Feral kittens & mama - foster/socializing advice needed

Sandra-08

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Hi all,
My name is Sandra, I’m completely new to this world of cat rescue. I’ve gone down this rabbit hole for the last 2 weeks, ever since the 3 cutest kittens and their mom moved into my backyard.

The little ones seem to be about 3-4 months old, so the rescue group I contacted won’t take them. Their advice was to TNR mom (asap), and in a few weeks, do the same to the babies.
Here’s the thing…

I am in love with those 3 babies, and if I could, I would foster them right now and socialize them. We went from them running away and hiding for a few hours, the second they hear the door open (this was just last week), to them waiting for me when they hear me, and coming all the way up to my toes to grab treats, as well as playing with a toy I brought. Even mom has started joining when it’s time for snacks.

I really feel like these kittens have a chance, and would do great if socialized. But here’s the other thing: unfortunately, my husband is not on board with taking them in. He wants to help find fosters who could take them.

What do I do… do I keep working with them outdoors, do TNR when possible, and try to socialize them outside still? Or is there a rescue that might have capacity? Photo attached because the cuteness is just too much.
IMG_1846.jpeg
 
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Norachan

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Does your husband not want the cats in the house, or he doesn't want them at all?

Lots of us care for semi feral cats outside. It's quite easy to cat proof your yard, so they don't roam and come to any harm, create a shelter for them and feed them. How would your husband feel about that?

You should absolutely get the mother spayed ASAP. Please brace yourself for the fact that she may already be pregnant. Cats come into heat soon after giving birth and then you need to spay abort, but if the mother isn't visibly pregnant and it's early days this is fairly straight forward.

I've spayed 5 month old kittens that have already been pregnant too, so make plans to get the kittens done within the next month.

It sounds like you've already made huge steps with socializing them. Keep going, the more used they are to human contact the better their chances will be. You're either socializing them to make their life in a foster home easier, to make their life with their forever family easier or to make your life easier if they end up staying with you as your outdoor cats.

Having cats that you can handle enough to treat for fleas and worms and can get to the vet when ever they need to see one makes caring for outdoor cats so much easier.

They are adorable. The little pointed kitten looks like my Albert, in my banner below. He's one of my outdoor cats, came from a feral colony and is 10 years old now.
 

backwoodsvet

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I agree on getting mom fixed asap, if she ends of with any future litters, she'll keep bringing them back to you, a safe place.......and like norachan said any new cats/kittens that your able touch/pet is a big plus in the future when it comes to any treatment of any type......

And yes, they can live a life in your back yard if needed, WITH a little extra time, don't I know !!

Thank you for caring..........
 
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Sandra-08

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Does your husband not want the cats in the house, or he doesn't want them at all?

Lots of us care for semi feral cats outside. It's quite easy to cat proof your yard, so they don't roam and come to any harm, create a shelter for them and feed them. How would your husband feel about that?

You should absolutely get the mother spayed ASAP. Please brace yourself for the fact that she may already be pregnant. Cats come into heat soon after giving birth and then you need to spay abort, but if the mother isn't visibly pregnant and it's early days this is fairly straight forward.

I've spayed 5 month old kittens that have already been pregnant too, so make plans to get the kittens done within the next month.

It sounds like you've already made huge steps with socializing them. Keep going, the more used they are to human contact the better their chances will be. You're either socializing them to make their life in a foster home easier, to make their life with their forever family easier or to make your life easier if they end up staying with you as your outdoor cats.

Having cats that you can handle enough to treat for fleas and worms and can get to the vet when ever they need to see one makes caring for outdoor cats so much easier.

They are adorable. The little pointed kitten looks like my Albert, in my banner below. He's one of my outdoor cats, came from a feral colony and is 10 years old now.
Hey Noralan,
Thank you so much for your quick and detailed response.

