loved and will return that love. Rescues are so very appreciative. As soon as they get to know their great new world, you will see them change for the better. They will sleep their first secure sleep. No more freezing rain, scary thunder, predators or starving days. You can rest well now too, knowing they are safe. The rest will come in time. I will be checking back when I am feeling better and as I can. You already have great supporters right here. TCS is the right place to be. I found the site when I needed it and I never left. I hope your doggies are doing okay too.
Thank you for being kind? You are most welcome. I would have to say that I must be the one to thank you! I am grateful you made such great efforts to save lives. Every life counts but not everyone cares. Thank you!
Just wanted to add here that knowing ALL of your resident ferals found happiness inside IS encouraging and gives me hope and confidence that in time, my babies will feel the same!!! Hugs....
 
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KodaBear

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And if it is possible for you, spend time in "their" room sitting on the floor by the catio, talking with them. We look so much less threatening when we're down on their level!
Great advice, thank you! During the day, I'm in "their" room working on my laptop and on Zoom meetings so I feel they are getting used to my presence. Every evening, I lay on the floor by the Catio talking to them or I'm on the phone catching up with friends and family. Although Babycakes remains in her cubby, the babies will come out and play with one another or try to reach their paws out to me, and walk to their water bowl for sips of water (the water bowl is placed on the floor level very close to where I lay, so it's just the Catio that separates me from them as they access that bowl. I feel so happy that THEY feel comfortable walking by me to get to their water bowl)! Small victory...yayyy!!
 
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These were not chosen 'pets'. They are cats that were outside in a bitter winter and are way better off where they are. This forum is about 'Caring for Strays and Ferals'. Please consider this before responding in this forum.

Grateful and appreciative of your words. Thank you:vibes::heartshape:
 
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The time is not yours but theirs. When they are ready, they'll explore. They may explore with caution and may quickly retreat back to the catio which is normal. As long a you leave the catio as a safe place for them.

You play by ear on when to open the door. As long as you're done packing and rearranging the room and making sure it's cat safe and escape proof, you may leave the catio door open for them and let them explore the room at their own time.

Yes, leave their scents around the room and also you may leave your clean, unwashed non perfumed garments around too so that they get used to your scents.

I believe that they'll get used to you very quickly as you work in the room almost everyday. They' get used to your presence and the slight sounds you make like typing on the keyboard and talking over zoom meetings.

You may play light classical music for them when you are not I the room and also it's a good idea to install a camera so that you can track them.

Just as what Jcatbird Jcatbird mentioned, don't state at them or look them in their eyes especially Babycakes's eyes. Always do the all important slow eye blinks with them and whisper sweet nothings into their ears. While doing the slow eye blinks, try to catch and see if they respond to your slow eye blinks which will indicate how comfortable they are at the present moment.

Remember, love, patience and routine rules the day.
I have to keep your words in mind all the time: "The time is not yours but theirs."

The babies are getting used to me, but they've also had more time with me (15 days more than when I trapped Babycakes). It's interesting because Maxi (the grey kitty) is the bravest one of all and will remain exposed in the Catio when I enter and stay in the room. Maxi is the feisty, courageous one of the three. But I write it's interesting because every single time I enter the room, Maxi will stay where she is but hiss at me. Her body language remains "relaxed," if that makes sense. What I mean is her ears remain up and alert (not laid back), fur remains relaxed, tail does not move or fluffy because it's tucked under her. I'm still learning body language but I wonder why she hisses. Maybe it's a warning? After a few minutes, she stops and watches me, eats if I place food in their bowls, or soon plays with me or Cupcake if I remain in the room. She is the only one who hisses at me, yet she's also the only one who remains exposed to me while Cupcake and Babycakes runs to the cubbies. Within minutes, Cupcake will come out of the cubby and into the Catio for me interact with her. I am able to reach into the Catio to get the feeding bowls out, my hand and arm within inches of Maxi, without her swatting at me (I do this well after the hissing episode)!
 

