I have fostered 3 kittens and need a little advice please.

(20 Posts)
Migsy1 Tue 28-Jan-14 20:47:56

I have fostered 3 kittens for an animal rescue. I have only had them 2 days so it is early yet! Kittens are about 4 months old. They were born in the wild and living rough. One of them had been injured but has now recovered. Before coming to me they were kept in a large cage in another fosterer's house for about a month. On Sunday when I got them they were all very hissy and terrified. 2 of them are slowly gaining confidence with me but the one who was injured is still hiding all the time and spits like something out of a horror film if I go near her. I'm worried that I might not make good progress with her.

Any advice or experience to share please.

Ps - they are living in my home office so I am spending all day with them.

cozietoesie Tue 28-Jan-14 21:08:38

She's frightened, wee soul.

You really need issey or a poster with her experience - but there are some useful tips here which might come in handy.

Migsy1 Tue 28-Jan-14 21:33:03

Yep - terrified. She is feisty with amazing spirit though. I just want to make sure that she can get to a stage where she can be adopted. I can see that the other two will make it. She is absolutely beautiful though - very unusual colouring / markings and looks incredibly cute!

Migsy1 Tue 28-Jan-14 21:39:11

Oh, and thanks for the link - it is very useful. I'm guessing they are about 4 months old but they might be older.

cozietoesie Tue 28-Jan-14 22:15:49

Well you really need someone like issey who has had much experience of fostering so hopefully she'll be around sooner or later - just keep a weather eye on the thread.

One thing I can vouch for, however, is the use of a constant lowish volume noise source like a radio/music producing gizmo of some sort. (It even works with older cats who are a bit antsy.) I leave it to you to decide the type of noise. Especially as you'll be there and have to sit through it.

cozietoesie Tue 28-Jan-14 22:19:55

PS- a telly is fine as well. I had square eyes after sitting through every one of my DVD box sets when Seniorboy had a little stroke (I think) and had to be soothed for a few days. (He was used to telly with my Mom and found it relaxing.)

A couple of years ago I fostered a very timid and hissy semi-feral who was 12 weeks old when she came to me - I rehomed her about three months later. I have to say that she has never become a very confident cat and still hides when there's too much noise or strangers about, but she is very happy with her humans when all is quiet and calm, and she is extremely affectionate with them. Things that helped:

- lots of play. At first I would just sit near her hiding place for ages, not looking at her (in fact reading a book), and gently swish a bit of string about close to her so she could see it. She couldn't resist, and over time we progressed to more active play.
- bribery. She'd come to me for extra-special food (tuna). I held it in such a way that she'd have to touch one of my hands to get to the food in my other hand.
- going about your normal day. Just going about your everyday stuff so the kitten learns that ordinary household noises don't lead to anything bad, and when people move around it doesn't mean they are chasing you.
- providing high-up hiding places. Cats feel safer when they are up high, and they will see a lot more of ordinary home life from a high vantage point than if tucked in a corner at floor level.
- learning by example. This was the most helpful of all. After a couple of weeks we fostered a second kitten, this one a fully socialised and confident boy. They bonded almost instantly, and she gained a great deal of confidence just by being with him. The day he arrived was the same day that I stroked her (and got a purr!) for the first time. So hopefully your timid one will follow the example set by the two others as they gain confidence.

good luck!

cozietoesie Wed 29-Jan-14 09:50:51

Gerund

Even Seniorboy goes off when there are strangers around or too much busyness. He just doesn't like many people, that's all!

smile

Migsy1 Wed 29-Jan-14 10:38:49

Thanks Gerund. She has been purring really loudly this morning! She is sitting between my filing cabinet and a box but looking out. I also hoped that she would follow the other 2 and I'm encouraged about what you say about introducing the more sociable kitten to your cat.

