New to feral care - please advise

HoneyB

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I'm so happy to have found this site - this is my first post.

About a year ago, a mother cat came around with her three adolescent kittens - all beautiful orange/white males. The mother has an ear tip, so she has been spayed, but the three boys were intact. One was lost to a coyote, another that never put on weight no matter how much he was fed died and the third is still with the mother, but very shy. A while after they showed up, a small gray tabby kitten (Tidbit) did as well. I was able to handle him early on, and he now loves to come inside my house, being pet, played with, etc, but wants to go outside after he's had enough. I wish I had made him my inside cat early on, but didn't, and now he is older and not sure if I can turn him into an indoor pet. The two boys have not been neutered (yet).

Now a 2nd new kitten has showed up. The other 3 cats are not crazy about him and leave the feeding dish when he comes to eat. He is VERY shy and runs if he sees us. I don't want to make the same mistake with this little one that I did with Tidbit. He is very fluffy but I can see his little ribs when I sneak around the corner to watch him eat. I would like to bring him inside but not sure how to go about it. Also, I have been treating Tidbit monthly with flea drops since he comes inside the house. I am unsure if bringing the kitten in is going to infest my house with fleas unless I treat him, but he is so little not sure he can be treated yet.

I've had cats all my life but the past 10 years have been cat-less due to my landlord stating he was "allergic" to cats. I'm going to bring all 4 with me when I move, but would like to begin by getting the newest little one rescued and used to be a pet. Any advice will be welcome. And does anyone know why a single kitten shows up out of the blue?
 

Furballsmom

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And does anyone know why a single kitten shows up out of the blue?
Hi! Welcome, we're glad you're here!!

There are almost as many reasons as there are kittens - but loss of his mama and siblings, being dumped and he's the only survivor, that sort of thing would likely be in the top of the list.

There are members here who have brought ferals of all ages inside and oftentimes once they're in, they don't want to go back out :)

For you and other readers and lurkers, these are helpful, and there will be members with experience regarding ferals and bringing them inside who will see your post soon.

One thing is that if you know a rescue, you may want to contact them and see if they'll rent a trap to you. It sounds like you'll need it for the new baby, getting the other boy caught for his trip to the vet, and you'll also possibly need it for mama when you're getting ready to move them. (super stinky foods such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, or Carl Buddig ham - courtesy of Jcatbird Jcatbird can work when nothing else will get scared or trap-wise cats into a trap).

9 Practical Ways For You To Help Feral Cats – TheCatSite Articles

How To Help Feral Cats Stay Safe & Warm During Winter – TheCatSite Articles

Handling Feral Cats – TheCatSite Articles
 

CatladyJan

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I'm so happy to have found this site - this is my first post.

About a year ago, a mother cat came around with her three adolescent kittens - all beautiful orange/white males. The mother has an ear tip, so she has been spayed, but the three boys were intact. One was lost to a coyote, another that never put on weight no matter how much he was fed died and the third is still with the mother, but very shy. A while after they showed up, a small gray tabby kitten (Tidbit) did as well. I was able to handle him early on, and he now loves to come inside my house, being pet, played with, etc, but wants to go outside after he's had enough. I wish I had made him my inside cat early on, but didn't, and now he is older and not sure if I can turn him into an indoor pet. The two boys have not been neutered (yet).

Now a 2nd new kitten has showed up. The other 3 cats are not crazy about him and leave the feeding dish when he comes to eat. He is VERY shy and runs if he sees us. I don't want to make the same mistake with this little one that I did with Tidbit. He is very fluffy but I can see his little ribs when I sneak around the corner to watch him eat. I would like to bring him inside but not sure how to go about it. Also, I have been treating Tidbit monthly with flea drops since he comes inside the house. I am unsure if bringing the kitten in is going to infest my house with fleas unless I treat him, but he is so little not sure he can be treated yet.

I've had cats all my life but the past 10 years have been cat-less due to my landlord stating he was "allergic" to cats. I'm going to bring all 4 with me when I move, but would like to begin by getting the newest little one rescued and used to be a pet. Any advice will be welcome. And does anyone know why a single kitten shows up out of the blue?
Hi HoneyB and Welcome! The first thing that has my curiosity is who did the TNR on the momma?

If you can trap the newest one and afford a vet they can tell you about flea treatment, but if the cat is that scared you might not be able to do anything if the newest kitten cannot be handled. Short answer, Yes you will start a flea infestation if not treated.

All of these cats can be socialized and neutering and spaying will help. Socialization requires a great deal of time and patience and it would appear that you also have a clique with the 3 and the newest being the outsider of which that will take time too.

