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Need Help To Trap Stray Mother Cat + Kittens In Hole

unozero

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Dec 22, 2014
10
8
I have a bit of a situation and I hope I can get some advice!

We have a stray mom cat with very young kittens. She has chosen a somewhat awkward place as her nest. It's a bit hard to explain so I drew a diagram.

My basement has a window that is about 2ft below ground level. There was a small pit dug out in the backyard so that light could enter the basement window. However, the previous owner built a wedge-shape covering to block up this pit. Due to wear and tear, the covering developed a hole in the corner.


The cat is nursing her kittens in the pit area. The kittens are currently a week old or less. The mum cat stays all day in the pit, and leaves at night. She does not seem totally feral but she's not really in the mood to make friends. We left food in the backyard for her but is has been untouched.

I can't lure her with food because she's in the pit most of the time, and when she climbs out she immediately runs off. It might be possible to open the basement window but I am not sure (never tried and it's got a bolt screwed across it which I would have to remove).

I would like to trap her and the kittens and bring them indoors and put them in a dog cage or such so we can feed her and keep the kittens safe. When they are old enough we can get the kittens adopted and the mum spayed.

Most suggestions I've read online don't deal with a cat in a hole! Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks!
 

Norachan

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May 27, 2013
20,199
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Mount Fuji, Japan
Hi U unozero

Is it possible to remove the cover? Can you see the kittens through the basement window? How difficult would it be to get the kittens out of there now?

You stand a much better chance of trapping, keeping the kittens safe and healthy and socialising them if you get them now, before the kittens start running around.

If you can get a humane trap you can use the kittens as "bait" to catch the mother.

You could put the kittens in a carrier with the closed door of the carrier up against the back of the trap. Cover the carrier with a blanket so the mother has to enter the trap to get close to the kittens. You could also use a blanket the kittens have been lying on to bait the trap, but if they are very young you don't want to separate them from Mum for too long.

Before you try make sure you have your room or crate all set up for them to move into.

It would be a good idea to take the whole family to the vet as soon as you have caught them. They'll probably need treating for fleas and worms. Mother cats come into heat soon after giving birth, so you could get Mum spayed soon too.

:goodluck:
 

surya

TCS Member
Top Cat
Aug 23, 2010
2,450
3,785
Houston
Do you have a trap? Obtaining the trap is step one. Then figuring out how to access the babies. You need to do this part when the mom is not around. I'm guessing you could take apart the hatch. Or if the window is big enough, you could crawl through it. You need to work on accessing the kittens when mom is not around to see you doing it. And do not try and pick up the kittens or hang around them too long. This will cause her to move the nest. It's very important to leave both the mom and babies alone. If she senses you are paying too much attention it will spook her.

But in the meantime while you are doing that, you need to get the mom to depend on you for food. Mother cats get very hungry, with the kittens sucking all the nutrition out of her. So I would keep leaving her food and water. Not too close to the kittens, because it may attract other animals. Try different foods that might tempt her, some dry and some wet. I would put food out at the same time each day, early morning and at dawn. Don't try and pet her or anything, just leave her alone.

If babies are still small and easy to get, an alternative is to get the mom first. Once she starts eating then you can set a trap for her. You don't want to get the babies and then not be able to catch the mother. That would be bad when they are so young. I have used both strategies, kittens first then mom, and mom first then kittens. I am just presenting this as an alternative.

You need to get all this done quickly because in no time, the kittens will be learning to walk. If that happens you'll need a new strategy. I have had situations where I couldn't get to some kittens and I had to wait until they were old enough to eat solid food (about four weeks). Then I trapped the kittens and used them as bait to catch the feral mom. But it is best to catch them sooner, because some of the kittens may not survive if you have to wait.

Here is a video that shows how to trap by getting the kittens first and using them as bait:

 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

unozero

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Dec 22, 2014
10
8
Thanks for your advice!

  • Is it possible to remove the cover?
    Yes, it is possible to raise the cover, though some dirt may fall down into the pit.
  • Can you see the kittens through the basement window?
    Yep. I can see the kittens and mum when she's there
  • How difficult would it be to get the kittens out of there now?
    If mum's not around it should be easy? They haven't opened their eyes yet and tend to bunch up and sleep on one another when she's gone.
I do not have a trap on hand; not sure where to get one in my city. Right now the kittens are kinda safe in the pit area. If I remove them and use them to bait mum into a trap, they would have to be at ground level?

Been wondering if I should just plug up the cover so she can't get out then try to trap her in the basement (no other way in or out of it). But she's probably get freaked out and hide (and possibly pee/poo in some corner)???