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I am following your wonderful story and just wanted to add my two cents! That catio looks very nice and it sounds like all of the cats are doing so well. After several years of feeding and sheltering two cats outside (one semi-feral and her buddy who turned out to be a very sweet stray cat) I brought them both inside and they lived in a smallish bedroom for months. They did so well there, never once trying to escape! When I finally let them into the rest of the house, it was a bit at a time and in brief supervised sessions for a short while. About three years have passed and one of the cats still likes to eat meals in the "safe room" which works out well and allows me to contain her in that room when it is time to get her in a carrier for the vet!

You had mentioned that Babycakes can reach out and play with the window blinds. It might not be a problem, but when you do let them into the room please be sure that no one can get tangled up in the blinds. I ended up removing all window coverings when I brought my two cats inside, just to be safe.

It is so hard when our beloved pets are older and have health problems. It sounds like you are doing a very good job with Bindi and I wish you all the best with her.
 

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This is just a short part of their long (up to 20+ yrs) lives. You’re doing great and have an amazing setup for them.

Your whole catio setup is gorgeous! And with the multiple vertical levels, it’s equivalent to a much larger space.

I have raised many unsocialized ferals (redundant?) tho someone else typically trapped them. They all became fantastic, loving pets, usually within months (though one took a couple of years - she mostly hid from us for months at first - long story! - but she became my most loving cat!).

My only suggestions:
1)
Do I understand correctly that you have a separate catio? Can you put Babycakes in there for a couple of weeks? In the long run, I don’t think it will hurt the socialization process — because she is an adult and has many more fears, I think it will help her to just settle down and feel secure at first; in the meantime she can observe you and the babies. Her world is so full of fears, even her own babies are another stressor now. She will rebond with them once she herself is settled.

2) Kitties love harp music; if you can find that, it’s also helpful.

3) Don’t doubt yourself. Even if they were to stay only in the catio/ your office, they are doing much better than they would be outside. I have observed how they live outside, and it’s a terrifying life. They've got it good with you. And in about a year they will have access to much more space. In the meantime, your pups will have less stress as well, and that’s important.

:catrub:
 
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KodaBear

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I am following your wonderful story and just wanted to add my two cents! That catio looks very nice and it sounds like all of the cats are doing so well. After several years of feeding and sheltering two cats outside (one semi-feral and her buddy who turned out to be a very sweet stray cat) I brought them both inside and they lived in a smallish bedroom for months. They did so well there, never once trying to escape! When I finally let them into the rest of the house, it was a bit at a time and in brief supervised sessions for a short while. About three years have passed and one of the cats still likes to eat meals in the "safe room" which works out well and allows me to contain her in that room when it is time to get her in a carrier for the vet!

You had mentioned that Babycakes can reach out and play with the window blinds. It might not be a problem, but when you do let them into the room please be sure that no one can get tangled up in the blinds. I ended up removing all window coverings when I brought my two cats inside, just to be safe.

It is so hard when our beloved pets are older and have health problems. It sounds like you are doing a very good job with Bindi and I wish you all the best with her.

Awww, stories like yours are so inspirational and heartwarming. Thank you for sharing. I’m in awe of thise of you who bring in older ferals or semi-ferals. It gives me hope that even the older ones can live happily inside. How many months did it take for you to open the rest of your home for your kitties? I know it will be different for everyone, but I like hearing stories like yours.

Thank you for the tips about the blinds. The blinds in their room are made of hard plastic, so I don’t think they can even grip them. What I am afraid of though is them trying to climb them and knocking the frame that holds it down🙀! I can’t remove them completely either because I live in a private development of homes and we’re so close together that I won’t have any privacy. It’s one of the reasons why I cannot wait to move into a bigger home out of NYC where your neighbors are not on top of you.

AND thank you for your kind words for my Bindi baby. I’ve had her since she was 6 months old and she is my little ride or die😍! Her condition is a roller coaster of a ride of emotions but she’s a fighter and will get through this flare up🙏.
 
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KodaBear

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This is just a short part of their long (up to 20+ yrs) lives. You’re doing great and have an amazing setup for them.

Your whole catio setup is gorgeous! And with the multiple vertical levels, it’s equivalent to a much larger space.

