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Feral Kittens Not Responding To Taming Attempts

Discussion in 'Caring for Strays and Ferals' started by ecarus, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. ecarus

    ecarus Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Oct 11, 2018
    Sevilla, Spain
    Hello all!

    I have read several posts on feral cat taming, but none seem to apply completely to what I'm going through, I'm really desperate right now, hope you can help.

    About a week ago we caught 2 kittens that were living in my neighbor's house with her mom. The neighbor had called pest control (I live in Spain, don't know the exact translation of this agency) to take them away, which -at least in Spain- is a death sentence. They take them to cages full of parasites and infections and if they are not adopted in 2 or 3 days they are killed.
    Anyways, we tried to get the mom too, but she ran away and haven't seen her since, so now I have two very scared kittens with me. They are really aggressive (ie. scared), and they will bolt and hide as soon as I walk in, they barely tolerate my presence when I feed them, and they become very hissy and anxious, even shaking, when I'm near.

    I have followed the advice I have read here: gave them their private place, didn't disturb them for several days, haven't tried to pick them up or touch them, feed them and talk to them at the same time every day, etc... But they just won't make any progress whatsoever. They become very agitated when I'm near. It's not that they become nervous, they become almost spastic, hiding and hissing even when I'm not near. They only come out to eat, and they growl the whole time they're eating, even if I'm far. When I try to touch them lightly they jump off and run away.

    I'm really at a loss here, nothing seems to work, and I can't keep them here forever, but nobody will want to adopt them if they scratch and hiss and run away.

    Any help will be gladly appreciated (sorry for the long post).
    Panther’s Mom purraised this.

  2. Panther’s Mom

    Panther’s Mom Panther’s Mom Kitten

    Hello! Here’s a link I found that might be helpful to you & your kittens. I am new at all of this & found this article to be very informative.


    Best wishes & let me know if you can access the site, as I’m slightly computer illiterate:purr:
    catsknowme and ecarus purraised this.

  3. shadowsrescue

    shadowsrescue Advisor Staff Member Advisor

    Apr 27, 2011
    Here is a great video series that shows many good tips for working with feral kittens. It's a 3 part series that starts with the rescue of the kittens and then moves forward to socialization.

    Tough Love Video - UrbanCatLeague

    Also it might help if you keep them in a large dog cage or tiered cat cage. It would make it easier to round them up.
    Panther’s Mom and catsknowme purraised this.

  4. lutece

    lutece TCS Member Top Cat

    Mar 8, 2018
    How old are the kittens?
    catsknowme purraised this.

  5. Shane Kent

    Shane Kent Crazy Cat Gentleman Top Cat

    May 9, 2016
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    A couple of weeks is not very long. Nobody can tell you for certain how long it will take to tame them. There are a lot of factors such as the age of the cat. If they were abused by people it will make it more difficult to gain their trust and take longer.

    I fed these two for several months outside at the building I work at. Even after feeding them for several months I could not get near them.

    The male cat was somewhat tame after a few weeks inside and his sister was closer to a month and a half. It was worth the time.

    Take your time and post your progress and photos back to this thread. At times it may feel like one step forward and two steps back but they are living creatures and like people they can be hard to predict. Be patient, in the end it is well worth it.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Panther’s Mom, catsknowme, kittypa and 2 others purraised this.

  6. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

    Mar 26, 2017
    Northern NY
    I tamed Demi in 3 days by petting him with a long-handled duster. Maybe try spending more time with them instead of less. Talking to them constantly and teaching them words also helped. :)
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Panther’s Mom and catsknowme purraised this.

  7. Shane Kent

    Shane Kent Crazy Cat Gentleman Top Cat

    May 9, 2016
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    I think Kitty might have clawed your face off, seriously. You have seen photos of of my work, we have multiple big fork lifts. When they lift all that steel scaffolding they make a lot of noise and look very intimidating. We can seem like a smaller version of those. I think my vet would agree, Kitty was very feral. Kitty was rightfully scared by her surroundings during the day as cats are extremely smart. It all depends on the individual cat, don't ever expect to rush it and you shouldn't expect others to.

    Edit : Remember these cats are not very familiar with the person and we don't know the true history of the cats.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Panther’s Mom, catsknowme and maggiedemi purraised this.

