Fostering a momma cat and her 5 kittens for the first time!

emocatowner

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Heyaz, you all have been very helpful with my pregnant rescue last time, so I am curious about your advice on this too! Caring for a neonate kitten has taught us that we do have the surplus to help, so we offered to foster with the shelter we got the gals from. We didn't think it would happen this fast, but we got a call of "please take momma and kittens, else they get put to sleep", so here we are!

I've set them up in the kitchen for now, in a playpen, with a litter box, water, wet+dry food, and a blanket that they have been sleeping on before they were trapped, with a Feliway dispenser.
Momma seems quite feral and agitated. I understand she's about 2 years old. Previous litter was eaten by foxes. We were told both her and kittens are likely a bit malnourished.
2 of the kittens were quite chill and devoured half a pouch of Hill's kitten. They weigh 446g and 432g.
3rd kitten was very active and agitated, tried weighing him but he went running, and actually jumped off the counter, so I just put him in the playpen without a thorough inspection.
There are 2 more kittens that are getting trapped now.

The plan is to give them as much kitten food as they want, change the water and scoop the litter several times a day, socialize the kittens and see what we can do with the momma, then get them spayed/neutered + vaccinated, and try to find them a good home, with the help of the rescue.

Can you help me figure out how old they are? And any tips are welcomed, about my setup or anything else!
 

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Kwik

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Hi-thats wonderful,great going... so happy you have helped this lol mama & her babies
I do hope it's okay to provide a link here,it may help you to determine an approximate age
How Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Progression: At-a-Glance

Pretty hard to tell by the photos though it's easy to see their adorableness❤

Playpen looks great but it might be better to put it in a more secluded area,perhaps a bedroom where it will help Mama to relax more and close the door to the room?
It's pretty overwhelming for any outside cat to suddenly be in unfamiliar territory plus indoors as well-so a smaller,quieter space is always better especially for a Mama
 

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Both kittens weigh just under a pound and have teeth, which would normally mean they are about 4 weeks old, but from your description they may be 5 weeks — definitely still need mom!

Hopefully, mom will calm down soon when she realizes you are not a threat to her or her babies!

Thank you for fostering and keep us posted!
 

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Both kittens weigh just under a pound and have teeth, which would normally mean they are about 4 weeks old, but from your description they may be 5 weeks — definitely still need mom!

Hopefully, mom will calm down soon when she realizes you are not a threat to her or her babies!

Thank you for fostering and keep us posted!
I was thinking " how'd she know how much they weigh "? Suddenly I realized how I just skipped over the ",grams" as I'm terrible at conversion to ounces,rofl 👍
 
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emocatowner

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Thank you both!

Kwik Kwik We were a bit torn as to which room to pick, though kitchen seemed like the best option. Most of our meals are the "throw in the oven and fetch later" kind, and we are willing to eat in another room to keep her for getting too stressed. Doors will stay closed, so our resident cats can't go in.
The problem with all other rooms is they are harder to disinfect, in case the kittens have any illnesses or fleas, and our resident girls love being in there. They've already been through a lot, so I'd rather not disrupt them too much if possible (see previous thread for their story)
But we are willing to move them if the kitchen isn't working out.

Sarthur2 Sarthur2 Glad to have you along for this ride as well! It really helps to talk these things out, so I will definitely post updates!

We now have a 4th kitten as well, only 358g (12.6 ounces / 0.79 pounds). I think he had a bit of wet food too, and now they're all snuggled up to momma in the back of the playpen.
Momma hasn't eaten anything yet, but she stopped trying desperately to escape.

One last kitten to go, hopefully that one gets trapped soon too. Apparently all the cats in the area are now on very high alert.
 

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Thank you both!

Kwik Kwik We were a bit torn as to which room to pick, though kitchen seemed like the best option. Most of our meals are the "throw in the oven and fetch later" kind, and we are willing to eat in another room to keep her for getting too stressed. Doors will stay closed, so our resident cats can't go in.
The problem with all other rooms is they are harder to disinfect, in case the kittens have any illnesses or fleas, and our resident girls love being in there. They've already been through a lot, so I'd rather not disrupt them too much if possible (see previous thread for their story)
But we are willing to move them if the kitchen isn't working out.