I have raised many unsocialized ferals (redundant?) tho someone else typically trapped them. They all became fantastic, loving pets, usually within months (though one took a couple of years - she mostly hid from us for months at first - long story! - but she became my most loving cat!).

My only suggestions:
1)
Do I understand correctly that you have a separate catio? Can you put Babycakes in there for a couple of weeks? In the long run, I don’t think it will hurt the socialization process — because she is an adult and has many more fears, I think it will help her to just settle down and feel secure at first; in the meantime she can observe you and the babies. Her world is so full of fears, even her own babies are another stressor now. She will rebond with them once she herself is settled.

2) Kitties love harp music; if you can find that, it’s also helpful.

3) Don’t doubt yourself. Even if they were to stay only in the catio/ your office, they are doing much better than they would be outside. I have observed how they live outside, and it’s a terrifying life. They've got it good with you. And in about a year they will have access to much more space. In the meantime, your pups will have less stress as well, and that’s important.

:catrub:

It’s stories like yours is why I am so hopeful that I can do this! I’ve read your responses to previous posts and learned so much from your experience, particularly about your cat who became the most loving toward you! That speaks volumes of the kidn of person you are and the love and commitment you showed towards her😻.

Thank you so much regarding the set up of my Catio. It was actually two smaller ones that I converted into one using a little creativity and a lot of zip ties! Unfortunately, I only have that one space for all three cats. Even if I had another space to place her in, I’m terrified to handle her (which is so sad because she was my girl when I fed her outdoors; she is the reason I started this journey). Although she, at times, responds to my slow eye blinks, she looks like she glares at me too 😕. If necessary, my close friend is a vet tech and is willing to handle her.

I never expected Babycakes to react so stand-offish from her babies so it didn’t even dawn on me that I should separate her from the babies. When they were living outside, they were so tight, close knit. Babycakes was such a sweet, caring mama always grooming and sleeping with both of her girls.

I didn’t mention this in any of my previous responses, but I had already trapped Babycakes in July (2022), not knowing she had babies. There were several ferals/strays in our development and since I was feeding them, I knew I should TNR them too. Babycakes was special because she was a regular fixture on my deck, to the point where I couldn’t take my dogs out for potty because she refused to leave, even when she saw I was bringing them out! I had to either “shoo” her away or take my dogs on a walk so they could do their business!! When I trapped her in July with the help of a cat rescue, I was informed by the vet after her spay that she had just finished lactating!! I felt horrible because I had no idea she was even pregnant or had kittens!! And all this time, I had been feeding her… for months! It broke my heart to release her but the rescue folks advised me to release her so she could get back to her babies. I did so reluctantly and sure enough, a week or so later, I find two kittens, approximately 6 months old to my best estimate, frolicking around on my back deck with Babycakes nearby. They were sooooooo skittish and fast when I came out with food so it took me a several weeks to gain their trust. I immediately purchased two traps but it took four weeks to ship (I didn’t want to keep asking for favors from the lovely [busy] rescue folks, because they had rescue commitments on other parts of the island (Staten Island, NY)). Anyway, while I waited for the traps to arrive, I started my bonding journey with the babies. I was finally able to trap both of them within days of the traps arriving. Babycakes witnessed both trappings and was hesitant to approach the trap when it was her turn to be trapped (plus, remember, she had already been trapped by me in July). After two failed attempts, I finally trapped her and returned her to the vet to get the other tests required for indoor living. Long story short, I never expected her to react so cold to her babies due to how they behaved with one another outside. Here I was so excited about reuniting the close, loving family, thinking they’d jump into each other’s arms/paws, but boy was I wrong!! It had only been 15 days since they were apart. The harsh, cold reactions from the babies towards her were shocking to me as well. They acted like they didn’t know her 😔. I thought they’d recognize each other’s scent, but after reading your explanation, the new environment is definitely a major factor of their reactions toward each other. Btw, the vet estimated Babycakes to be approx 12 months in July. I trapped her on Oct 4th. So that is my longggg story as to why I didn’t even think to initially separate them 🙃.

