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Trapping Mom Cat And Kittens

dahlia

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Hello. I want to give a little bit of background before I get to my current dilemma. About a year ago a kitten started hanging around my house. I put food out but it didn't show up consistently and I assumed it belonged to one of my neighbors. I also thought it was a boy. Wrong! A few months ago it started showing up morning and night looking for food and I a month ago I discovered it was a she and she had four kittens. They live under a shed in my neighbors yard and come under the fence to my yard by where I feed the birds and have water out for the birds. My neighbor came over the day after I noticed them because they had noticed them as well. I started putting food out for them and so did my neighbor but we agreed that something had to be done about it. We were just both too soft to pursue it right away. I would say the kittens are about 10 weeks now. They are getting close to mom's size because she is still young and not very big. The mom cat is a hell of a hunter and is reeking havoc on the birds in both my neighbor's yard and mine (I have indoor only cats so I don't have to worry about them killing birds). I talked to him this weekend and we agreed that I would suck it up and try to trap and he was not amenable to any sort of TNR situation because of the birds.
The problem is that she is such a good mom cat I feel horrible about trapping and splitting up the family. She watches them like a hawk. If I approach when the kittens are out, she will come from wherever she is in the yard and get in a defensive position and growl at me until the kittens all make it back under the fence. She lets me get pretty close to her and will eat in front of me but is by no means tame. She probably could be tamed but the shelter here is pretty overwhelmed and, once she is fixed, she will most likely go as a barn cat (she will probably be pretty good at being a barn cat because fending for herself is what she knows). I am not sure about the kittens, they might be old to be tamed by the shelter so they may be barn cats as well (the shelter does require that owners supplemental feed before they will let the cats go to a barn).
Anyway, I guess I just need a pep talk that I am doing the right thing. I know if I catch one of the kittens first, mom will be upset and look for it. Likewise, the kittens will be distressed if I catch mom first. The whole thing is just very upsetting for me.
 

Jcatbird

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So sorry you are struggling with this! :alright: The mother is intent on teaching her children the very tough life of surviving as a cat without protection from predators, weather, humans and to provide enough calories that no one will ever starve. She’s an excellent Mom! I understand the hesitancy to split a family. It is hard on them. Here’s a suggestion. Prearrange with the barn cat program to trap ( yes some may be trapped before others) to place them as a family of barn cats. There will be a period where they are being shuffled around OR you could house them until you get them all. Many rescues would see ten weeks as a bit old to socialize but I can tell you that I have socialized cats of every age. Even the Mom could be. Rescues just don’t have space or resources to devote to older kitties. Any chance you could attempt it? One room is all you need to get it going. Many here, including myself, would be glad to help you in your efforts. If you don’t want to do that then you will probably be forced to separate mother and babies. I had very good luck with catching whole families at once but it takes some time and effort to get this accomplished. I love birds too. ( note my screen name lol)I suggest you stop feeding the birds at your house right now. Let your neighbor handle it. Start giving Mom and babies Kitten food and highly nutritious meals. If she is destined to be a barn cat, you don’t want her to lose her hunting skills so go ahead and start working to decide how to handle things and start the process. I would ask you and your neighbor to make some allowances for a bit of bird loss until this is done. That’s sad, I know. It is the cycle of a natural way of life. Every life is important and we can work to save them all but since the mother and babies already exist and this has dragged on until babies arrived, please, please understand that birds and cats both matter. This will get solved. Don’t be mad at Mom for just trying to protect her most precious little lives. We would do the same for our human babies. The best thing you can do for the birds at this point is to lure them away for this time period and keep the kitties there by offering wonderful food they cannot resist. Thank you for caring about Mom and babies. Separating them can be traumatic so I hope you can work something out. If you can at least manage to keep some together, it would help Mom. Good luck and please write back with updates or any questions you have. You’ll find that many people here will want to help you. :goodluck:
 
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dahlia

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Don't worry. My neighbor and I both understand that she is just being a good mom and protecting and providing for her babies. I have been feeding them Purina kitten chow and Friskies pate and I know my neighbor is feeding them wet food as well. They are all looking quite plump and mom is putting some weight back on as well. I just feel so bad about the whole situation. I wish I would have found them when they were younger and I could have just scooped them up and brought them to the shelter.
 