When are you moving? It would be a good idea to get all males neutered to keep the population down.
 

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...just checking, H HoneyB that you saw my post above? Sometimes the thread jumps down to the last post, not the first reply, when you open it :)
 

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I only deal with strays and ferals and would have to stop for a minute to count all the times that a single kitten has appeared, the last being my Jamie 3 years ago.

Most flea preparations like Advantage specify 8 weeks of age for treatment and I have seen my cat vet treat younger kittens but I understand your hesitancy.

I also found it interesting that someone TNRed the mother of the three boys. It would be worth looking for a local rescue to see if they are running TNR or were in the past and if they could rent a trap to you now. I don't know that neutering services are available where you are right now but if possible I would try to get the boys fixed which will also stop wandering and fights...2 of the boys seem to be eligible now if anything can be done.
 

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That one kitten could be an only survivor or even a dumped or lost baby. I would absolutely get that kitten! First order of business is getting him and second is a vet check. The vet may suggest Capstar which is a pill that would kill the adult fleas on him for 24 hours. If kitty is okay to get that, it can be given more times after the first day. Keeping the baby in a small area will cut down on any flea egg distribution. A bathroom is often the best place to start them out for that reason and for socializing purposes.
I often had very timid kitties to catch. I found that just laying outside or sitting perfectly still with my back turned to them as they are was a good way to begin earning trust. Show the baby that you are not a threat or predator. As the kitty begins to trust you can move on to putting the food nearer to you and eventually beside you or on your lap. I used the Ham mentioned by Furballsmom Furballsmom as alure for a trap and also to get a kitty closer or to hand feed them. Gerber second foods all meat baby food that is slightly warm puts off a good scent that is hard for kitties to resist. That is another good lure. I am so glad you are helping these kitties! They need your help and you are a lifesaver to them. As you make progress, you can try trapping or even feeding inside a carrier to get the baby. We will be glad to be here with any help or tips we can provide. Thank you for all you are doing and welcome to TCS!
 
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HoneyB

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Thanks for the replies CatladyJan and Furballsmom. I'm not sure who TNR'd Momma but it seems to me she was once a pet, as she will come in the house and weave between my legs while I'm preparing her food. I can pet her, but not near the head and she is still skittish. Her son sniffed my hand for the first time the other day, so I'm hopeful he'll come around sooner or later. They are both beautiful animals - orange cats are my weakness - and I'd be happy to provide a home for all four of them.

A moving date is up in the air, depending on whether my job still allows me to work from home. I am waiting for a decision by my company, as I'd like to move about an hour away, which is further than a comfortable commute.

I already have a trap that was given to me when I had a critter in my attic. I didn't have to use it, but do have it available. I'm a little confused regarding the sequence of trapping and getting the cat to the vet at the scheduled appointment time. To me, trapping seems like it would be hit or miss. There is a spay and neuter clinic near me, but it is first come first served and they take only the first 5. If I have a trapped cat and don't make the first 5, I doubt a cat will fall for the trap trick again. I'm willing to pay for a vet to do the neutering but not sure if he will handle ferals. I am not sure of the age of the little one, but he/she? is pretty young and not ready for this issue yet.

Thank you for the links - I'm going to read them for more information. Thank you for responding and it really warms my heart to read all the posts and see all the good hearted cat lovers out there.
 
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HoneyB

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The kitten is getting braver. As usual, I opened my back door and let the cats in while I prepared their breakfast. The kitten came in with the others, and held back near the door but at least it didn't dash out when it saw me. Tidbit, the kitten who has been the most socialized, marched in the house and began going from room to room. I didn't realize until later that he had marked every room he was in. Not happy about that at all, and had to pull out the black light to figure out where he sprayed and or peed then try to get everything cleaned and deodorized. I wonder if he felt the need to do that because he was claiming the house was his territory so the little newcomer didn't get any ideas?
 

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Could be. But you are on the course to getting this resolved, so just continue on after you clean up what he sprayed. It sounds as if these kittens are adaptable to becoming pets. I have never been able to use a spay neuter clinic because the cats I have had to trap have been very wild for the most part, and unpredictable. They did not all stay that way, but scheduling for Tuesday at 10:00 would never work and most of these cats are wary enough not to be trapped twice. I do use a vet who allows me to walk in with ferals in a trap at any time of day without an appointment, the understanding being that they might not be able to drop everything and fix the cat, but at least it made it to the clinic.
 