Thanks for suggesting harp music. Adding it to my list! And yes, hoping in a year, all of my girls (cats and dogs) will get along. If not, I’m prepared to set up gates and cat-proof-in-door screens I found on Amazon.

Hugs 🐾💕🐾💕
 

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It’s stories like yours is why I am so hopeful that I can do this! I’ve read your responses to previous posts and learned so much from your experience, particularly about your cat who became the most loving toward you! That speaks volumes of the kidn of person you are and the love and commitment you showed towards her😻.

Thank you so much regarding the set up of my Catio. It was actually two smaller ones that I converted into one using a little creativity and a lot of zip ties! Unfortunately, I only have that one space for all three cats. Even if I had another space to place her in, I’m terrified to handle her (which is so sad because she was my girl when I fed her outdoors; she is the reason I started this journey). Although she, at times, responds to my slow eye blinks, she looks like she glares at me too 😕. If necessary, my close friend is a vet tech and is willing to handle her.

I never expected Babycakes to react so stand-offish from her babies so it didn’t even dawn on me that I should separate her from the babies. When they were living outside, they were so tight, close knit. Babycakes was such a sweet, caring mama always grooming and sleeping with both of her girls.

I didn’t mention this in any of my previous responses, but I had already trapped Babycakes in July (2022), not knowing she had babies. There were several ferals/strays in our development and since I was feeding them, I knew I should TNR them too. Babycakes was special because she was a regular fixture on my deck, to the point where I couldn’t take my dogs out for potty because she refused to leave, even when she saw I was bringing them out! I had to either “shoo” her away or take my dogs on a walk so they could do their business!! When I trapped her in July with the help of a cat rescue, I was informed by the vet after her spay that she had just finished lactating!! I felt horrible because I had no idea she was even pregnant or had kittens!! And all this time, I had been feeding her… for months! It broke my heart to release her but the rescue folks advised me to release her so she could get back to her babies. I did so reluctantly and sure enough, a week or so later, I find two kittens, approximately 6 months old to my best estimate, frolicking around on my back deck with Babycakes nearby. They were sooooooo skittish and fast when I came out with food so it took me a several weeks to gain their trust. I immediately purchased two traps but it took four weeks to ship (I didn’t want to keep asking for favors from the lovely [busy] rescue folks, because they had rescue commitments on other parts of the island (Staten Island, NY)). Anyway, while I waited for the traps to arrive, I started my bonding journey with the babies. I was finally able to trap both of them within days of the traps arriving. Babycakes witnessed both trappings and was hesitant to approach the trap when it was her turn to be trapped (plus, remember, she had already been trapped by me in July). After two failed attempts, I finally trapped her and returned her to the vet to get the other tests required for indoor living. Long story short, I never expected her to react so cold to her babies due to how they behaved with one another outside. Here I was so excited about reuniting the close, loving family, thinking they’d jump into each other’s arms/paws, but boy was I wrong!! It had only been 15 days since they were apart. The harsh, cold reactions from the babies towards her were shocking to me as well. They acted like they didn’t know her 😔. I thought they’d recognize each other’s scent, but after reading your explanation, the new environment is definitely a major factor of their reactions toward each other. Btw, the vet estimated Babycakes to be approx 12 months in July. I trapped her on Oct 4th. So that is my longggg story as to why I didn’t even think to initially separate them 🙃.

Thanks for suggesting harp music. Adding it to my list! And yes, hoping in a year, all of my girls (cats and dogs) will get along. If not, I’m prepared to set up gates and cat-proof-in-door screens I found on Amazon.

Hugs 🐾💕🐾💕
All the more amazing that you’ve done all this despite the setbacks.

Mama (Babycakes) will calm down in time. She’s been through so much! Maybe you have tried this, or others have suggested it, but did you try calming treats? They have been helpful with some of my cats (my older cat won’t eat treats, sadly). Either: Pet Naturals Calming Chews (which contain l-theanine, naturally calming) or NaturVet Hemp with Hemp Seed for Cats.

