So many questions - but how can I entertain a feral kitten?

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anticus

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Circling back to the original question of this thread: I could use some suggestions for play for Pumpkin.

With Midnight essentially ignoring her, she is bored and I think a little sad. She has taken to one of the toys I got for her - a treat puzzle, but she has mastered it. She isn't interested in the wand toy (maybe I am not using it properly), nor catnip filled mice. She's getting zero exercise, and while she isn't close to being fat, I think her mental health is suffering from it. Or maybe I am way off base and indeed all she wants to do is eat and care for her babies.
 

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That’s all most cats do is sleep, nurse, and clean their babies - resting in between. In the wild they must leave their babies for hours in order to hunt for food. She will start interacting with her babies when they are 3-4 weeks old and begin to explore. She’s not sad; just doing what Mother Nature intends.
 
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That's good to know, Sarthur. I spend a lot of time with her, sometimes just sitting in the same room reading, just so she knows she's not alone and she has a protector. Dr. Wifey has become a little jealous because she originally had the stronger bond with Pumpkin. I've assured her that once her semester ends and has three months to spend with Pumpkin that their bond will be re-established.

We have not moved the kittens yet but solving this problem is my #1 priority. The utility room is still too cold at night which is disappointing because the space itself is perfect. Moving them upstairs to the kitchenette space is still a possibility, but it is small and I feel like it will be restrictive.

I am leaning toward buying or building (even though I am not handy) a pen to surround their current location in the parlor (in approx. a 5x12 space). Pumpkin is very comfortable in this area. I would cover the carpet with plastic, then cardboard, then maybe blankets? I have not been fortunate enough to learn how high the walls of this structure should be. 2ft? 3ft?

The kittens will be 2 weeks old on Tuesday. They are already crawling. A few days ago the calico stumbled out of the box while Pumpkin was nursing the others. I was fortunate to be passing through when I saw and I carefully returned Cali to the box and mama. I sat for a while just to make sure it didn't happen again (it didn't). When Pumpkin was done nursing she ran out of the box to me and nuzzled my face. It was sublime. Surprisingly Midnight came over and comforted her.
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OMG - they're holding hands (paws)!!!!!
 
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EMERGENCY! We moved the kittens from one box to another - in the same place - it is just cleaner and has a higher entrance so the kittens can't crawl out. But Pumpkin won't go in it to nurse them! They are crying and she is just laying on the floor. What do I do?
 
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We did, then left her alone - and eventually she went back into the box. Today she seems fine but now am even more wary of moving them.
 

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The time to move them has passed. Now you need to think about containing them In the parlor / dining room areas. How about baby gates in the primary doorways that lead to these rooms. The kittens will get ever more mobile from here on out.
 
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Containment has always been the issue. How much room do kittens 3-12 weeks need - realistically. Also I have called a vet and awaiting a return - one of the kittens' eye is still closed - like swollen, perhaps from an injury during the scrum for milk, maybe another issue. This tyke is already curious about the outside world.

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Gently wipe the eye with a warm damp cloth and ask the vet for a tube of terramycin antibiotic eye ointment. It will clear infection quickly.
 
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I have a vet appointment this afternoon for the ginger with the eye injury. His/her face has a scar and there seems to be an scab over the eye. I don't see terribly well and the warm, damp cloth and cotton ball did nothing, but it's possible I was too afraid to give the proper amount of pressure. I feel like a failure. I pray it is not too late but I fear the worst.

Also Pumpkin began to present her babies to me today and I wasn't ready. I meant to get the pen set up but I've been sick with the vaccine after-effects and didn't get to it in time. So I ruined her big moment of pride and I feel terrible for that too. I got the pen erected and Pumpkin is confused by it and upset at me. She'll get over it but it hasn't been a great day. I'll give her some shrimp later. She discovered shrimp over the weekend when I was having some steamed and she lost her mind. She jumped up on the couch and I fed her some - I have never seen her eat with such gusto. However now every time she sees me she sprints for the living room thinking that it's shrimp time again. I explained to her that it is just a treat and that her food is very good, but naturally she doesn't understand why I am not giving her the good stuff. I've created a monster. :)
 
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Ginger boy was so brave! It was a harrowing day for all. Pumpkin was nursing when it was time to take ginger boy to the vet - and the look she gave me when I picked him up and put him in the shoe box was heartbreaking. I confined her and the others in the pen while I was gone to prevent her from moving the other kittens somewhere else. Ginger boy was scared but he did so well in the car. I wasn't allowed in the vet office due to COVID protocols, but the doctor and staff all came out to tell me how adorable they thought he is. Cleaning the eye helped immensely, and even after 2 doses of antibiotic he looks much better. This morning when I picked him up to give him his drops, he covered his eye with his paw!!!!! It was so cute - and he's a smart one!