Hi U unozero

Is it possible to remove the cover? Can you see the kittens through the basement window? How difficult would it be to get the kittens out of there now?

You stand a much better chance of trapping, keeping the kittens safe and healthy and socialising them if you get them now, before the kittens start running around.

If you can get a humane trap you can use the kittens as "bait" to catch the mother.

You could put the kittens in a carrier with the closed door of the carrier up against the back of the trap. Cover the carrier with a blanket so the mother has to enter the trap to get close to the kittens. You could also use a blanket the kittens have been lying on to bait the trap, but if they are very young you don't want to separate them from Mum for too long.

Before you try make sure you have your room or crate all set up for them to move into.

It would be a good idea to take the whole family to the vet as soon as you have caught them. They'll probably need treating for fleas and worms. Mother cats come into heat soon after giving birth, so you could get Mum spayed soon too.

:goodluck:
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

unozero

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Dec 22, 2014
10
8
Thanks for your advice!

I'll have to find a trap, I don't have one.

The kittens are still very small, their eyes haven't opened yet.

We noticed some dry food left out yesterday was eaten but we have no idea if it was mum who ate it or something else. We keep odd sleeping hours ourselves so we aren't up at dawn. Mum cat only seems to leave around midnight. Whatever ate the food did so between 3-11am.

If we set a trap for mum and she gets caught, would kittens be ok being without her for several hours? I think it's likely she'd leave around midnight, and if we succeed in trapping her the earliest we could probably check on her would be around 10am.


Do you have a trap? Obtaining the trap is step one. Then figuring out how to access the babies. You need to do this part when the mom is not around. I'm guessing you could take apart the hatch. Or if the window is big enough, you could crawl through it. You need to work on accessing the kittens when mom is not around to see you doing it. And do not try and pick up the kittens or hang around them too long. This will cause her to move the nest. It's very important to leave both the mom and babies alone. If she senses you are paying too much attention it will spook her.

But in the meantime while you are doing that, you need to get the mom to depend on you for food. Mother cats get very hungry, with the kittens sucking all the nutrition out of her. So I would keep leaving her food and water. Not too close to the kittens, because it may attract other animals. Try different foods that might tempt her, some dry and some wet. I would put food out at the same time each day, early morning and at dawn. Don't try and pet her or anything, just leave her alone.

If babies are still small and easy to get, an alternative is to get the mom first. Once she starts eating then you can set a trap for her. You don't want to get the babies and then not be able to catch the mother. That would be bad when they are so young. I have used both strategies, kittens first then mom, and mom first then kittens. I am just presenting this as an alternative.

You need to get all this done quickly because in no time, the kittens will be learning to walk. If that happens you'll need a new strategy. I have had situations where I couldn't get to some kittens and I had to wait until they were old enough to eat solid food (about four weeks). Then I trapped the kittens and used them as bait to catch the feral mom. But it is best to catch them sooner, because some of the kittens may not survive if you have to wait.

Here is a video that shows how to trap by getting the kittens first and using them as bait:

 

surya

TCS Member
Top Cat
Aug 23, 2010
2,450
3,785
Houston
I would not feel comfortable keeping newborn kittens away from their mom too long. And I never leave a trap unattended for long. I check my traps about every thirty to forty-five minutes. As soon as you trap the kitty you need to cover the trap with a towel or something. Otherwise the cat may thrash around and hurt itself. It is very stressful for the kitty to be left in a uncovered trap. If you search TNR trapping on youtube, there are some good how to video's on trapping. I don't know technically how long the mother can be away from the babies, I just know less time is better.
 

Norachan

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Staff Member
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May 27, 2013
20,199
15,810
Mount Fuji, Japan
I do not have a trap on hand; not sure where to get one in my city. Right now the kittens are kinda safe in the pit area. If I remove them and use them to bait mum into a trap, they would have to be at ground level?

Been wondering if I should just plug up the cover so she can't get out then try to trap her in the basement (no other way in or out of it). But she's probably get freaked out and hide (and possibly pee/poo in some corner)???
If there are any groups that do TNR in your city they might lend you one. Shelters and vets that work with feral cats usually have traps too. Another alternative is Tractor Supply, I hear they sell humane traps.

They don't have to be at ground level to trap, just on level ground. Traps don't spring properly if they are on a slope. Once you get a trap have a few trial runs indoors to see how easy it is to spring the door. Most traps can be adjusted to set off at lighter/heavier weights.

Trapping her in the basement might work. If she's locked up for 24 hours she's going to be more likely to go for the food in the trap, but if you're down there setting it up while she's locked in that is going to freak her out.

I guess you could set the trap up while she's out and then cover the hole once she's returned.