I have a strong feeling she will bond with you amazingly, much more than she did before, but … it will be when she feels like it. :winkcat:
 

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I have to keep your words in mind all the time: "The time is not yours but theirs."
It is true, the time is not yours but theirs. Meaning, do not rush through whatever you are doing. They need time to adjust to coming in from the outside. The whole scenario is totally new to them and if you rush them, they get confused. Not only they get confused, they get stressed and not only your time is wasted but they have to go through the whole trusting in you process all over again.

Leave it to them to decide when is the time to come out or let you pet them. You just do the right thing and never betray their trust, especially for Babycakes. Many things are going through her mind and she needs to put things right and so she needs more time.

All cats have different personalities and behaviors. Just don't think that Babycakes is always in the cubby and never coming out means she's standoff-ish. It's natural for her to do that as she is unfamiliar with the surroundings. She could just very comfortable where she is observing you and the other two kitties. Some cats prefer to be left alone and will only come up you as and when they wish.

Do not rush through the whole process else it'll be more difficult the next round. It may take days, weeks, months or even years but as long as you shower them with your love which they can feel and continue to trust in you.
For example, if you need to connect a cable from Point A to Point B, and as the saying goes, 'Measure twice and cut once'.

Remember, love, patience and routine rules the day. I guess you are doing pretty well and so are the cats.
 

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Hi KodaBear! You had asked how long before I let my cats into the rest of the house after I brought them inside. After about two and a half months in their safe room, I opened the door, but blocked off the stairs so they couldn't go down and closed the other bedroom door so they only had access to the hallway and a bathroom. They were VERY hesitant to leave their room! The stray cat who was much braver did venture out for seconds at a time, then dashed back into his room. The semi-feral just peeked out the door but didn't leave. I continued to give them the opportunity to explore this small part of the house for a couple of weeks.

To make a long story short, I continued to let them out for short periods of time, gradually opening up more and more of the house, always keeping the basement door closed so they didn't disappear and get lost. I would shoo them back in their room (not hard to do since they usually ran back on their own) after a period of exploring and at nighttime. It took about three months for the whole house to be an option for them and for the door to their safe room to be left open all the time. So the total time from bringing them inside to letting them have the run of the house was about five months.
 
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KodaBear

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All the more amazing that you’ve done all this despite the setbacks.

Mama (Babycakes) will calm down in time. She’s been through so much! Maybe you have tried this, or others have suggested it, but did you try calming treats? They have been helpful with some of my cats (my older cat won’t eat treats, sadly). Either: Pet Naturals Calming Chews (which contain l-theanine, naturally calming) or NaturVet Hemp with Hemp Seed for Cats.

I have a strong feeling she will bond with you amazingly, much more than she did before, but … it will be when she feels like it. :winkcat:

You’re right DeeCat. Babycakes is calming down as every day passes. She and Cupcake were sitting in the cubby TOGETHER this past weekend🙌! My main concern was that this family of three get along in the Catio and I see it slowly happening. I’m laying belly up by the Catio as I write this and the babies are sitting close by and playing with me (via feather wand). Babycakes is in her cubby (sigh), but that’s okay, I’m just happy they are feeling comfortable with one another at this stage.

I bought the Pet Naturals treats and the babies eat them, but Babycakes will not. I made note of the hemp brand you recommended and will order them shortly.

Thank you again for the helpful tips and support!!!
 

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Hi Koda, I am by no means a cat expert but I saw your post and I have a very similar story. Don't give up! I have gotten a lot of good advice and encouragement on this site.

Like you, I had a mom and babies pick my yard as their home. The mom had been coming around for a couple of weeks and I would go out and feed her. She would come close to me but never let me pet her. Then one day she showed up with her babies that were clearly sick and it was getting pretty cold out at this point, it was almost 2 years ago exactly. I contacted a TNR group and they said they could help me if I could foster, so the journey began. They were able to catch the mom and 3 babies and I had them in a very similar set up to yours. They all seemed pretty cozy in there so I didnt feel bad at first. I was dreading when I had to separate the babies from the mom thinking I was ripping apart this cute little family, but the mom started showing signs of aggression towards the babies eventually which made it much easier to separate them.

