First days with a feral kitten

wewerecreatures

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Long story short my girlfriend and I now have a 5 week feral kitten. We’ve read and watched everything under the sun about socializing, but no one seems to mention what to do for the first 1-3 days. We have it in a bathroom for now with a nice bed of towels, a litter box, and water. Should we just let it chill for a day by itself to let it acclimate a little? Go in every few hours and see if it will eat? Any and all help appreciated!
 
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wewerecreatures

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I should also note that it looks very clean and healthy.
 

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Long story short my girlfriend and I now have a 5 week feral kitten. We’ve read and watched everything under the sun about socializing, but no one seems to mention what to do for the first 1-3 days. We have it in a bathroom for now with a nice bed of towels, a litter box, and water. Should we just let it chill for a day by itself to let it acclimate a little? Go in every few hours and see if it will eat? Any and all help appreciated!
:hellosmiley: and welcome to TCS!

Great to have you with us and thank you for taking in this kitty and for giving him/her a warm and fur-ever loving home and a safe sanctuary to live out her life :clapcat:

Since it's a very young kitten and also very new to your home, it's good that you leave her in a quiet place to calm down. Socializing this kitten is pretty easy as it is still very young. It's good to start training while it is young.

As it is in the bathroom, leave a night light on in the night. As for approaching or entering the bathroom, it is good to move quietly and calling out it's name lovingly and as you approach the bathroom, go on your knees and keep yourself low as this will make you as small as possible and not look intimidating to the kitten.

She might dash out of the bathroom so open the slowly and make sure she's not behind the door. Once the door is ajar, sit on the floor and call out her name softly and do not approach her as yet. Observe how she behaves when she sees you. Only advance slowly if you think she is not afraid of you. Have some food or kitten snacks on hand and try to feed her as feeding her by hand may lure her out of hiding if she is hiding.
You may also like to play some soft classical music for her and also you may read a book softly to her while you are sitting a distance from her. Have a toy or a cat wand ready just to see if she's interacting with the toy. If she feels uneasy, just stop and keep talking to her. Also give her slow eye blinks and avoid direct eye contact. See if she slow eye blink back at you. If she does, it's a good sign. If she doesn't, try again.

Visit her frequently so that she knows that you are the only one or your partner she'll see for the time being. Also leave some clean, unwashed, non perfumed garments with her. This is to make her get use to your scents.

As this is only the 3rd day, do not expect too much. It takes lots of time, lots of patience and lots of love and routine to win her heart. But don't be disheartened if somewhere along fails. Also fall back a little as it is 2 steps forward and 1 step back.

I believe you'll conquer each other pretty fast as I mentioned earlier, it's very much easier with a kitten. Slowly once she gains confidence and trust, let her out of the bathroom at her own time and still keep the bathroom. as her safe room for her to retreat to if she's afraid. Remember, do not betray her trust.

The more interaction, the faster the socialization. Make sure the litter box is always cleaned. Best is to give her wet food (canned food) meant for kittens as wet food is full of nutrients and proteins to aid their growing year. Or you can get food labeled 'For All Life Stages'. This one you can feed her throughout and not need to change to adult food when she matures.

It's still an early stage now, feel free to ask any questions you have. There are no such thing as a stupid question here. Many other members may come and fill in with their experience so don't worry, you are in safe hands.

Do post photos of this kitten for us to see! :camera::camera::camera:
 
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wewerecreatures

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So this is actually night 1 and it’s definitely terrified. For a few hours just sat there (we locked it in our glass footed shower with litter and water), but eventually started roaming around a little.

my concern is that it will neither let me touch it nor eat the food if it’s never had real food before.
 

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5 weeks old is the perfect age to get her used to you. She is terrified now, but you should spend as much time as possible with her, convincing her that you are her friends. There are some great suggestions on these videos.