  8. fionasmom

    fionasmom TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Jun 21, 2014
    Los Angeles
    I have been in this situation several times and it can take a while depending on the nature of the kitten. You are probably wanting a specific example of length of time....for me it was trapped and vetted on November 11 (years ago), lived in large bathroom until March 6 of the next year. Don't give up, especially at the beginning when it seems so difficult.
    Panther’s Mom, catsknowme and Shane Kent purraised this.

  9. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

    Mar 26, 2017
    Northern NY
    I probably shouldn't have said "in their face". I didn't mean actually in their face, I meant spent a lot of time with them. Thanks Shane, I'll try to edit it. :)
    Panther’s Mom, catsknowme and Shane Kent purraised this.

  10. kittypa

    kittypa TCS Member Top Cat

    Jul 29, 2016
    Southern California
    It took my Little Figgy 10 days before she let me pet her. Four days before she would eat with me in the room. She was about 6 weeks old. I think it was a mistake to leave them alone for a few days. My philosophy is spend as much time as you can with them. Just be there. Bring a book or a lap top computer and just sit there and do your thing. Talk to them. It just takes time and the more time you spend the sooner they will come around. Having two may take a little longer than one.

  11. catsknowme

    catsknowme TCS Member Top Cat

    Jan 2, 2005
    Eastern California,USA
    The large crate has always worked best for me. I create a "loft" with a bed on the top floor and a "cave" underneath and I keep the crate in the areas most active. This set-up allows the kitties the option of establishing the cave as "base camp" where they feel safe. They then expand their territory inside the crate and when they graduate, I move the crate into the bathroom (or other small room) and leave the crate door open while I am in there with them. For particularly frightened cases, I keep the crate covered at first and then expose one side of the "windows" for them to become accustomed to the sounds, sights and scents without being directly confronted at the main entrance. Patience is key here. Bless you rescuing those babies. And welcome to TCS! :welcomesign: :happycat:
    Panther’s Mom and maggiedemi purraised this.

  12. bigbadbass

    bigbadbass TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Dec 14, 2016
    Long Island, New York
    Though different circumstances ...if i remember correctly, it took me months to cement my relationship with (then) 3 year old Bug. He transformed from aggressive, wandering, starving outdoor stray to indoor, comfortable, "retired" house kitty. He's the leader of the pack here...6 cats in household. A long, difficult road indeed.

    You've got to allow plenty of time (on their schedule, not yours) for integration into a household. The fact your guys are young is of great advantage.
    Panther’s Mom, catsknowme and maggiedemi purraised this.

  13. Neltrac

    Neltrac TCS Member Kitten

    Oct 15, 2018
    Separate them in their own cages im seperate rooms if possible. It sounds mean but they do better (tame faster) alone. They dont need you because they have eachother. You want them to imprint on you if possible. You might notice they dont cry for you but when the sibling is missing they will cry for it. You want the kitten to cry for you so seperate first. Theres a good video series on youtube about taming a kitten mamed Doormouse (sp?). Look it up. Lots of great ideas and tricks. I love her "social box" idea. Have them near you, used to your sights, sounds & movements through the day. Totally desensitize them to it. Stop and pet... with a glove at first if necessary... throughout the day. Handling is KEY.
    surya, Panther’s Mom and catsknowme purraised this.

  14. jcat

    jcat Mo(w)gli's can opener Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 13, 2003
    Mo(w)gli Monster's Lair
    I absolutely agree with caging them so they can't persist in disappearing into hiding places.

    How old are the kittens? The younger they are, the easier it is to tame them. Not touching them isn't the way to go about it if they're under say, about 5 or 6 months. Young feral kittens should be picked up and held as much as possible. Wear gloves, protect your arms with a heavy sweatshirt or jacket, and wrap them in a towel. Talk soothingly and give treats.

    Slightly older kittens - 5 or 6 months - need to be encouraged to play with interactive toys and to take treats. Try touching them while they're eating, gradually increasing the number of light strokes. Once the ice is broken, you can move on to picking them up, putting them down immediately, holding them for a minute, etc..

    We don't separate feral kittens while taming them, because once the first one can be handled, the others quickly follow suit.

    Basically, you give feral cats lots of time and space to adjust to humans, but force yourself on feral kittens.

  15. Shane Kent

    Shane Kent Crazy Cat Gentleman Top Cat

    May 9, 2016
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    @ecarus How are you and the kittens doing? Hope things are going well.
    maggiedemi purraised this.

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