They were all vetted and fixed and the rescue told me to keep the babies separate so I brought the babies upstairs in the catio and left the mom a room to herself downstairs. The babies were supposed to be getting ready to be adopted but I was a foster failure and ended up keeping 2 of them, one was adopted out. The rescue told me to release the mom back into the yard where I found her because she would be miserable inside as a feral, but it was freezing at night at this point and I felt terrible so I thought I would keep her inside until spring. The mom and babies had been separated for a couple of months. Long story short, the mom (after months of hiding, hissing, running at the slightest movement) seemed to start really enjoying her cushy life indoors and with the encouragement of people on this site I ended up just keeping her. I eventually started to reintroduce the mom and babies, and like you was surprised at the aggression I thought they would remember each other and go skipping off but that was definitely not the case.

It was a slow process but now everyone is free to roam together. One of the babies and the mom have now reformed such a sweet bond. They love to play and follow each other around. The other baby still chases her when she sees her but we are working on it and it is slowly getting better.

I had a lot of the same internal struggles as you as far as what was right for them. I had no idea what I was doing at first. Your heart is in the right place. Like others said above I would make sure the room is totally cat proofed and leave the door open and let them explore on their own terms. I know my mom cat was a lot more relaxed once she had some more room to herself. As mentioned above I had luck with the Feliway spray and diffusers, it seemed to calm everyone down a bit. I know you said you have no openings in that room but you may want to cover the wire for the cat cam with a protective sleeve and tape it down, I know my one cat loves to chew wires which is fun :confused:.

I would give them places to have some privacy like a box or cat cave of some sort. I would let them explore for a while and acclimate, but once they seem more comfortable, some things that helped me were to try to feed them treats while they were all together, and group play with either a wand toy or the laser, just something fun that kind of distracts them from any tensions.

It was a long road for us and looking back i think the anxiety of not knowing what I was doing made it seem very stressful. I was second guessing myself as well and contemplating letting my mom back out also but they are all doing great now and I dont regret anything. I am happy knowing they are not outside fending for themselves against God knows what. You definitely sound like the type of person that will have the patience to make this a successful situation.

One more thing that has helped me - I still cannot pick up the mom cat. She finally lets me pet her on occasion but that is a fairly new thing for her. I leave her carrier open in her room with a nice little blanket. She uses it as a "safe space" and sleeps in it fairly often. It has helped me tremendously if I need to bring her to the vet, she luckily has just ran right into the carrier each time which is a lifesaver because I have no idea how I would get her in a carrier otherwise. Hopefully this helps a little, if nothing else I know exactly what you're going through!
 
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KodaBear

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Hi Koda, I am by no means a cat expert but I saw your post and I have a very similar story. Don't give up! I have gotten a lot of good advice and encouragement on this site.

Like you, I had a mom and babies pick my yard as their home. The mom had been coming around for a couple of weeks and I would go out and feed her. She would come close to me but never let me pet her. Then one day she showed up with her babies that were clearly sick and it was getting pretty cold out at this point, it was almost 2 years ago exactly. I contacted a TNR group and they said they could help me if I could foster, so the journey began. They were able to catch the mom and 3 babies and I had them in a very similar set up to yours. They all seemed pretty cozy in there so I didnt feel bad at first. I was dreading when I had to separate the babies from the mom thinking I was ripping apart this cute little family, but the mom started showing signs of aggression towards the babies eventually which made it much easier to separate them.

They were all vetted and fixed and the rescue told me to keep the babies separate so I brought the babies upstairs in the catio and left the mom a room to herself downstairs. The babies were supposed to be getting ready to be adopted but I was a foster failure and ended up keeping 2 of them, one was adopted out. The rescue told me to release the mom back into the yard where I found her because she would be miserable inside as a feral, but it was freezing at night at this point and I felt terrible so I thought I would keep her inside until spring. The mom and babies had been separated for a couple of months. Long story short, the mom (after months of hiding, hissing, running at the slightest movement) seemed to start really enjoying her cushy life indoors and with the encouragement of people on this site I ended up just keeping her. I eventually started to reintroduce the mom and babies, and like you was surprised at the aggression I thought they would remember each other and go skipping off but that was definitely not the case.

