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Talk to me about feral kittens...

(43 Posts)
LilaTheTiger Sat 05-Mar-16 17:52:43

We have space for a couple of kittens, I've been keeping my eye out.

A friend who is an arch animal rescuer has a friend who rescues feral cats who are often pregnant. I can have some kittens from the next rescue. I've also offered to foster mum if needs doing.

I'm pretty experienced with animals. We have rescued dog, cat and chickens already. I once rescued a duckling, raised her and released her (miss her still!) and have raised chicks from the egg. We also have skinny hedgehogs overwintering in the shed most years.

Feral cats is new though. What do I need to think about? Possibly though less likely the pregnant mum, almost certainly two teeny wild kittens... Help!

kimlo Sat 05-Mar-16 18:00:13

My friend hand reared two abandoned kittens, one died but the other ones aboit 1 now.

In the early weeks it was like having babies, they needed feeding during the night and she couldnt go out or go to work with out getting someone to look after them.

lljkk Sat 05-Mar-16 18:00:57

They WILL have fleas.
How old are they? We had a feral cat that my brother caught (bitten for it!!) from under my grandfather's house. He was always a dim runt, undernourished before birth even I suppose. Half-size ball of fluff. Can the rescue person help you with how to care for them?

AveEldon Sat 05-Mar-16 18:05:12

We had one (abandoned) which we bottle fed
She was quite wild and would steal all manner of food if left out on the counter

HirplesWithHaggis Sat 05-Mar-16 18:16:59

IME, feral kittens are exactly the same as any other kitten. My current ginger tom was fully-feral, from a fully-feral mother (no human contact) when he was found near death at about 12-13 weeks. You'd think such a traumatic start to living with humans might have turned him a bit sus, but he's the soppiest thing on three legs.

A semi-feral (farm cat, some limited human contact) kitten I got at the same time was on the nervy side, but settled quickly with regular family and loved a good snuggle. Not a bit of nastiness about her (and she was no hunter either).

A previous semi-feral kitten (farm cat, a fair bit of human contact) was tiny, but the most confident wee thing you ever saw. She just demanded that everyone love her, including my grumpy old tabby, who hated everyone. And we did.

Presumably these kittens will be left with their mum til the usual 8 weeks or so? And they'll be socialised by the rescue.

There's no reason to think they'll be any wilder than your nextdoor neighbour's cat's progeny. Feral cats aren't a breed apart.

stumblymonkey Sat 05-Mar-16 18:23:21

YY to the last post.

Feral-ness is just a lack of socialisation there's nothing genetic about it so if the kittens are socialised from an early age by the rescue and/or foster home they will be no different to any other cats.

I would just make sure you take them as soon as it is appropriate for them to be away from their mother (usually 8 weeks) so that you can have time as early as possible to handle them and bond with them.

They will be like any other cats...personally I love lap cats so when I have a new kitten I always make sure I spend a lot of time handling and petting them. I also let them sleep on my bed at first as this really increases the bond (once adult they sleep downstairs as I'm a light sleeper).

Rockytoptennessee Sat 05-Mar-16 18:25:20

Our Charlie was from Celiac Hammond's rescue place. Her mother was captured as a feral pregnant cat and the kittens born at the cat rescue. I believe they neuter the mothers and let them go as they can't be rehomed.

When we got Charlie, at I guess around 10 weeks, she was much more nervy than other kittens we'd had but didn't take long to become a very sweet lap-cat. She did go through a 'naughty' period where she would steal food, including biting into a bag of flour, and nibbling at a loaf of bread through the plastic wrap (one bite out of each slice!). But that may have been nothing to do with her feral/rescue centre origins. Pic attached

HirplesWithHaggis Sat 05-Mar-16 18:48:23

Having said upthread that feral kittens will be no "wilder" than any other moggy, pretty much all kittens have their wee wild moments, where they will chase each other and playfight, run up your curtains and shred your soft furnishings. If you've never had kittens before, lock away all of your breakable valuables, ornaments etc and prepare for hilarious mayhem! grin

LilaTheTiger Sat 05-Mar-16 19:07:03

Thanks! That might reassure DP a bit.

And the situation is exactly as Rocky said. Pregnant mum's caught, and after kittens are born and weaned they are neutered and re released. I'd have the kittens from 8 weeks. Reassuring to know all will be normal kitten madness from then on grin

The other option is that I foster the feral mother cat in the period between catching and neutering. Anyone done that? I'm looking for experiences really, obviously if that happens I'll do my research and get specialist advice.

LilaTheTiger Sat 05-Mar-16 19:08:06

Oh, and Charlie is GORGEOUS! 😍

RustyBear Sat 05-Mar-16 19:26:02

I've been following this Canadian rescue foster home, tinykittens, ever since someone posted a link to it on MN last year. They are linked to a shelter which runs a TNR program and often traps pregnant cats.