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You have excellent advice to work with now/going forward from one of THE best in the business.

By the way, if mom proves wily smart about traps, try Kentucky fried chicken to bait the trap :thumbsup:
 

Talien

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They definitely need to be trapped and fixed, though your neighbor is probably right in that it would be bad to release them there again because of how they are killing so many birds.

If you catch one or more of the Kittens first you can use them as bait for mom, once she is trapped it should be much easier to catch any remaining Kittens.

If you catch her first keep her in an isolated room and wear coveralls and heavy leather gloves as a precaution to avoid a hospital visit as she may be extremely aggressive trying to escape and get back to her Kittens. She should calm down once you start bringing the Kittens in, but don't expect her to be very friendly until they are all reunited and have had time to get used to their new surroundings.

Be prepared to take care of them for another month or so unless you are set on the barn Cat route. The upside is that would give you ample time to work on socializing them, and it's possible they may surprise you by how much progress they make.
 

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I'm not sure what the set up of your house is or if my advice would be helpful but would it be possible for you to lure them into your house? I've caught a curious kitten this way before and also a hungry mom.

I left the door open and stood on a stool behind the door. I left it open just enough for her to come through. Oh! But before that, I started feeding her closer to the door. Her and the kittens did that for a while. Sometimes, they'd come inside but I didn't do anything because I wanted to desensitize them to coming inside first. Right, so, I stood on the stool. Placed the food in pretty far so that she had to come all the way in and then I slammed the door behind her. It was a lot easier that way because my house is small so she didn't have much place to run. She kinda gave in after a while and went into an old carrier I had.
 

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It sounds like you are doing all the prep work to start the process. Whatever route you decide to pursue, ultimately, getting them safe and sheltered is a very good thing. I have “ discovered” stowaways before too. I know we always wish we could backtrack but try not to feel bad. Things will greatly improve in their lives as you get them settled somewhere. :) Rescuing them is all for the best.
 

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If you TNR momma and still provide her with food, she'll be less inclined to hunt for food. She won't have a reason to hunt anymore. That's how I ended up with Patches. I discovered her momma and two kittens when we came back from vacation and I started bringing them food. She was a really good momma too. She sat very patiently and watched while they ate and waited until they were done before she ate. She had another litter that spring and took the kittens from her at around 6 weeks when she moved them from the shed to under someones ground deck. I trapped her in a hav-a-hart trap and then let her back out after she healed from the surgery.

If you release the female back into the neighborhood, she'll also go after mice, voles, moles and rats.
 
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dahlia

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Thank you for all your replies. If I catch mom cat, I may try to talk my neighbor into the TNR route for her. When I mentioned it initially, he wasn't thrilled but he may come around.
Unfortunately, I can't bring any of them into my house. One of my indoor kitties has asthma and my vet indicated that stress can trigger an asthma attack. I am pretty sure that having five cats shut in the extra bathroom would qualify. I had to take my cat in for a bad asthma attack once (oxygen tank overnight at the vet) and I would like to never go through that again if it can be helped. I will just have to bring them to the shelter as I catch them.
I have a trap of my own (a nice Tomahawk one) that I have been using to try to catch cats on my way to work but should I maybe get one from the shelter and try to set two at once? I am totally stressing myself out about the various scenarios (what if I catch mom first but no kittens or a couple of kittens and no mom, etc.).
I am getting them used to their eating routine and won't start trying to trap until next week. That is dependent on the shelter having room. I will check with them first before I set the traps. I think I may put my trap out there unopened at the beginning of the week so they get used to it.
 