It was a slow process but now everyone is free to roam together. One of the babies and the mom have now reformed such a sweet bond. They love to play and follow each other around. The other baby still chases her when she sees her but we are working on it and it is slowly getting better.

I had a lot of the same internal struggles as you as far as what was right for them. I had no idea what I was doing at first. Your heart is in the right place. Like others said above I would make sure the room is totally cat proofed and leave the door open and let them explore on their own terms. I know my mom cat was a lot more relaxed once she had some more room to herself. As mentioned above I had luck with the Feliway spray and diffusers, it seemed to calm everyone down a bit. I know you said you have no openings in that room but you may want to cover the wire for the cat cam with a protective sleeve and tape it down, I know my one cat loves to chew wires which is fun :confused:.

I would give them places to have some privacy like a box or cat cave of some sort. I would let them explore for a while and acclimate, but once they seem more comfortable, some things that helped me were to try to feed them treats while they were all together, and group play with either a wand toy or the laser, just something fun that kind of distracts them from any tensions.

It was a long road for us and looking back i think the anxiety of not knowing what I was doing made it seem very stressful. I was second guessing myself as well and contemplating letting my mom back out also but they are all doing great now and I dont regret anything. I am happy knowing they are not outside fending for themselves against God knows what. You definitely sound like the type of person that will have the patience to make this a successful situation.

One more thing that has helped me - I still cannot pick up the mom cat. She finally lets me pet her on occasion but that is a fairly new thing for her. I leave her carrier open in her room with a nice little blanket. She uses it as a "safe space" and sleeps in it fairly often. It has helped me tremendously if I need to bring her to the vet, she luckily has just ran right into the carrier each time which is a lifesaver because I have no idea how I would get her in a carrier otherwise. Hopefully this helps a little, if nothing else I know exactly what you're going through!
Tons of thanks for your kind words, encouragement, and wonderful advice. Your story IS similar to mine, esp the mixed feelings, stress, and doubt you felt about whether you’re doing right by your family of kitties.

You wrote it took months for the mama cat to acclimate indoors…and to you…and then to her babies? How did you get the mama cat to warm up to you before reintroducing them to her babies? I ask because Babycakes, the mama, is still reluctant of me. She will occasionally hiss from her cubby in the Catio when I approach to feed. She will come out of the cubby when I’m not in the room and hang on the top levels of the Catio but when I enter the room, she runs back into the cubby. I don’t have any access to her even to play with a wand or laser (I mean when I do, she hisses). I have daily play sessions with Cupcake and Maxi (her babies) using the wand and laser and I see Babycakes watching from her cubby. But she’s still not comfortable to join. The babies, however, are warming up to me, esp Cupcake, she’s a replica of Babycakes in terms of markings. She is so so sweet and curious! Maxi still hisses at me when I enter the room but she soon warms up during play time.

Btw, you are an angel for exercising such patience and understanding towards her instead of choosing the easy route by simply releasing her.

Your advice is so helpful. Since you wrote, I’ve been busy packing all the books from the bookshelves (ended up removing 15 small boxes📚), purchased two cat carriers that will be placed strategically around the room once they have access to it, and bought protective sleeves for exposed wires that are in the room. Not only do I have to cover the camera wires, but i have my laptop, printer, and lamp wires to protect too. I work in that space everyday, and didn’t think of the possibility of the kitties chewing on the wires! Placing the carrier in the room as a safe space is a brilliant idea, thank you! Geez, so much to relearn about cats…lol! I had a domesticated cat for 20 years but it’s been about 15 years since he passed, so it’s like learning their behavior all over again.

I decided to remove two of the bookshelves to free up more space in the room. So now I’m making arrangements to get help in removing and donating them. It’s such a process! But in the meantime, I’m witnessing all three reforming their bond and getting comfortable in the Catio. They really don’t seem to mind the space…and each other! I have found Babycakes and Cupcake sitting together in the cubby (they were so bonded outside), and I haven’t caught anyone hissing or swatting at each other🙌🙌!
 