If you can get some Gerber's Stage 2 baby food, plain meat without any onions, garlic etc try feeding her that. Warm the food up just a little and offer her some on a long handled spoon. It's soft enough for kittens to lick and most cats adore the taste of it. The videos above show you how to wrap the kittens up and hold them while you pet or offer food.

She's looking for someone to take over her mom's role, so she should warm up to you very quickly.

Good luck, and thank you for helping her.
 
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wewerecreatures

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Update! It has gone from sitting in a corner staring at the wall to sleeping in its (clean) litterbox. Is this a sign of improvement?!
 

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Yes! Cats hide/sleep in their litter boxes as a safe/comfortable place. It's good for every cat to have a safe place.
 
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wewerecreatures

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That's great to hear. Now the only problem I have is that I need to move it from my bathroom into a crate in my office. The bathroom was an emergency situation as we only have one. My fear is that just as it started to settle in a bit we're going to terrify it again and it still hasn't eaten since we brought it in last night around 5pm EST. Would this be a good opportunity to try to towel wrap/purrito it? Or should I just let it go into a box and move it gently so as not to interrupt the progress we've made. I'm actually hoping it eats before this evening, id feel much better about the move if so
 

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To be honest, you are making progress if the kitten has already decided that the litter box is a safe area. You have only just adopted this kitten and it is a process to acclimate them to their new home. You might be surprised at how quickly this progresses as the days go on. I might try to just move the kitten to the crate initially. If you can get to a store, you might try a few different brands or flavors of wet food and see if you can get the Gerber's.
 

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Update! It has gone from sitting in a corner staring at the wall to sleeping in its (clean) litterbox. Is this a sign of improvement?!
That's a good sign. Before you move her to the office, get a towel or two and place it where she is, not in the litter box, to get her scents on it and after doing that and having her scents on the towels, bring the towels to the new room and just leave it around to transfer her scents over.

After that, place the towels where you want the new place for her to be so that when she moves to the new room, her familiar scents are there and she won't freak out so easily. Also, you can get a cardboard box and lay it on it's side foe her as an additional safe place.

She may not eat when you are around. Just leave sone food and water with her and once she sees no one I around, she'll eat when she's hungry enough to eat.
Once you have moved her to the office, try to hand feed her or spoon feed her and let her associate you with food.

I think you are doing great. Keep it up and don't forget to update us of the progress.
 
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wewerecreatures

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Update 2! We made it into a little purrito, which was understandably alarming at first but once wrapped up it calmed down pretty quick. After 15 minutes or so we were able to get it to eat a bit of KMR stage 2 mixed with water and some gerber. I was initially really worried that it wouldn’t eat and now feel much better. Also set a vet appointment for Friday afternoon and loaded up on supplies, namely a lush kitty carrier to walk it over to the vet. Hoping in 3 days it’s quite a bit more calm and I can coax it around.

I do have a question for y’all. It seems to cry quite a bit when we aren’t in the room but stops when we go in and sit or lay down near the crate (did the same when it was in the shower). Is it quiet because it’s hiding from us or because it’s lonely / anxious and having someone around helps?

Thanks for the help so far and let’s see if we can get this little thing over the finish line!
 

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Awesome update!

This kitten is really young to be away from her mother, so you are going to have to take over the role of parent now. Wrapping in a purito is really soothing for kittens, as is holding the kitten on her back. (Although you shouldn't try this with an older kitten, 4 months is about the oldest that little trick works)

I recommend you wrap the kitten up and offer some wet food from a spoon every hour or so during the day. You can worry about setting a proper feeding schedule later, but right now she's probably a bit dehydrated and hungry, so learning that you are her source of food is very important. With older feral cats it helps to leave them in peace to eat sometimes, but with a young kitten teaching her that you = food+love is crucial.

Yes, have her in a crate in your office. I always have my feral rescues in my office with me. They need to get used to the sound of your voice and your smell, so having her in the same room as you whenever possible is a good idea.