One of them has just ventured to the food bowl whilst the other is considering it. Scared cat only eats when I am not there.

issey6cats Wed 29-Jan-14 13:38:19

hi sorry been busy last couple of days

right can you pick her up as though they struggle i find that giving even a couple of minutes of a firm hold cuddle starts to relax them to realise that being that close to a human does not hurt them,

play is important dangly toys on sticks or the laser red dot ones get them playing without realising you are there
behemoth has probably said a lot of what i would say and funnily enough a cage is a good idea for the really hissy one as you can feed her in there and when you put food in you can gently stroke her even a few seconds at a time

hand feeding her little treats will get her to trust you

at four months it will be slower as generally you have to get ferals before 3 months for a reasonable turnaround

am trying to think what the rescue i work at does with older ferals they have them in the office and basically give them lots of talking to in a sing song voice, treats, play with laser toy

also at times just totally ignore her as this will pique her curiosity as cats alwasy go to the person who dosent look at them as seen as non threatening

at other times look at her straight in the face and blink very slwoly as this is non threatening hello in cat world

also feliway plug ins might be worth trying also neutering will calm down the fight or flight hormones

Migsy1 Wed 29-Jan-14 17:44:35

Hi Issey

The lady from the rescue centre says they must be about 6 months but I'm not so sure as the 2 girls are really small. The boy is about twice their size.

I can cuddle one of the girls - although she is not keen when I go towards her. The most feral one will not let me get near and on the 2 occasions that I have picked her up she has lashed out in a very impressive way for one so small! The big boy will sit behind a clothes airer but it is difficult to stroke him although when he hisses his ears go back less than they did at first and he can relax with me in the room provided I don't go near. I haven't tried to pick him up.

We have a lazer pen so I will try that. I have also been feeding them treats.

My gut instinct is that the most feral one would be better if she was fostered on her own as I wonder if she would be better away from other cats and also because I think her behaviour is hindering the progress of the other two. I don't think that they are ready to be neutered although they have been vaccinated.

I might take the most chilled out one into the lounge with me this evening to give her some special attention.

Thanks for the advice. It is an interesting time smile

issey6cats Wed 29-Jan-14 22:19:56

hi yes i think you are right to ask them to get the most fearful one fostered with someone on her own as ferals feed off each others fears and seem to do better sometimes when the only kitten, for only a couple of days sounds like the other two are heading in the right direction, all the best it is so rewarding when one day soon you will be sitting there doing something and suddenly find a little feral on your lap and purring of their own accord cant be beaten

issey6cats Wed 29-Jan-14 22:22:53

ps i have a big cuddly dressing gown that i wear when cuddlinng the scaredys, its soft material for them and protects me from little slashers (claws )what i do is fold them up in the material and hug them close to my heart so they are snuggled, cant claw me and eventually they start to relax cos they have no choice lol

Migsy1 Sun 16-Feb-14 21:31:33

I've had them for 3 weeks now! They are getting better but slowly. I can play with them and they will take treats from my hands but they don't like being touched. However, I got one of them to purr whilst I stroked her ear. I wish I could get them to enjoy affection. The boy cat stares at me and hates me and when I come into the room he comes towards me hissing and I think he is putting his sisters off. He is going back to the sanctuary next week to see if his sisters will get on better without him.

Any more tips please? It seems so slow!

Migsy1 Sun 16-Feb-14 21:32:40

Oh, and the most fearful one has turned into the least fearful one!

issey6cats Sun 16-Feb-14 23:33:40

the older ferals at the rescue i work at probably take about 3 months to be totally rehomeable, it sounds like you are doing all the right things, as i said the younger you get them the easier it is, patience is all you can do, and as the tom is the most hissy he will be better tamed on his own

i found that doing a mix of cuddling them and sometimes just sitting in the room not really taking much notice of them gets their interest and you just have to wait for them to creep onto your lap, and the first time they do dont be tempted to fuss them, let them know they can come on your lap on their terms,

then after they have done this a couple of times go really slow and stroke them just a couple of times, then next time a couple more,

its a case of slowly slowly catchy and friendly feral kits lol

Migsy1 Sun 02-Mar-14 19:59:47

Thanks, Issey. The most feral one is back at the sanctuary as he was making the other 2 more nervous. One of them is quite tame now and the other enjoyed a head stroke for the first time today! It was wonderful - she relaxed and purred. It will be so hard to give them back sad

cozietoesie Sun 02-Mar-14 20:11:35

Has he been fostered with someone else do you know?

I couldn't foster easily for the very reason you said. I have the greatest respect for issey and the others who do foster. How lovingly strong they are.

Migsy1 Sun 02-Mar-14 20:32:42

No cozie he is in a large pen and he has experienced "cat cuddlers" working with him. He only went there on Thursday and it is early days yet but they are optimistic that they can get him socialised. If they can't he will live permanently at the sanctuary.

cozietoesie Sun 02-Mar-14 20:51:45

Ah. Good luck to him.

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