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KodaBear

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Update: Thank you ALL for talking me off the ledge🙃, offering me words of encouragement and reassurance that the kitties and mama will acclimate. We’re not quite there yet in terms of me handling or petting any of them, which I expected, but I am seeing progress.

So, they’re still in the Catio because it’s taking time to reorganize and move books and furniture from the office space, which is now transforming into their cat room with me occupying some of THEIR space!! I’m feeling less guilty confining them to the Catio because they seem to like it in there and all three are getting along🙌!

Babycakes, the mama: For the most part, she hides in the cubby when I enter the room. But the good news is when I’m not in there, she is hanging out on the top levels/shelves of the Catio. I am obsessed watching them from the camera and have not witnessed any swatting, hissing, or confrontational behavior between any of them…yay!! Babycakes will hiss at me occasionally when I toss the calming treats or Temptation treats into her cubby. When I lay down belly up by the Catio every night, less than two feet away from her in the cubby, she seems okay with my presence but will not interact with me. I caught her sitting in the cubby with Cupcake one day and this morning they ate out of the same bowl together.

The babies, Cupcake and Maxi: Maxi hisses at me EVERY..SINGLE..TIME I enter the room. It’s funny because although she hisses, she will remain sitting in the top level of the cat tower (placed in the Catio) and keep her little mouth open after the hissing. No raised hair, ears are not back, it’s like she needs to warn me she’s the boss or something. Not sure what to make of it because she’s not scared of me where she runs and hides. I tell her with a firm voice, “No Maxi” then with a sweet tone I’ll say, “we’re friends” and do the slow blink. Only one time did she slow blink back. When she stops hissing, I can, however, reach into the catio inches away from her to remove the raised feeding bowls and she won’t move a bone. So I guess she feels comfortable enough because she’s not swatting at me. I’ll take it🙃!

Cupcake: I have a feeling once the doors of the Catio are open for them to explore the room, this lil cutie-pie will be the first to get close to me. She is curious of me and is the first to join in during play sessions (wand of feathers and laser). This very morning when I went in to feed them, Cupcake looked so happy to see me! She ran to the front of the Catio as if to greet me, so I placed my closed bare fist near the cage, AND SHE SNIFFED MY HAND!! Lol, I was so happy because to be honest, I’m always afraid they’re going to swat at me…their nails are so sharp!! I wear “petting” gloves at night when I lay beside them and place my hands in a still position for them to sniff me. Both babies have sniffed the glove and will swat lightly, I think more so to play than attack. I don’t want them to learn that playing with my hands is okay though, am I wrong to think that? They’re not rubbing on my hand. They don’t know how it feels to be pet, so I use the wand of feathers to simulate petting. Cupcake is more receptive to the petting on her chest, but not on her head, ears, or back. Maxi is also skittish of being petted by the wand and will hop backwards away from the wand.

Anyway, back to this morning, Maxi hissed as usual, but Babycakes peeped her head AND two front paws out of the cubby, which IS huge! She quickly returned to the cubby but at least she showed herself for about 5 seconds! Small victory in my eyes.

I’m in the process of making arrangements to remove two bookshelves from the room before opening the Catio doors. I have followed everyone’s advice in buying the Feliway, calming treats, carriers to place in the room for easy handling in the future, and buying protective sleeves for exposed wires. After the bookshelves are removed, the room will be ready for them to explore. I’m so nervous mainly because they will now have access to ME and because I haven’t dealt with cats since by domesticated cat passed over 15yrs ago, I won’t know how to react. I will try my best to stay still when they approach to sniff me, but I’m terrified they will swat out of caution and I’ll jump out of instinct, causing them to either attack or run in fear. I know this probably sounds silly! I will, however, do my best to stay still and not show fear, but truth be told, I’m scared! I’m just now beginning to learn their personalities, the babies anyway. Babycakes, because she hasn’t opened up yet, really frightens me because I can’t read her yet. Any help on this front will be greatly appreciated!!
 
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