At this young age it's OK to scruff her gently, then pick her up and wrap her in something. You shouldn't scruff older cats, but kittens still relax when you hold them at the back of the neck.

The more handling and positive human contact the better at this point.
 

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I do have a question for y’all. It seems to cry quite a bit when we aren’t in the room but stops when we go in and sit or lay down near the crate (did the same when it was in the shower). Is it quiet because it’s hiding from us or because it’s lonely / anxious and having someone around helps?
That's great to hear! Looks like she's kinda seeking attention from you guys meaning that she's not afraid that much as she calms down when you are in the room.

Do visit her more often and start playing with her and let her out of the carrier so she can explore the room but keep dangerous things away like medicine and toxic chemicals and certain type of plants.
 
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wewerecreatures

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Norachan Norachan it gets quite agitated during the purrito'ing and then hides again afterwards so - and correct me if I'm wrong - I fear that too much handling right now may be detrimental to our bonding.

tabbytom tabbytom we cleared the office of everything but my desk so no place to hide but the crate as its the current safe space. going to try the wand tomorrow and see if it wants to be a little playful.
 

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we cleared the office of everything but my desk so no place to hide but the crate as its the current safe space. going to try the wand tomorrow and see if it wants to be a little playful.
Ok, just take it slow, step by step. Always remember, it's all on the kitten's timing and don't rush her. Let her do all the exploration at her own time.
 

Norachan

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it gets quite agitated during the purrito'ing and then hides again afterwards so - and correct me if I'm wrong - I fear that too much handling right now may be detrimental to our bonding.
It can take them a while to get used to the purrito. Make sure you always do something positive when you wrap them, such as gently grooming her with a soft toothbrush or offering wet food.

Take a look at Kitten Lady or Flatbush Cats on Youtube, they have some great videos about feral kittens
 
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Update 3: we left some food in its crate overnight just to make sure it ate and woke up to a clean plate and a nice poo in the litter box, progress achieved!

Originally we had given it a box with the face cut out and a gently heated bed as a place to feel safe, but it decided to hide behind it so this morning we took it out. We spot cleaned the crate and then tried to get it to play with a wand. It wasn't into playing but did approach my girlfriend and sniff her knee, so exciting! Wasnt in the mood to eat but will try again later today.

Right now it's just hanging out in its litter tray (guess it feels safe there) while I work and hasn't cried since I sat down.
 
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Update 4: This afternoon we got it to eat little baby food, and it approached my girlfriend and sniffed her hand, twice! Seems to be spending more time relaxing on its bed, took a nice nap, and even seemed to have a dream. It's now sleeping on its side, which makes me think it is feeling a bit more secure. This evening we are now onto wet canned food and let us both pet it, albeit while seriously distracted by the food. However, after eating it was crying and sounded distressed, really trying to escape the crate. That only lasted for a few minutes and then it passed out hard but was concerning.
 

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If she comes to sniff your hand make a soft fist and gently brush it against her head. Cats see an outstretched hand as claws coming to get them, but a soft fist resembles a head coming down to give them a friendly head bump.

:catlove:
 

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Update 4: This afternoon we got it to eat little baby food, and it approached my girlfriend and sniffed her hand, twice! Seems to be spending more time relaxing on its bed, took a nice nap, and even seemed to have a dream. It's now sleeping on its side, which makes me think it is feeling a bit more secure. This evening we are now onto wet canned food and let us both pet it, albeit while seriously distracted by the food. However, after eating it was crying and sounded distressed, really trying to escape the crate. That only lasted for a few minutes and then it passed out hard but was concerning.
You re doing great and it seems like the progress is going well.

As for the last bit of after eating and crying and sounded distress and trying to escape the crate, is she still being kept in the crate after moving to the new room?
Maybe you can try letting her out by just leaving the crate's door opened. It could be that she wants to explore the room. She is still young and therefore after meals she take her beauty sleep.

But with any sound of constant meowing or crying, it's best to observe that behavior to rule out any heath issues.
 
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