Kittens have trouble regulating their body temperatures and they need to be fed and helped to pee by Mum every few hours. If you get the kittens first you'll need to keep them warm. If it takes longer than expected to catch Mum you'll need to feed them and stimulate them to pee.

Check Kitten Lady's videos online, she has loads of good examples of how to care for little kittens.

You really need to be able to check on the trap while it's set. Most of them make a pretty loud clang when the door shuts, so if you are indoors with the window open you should be able to hear it. You need to cover the trap as soon as the cat is inside to prevent her freaking out and hurting herself. Also you don't want to trap another cat or raccoon by mistake, so choose a night when you can keep watch.

The preparation takes a lot of time and thought, the actually trapping is is over pretty quickly if you've planned well and you're lucky.

:goodluck:
 

BigPoppa88

TCS Member
Kitten
Jun 13, 2018
15
0
PLEASE HURRY !!

I'm not a cat expert but if you live in an area where coyotes and foxes live then these kittens will attract predators with their scent. I've seen too much heartbreaking night-time security camera footage on YouTube of someone's dog or cat becoming a quick meal for some hungry coyotes.
 

surya

TCS Member
Top Cat
Aug 23, 2010
2,450
3,785
Houston
I don't think covering the hole and keeping them in the basement is a good idea. I think it will freak the mom out too much and she will be consumed with trying to escape. The mom needs to feel safe in order to care for her babies and herself. You don't have to put the trap in the basement. You can just put it where you are leaving her the food in the yard. That way you can easily take a quick look at the trap and see if she is in it yet.
 
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  • #10

unozero

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Dec 22, 2014
10
8
UPDATE: We found a way to put food down into the hole with the mum cat without scaring her. She seems to appreciate it, I think. She has been leaving the hole less since I guess she doesn't need to wander around looking for food as much.

My local SPCA's person is away till next week, and another rescue has not gotten back to me yet. I spoke with a person at my own cat's vet, and they advised me to leave the mum and kittens for the time being, as the kittens are still very young (eyes still not open). Their concern was that the mother may run off or reject the kittens and then we would be stuck having to hand-feed them round the clock (also their risk of dying goes up a lot if mum's not around at this stage).

The vet does rent out a trap though. So, for now, we're going to keep an eye on her and keep feeding her. Hopefully she starts to recognize the food and associate us with it. If the rescues get back to us we'll work with them on a figuring out the best way to trap her later. Otherwise we'll rent the trap from the vet and try to trap her ourselves in a couple of weeks.

I would like to bring them in sooner but it really does seem like it may do more harm than good right now (we won't be able to give the kittens the 24/7 care they need now if we do take them from mum). It seems like a risk either way, but we're hoping feeding mum will keep her in the nest more so she can provide and protect the kittens.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and videos, we're going to watch them again before we start trying to trap mum cat.
 
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  • #12

unozero

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Dec 22, 2014
10
8
HURRAY!

One of the rescue's got in touch. They provided a trap and a carrier. Within a day, we managed to trap the mum cat and then removed the kittens from the hole. They are now safe with a foster. Once they're old enough, the rescue will help the kittens (and hopefully the mum) find their forever homes!

Thanks again for all the help. Here are some pics we snapped of the cats!


 

Norachan

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May 27, 2013
20,199
15,810
Mount Fuji, Japan
:woo:That's fantastic! What a great outcome, they're so lucky that you and the rescue stepped in.

Any chance you are going to adopt a kitten? Or even the Mom?
 
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  • #15

unozero

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Dec 22, 2014
10
8
:woo:That's fantastic! What a great outcome, they're so lucky that you and the rescue stepped in.

Any chance you are going to adopt a kitten? Or even the Mom?
Aha, I would love to but unfortunately we already have 2 adult cats of our own, and we can't afford to look after any more cats and give them the same amount of care as we do with our current ones. I'm pretty sure all the kittens will find a home and mum probably will? I'm hoping to visit the foster and see how mum behaves in a few weeks once she's more used to humans being nice to her and giving her food and pets all the time ^_^
 

Norachan

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Staff Member
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May 27, 2013
20,199
15,810
Mount Fuji, Japan
I'm sure the kittens will find homes in no time, they're going to be very easy to adopt out.

Hopefully Mum will be suitable for a new home too.

You did so well to get the whole family that quickly. Let is know if there are any updates.

:goldstar:
 

houseofnine

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Oct 22, 2013
208
229
Connecticut
I had to smile to myself while reading your story. This is pretty close to what happened at our house 5 years ago. Stray mama put 4 kittens in our window well. The rest is history-- we kept everyone and are up to 12 cats at our house. Thank you for saving them.
 

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