Talien

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Thank you for all your replies. If I catch mom cat, I may try to talk my neighbor into the TNR route for her. When I mentioned it initially, he wasn't thrilled but he may come around.
Unfortunately, I can't bring any of them into my house. One of my indoor kitties has asthma and my vet indicated that stress can trigger an asthma attack. I am pretty sure that having five cats shut in the extra bathroom would qualify. I had to take my cat in for a bad asthma attack once (oxygen tank overnight at the vet) and I would like to never go through that again if it can be helped. I will just have to bring them to the shelter as I catch them.
I have a trap of my own (a nice Tomahawk one) that I have been using to try to catch cats on my way to work but should I maybe get one from the shelter and try to set two at once? I am totally stressing myself out about the various scenarios (what if I catch mom first but no kittens or a couple of kittens and no mom, etc.).
I am getting them used to their eating routine and won't start trying to trap until next week. That is dependent on the shelter having room. I will check with them first before I set the traps. I think I may put my trap out there unopened at the beginning of the week so they get used to it.
Does your neighbor have space available to keep them for a bit? If you explain that they need to stay together until the Kittens are fully grown but you can't keep them in your house because of your Cat, he may be amenable to giving them a spare bedroom or bathroom until you have them all trapped.
 
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dahlia

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I finally got a chance to try to catch some of my cat family. I caught two kittens yesterday. I rigged the trap with a string and then just walked back a little way. I wanted to be able to chose who to trap first because I had read something about trying to get the shy kittens first. Tortie kitten, who is very brave, went right in to eat the food but I didn't want to just get her so I put more food in and waited. Orange kitten (brave) and grey and white kitten (shy, barely see him/her) then went in the I closed it on them. I felt like the worse human ever. I whisked them into the garage until the shelter opened and then put more food out for mom and the remaining two kittens. Mom wandered around the yard for a bit calling the kittens which made me feel awful. I felt a little less awful when I looked out and she had caught a dove that I had to rush out and save. She was at my house this morning but didn't have the kittens with her. Not surprising I guess.
I figured I would give it a few days before I try again (plus, with my schedule I pretty much can't fit it in in the mornings until the end of the week). I think tortie will be pretty easy but I would like to catch her and maybe mom at the same time. The remaining kitten is very cautious and I think I am just going to have to set the trap in the traditional manner to catch it because it won't come out and eat while I am there. The other ones aren't concerned about me as long as I don't move towards them. Any suggestions?
The girl at the shelter mentioned having the kittens be barn cats but I am hoping they will behave themselves at the shelter so they can be adopted to a home. I said I would rather that they weren't barn cats but I know the shelter has to do what they need to do to move cats out because they have limited space and it is no kill.
I don't think any of my friends or family really appreciate the stress one goes through trying to do this trapping thing. I feel like I talk about it constantly but it is always on my mind.
 

Furballsmom

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think I am just going to have to set the trap in the traditional manner to catch it because it won't come out and eat while I am there.
o agree, this may be the best solution :vibes::goodluck:
 
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dahlia

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So I caught the kittens on Sunday morning. On Monday morning, mom came by to eat without the two remaining kittens. On Tuesday morning, she came with the kittens but she hasn't been back for the last two mornings. I am somewhat concerned that she is avoiding my yard because that is where she lost two kittens. Should I be worried or is this pretty normal?
 

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Your doing great! She will be back for food unless the neighbor is feeing her.
 
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dahlia

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Thank you for the encouragement. Mom came this morning with only the tortie kitten, the cream color one was not with her. I am hoping it just didn't feel like coming around. I worry because I do have owls in the neighborhood. On the good news front, I petted tortie! I put the food down and was still crouched down and she came right over and started eating so I reached out and petted her down the back. She backed off but then came right back so I stroked her back several times while she ate. Mom was watching so I am hoping she is learning. I want to wait to catch tortie until I see if cream comes back because I would like to get them both at once. Plus, now that tortie is getting friendly, I would like to get her even more tamed up before taking her to the shelter (I am not going to wait more than a few weeks though because I want her to still be a cute kitten and thus more adoptable). She has started to talk to me when I put the food out so I think things are going in the right direction. I just hope cream is ok.
 
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dahlia

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I called the shelter today to see if they have cages available because I am going to try to get mom and two remaining kittens this weekend (fingers crossed). I asked how the two kittens were doing and she said orange kitty had died.:bawling: They don't know why. He was fine and playing and then they went in later and his legs weren't moving so they took him to the vet and he died. Charcoal and white kitty is doing well and has been spayed. I feel awful. The girl mentioned FIP but does that make sense? I hope the others don't have whatever he had. What a crappy day.
 
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