Technically, my husband would prefer not to have them in our yard either, but that might be something we can compromise on. However, another layer of worry for me is the fact that we’re renting this place - so when we move out, in a year or two, I know I wouldn’t be okay leaving them behind then. Which is why finding them a foster now would be incredibly helpful - I know chances are slim.
And we have upstairs neighbors we share the yard with, so when the weather gets warmer, I don’t know if the cats living in our yard would be an issue for them.

Oh man, I hope mama’s not pregnant yet. I’m picking up a trap from the local shelter tomorrow, and then have to see when they have an appointment available. Definitely need the babies to get spayed asap as well.

When you say cat proving the yard so they don’t roam and come to harm, can you tell me a bit more about what that means? There’s a little forest area behind our yard, so the 3 little ones and mom go there, and to the next door yard, a lot. It doesn’t seem like they’ve gone too far from here since they’ve made our yard their home, as they’re always quick to come over for treats 😅
 
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Sandra-08

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I agree on getting mom fixed asap, if she ends of with any future litters, she'll keep bringing them back to you, a safe place.......and like norachan said any new cats/kittens that your able touch/pet is a big plus in the future when it comes to any treatment of any type......

And yes, they can live a life in your back yard if needed, WITH a little extra time, don't I know !!

Thank you for caring..........
Thank you for your input ❤ I‘ll get mom taken care of as soon as possible - just need a trap and an available appointment. And I’ll keep working with all of them to see what I can do! Mom actually seems to be warming up to me too, which I didn’t expect. We‘re nowhere near petting them for now, just working on being more comfortable when they’re physically close to me - but it’s only been a week since I started trying :) so here’s to hoping!
 

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When you say cat proving the yard so they don’t roam and come to harm, can you tell me a bit more about what that means?
Usually what we mean by that is either a cat proof fence or a catio.

I was living in a rented house about 10 years ago. There were a lot of feral cats in the area, I ended up TNR'ing around 40 of them and got some of the kittens adopted. The area wasn't very safe for cats, so when we moved we bought a house with a large piece of land and brought the cats with us.

We moved more than 20 of them. It was quite an adventure, maybe we shouldn't scare your husband with the details.

:lol:

We put up a cat proof fence so they wouldn't run off. Here are a few pictures. First of all we used wooden fence posts and deer netting, but it snows a lot here in the winter and the top part of the fence collected too much snow and collapsed.

Catfence7_R.jpg

After that we switched to wire mesh on the top. That allows the snow to fall through. The cats can climb up the vertical part of the fence, but they can't work out how to haul themselves over the overhanging part, so they stay in the enclosure.

Catfence9_R.jpg


If it's not possible to put a fence all around your yard you could think about making a catio for them. That's like an enclosure where the cats can hang out safely from other animals and cars.

1699495301965.png


If you check Google you'll find lots of images and ideas.

But if you're going to move soon and your husband doesn't want to keep the cats I suggest you keep feeding and socializing and look for either fosters or forever homes.

It's a myth that kittens can't be socialized after 4 months old. Some of my cats were much older than that when they came to me, but are very friendly now. Every cat is different, so you just have to hope you have some extra friendly ones.


Please keep us updated on how everything goes.
 

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Hi S Sandra-08 and a very warm welcome to the forum !

You said that the rescue group you contacted wouldn't take the kittens...........

It's very likely that there is more than one cat rescue/welfare organization in your general area. Some also tend to work 'under the radar'.

Try Googling exactly this: "cat rescue in (your city/state)".

From my own experience, the more personal a contact/"reach-out" you can make, the greater your chances of success will be.......as an example, a friendly in-person visit to a organization will ensure that those folks get the opportunity to see you as a colleague rescuer, as opposed to 'just another (phone) caller' trying to place cats. Rescuers are deeply committed, run off their feet and it's emotionally-draining work....a little personal contact can make a huge difference. Perhaps even try dropping by the place that turned you down.

Yes, do keep us in your loop! (and, of course...............we'd never refuse more pics! :lol:)
.
 