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I had the same problem it can take weeks to get an appointment at a low cost clinic I lucked out because the local vet has a heart for TNR and also has a non profit organization that paid for it. I was able to let them know if I was successful in trapping a got to come in the next morning.

Is there any way you can just let them come in and stay and set up neutering later?
 
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HoneyB

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I was finally able to get the kitten into the house. Over the past week, I've been moving the dish of food beyond the back door and into the house, and all the cats, including the kitten, have been coming in the house to eat. My son snuck out the front door, came around to the back and shut the back door, so the kitten and Tidbit were trapped inside. The two other cats fled as soon as they heard the back door start to close. I let Tidbit out, and tried to catch the kitten, but it darted behind my dryer. I had a nice spot already prepared, but it looks as though I won't be able to transfer the kitten there and have left it in the small area that houses my washer/dryer. It's got a small bowl of food and litter box in that space, and I've put up a board to prevent the kitten from escaping from that spot. Now what?

The kitten has been walking around this past week with feces clumped to his hind end, so I'll have to get hold of him/her to clean it. I have a cat carrier being delivered in a few days and plan to bring the kitten to the vet as soon as I can. In the meantime, the space the cat is in is not ideal, since we'll have to get laundry done sooner or later. Should I leave the cat alone for a day or try to catch it and move it to the prepared area? It smells as though the cat has either pooped or it may be what is clinging to it's hind end, but not sure how to resolve this. Any advice would be helpful.
 

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I would say to leave the kitten alone for the day and then see if you can get it. I don't know the configuration of your washer/dryer space but could the kitten be picked up if you protected your hands with rose pruning gloves or any other type of glove that will prevent a scratch or bite.
 
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HoneyB

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Somehow the kitten escaped and I found it pacing and meowing in a window that was open. It couldn't get out because of the screen, but it definitely wanted out. It wasn't easy, but I was able to transfer the kitten to the space I had prepared for it. It has a bed, litter box and food and has been blocked off by a sheet of plywood. I don't think the kitten can jump over it yet, but getting it out of the window was pretty traumatic for the little one...for such a small thing it put up quite a fight, so I intend to leave it alone for the rest of the day/night and see what tomorrow brings. I wish I could clean that mess off its hind end, but handling it at this stage is not possible so have to figure out how I'm going to do it.
 

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It is very good that the cat is in the place you provided. I would leave him alone for a while before attempting anything else.
 
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HoneyB

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This is a good news/bad news update. The little kitten that I rescued somehow jumped the barrier and dashed out when the door was open. He is still coming around for food twice a day but has a golf-ball size of feces attached to his back end and is getting bigger every day. He reeks and the other ferals I feed try to avoid him at mealtime...it must disgust them. He can barely walk, and it is heartbreaking. There must have been a litter he came from, because we were able to get his brother in the house and is living the life of a little king now. But it really upsets me about his littermate who is suffering and is still young enough to rescue and socialize, but is very skittish and fearful from the first attempt. If it is possible, once I get him inside, I'll have to soak the feces off his hind end, creating even more trauma. Even the thought of handling him with that mess is daunting. Any ideas on how to accomplish getting him rescued and cleaned up? I don't want to have another disastrous rescue attempt on the poor little guy. Want to do it right this time.
 

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I don't know if this is much help since you're feeding everyone else on a regular schedule, but try super stinky food

I'll have to soak the feces off his hind end, creating even more trauma.
I don't think there's an easy way to do this unless you can get his hind end soaking a bit in a sink or shower with some warm water, with a towel or rubber mat underneath for him to hang on to, and long leather gloves for you and any helpers.
 
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HoneyB

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I don't know if this is much help since you're feeding everyone else on a regular schedule, but try super stinky food


I don't think there's an easy way to do this unless you can get his hind end soaking a bit in a sink or shower with some warm water, with a towel or rubber mat underneath for him to hang on to, and long leather gloves for you and any helpers.
Just grab him when he's eating? I do have a trap, but have never used it, and not sure if I'll be able to get him to go into it in time. I am determined to get him this weekend while I have the time and help.
 

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Just grab him when he's eating?
If you can - if you don't have a big net or even a fishing net since he's small, be sure to have gloves on (either way net or no), and/or a towel to bundle him in but be aware he's going to be super squirmy.
 
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HoneyB

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If you can - if you don't have a big net or even a fishing net since he's small, be sure to have gloves on (either way net or no), and/or a towel to bundle him in but be aware he's going to be super squirmy.
Yes, I am anticipating it's going to be an action packed ordeal. Especially with that mess on his hind end...thanks for the good advice.
 
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