Sarthur2 Sarthur2 Glad to have you along for this ride as well! It really helps to talk these things out, so I will definitely post updates!

We now have a 4th kitten as well, only 358g (12.6 ounces / 0.79 pounds). I think he had a bit of wet food too, and now they're all snuggled up to momma in the back of the playpen.
Momma hasn't eaten anything yet, but she stopped trying desperately to escape.

One last kitten to go, hopefully that one gets trapped soon too. Apparently all the cats in the area are now on very high alert.
I see,I understand your reasoning -how about a bathroom,is that an option? I'm just thinking of how many times I'm in & out of the kitchen all day and I don't eat in there either.... so you know what works best for you and I'm sure glad they're at your house,whichever room you do decide!

I'll have to read the story,thanks for sharing that link👍
 
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emocatowner

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Kwik Kwik yea I'm starting to realize just how often we're going in the kitchen, and I dread starting the dishwasher.
I'm extra worried about the bathroom because we tend to take long showers, so it gets quite damp in there, plus there is a bit of mold we're working on eliminating.
I am reconsidering the bedroom option, though. At least until they get a bit more brave, and not let them on the bed, just in the playpen.
Or if we have them seen by a vet next week and tested, I'll be less worried about moving them to the bedroom too
Though maybe I should prepare my home office for this stuff, and I can temporarily work from another room. Or even have her in the office with me, it's probably less scary to have me sitting in a chair for hours and occasionally talking. The only worry is that there are a TON of wires and kitten hazards, plus lots of stuff that will be impossible to disinfect, but I can get started on moving some of that out of there. Plus the room has poor ventilation if I keep the doors closed.
 

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Hi again emocatowner emocatowner
Well forget tye bathroom idea,lol

The office sounded good until you mentioned all the wires and such..... I'd opt for the bedroom if you cant work that room out,when is the Vet appt?

I really like the idea of you sitting in there busy working all day,that's a fantastic socialization start and Mama will see you are no threat.... if you could just kitten proof those exposed wires it does sound really good-probably the best option

Uggh,I keep adding because you got me thinking about the poor ventilation,how so?
 
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emocatowner

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We don't have one yet, we need to coordinate with the rescue, they recommend waiting a few weeks to let her get used to things. Maybe just take her in for a spay directly once the kittens are fully weaned.

Extra complication that my resident girls have a vet appointment this week, to get their vaccines and get the 2nd one spayed. I really didn't want to foster until that was over with, but I couldn't say no to "they will die otherwise". I'm being extra paranoid with disinfecting everything, washing my hands after touching the fosters etc.
 
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emocatowner

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Regarding the office, I would have to move most of my stuff out of there, but I am becoming increasingly tempted to do so.

The main issue is that both this room and the kitchen get direct sunlight in the morning, which means temps go to above 30C (86F?). The kitchen has a big balcony door I can open to air out, plus the stove fan, and some of the windows are covered with a film, to prevent damage to appliances. With the office, I only have windows, which if I let the kittens loose, need to be locked in a mostly-closed-position. It's already a bit uncomfortable this morning, with the door between the office and the kitchen closed, so if the door between the office and the living room was also closed, it would get quite uncomfortably stuffy and warm.

Another option that the rescue suggested is to keep them on the balcony. It's closed, so not too bad. I am storing a bunch of stuff out there, but I can remove it.
The main concern is nighttime temperature, it can get as cold as 15C (59F) at night, and there's a bit of a greenhouse effect in the afternoon, when it gets close to 30C (86F). Another concern is that the resident gals love it out there! It's their favorite spot, at least for during the morning and evening.
 

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Regarding the office, I would have to move most of my stuff out of there, but I am becoming increasingly tempted to do so.

The main issue is that both this room and the kitchen get direct sunlight in the morning, which means temps go to above 30C (86F?). The kitchen has a big balcony door I can open to air out, plus the stove fan, and some of the windows are covered with a film, to prevent damage to appliances. With the office, I only have windows, which if I let the kittens loose, need to be locked in a mostly-closed-position. It's already a bit uncomfortable this morning, with the door between the office and the kitchen closed, so if the door between the office and the living room was also closed, it would get quite uncomfortably stuffy and warm.