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I just want to add that while you're looking for an alternative place for them, please don't stop feeding them as they are used to it now. Also, keep getting closer and closer to them so you can at least pet the kittens. You can wear rubber gardening gloves if they scratch. I have socialized many stray kittens and my current cat was brought indoors at 6 months old because I had gotten him used to touch and human contact while he still lived outside.
Those kittens have a chance at life if you can get them used to human contact. Our shelter also refuses kittens past 8 weeks but I try to socialize them by carrying a string outside for play time, food is always a good thing, and special high value treats like tuna and raw chicken pieces.
I hope this helps. You are doing a wonderful service for those animals. Be careful, it is addictive! ;)
 
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Sandra-08

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Hi all,
Thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate it.

I've been feeding them and they're definitely growing hehe! Mom joins sometimes, but is also out and about a lot. I've seen her catch a few mice, so that eases my mind in that she's okay out there. Trapping her, however, might turn out to be a bit more of a challenge than with the kittens. I picked up a trap, but the shelter could only give me one regular one - I'm waiting to hear back from someone else about a drop trap, which would definitely be easier (especially with the kittens). If that doesn't work out, I'll just have to give it a try and hope that whoever witnesses their sibling get caught comes back.

I thought it was getting cold out there, so I bought them a little insulated cat house - which they have 0 interest in. They prefer their card board box & blanket from the first picture!

In terms of cat proofing our yard, that would definitely be something to look into if they do end up staying with us. For now, they do roam around but it seems like they never go far - they hang out one or two yards down, or in the little forest area right behind the yards. There's a couple of raccoons that come over every night to look for food scraps; I was scared for the kittens the first time (those raccoons are HUGE), but they don't interact with each other.

...Now to the most exciting part: I haven't attempted petting them yet, but they just started having their meals right in front of me without looking up at me every 2 seconds lol! I bought scratch-safe gloves and will be trying soon.

Obviously, spaying them is more urgent but... are they going to completely lose the tiny bit of trust they built for me when I catch them?Just want to brace myself :)
 
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Sandra-08

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Hey all,
So, when you say you’ve successfully socialized cars outdoors… how do you do it?

I’ve gotten them from running away and hiding until I’m no longer there, to coming toward me, all the way up to my toes and eating their food in front of me. This took about 1.5-2 weeks. But I feel like I’m taking 1 step forward and 5 steps back, because the second I even just move a finger, they run away.

i was hoping to continue towards touching their plate, spoon/hand feeding them, carefully petting them, etc. But I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen while they have a chance to run away; and unfortunately, my husband just doesn’t want them inside the apartment. So I’m struggling. They’re healthy, but I know the more time passes, the less likely they’ll be able to get adopted…and really don’t want to give up on them.
 

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Hi Sandra,

It's a lot easier to socialize cats if you can bring them indoors, but if that's not possible I think you'll still be able to do a lot to get these cats used to people.

They've already started to build up some positive associations with you because you are there source of food. The more time you spend you there with them the better.

Take a thick cushion to sit on and a blanket. When you feed them put the cushion down and sit with your legs covered with the blanket. You want to look as small as possible, so coming down closer to their level and hiding half of your body makes you look less threatening. While they eat talk to them in a soft, low voice. Don't try to touch them yet or look at them too intently. Cats see a direct stare as a threat, so look off into middle distance and just glance at them occasionally. If you do make eye contact do the slow eye blink to show them you're at ease and they can be too.

Cats are often interested in play. You might be able to engage them with a wand toy. Try sitting with your legs outstretched, still covered with the blanket, and try to entice them closer with a toy. The kittens will be easier as they're naturally more playful. When they are focused on the game they'll forget your legs are under the blanket and start using you to ambush the toy from behind. You just need to keep all of your movements slow and relaxed, keep your voice low and your gaze soft.

It took a while for my outdoor cats to get used to their new cat house too. Does it have a cat-flap style door or one that is open all the time? The cat-flap style ones keep them warmer, but it can take a while before they understand how to open it. Try propping it open so they can take a look inside.

