Repairing bond with community kitty

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Hi all. I’ve been rescuing kittens born to a community cat for the past year. Brought in and adopted out 5 so far. Mama is great and has the sweetest babies and most of them of great with people. (I can’t seem to catch her between litters to have her spayed but after 4 litters this past year…I’m just going to have to bring her in and let her have babies in my house). There is one left from her first litter that I’ve worked in building a relationship with and has gotten to the point where he would come to me when I called and allow me to pet him. Sigh, well today we were expected to get snow and the temp is dipping to around 10 degrees and I wanted to bring him in for a couple of days. He hasn’t been in cold like this before (I know…he could’ve handled it) and I worried. So I stupidly picked him up. He naturally freaked out and instead of just letting him go, I held on and tried to calm him. The entire ordeal lasted 20-30 seconds before I realized I was only traumatizing him. I worked so hard to build this relationship and now fear I’ve ruined it. He promptly ran away and wouldn’t come back to finish his food. Any suggestions on how I can attempt to repair the relationship?
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fionasmom

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Welcome to The Cat Site! You are very kind to help this mother cat and her babies. Your idea of letting her have the "last" litter before being spayed inside your house is a good one. It will be a little bit of work for you, but ultimately will resolve the problem.

I am in a very similar situation with a cat I feed at some nearby apartments with the permission of the tenant who lives near the feeding spot (and who actually made her a lovely outdoor bed). However, at some point she may need to be removed from the property so I have started to try to find her challenge line with interactions. (She was TRNed by someone I do not know several years ago). We progressed through touching her head, rubbing her neck, up to letting me lift her and bring her to her food, and finally letting me pick her up. Next step was to walk with her in the direction of my house which we did for about one week. Suddenly, she positioned herself in such a way that she remained under a car, waited for the food, and made sure I did not touch her. I let this be for about 3 days and then suddenly she allowed touching again and limited handling and holding.

I think that this boy will return, first of all, as you are his home and food source. You are working against weather conditions, I realize. Does he have access to any sort of outdoor bed that he might use in the meantime? Since he lets you touch him, I would return to doing that and see if he might allow more handling. Maybe the first time was just a big shock to him but the next time won't be as upsetting.

Can you shoo him in a door or more or less guide him in quickly without actually holding him? I have done the "pick up and lightly toss in the door" with some ferals and, while they are upset at first, it does solve the problem. In your case, I don't know if using a humane trap would be to your advantage or not. Lure him with treats? Lure him with KFC which is my best bait for traps or otherwise. I think that he is going to return very quickly to your house and you can try another approach....or he may have rethought things himself.
 
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Thank you so much for the response. It does help me to feel better! His brother was the first one I adopted out but I had to keep him for 3 months (my brother adopted him and he was waiting on his new house to be completed) and grew VERY attached. Orange kitty was my hearts replacement so it’s been tough. I tried picking him up previously but immediately stopped because he made it clear that was a no go. He’s the only one of that litter left outside so he’s been my special project.

There’s about 7 inches of snow on the ground now and temps will be in the teens for the next couple of days. I even thought maybe he’ll realize what I was trying to do and not be as upset, lol

There’s been a hay bed in my little shed for a while but I don’t think any of the cats really use it but he’s gone in there, so he knows it exists. It’s slightly ajar so I’m hoping I have some takers. I actually considered a grab and toss, I could’ve. I think I just thought he would calm down and panicked when he didn’t. Plus I wasn’t sure how my 3 cats would react. It was a terrible plan that was executed at the spur of the moment.

I’m still calling him and I keep food outside, there’s a lot of stays, so it’s there. I’m certainly not giving up on him. And I take a tiny comfort knowing her at least didn’t hiss and growl. Poor guy just cried 😞

Mama cat tried to come inside the day before I left for the Christmas holiday. I felt like she was Mary and Joseph - ing and she absolutely was. The next day she was substantially skinnier. I’m worried about her and her babies but know she’s at least experienced. I live in Nashville and snow is pretty rare.

thanks again. I’ll post the pics of the others. I did keep the runt (the solid gray one).I had to. He has poop issues that would’ve made adoption almost impossible. He’s adorable and a mini. Looks 3 months old but is actually 9-10 months old
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fionasmom

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Keep us posted! You have really been so protective of these cats. While it is not as cold in LA, I have found that ferals make odd decision about shelter. I have a patio area with two heated beds (actually plugged into an outlet and designed for cat use outdoors) along with two non heated beds with fleece blankets. No one uses the heated beds and I don't believe it is because they are too hot or uncomfortable for them.
 
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di and bob

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Your cat will forgive you. it takes a while, sometimes a week, but they will eventually forget. I stepped on my ferals accidentally many times, and though they stayed completely away from me for a while they always came back.
You definitely have to get mama spayed. I know how scary that is, I've been doing it for a year now with my own outside cats. but your mama will continue to have 3 or 4 litters a year until you have hundreds of cats. My mama cat would suddenly not want a thing to do with them when they were 8 weeks old and by then she was pregnant again. Since she would never be NOT pregnant I took her in any way. Since I needed to catch specific cats (all her kittens) as I went along, I used the half-gallon plastic jug of milk with a string trick. It worked even better than relying on them stepping on the plate in the humane trap. I set up the trap, propped the door open with the jug (a third filled with water to prevent the cats from tipping it over) with a long string attached to the jug. First, you have to get the cat used to eating in the humane trap. I did this for the previous two weeks. Start with the food outside the trap and slowly move it in until it is towards the back of the trap. I had three traps so they could see the other cats eating with no problem. Then on the big day (sick to my stomach), I waited, placed the plate with the wet food they liked best UNDER the trap in the back, so it wouldn't be inside, and when the cat I wanted went inside I pulled hard on the string. EASY! Immediately cover the trap with a blanket, it calms them down right away, and keep it on to the vets. You can get the traps at Tractor Supply pretty cheap, I got mine on sale for 29.00. If you can't afford one, your local humane society may loan you one. I kept them in the covered cage overnight in the garage and released them in the morning. All of them are fine. It really surprised me that the newly spayed cats went BACK into the traps to eat, (i was still trapping the sisters), but they did.
So even though it is really hard on your nerves and your emotions, you have to do it or you will be swimming in kittens. It is expensive, but not as much as feeding all those cats. When I see my mama cat running around and happily playing I am so glad i spayed her. she is fat and sassy now and a lot more healthy looking.
 
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Hi all!

thank you all for the encouragement and well wishes. I am SO HAPPY to report my sweet boy made out through the cold and snow and is back!!! My heart can rest♥
As for mama, I agree!!! She MUST be spared spayed ASAP. Thankfully, she’s okay with me, she literally brings her babies to me when she’s about to have a new litter. I was devastated last time because she WANTED to come in my house because she was about to give birth but I was heading out of town the next day and taking 2 kittens with me to their forever homes. I still would’ve brought her in but I just couldn’t since I would be out of town. But getting her will not be a problem, I’ll just need to be hyper vigilant!!
 

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