Shelley, who looks after the cats, fostered two pregnant feral cats last year; the kittens were socialised and adopted, the mothers spayed and returned to their feral colony. In both those cases, they also had pregnant stray domesticated cats who had kittens at about the same time and who 'adopted' the feral mums' litters at around weaning time. The kittens were all pretty healthy, except for upper respiratory infections, which are pretty endemic in the feral colony.

They currently have two feral mums (one of which is on webcam on the link above) who are both pregnant, but this time no potential foster mum. Shelley talks on camera about what's happening with them and how they are going about the socialising process while trying not to stress the pregnant cats (who see humans as potential predators). You can find past videos on the livestream events and on the Facebook page Tinykittens Cat Pack.

HirplesWithHaggis Sat 05-Mar-16 19:29:50

I haven't fostered a pregnant feral cat, and tbh it's something I'd be personally leary of doing. I imagine she'd need to be kept indoors at all times, for fear of her running off when still pregnant, or moving her babies somewhere outdoors at a few days old. Hope someone can be more helpful.

Rockytoptennessee Sat 05-Mar-16 20:32:53

Thanks Lila. I remember now that she did hide away shaking for the first 24 hours or so when we brought her home, but her curiosity and hunger got the better of her in the end! But I think that's to do with being born and living in the rescue place, she just wasn't used to being outside of her cage and having quite so much human contact. But she's just lovely now, cuddled up on DP's lap as I write this.

stumblymonkey Sat 05-Mar-16 21:05:38

My entirely non-feral non-rescue kitten hid for a couple of days under the sofa....I had to feed her under I think that is pretty normal kitty behaviour, they've been taken from their Mum and home for the first time and are in a strange place with strange people and new smells and are just a bit overwhelmed and worried but they come round in a couple of days when they realise you are the supply of food and that being petted is really rather nice!

<shares gratuitous pic of one of own cats for no reason other than being an over-proud fur baby mother>

Oldraver Sat 05-Mar-16 23:40:42

I had a feral kitten...his mother lived around a farm and would only let one person near her, but she disappeared when heavily pregnant for a few weeks. She wandered back round the farm and the owner thought the kittens had died...until Mum bought them all into the barn (complete with a rabbit for food). Which was lucky as the mother got run over probably by the lovely but dozy woman

He was probably five weeks when we got him and was quite fiesty to start with but proved to be a lovely cat. He was always the most fiesty of all my cats but was very loving as well.

He had no fear and was always bringing rats home, but used to end up with abcesses a lot

LilaTheTiger Mon 07-Mar-16 07:40:08

If I fostered the pregnant mum she'd be crated in a quiet corner of the house. I'm sure I'd manage!

Thank you all for your input. I'll definitely post kitten pics if they arrive smile

SquadGoals Mon 07-Mar-16 09:25:35

Our two were found by DH's colleague at work. The mother was definitely feral and abandoned the litter when the work got too close.

I've had these two since they were four weeks and hand reared them. At six months, they are now more socialised than any cat I've seen! They love people - anyone who comes to the house, they are all over like a rash.

There is definitely a bit of African wild cat in one, according to the vet. They were very young to be taken away but I'd take in feral/wild kittens again in a heartbeat.

LilaTheTiger Mon 07-Mar-16 13:00:33

That's very heartening!

JanetWeb2812 Mon 07-Mar-16 15:08:49

Tune in to

They are a Canadian group that specializes in the trap, neuter, return of feral cats and finding furrever homes for the kittens born in their care.

RustyBear Mon 07-Mar-16 20:57:53

That's the one I linked to further up the thread Janet. Are you watching now? They are hoping Sable is going to give birth today - she's massive!

JanetWeb2812 Mon 07-Mar-16 23:19:09

RustyBear, I missed your link. I spend far too much time watching TK and the follow-on stories from the kittens' new homes. But isn't Cassidy an absolute star? He certainly has "it"!

RustyBear Mon 07-Mar-16 23:45:20

He's amazing - did you see the video of him getting to the top of the cat tree? I hope they can work something out to get him some feet.
I've been watching Sable on and off for the last couple of hours - she's in pre-labour, apparently, but I have to go to bed now, I may wake up to find the kittens are here. Or she may do a Sisko and keep us waiting for another week!

RustyBear Thu 10-Mar-16 10:15:52

If you want to see a live birth of a feral mum in foster care, happening right now see this livestream feed - two born so far, number three on the way

Note, there will be blood and grossness, and the foster carer will not be able to intervene except in a total emergency, in case the mum gets too stressed, so maybe not for young children

SpidersFromMars Thu 10-Mar-16 10:41:34

Tiny baby kittens!

stumblymonkey Thu 10-Mar-16 11:10:43


Ickle baby cats grin

FWIW...I never talk like this about any other topic. Not even human babies.

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