Another thing that might work is switching the blanket they are currently sleeping on inside the cat house and giving them another one outside. Cats are comforted by familiar smells. You want to get their smell mingled with yours and the smell of the new cat house, so switch the blanket in their box, the one in the cat house and the one you cover your legs with around every few days so they all start to smell the same.

I have a very friendly feral cat that I TNR's about 5 years ago. I wanted to bring him indoors, but he tries to kill my cats whenever he sees them so that wasn't possible. He is super friendly and affectionate now though, just through daily feeding and petting. He's moved in with the people who live in the house next to mine. They have a cat too, but for some reason Fergus tolerates him a lot better than he tolerates my cats.
 
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Sandra-08

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Hi Sandra,

It's a lot easier to socialize cats if you can bring them indoors, but if that's not possible I think you'll still be able to do a lot to get these cats used to people.

They've already started to build up some positive associations with you because you are there source of food. The more time you spend you there with them the better.

Take a thick cushion to sit on and a blanket. When you feed them put the cushion down and sit with your legs covered with the blanket. You want to look as small as possible, so coming down closer to their level and hiding half of your body makes you look less threatening. While they eat talk to them in a soft, low voice. Don't try to touch them yet or look at them too intently. Cats see a direct stare as a threat, so look off into middle distance and just glance at them occasionally. If you do make eye contact do the slow eye blink to show them you're at ease and they can be too.

Cats are often interested in play. You might be able to engage them with a wand toy. Try sitting with your legs outstretched, still covered with the blanket, and try to entice them closer with a toy. The kittens will be easier as they're naturally more playful. When they are focused on the game they'll forget your legs are under the blanket and start using you to ambush the toy from behind. You just need to keep all of your movements slow and relaxed, keep your voice low and your gaze soft.

It took a while for my outdoor cats to get used to their new cat house too. Does it have a cat-flap style door or one that is open all the time? The cat-flap style ones keep them warmer, but it can take a while before they understand how to open it. Try propping it open so they can take a look inside.

Another thing that might work is switching the blanket they are currently sleeping on inside the cat house and giving them another one outside. Cats are comforted by familiar smells. You want to get their smell mingled with yours and the smell of the new cat house, so switch the blanket in their box, the one in the cat house and the one you cover your legs with around every few days so they all start to smell the same.

I have a very friendly feral cat that I TNR's about 5 years ago. I wanted to bring him indoors, but he tries to kill my cats whenever he sees them so that wasn't possible. He is super friendly and affectionate now though, just through daily feeding and petting. He's moved in with the people who live in the house next to mine. They have a cat too, but for some reason Fergus tolerates him a lot better than he tolerates my cats.
Thank you for all of your advice. I’ve tried the things you’ve suggested, except for hiding my legs - so I’ll start doing that. They haven’t shown much interest in the wand toys I got so far - it’s interesting, because the very first time I pulled the first wand toy out, they were fascinated. But then their interest faded.

It’s also tough that they’re now spending less time in our backyard - they go back and forth between this one and the neighbors’. I haven’t seen mom in almost a week, which I’m really hoping doesn’t mean she’s had another litter somewhere. I’ll make my first attempt at trapping this Saturday, but they could only give me one box trap so we’ll see how that goes! I was hoping for a drop trap, but no luck.

Attaching a picture of the house. I thought they would like it more because they’re able to hide in it, and it’s supposed to be insulated; but maybe that’s why they don’t like it, since they can see everything and run easily if they’re in the box (the one under the table is where they’d been sleeping over the last few weeks). You can see the background that the neighbor’s yard has a bunch of old appliances covered with a tarp, which was their hiding place when they first saw me - and I think maybe before they started coming over to our side. I’m guessing it’s warmer under there.
IMG_2149.jpeg
 

Norachan

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It is possible that the mother cat is in heat and has gone off to mate again. Was she visibly pregnant when you last saw her? The kittens look old enough to be independent of their mother now, which is probably why she's left.