Another option that the rescue suggested is to keep them on the balcony. It's closed, so not too bad. I am storing a bunch of stuff out there, but I can remove it.
The main concern is nighttime temperature, it can get as cold as 15C (59F) at night, and there's a bit of a greenhouse effect in the afternoon, when it gets close to 30C (86F). Another concern is that the resident gals love it out there! It's their favorite spot, at least for during the morning and evening.
Balcony? Screens? Cat escape proof?

59degees doesn't sound too cold at night when everyone is snuggled together however 86 degrees is a bit hot ( imo) for those little ones- idk,I live in Florida so that's typical daily temp and my feral would be lying in the shade panting in that temp and he's lived out there 7 yrs....I'm so happy he's inside now

Sounds like the bedroom is the best or maybe only option without losing your mind ,... I've found some natural products ( topical);for fleas that are safe for young kittens... can't think of the brand right this minute but it did a heck of a job for some little flea infested kittens I once took in( PetSmart or Petco,one of those I found it

All my cats are on Revolution Plus so I don't worry about them but having a flea infested house is not fun so check there little bodies well before bringing them in your bedroom. I think for all involved you might be best off in the bedroom and there's not anything you really need be concerned with as far as zoonotic transmission but certainly wash your hands for your other cats health,don't be paranoid,it's going to be fine.... You're a hero in my eyes and you're doing a really GREAT thing...

Don't know if you're a Believer but prayer works,God's been taking Care of me as I'm Blessed to Bless,,His Protection is the best in the universe - your in my prayers ❤
 

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I think the kitchen is fine. They need to get used to daily sounds and to people going in and out. It’s part of the socialization process. Ventilation is good, no wires, no upsetting the resident cats, easy to clean. Checks all the boxes!
 
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emocatowner

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Kwik Kwik
Thank you, I appreciate your kind words :)

Balcony is fully closed with windows, so no chance of them getting out. I do have a couple SnuggleSafe heat pads I can offer them too. I'll get it ready over the next day or two, so we can switch if needed.

I'll also start researching what flea products I can get here that are safe for kittens.

Update: the last kitten has been caught, it's getting brought in now.
 

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Kwik Kwik
Thank you, I appreciate your kind words :)

Balcony is fully closed with windows, so no chance of them getting out. I do have a couple SnuggleSafe heat pads I can offer them too. I'll get it ready over the next day or two, so we can switch if needed.

I'll also start researching what flea products I can get here that are safe for kittens.

Update: the last kitten has been caught, it's getting brought in now.
Nice set up,so then they'll be able to go in & out of the kitchen from there as well.....wish I had a balcony with windows!
Yeah Sarthur2 Sarthur2 thinks the kitchen is fine and for sure those kittens are going to be fine wherever you choose( they all will)

My only concern was Mama,you mentioned her being feral, anxious and that's all... Heck ,I've got a 7yr old adult feral( not semi- feral btw,he's an F1).in the middle of my living room in an enclosure with 4 cats & myself all around- 3 weeks in and he's come out of hiding and is lying out on an open perch,calm as a cucumber

As I said from the start,you know what works best for you- they are being prepped for eventual adoption and you've given them a great start ... Thank you,from me,Mama & all her babes ❤Yippee,you've got them all🥳
 
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emocatowner

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Ah sorry, that's 2 different balconies on different sides of the house. There's a super tiny one like 1x2 feet by the kitchen, so I can open the doors and air out, and a much bigger one on the other side next to the living room. So if I move them, they lose the kitchen.

Yea I'm also worried about the momma. My resident cat, the one in the avatar, was climbing up the walls when we tried getting close, like the first time we took her to the vet. Now she's a lot better about it, even lets us pet her head a bit, but it took a few months. I'm worried that momma will end up trying to climb stuff and knock stuff over, injuring herself. I already had a kitten fly off the counter, my first messup :(
 

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Ah sorry, that's 2 different balconies on different sides of the house. There's a super tiny one like 1x2 feet by the kitchen, so I can open the doors and air out, and a much bigger one on the other side next to the living room. So if I move them, they lose the kitchen.