When I reunited him with Pumpkin when we returned she examined him then took him into the box for the meal he missed out on while at the vet. She doesn't seem to be holding a grudge, but was very upset this morning for dose #2. She kept reaching for him.

I gave her some shrimp last night as a reward for being patient and understanding (even if she wasn't) and she would not leave us alone afterward while we were trying to eat. Jumping around the couch searching for shrimp. Every time I moved she thought I had a shrimp in my hand. She has never begged like this and was anxious when she ate all of them. We eventually brought her food into the living room with us and she ate it while we finished our meal and then was fine.

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So this was new. A few of the babies came out of the box today! Pumpkin lured them out. The calico was very adventurous and Pumpkin licked her a LOT. But then Pumpkin grabbed her, pulled her in and bit her throat!!! We stopped it, then a few minutes later when the calico was trying to nurse, Pumpkin did it again. It didn't look friendly. Dr Wifey and I are still reeling from it.

Is this normal? Was it Pumpkin's way of telling her it wasn't nursing time? It seems like there would be a less violent way.

To add to this, I believe Pumpkin is in heat again. She demonstrated courting behavior and Midnight made a move for her neck. I broke that up FAST but she was very agitated about it. I put Midnight on the front porch (It's screened in) and she searched the house for him.

Could that episode inspired the behavior toward the calico???

Any and all advice welcome.
 

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Oh dear, it’s a shame she’s in heat again so soon after giving birth. Good thing you broke it up, but what’s the plan on getting Midnight neutered? That needs to happen asap.

You will see more behavior from mom where she is “rough” with the kittens. This is mom beginning the discipline process, but there are indeed times to break it up. Her behavior towards her kitten today may have been due to her heightened hormones, but once the kittens begin to leave the nest moms do get anxious and let the kittens know to mind her!
 
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anticus

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Thanks, Sarthur. Midnight's date is June 2nd, which was the first available. Right after I broke them up I called to see if there had been any cancellations, and to ask them to call if there are. Meanwhile I am going to make calls to other vets on Monday to see if anyone can see him sooner.

Do you have any further guidance about the times when to stop mama's rough discipline? Certainly if the kitten is in pain - and the kitten didn't cry out today, but it was shockingly violent and scared us. I don't know which behavior is acceptable and which isn't.
 
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I made a video of the kittens' first journey out of the nest, if you're interested. I just learned that if I get enough subscribers I can livestream the kittens, which would be fun!

 

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Excellent that you are calling around to move up Midnight’s neuter. It’s a ten-minute procedure for males. Then he needs a couple weeks for leftover sperm to die, and he will calm down immensely in a couple months without his testosterone.

I took in two stray kittens this past fall and set up spay and neuter appointments. I got a cancellation call and had the male done first, thankfully, as he had begun trying to mount his sister.

When the kittens scream, you break it up. They will also tussle with one another, but there were times when my mother cat was too rough and I would break it up. You will know. Trust your judgement.

There are times when they will go from this:
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To this:
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All in a day’s fun, right?

These “kittens” are six years old now. The orange one is also named Pumpkin and is in my avatar with his mom. I kept mom and all four kittens. It has been a joy! (She came to me as a pregnant stray.) I have ten cats total. I know, I’m a crazy cat lady with a master’s degree in English and I work at a local college. I was not planning on any more cats when the last two kittens were brought to me this past fall. I’m a sucker, but once here my cats live a luxurious life. Anyway, I believe that we are only given that which we can handle. 😊

anticus anticus

P.S. The kittens were almost 5 weeks old in the pictures dated April 19. 2015. They were born on March 15.
 
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Awwwww they are adorable! Our Pumpkin's kittens have already been battling each other for a good seat at Mama Cafe. I believe that is how ginger boy's eye got infected - from an injury by a sibling.

Keeping Pumpkin & Midnight separated - and even more - calm, is a real challenge. I'm more concerned about Pumpkin getting agitated and confused than I am Midnight. He's been around the block a few times - he gets it even if he doesn't like it.

However - maybe she's not in heat so soon - maybe she is lonely and just misses her boyfriend/BFF. She's not exhibiting any of the other signs.
 
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The Humane Society of Greenville can get Midnight in sooner. Hooray!

Also, I think Pumpkin wanted me to mate with her. She exhibited the same behavior to me as she did to Midnight last time he was here, only he acted on it.

I did NOT mate with her to set the record straight, although I am flattered ;). However I am enjoying the extra affection and I am playing with her and giving her extra attention to let her know there is more to life than nursing.

I played with her a lot today. I placed some treats in a corner and I played laser pointer with her for a while, which is always very frustrating for her, but in the end it led to treats, which a praised her huntress prowess while she ate them.
 
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