Stray or ferral? Can she be a pet?

BlueRaccoon

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There was a litter of kittens near my mom's house. I took one of the kittens at 2 months of age. He is now 10 months old. He is a good pet cat. My mom has considered taking in another one of the kittens. She has been feeding them all these months. When they see her coming they come running and crying excited for food. You can pet them a little bit when they are eating. However, they will not let you if they are not eating and they are very skittish. She has never picked them up. Are these kittens considered strays or ferrels? Also, could they be pets at this point? How hard would it be to make the cat a friendly pet? Could they be happy being a pet? Also, if she takes this cat in, the kitten will not be in contact with any other cats. Thank you.
 
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kittychick

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It's wonderful that you and your mother have been caring for and watching out for this little family. Is the momma cat no longer around for some reason? If so (and I know this wasn't one of your questions :) ), one thing that should be tackled as soon as possible is to humanely trap their mom and have her spayed (so there aren't many many many more kittens that end up without caring people like you and your mom!). You likely have a spay/neuter clinic in your area (you might need to poke around online) - - many of which spay/neuter feral cats at a very low cost, and will loan you a humane trap. In my area we have a clinic that loans traps out. All you have to do is leave a small deposit, which they give back to you when you return the trap. Some clinics will even spay/neuter feral cats for free! And if the babies are now 10 months old and weaned - - mom can be fixed now!

As far as whether the kittens are feral or stray - you can read the great catsite.com article (the link to it is below) - it can help you understand which category your kittens fit into. And you can poke around through the "articles" section of this site - - there's lots of helpful info there!

thecatsite.com/c/a-feral-cat-or-a-stray-cat-how-to-tell-the-difference/

Another good source of information on ferals and strays is an organization called "Alley Cat Allies." They work to inform people about feral and stray kitties, hints on ways to socialize them, and all about TNR (trap/neuter/release) and how important getting them fixed is. The link below is a good place to start.

Feral and Stray Cats—An Important Difference

And obviously - - lots of people right here are very knowledgeable about ferals and strays, and ways to socialize them.
Based on your post, it sounds as though these little ones are feral, but they're so young that they should be able to be socialized whether they're feral or stray - if they're completely feral, it may just take a bit more time and patience (since they haven't had alot of human interaction - which is the only way they learn to trust us big scary humans!). But it sounds like you and your mom are both kitty lovers, and hopefully you can give them the time, patience, love and care that they need to become happy, healthy indoor kitties. To show it can be done - - I added a picture of one of our kitties. Her name is Flick, and she was 2 years old and totally feral (an outcast from a feral colony) when she showed up at our house. Flash forward 5 years - - -and Flick's a very loving, gentle lap kitty who loves everyone (and every cat) she meets - -she even helps us with foster kitties when we have them!

Keep us posted on how things go with the kittens!
 

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Jcatbird

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All good questions!! They would be semi feral at this point. Can they be pets? I have rescued and tamed/socialized semi and true ferals way beyond kitten stage. It’s often a faster process if they are kittens. Every kitty is an individual and has a different personality. Every cat is different. Some socialize through a process and some are almost immediately comfortable with being around humans. It varies and is not something we can predict 100% but I have been able to physically handle all of the 100 plus that I have brought in. They ranged in age from young kittens to 6 to 8 years old. The most feral Tom cat that was an older cat is not in my lap purring. He became a big baby. A younger female is not a lap cat but is sweet and loves belly scratches. None have any desire to go back outside now that they have adjusted to house cat life. It can take time but I find that rescues are truly relieved to be safe and loved once they understand that humans are loving creatures. Any cat that lives outside is always at risk due to predators, inclement weather, disease, humans and other hazards. Indoor cats tend to live much longer and healthier lives. The kitties really need to be spayed and neutered. A few kittens can become a large colony very quickly. Bringing in a single kitten can be a great experience. Bringing in a bonded pair is what I would suggest since they can be a comfort to each other.
There are plenty of people here on TCS that can assist if your mother decides to save another life. We totally support anyone with questions. If she brings one in it would be a good idea to start it off in a small room like a bathroom until it is used to being around her. It can be expected to be timid and even hide at first. It may meow. It will be entering a whole new world so it will need time to understand that it is safe. If she decides to do this then I hope you will post back and get some suggestions and any needed support here. We love helping anyone who wants to help a kitty! Thank you for bringing one of the kittens into your home! Just so you know, 77 kitties that were feral here ,now how wonderful adopted homes as indoor kitties. It can be accomplished.
 