Yea I'm also worried about the momma. My resident cat, the one in the avatar, was climbing up the walls when we tried getting close, like the first time we took her to the vet. Now she's a lot better about it, even lets us pet her head a bit, but it took a few months. I'm worried that momma will end up trying to climb stuff and knock stuff over, injuring herself. I already had a kitten fly off the counter, my first messup :(
Oh so your girl was a feral as well? So it's not your first rodeo with bringing an outsider in!However,not all of them climb the walls and freak out,especially a Mama who's probably more concerned with her kittens-theyre all individuals,just have to take one step at a time and see how she is responding-she sounds like a very attentive Mama,a smaller space is always better-use your judgement and it's sounds like you're considering the good of all( your residents as well) ..... your first gut feeling was the kitchen ,sometimes it's best to go with it but you know how the house is set up and where your cats frequent the most....

For myself I chose the living area because he's been rogue 7 yrs in hiding out in a parking lot and he's going to be a permanent resident here,the sights,the sounds are all strange and new so being isolated in another room he'd never want to come out to explore-this way there's daily exposure.... oh he freaked out alright,climbing,clawing,howling but now he's 2 feet in front of me napping..... They're all different,

How's she reacting now that all the kittens are with her?So after all is said and done are they going to take the Mama at the shelter for adoption or are you keeping her?



....
 
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emocatowner

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Oh so your girl was a feral as well? So it's not your first rodeo with bringing an outsider in!However,not all of them climb the walls and freak out,especially a Mama who's probably more concerned with her kittens-theyre all individuals,just have to take one step at a time and see how she is responding-she sounds like a very attentive Mama,a smaller space is always better-use your judgement and it's sounds like you're considering the good of all( your residents as well) ..... your first gut feeling was the kitchen ,sometimes it's best to go with it but you know how the house is set up and where your cats frequent the most....

For myself I chose the living area because he's been rogue 7 yrs in hiding out in a parking lot and he's going to be a permanent resident here,the sights,the sounds are all strange and new so being isolated in another room he'd never want to come out to explore-this way there's daily exposure.... oh he freaked out alright,climbing,clawing,howling but now he's 2 feet in front of me napping..... They're all different,

How's she reacting now that all the kittens are with her?So after all is said and done are they going to take the Mama at the shelter for adoption or are you keeping her?



....
Yeah, this rescue I got them from kinda deals with the cats that bigger rescues say "no" to (or just put them to sleep), all while operating with very limited resources, but they're very caring people doing their best. With this momma, she was a community cat, someone called animal control, and they were going to put her and the kittens to sleep, plus a few other mommas and kittens in the area. One of the people feeding her called this local rescue for help, and they called us.

I also learned that momma had been fostered as a kitten, but was kinda just staring at a wall and refusing to eat, probably stressed out in a house with little kids. They ended up returning her to the stray colony, with plans to re-trap and spay later, though that didn't quite work out. So they really wanted us to tend to this one in particular, after seeing what we did with the resident gals.

With us, after her initial attempts to escape, she settled down a bit, though she keeps looking at me with murder eyes whenever I enter the room. She's kinda just ignoring the kittens, even when they climb all over her. So far all the kittens ate and I think all of them drank water too. Not momma, though, but she'll likely eat after we go to bed. I was worried she was passed out or something, but she still moves her head sometimes and looks around, if there's a noise outside or something.

Just now, we put on some food and gave the cats some treats. Momma cat retreated a bit, and is breathing really fast. Kittens are super chill, one of them slow blinked at me.
 

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emocatowner

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So first dilemma: should I give them some kitten formula, either in a bottle or a bowl?

Looking at their eyes, I am seeing some pigment, they're not just blue, which would make them 7 weeks old? But their weight is half of what it's supposed to be! I think they are just very malnourished.
They are all eating food, 2 pouches devoured so far. They are all drinking water.
Momma isn't letting them suckle at all, she's just hiding behind the litter box.

Will they be ok with just wet food? Or should I give them some of the formula I still have around?
 

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Awww poor girl,she's been through the mill.. I'm really glad they called you,it just takes time,sadly so many people just give up so easily.
7wk old kittens or any kittens "weaned"after 4wks don't need Mother's milk anymore -sone nurse until 5wks and actually once they're weaned cannot really process the milk any longer-so they are fine eating wet food several times a day and I would let them have kitten kibble as well ( to free feed on)but that's entirely up to you... Personally I wouldn't give them formula
 
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