I think you should keep feeding them, but start getting them used to the trap so you can get the kittens fixed too. They'll be old enough to mate very soon. Set the trap up with the door wired open, so it won't close accidentally. You should put it in the place you usually feed them and leave it there, so they start to see it as just another piece of garden furniture. Start by feeding them a few feet away from the opening of the trap, then gradually move the food until they are comfortable going all the way into the trap. Most young cats will do this fairly willingly, but skittish or trap wary cats can take weeks to coax inside.

Are the TNR group going to help you get them spayed and neutered, or will you be taking them to your own vet for that? If you need to make some appointments for surgeries do that now, so you can start trapping and getting them fixed.

I've got lots of experience in that, so I can give you some trapping tips if you need them.

:heartshape:
 
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Sandra-08

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It is possible that the mother cat is in heat and has gone off to mate again. Was she visibly pregnant when you last saw her? The kittens look old enough to be independent of their mother now, which is probably why she's left.

I think you should keep feeding them, but start getting them used to the trap so you can get the kittens fixed too. They'll be old enough to mate very soon. Set the trap up with the door wired open, so it won't close accidentally. You should put it in the place you usually feed them and leave it there, so they start to see it as just another piece of garden furniture. Start by feeding them a few feet away from the opening of the trap, then gradually move the food until they are comfortable going all the way into the trap. Most young cats will do this fairly willingly, but skittish or trap wary cats can take weeks to coax inside.

Are the TNR group going to help you get them spayed and neutered, or will you be taking them to your own vet for that? If you need to make some appointments for surgeries do that now, so you can start trapping and getting them fixed.

I've got lots of experience in that, so I can give you some trapping tips if you need them.

:heartshape:
Mom was not visibly pregnant - at least I wouldn’t have noticed. I did also see the kittens try to nurse a few times (I doubt she had any milk left), and she happily let them - not sure if she would have if she were pregnant?

For their surgery, I’m taking them to the ACC. I would much rather trap them the way you’re describing, but the ACC rules seem unclear: when I picked up the trap, they told me I could bring in several cats at once if I manage to get them. But when trying to confirm by email, I was told only one cat is allowed per person (per appointment/day). So I have standing appointments on Saturdays until they’re all done. I’m not happy about that to be honest, but so far I’ve had no luck finding another place or organization that would be able to offer a better solution. I have to say, I’m a little tempted to try your way and show up with three kittens at the ACC, to see if they will take them all…🫣 of course the downside would be if they don’t take them, I’d have to set them free and trapping them again would be that much harder. If even possible.
 

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I did also see the kittens try to nurse a few times (I doubt she had any milk left), and she happily let them - not sure if she would have if she were pregnant?
I've known mother cats with 2 to 3 week old litters allow their 6 month old kittens to nurse, so allowing the older kittens to nurse doesn't necessarily mean she's not pregnant or doesn't have a younger litter somewhere else. Fingers crossed that she hasn't given birth again. I'm sure you would have noticed her getting rounder if she had been pregnant. Has she shown up again recently?
So I have standing appointments on Saturdays until they’re all done.
That sounds good! I had a regular spay spot booked for ever Thursday morning for the whole of 2013. Had to cancel a few because I couldn't trap anyone, but I managed to get the whole colony fixed before the end of the year.
I’d have to set them free and trapping them again would be that much harder. If even possible.
You just have one humane trap, is that right? Unless the kittens are really tiny or you have a drop trap it's better to aim for trapping them one at a time. Just set the trap up so they get used to seeing it and eating next to it.

Some cats are very difficult to trap a second time, but I have had young male cats repeatedly allow themselves to be trapped because they knew I would release them again. I guess being neutered didn't bother them that much and the temptation of warm mackerel was just too much to resist.

:lol:
 
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Sandra-08

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I've known mother cats with 2 to 3 week old litters allow their 6 month old kittens to nurse, so allowing the older kittens to nurse doesn't necessarily mean she's not pregnant or doesn't have a younger litter somewhere else. Fingers crossed that she hasn't given birth again. I'm sure you would have noticed her getting rounder if she had been pregnant. Has she shown up again recently?


