Homing Stray Kittens

jbtigs

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Just over two weeks ago our local stray/feral cat brought her litter out of hiding. I knew she was pregnant and was trying to keep an eye out and then they appeared....7 of them. They were living under my elderly neighbor's porch for the first week but neighbor had an old cistern (well-type feature) behind her house and we had quite the event when someone had to climb down in and rescue the little guy that had fallen in. So Momma moved them to the shed at the back of the property. But we do live in a very residential area despite this description!

I've been feeding them and working the best that I can to socialize them. We have 4 cats ourselves so bringing them inside is not an option. Momma has really taken to me and will actually sit on my lap when I go out to spend time with the gang. Most of them have allowed me to hold them and will interact but are still incredibly skittish. We've had a solid week of bad storms at all kinds of random times through the day and night so that has not helped the situation. Friends come over and sit on the ground and talk with me to try and introduce them to other people but everyone - including Momma - runs from anyone but me.

I figure they are about 6 or 7 weeks old so they should find homes very soon if they are going to stand a chance at being pets. I've had plenty of people interested but things have fallen through - especially when I stress with people that these guys will need a little patience to gain the trust of someone new. But even if I find them homes - I'm not sure how this should work. Will Momma move them if she finds some of them go missing? I have never done anything like this before so I'm wondering about the best way to handle this.

I have reached out to every rescue operation that I've been able to find in my area but gotten very little response and even less advice. I'm just wondering what other people have experienced in this situation and what I should do or be on the look out for. Thanks!


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Whenallhellbreakslose

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What a lovely cat family. I have more experience with kittens who were separated from their mother, but from my experience with finding homes for some of the kittens with their the momma still present--is that she may look for the missing kittens for a day or two and then she will adjust her focus to the remaining kittens. It is possible that she may move them, so it is best at that point to put her and the kittens in an enclosed area, so she doesn't have that opportunity. You could try to seperate the kittens from the Momma and place them in a crate in your basement or garage where you can continue to work on socializing them. If they are very close to 8 weeks and are completely eating solids, you can start to separate them. The socialization period is usually the 1st 8 weeks of life. So keep working on socializing them.
 

fionasmom

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Welcome to The Cat Site! What a bunch of cute little kittens and a pretty mom. I have had several pregnant ferals give birth over the years and in all cases the mom needed to be TNRed, at the least, and the kittens needed home. I often resorted to trapping the kittens and bringing them inside (which I understand is not an option for you) but in no case did the mom take the remaining kittens and hide them. One time, a mom came back from being TNRed to find only 2 of her kittens ( about 12 weeks old) and she remained with them for a while longer in the same place that she had been before. Years ago, a kindly next door neighbor allowed feral litters to live in her wash house which was attached to the garage. Kittens were adopted from there when they were old enough and there was no change of residence for anyone.

Of course, this is not a guarantee that your mom won't move the kittens. The only time I have had a mother hide kittens was when a coyote killed one of the litter and then, yes, it was a search all over the neighborhood for them. But oddly she brought them back to their food source a few days later.

Kittens at this age should be fairly easy to socialize and, while you can't control what people think, I am surprised that everyone is backing away from adopting them. Of the last feral litter I had, two are now indoor pets, one my avatar, and entirely lap cats. One was killed and one remaining sister is still living outside, very feral and wild, but with food and shelter. That is a possible scenario, but I still think that you have a chance of socializing them and getting most of them a home. Then you can TNR the mom and hopefully there will not be another birth.
 
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jbtigs

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Thank you for the notes....It's been a tough few days thinking that I did more harm for them than good. I've gotten my neighbor's permission to clean out her shed and set up a spot for them so started that process last night. Fed them breakfast in there this morning and I have a couple friends bringing cat towers over to put in there. Working on finding a large crate that I can set up and start introducing them to confined spaces as well as a litter box. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support....I'm getting a lot of "you're crazy" when I tell people the effort I'm putting into trying to socialize these guys. Apparently, sitting on the ground in heat and humidity, surrounded by flies and being eaten by mosquitoes isn't a fun thing for a lot of folks! :p
 

fionasmom

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You will get a lot of support here, so don't worry about continuing this thread as much as you need to. You are really doing a lot for them and I am glad that you have some supportive neighbors and some donations of cat trees coming in. A large dog crate is usually good for providing a space for them, but given the number of kittens, you will definitely need a big one.

Given there are 7 kittens, you may find different personalities emerge. I have had litters which ranged from some kittens turning into complete house pets and other siblings never "crossing over." As you figure this out, you will see if you need to TNR any of the kittens eventually (hopefully they will get homes) along with the mom who sounds like she may become a decent pet of sorts.
 

LeiLatte

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I also would like to know where people bring rescued kittens to adopt out. I’ve tried rescue groups here but they ignore or say they are full. The “humane society” charges $150 to surrender an animal and they only accept personal pets. I don’t want to do the regular shelter/pound and have the kitten I helped be euthanized. Right now she is in my house but really I did not want to keep her as I have 4 cats already. My family is angry with me about yet another cat. But what other options are there 😩
 

fionasmom

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“kittens To Good Homes” – How To Find A Good Forever Home For Your Kittens – TheCatSite Articles
How Old Do Kittens Have To Be To Leave Their Mother? – TheCatSite Articles

It is the same around here with rescues and shelters. The catch to most rescue groups which I have found over the years is that they are actually doing their own rescuing, not taking in anyone else's, so it is sort of a misnomer. In my lifetime experience with animals I have had exactly one rescue group actually say that they would take an animal from me, along with a decent donation, which is what I think tipped their hand. They were a beagle rescue, just for the record. Shelters are the same in most cases and COVID has made that worse. The ones near me are taking no strays and, frankly as you have found, there is a chance that they would be euthanized regardless.

If you have the Nextdoor app you can post about the cats and try to find home locally. It also lets you get some idea of who wants them and will make it easier to screen out questionable people.

nextdoor.com

If you have to go this route, don't do "free to a good home." Ask for some compensation for having taken care of the family, setting up the shed for them (no one has to know if you paid for any of that or not). If you have any evidence that they use a litter box, which may not be the case outside I understand, say that they are housebroken. You said before that people don't want to work with the kittens, but as they get more socialized you will get less of that response.
 
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