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BlueRaccoon

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Thank you jefferd18 jefferd18 , Jcatbird Jcatbird , kittychick kittychick !! My mom got the kitten. She just brought her home. She currently has her in a large dog cage with food, water, a blanket, and a littter box. She won't get out of the litter box. She just has her head down near the litter. What should we do? Is this normal? She has been like this for hours. Thank you!
 

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Jcatbird

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It is very common. The litter feels more like outside probably. I’ve often had kitties stay in the box at first. If you can put a sheet over the cage or put a box or carrier inside for her to climb on or hides inside, it may get her out of the litter box. She’s just scared right now. I often use shoebox sized storage boxes as a litter box at first so that I have enough room in the cage to give the kitties a small carrier or other place to hide. See if you can give her a private space and see what happens. She’e beautiful! Those eyes are gorgeous. It’s going to take time for her to adjust so don’t be in a hurry. Patience is key. Thanks going out to you and your Mom for saving her life!
 

rubysmama

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Jcatbird

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It’s very early to be worried about eating. Give her time to calm down. The hiding spot or covered cage can help with everything if she likes it. In the photo she appears to have her gaze glued to whoever is in the room. Give her some quiet time and let her investigate where she is now. You can give her company a little later. I often find that the kitties do things once the house is quiet and everyone has gone to bed. Kind of like being outside. Ferals know that the safest time to be out is when the rest of the world is quiet. That means early morning and late night. Make sure she is in a comfortable temperature, has water, food and litter box as well as a place she feels is kind of hidden and she should begin to calm down. Of course she may retreat again when activity starts in the house again but the first day is going to be the scary start for her. I’ll see if I can find some photos of kitties I brought in and I’ll post them here for you. First days are a whole new world for them. Imagine if you were a little cat and got caught, put in a cage inside a huge building that didn’t look or smel like outside , with two legged giants walking around making noises at you that didn’t sound or smell like your Mom or siblings. When she understands she is safe and loved, it will change.
 

Jcatbird

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One tip that might help, try not to stare right at the kitty. To a cat, that’s a sign of aggression or possibly being attacked. Glance or look to the side, downwards as you speak softly to her.
These two were caught with another kitten and their mom but were so scared they stayed in the litter box. One stared at me and one would not look at me at all.
F1295C14-DDC1-450D-ADB4-0AF1FC263ED4.jpeg

Here they are at the same time with the other kitten hiding in a carrier and Mom sitting between them to guard them. She would not look at me either. They all adjusted and became calm. I covered the cage with a sheet at first but it still took time.
61EF7022-C4C6-4748-8907-E15B79D3B0AE.jpeg

This is a second Mom and litter caught together. All kept their backs turned to me at first.
E23FB29D-48F4-4BF8-8742-0C2CBBEFA32A.jpeg

Although Mom looks like she would like to attack here, she never did. In time they also settled. All of these were completely feral and had previously had no human contact until I started putting food out to try and lure them in to be caught. They all socialized and the kittens all got homes. I stil have the Moms and they are both loving house kitties now. I hope this helps.
0B614F5A-0A3C-4927-9021-7A8ED3B7A9AA.jpeg
 

rubysmama

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Ooops... just realized I called her a "him", when she's actually a "her". :hearthrob: She's very pretty, btw. :bigeyes: And though she doesn't know it yet, yesterday was best day of her life, and hopefully soon she'll realize that too. :petcat: :hearthrob:
 
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BlueRaccoon

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Thank you Jcatbird Jcatbird and rubysmama rubysmama . This has all been VERY helpful! My mom is very appreciative. I will keep you guys updated, and I'm sure I will continue to have questions! :)

Also, I thought I would mention that little girl's brother is my profile picture. I took him in 8 months ago.
 

MoonstoneWolf

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I have a 100% feral cat 5 + years old that is totally a lap cat now. I know neighbors who saw her born to a feral Mom. I'm talking about Shaman btw and her littermate Treasure was also tamed to point of loving to sit on laps.
 

rubysmama

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Thank you Jcatbird Jcatbird and rubysmama rubysmama . This has all been VERY helpful! My mom is very appreciative. I will keep you guys updated, and I'm sure I will continue to have questions! :)

Also, I thought I would mention that little girl's brother is my profile picture. I took him in 8 months ago.

How are things going today? Has she eaten anything yet?

Her brother's a cutie pie too, btw. :catlove:
 
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BlueRaccoon

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She is doing better! She ate a little bit when everyone was gone today, and she was laying on the blanket at one point. 😊
 
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