That sounds good! I had a regular spay spot booked for ever Thursday morning for the whole of 2013. Had to cancel a few because I couldn't trap anyone, but I managed to get the whole colony fixed before the end of the year.


You just have one humane trap, is that right? Unless the kittens are really tiny or you have a drop trap it's better to aim for trapping them one at a time. Just set the trap up so they get used to seeing it and eating next to it.

Some cats are very difficult to trap a second time, but I have had young male cats repeatedly allow themselves to be trapped because they knew I would release them again. I guess being neutered didn't bother them that much and the temptation of warm mackerel was just too much to resist.

:lol:
Hi all,
I'm coming back here with updates and more need for advice :)
Updates:

- I've made lots of progress with the kittens recently: the striped one is still most skittish, but the other two have calmed down to the point where I can put my hand on their bowl and they'll stay... aaaand: I even got to pet those two without them running off 😱

- Mama has barely been around - I saw her a few days ago, but just for a moment. Trapping her will be the toughest part, now that she's left these three babies. I also don't know if she might have another litter somewhere already, so not sure if I should try to trap her right now. I don't know where she usually hides out.

- I managed to work out the fostering situation with my husband, and he's okay with taking them in (while having them in a crate/tent) just until they're socialized enough to get them adopted: basically, when it's easy to pet and pick them up.

- I was able to trap the black kitten (this morning) and drop off for TNR; however, when I told the ACC that my husband agreed to fostering, she was very clear in emphasizing that the ACC's TNR program is only available for TNR, and fostering is out of the question. Which means I would have to figure out another way to get them spayed and vaccinated in order to foster them.
So given that I don't have a space for the kittens ready in my apartment yet (just ordered a tent this morning), I did leave the first kitten with them and now am back to square one: figuring out what to do.

Questions:
- Given all of this back story (their age, going from running and hiding from me, to being able to pet them in about a month): what would you do in my situation?

- Am I on the right track in thinking that once they're comfortable being pet and picked up, they can be adopted?

- Do you know who might be able to help with getting them spayed and vaccinated if I'm planning on fostering, but not keeping them?

My biggest worries right now are:
1. Not taking the kittens in, but getting them used to being fed, then moving away one day and not being able to take care of them anymore.

2. Taking them in for socialization, but not being successful, then having to keep the skittish one myself because he still doesn't like being around humans but also can't live outdoors anymore because I messed with the skills they were developing while living outside. (This is something a rescuer at the ACC brought up, and I hadn't considered at all)

Your feedback is so very much appreciated! Also, if this is easier discussed on a phone/Zoom call, I'd be very grateful for that as well. Whatever is easiest will be really helpful! Thank you all so much.
 

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Hi S Sandra-08

Congratulations on your progress! You've done a great job getting the kittens used to your presence and I'm really happy to hear that the first one has gone to be spayed/neutered.

So, the ACC will cover the costs of spaying and neutering feral cats that can be TNR'd, but not cats that are going to foster homes, is that right?

It sounds as if they have limited funds and are worried that other rescues will take advantage of their free spay and neuter service. I think that. what ever happens to these kittens, making sure they are all fixed is the most important thing. As you don't have any foster homes lined up for them and as you are still unsure about whether you will be able to foster them all yourself you should consider these kittens to be in need of TNR.

Once they've been fixed, if they do end up with foster or forever homes in the future, it will be an added bonus. If something happens now and the kittens move away (Which isn't likely but also not unheard of) at least you will know they've been fixed. They won't be adding to the feral cat population or at all the risks un-spayed/neutered cats are at.

What I would do is get them fixed with the ACC, continue with the socializing and regular feeding and at the same time look around for any rescues in your area who will help you find foster homes. If the kittens have already been fixed it will be one less cost that other rescues have to cover, and so mean that your kittens have a better chance of being accepted. Be prepared to look out of state too. Some facilities have more resources than others, some privately run shelters are more willing to accept kittens or young cats for adoption even if they have to be transported from one state to another.

I've adopted litters of kittens out through rescues in Tokyo and Kofu, both cities quite a long way from me. In both cases I'd already had initial blood tests and vaccines done, even though the kittens were still a bit too young to spay/neuter. But just doing the initial vet visits meant that the rescues were more willing to accept the kittens and one of them only charged me 50% of their usual surrender fee because I was able to provide receipts and vaccine certificates.

Kittens do learn feral survival skills outside. This usually consists of learning where to shelter, how to find food and what to avoid. Hunting skills come pretty easily to cats. I'm sure that the mother cat will have brought these kittens mice and birds to eat, so they will know what their prey is and how to hunt and kill it. Avoiding dangers are also important, but you need to also think about how they know what to avoid. So a kitten that has witnessed one of it's siblings get hit by a car will know to avoid traffic and one that has been chased and narrowly avoided being bitten by a dog will learn to avoid areas where dogs live. These are pretty hard won skills. You need to think about whether it's worth leaving the kittens outside to take these risks. Most outdoor cats die before their first birthday and the average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is less than 5 years. (Compared to around 15 years old for an indoor cat) In my opinion it's not worth two kittens losing their lives so that one learns how to survive. They'd be much better of either indoors, or as enclosure only cats.

Please keep us updated and let us know how things go. Feel free to PM me if you prefer. I doubt we'll be able to speak on the phone or via Zoom as I'm in a completely different time zone to you
 
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Sandra-08

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Hey everybody,
It's been forever! So much has happened since my last update:
- The kittens started to let me pet them while eating (out in the yard), but were still very skittish.
- When I finally figured out how I could take them inside (in a way that my husband was okay with), I trapped the first baby - but when I dropped her off with the NY ACC, thinking I had the good news that I could foster, I was told that they only do TNR; so if I wanted to foster, I'd have to take her with me.
I didn't have anything ready for her yet (no litter box, bed, etc) so I had no choice but to let them spay and ear tip her.
I used the time she was with them to set up a tent with a little home for her in our living room. And even though they told me TNR only, I took her in, and guys... it was the best decision I could have ever made. The little baby was so scared she was hiding under the card board I'd laid out in her tent - but the second I picked her up, she started purring, looking deep into my eyes, and melting into my arms. She's the sweetest, cuddliest cat in the world, and it took her less than a week to get comfortable.

- Unfortunately, my husband's asthma got so bad while we had her inside, that he had to wear a mask sometimes. So it was clear we couldn't keep her, and with a broken heart, I gave her to a good friend.. who is taking great care of her. I still get to visit her sometimes ❤

- The other two kittens were still in the yard, and I found them a foster/adopter as well. After I trapped them, my suspicions were confirmed - these two (boys) were much more defensive than their sister. So their dad and I had to come up with strategies to slowly get them to relax. They're doing well, as they went from very feral hissing and scratching - to coming over for food, letting him pet them, and even purring sometimes while cuddling up against his legs.

Now here's my question: These two, Sammy and Solly, are still not letting him pick them up. Which is obviously necessary for them to get their surgery and vaccines. Their dad has been trying to start by petting their stomachs, and very gently almost lifting them while they eat. They're also still somewhat skittish, and keeping a bit of a distance even from him. So even though they've come a long way, they're not fully relaxed yet. Chances are they'll always be weary of other people, but we would like for them to bond with their owner as much as possible - and, for health reasons, need them to get comfortable with being picked up.

What other advice do you have to help them get fully socialized? Any tips, tricks, exercises that work well at this stage?

- As for mama: she's been TNRd and is doing well. The sad part is that she was pregnant and they spay aborted - I wish I could have avoided that, but unfortunately it was out of my control. She's happy and healthy now, waiting for me to give her breakfast every morning. I feel like she kind of wants to trust me, so when the weather is nicer, I might spend a bit of time out there with her to see if I can win her over. But I'm relieved she's doing well and is very healthy.

Photos to come :)
 
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