Very small feral kitten(22 Posts)
My brother has a colony of feral cats on his farm. They seem to be healthy and they are shy, but not aggressive. However, one kitten is about seven months old but is about the size of a two month old kitten. She is the offspring of a cat who, we believe, has some form of cat flu. The amazing thing about the kitten is that, unlike all the other members of the colony, she is extremely friendly. She runs out to greet us, loves being stroked and purrs.
Our problem is that although she is happy in her feral community, we are not sure she has the power or size to hunt. We have considered taking her as a pet, but I do not think we could afford vet bills if something is seriously wrong with her.
We supplement the cats' food, especially in winter, and make sure they have warm bedding in the barn. However, the kitten does not seem to be growing, although she plays and seems happy, and I worry that she will not survive a particularly cold winter.
Do you think we should adopt the kitten and let it take its chances in our home, or should we just try to keep her as warm and well fed as possible with her family?
I just feel the little creature has sort of bonded with us and we have to make the right decision.
I would probably leave her to live with the others, but make a better shelter and provide adequate food daily for them.
Could you take to vets once just to see what her health is like? It might just be a basic course of wormer that's needed or similar
I don't know the answer, hopefully someone else will have some ideas, but I just wanted to say it is so hard when you see those little cats and they are so friendly. My husband comes from a country where there's a huge amount of feral cats and it is very hard to walk away from them, especially if one of them seems to 'take' to you. Like you, lots of people adopt/feed them when they are on the streets but most don't take them in. It's so hard...I wish I knew the 'right' thing to do.
I lived on a cottage on a farm up until this year and another tenant in the area was a cat hoarder. His original cats created dozens of feral cats on the farm. I started to feed them, trapped the ones I could and with the help of Cats protection had them spayed and neutered. The whole colony had a form of cat herpes leaving them susceptible to things like cat flu or at the least made them symptomatic of it.
I would trap kittens around the 6-8 week mark, treat them with antibiotics if needed and rehome.
One I kept. She was dumped and left by her mama outside my door at around two to three weeks old. I guess mama cat knew I'd take her in and formula feed her.
Every now and then she gets runny eyes. She's also very tiny for her age (now 2). However, having a happy, warm home with plenty of food ensures that she rarely feels ill and if she does, we still don't need to do anything about it. Synulox antibiotic isn't too pricey of the cat gets a bit poorly (which is likely to happen with the stress of coming indoors until she realises how great a home is)
Take the kitten in. If anything it'll save her from breeding with her siblings.
Interesting. I recall going to an offshore island once - where the overwhelming majority of the local cats were very inbred - and seeing a mature cat streak past me along the hedgerow. It was no bigger than a very young adult in my books. In fact, I almost didn't recognise it as a cat at first.
Maybe she's just destined to be small? (Although that raises some questions about ease in carrying a future litter if she remains unneutered.)
She sounds to have taken to you, though.
I would take her in and of course get her spayed.
Are you in the UK? What is your brother doing about the colony? They all need to be neutered. Cats Protection should be able to help, or maybe other charities depending on where you are. But something needs to be done.
'Farm cats' are a difficult one, aren't they? They're just 'around the place', ratting, and many farmers just don't notice them much. There might also be some serious issues regarding their breeding (at the least) if, say, you had a dominant tom who lasted for a number of years.
You need to get them all neutered, contact charities for help in trapping and costs otherwise inbreeding and illnesses will become major problems, you can also add worming tablets to the food you give them, I think it's either every 6 or 12 months and they'd be no need to catch them.
Why is your brother allowing this? They must be horribly inbred and already have disease problems. At best he is being neglectful.
There's no need or excuse to just leave them to breed. Charities like the CPL will trap and neuter them, and feral or farm cats can be acquired from a rescue centre when the current colony dies out.
Yes, I think the small kitten should be placed in a home if friendly. Either look into insurance if you can't afford vet bills, or let a charity rehome her.
If you want to take her in you need insurance which is cheap for a young cat. I pay £6 a month.
I agree with what everyone else has said about trapping and neutering, then releasing them back into the colony. It's the only responsible thing to do.
If the tiny 7 month old is the size of a 2 month old, she likely won't be able to hunt for herself, and associates humans with food, hence the friendliness towards you. If you want to take her as a pet, an your brother agrees, do so. If she got pregnant at that size, it would be a death sentence for her. And as Dame points out, you can insure for vet bills for as little as £6 pcm.
But they should all be trapped and neutered, for their welfare. Are you in the UK?
*...sorry, scrap what I said about your brother agreeing as taking her for a pet. Just take the poor little being, before she gets pregnant. Doubtful he'd notice her absence.
And I know I'm repeating myself, but the rest of the colony need to be neutered. Then wormed regularly if relying on prey as their main food. Does he have them vaccinated? Or is that an incredibly naive question?
Take her in! Poor little thing. I know the logistics re money and vets I spent a fortune when my old cat got run over. But I dread to think what might happen to small kitten if she is left. And yes as other posters said colony need to be managed. They can infect other domestic but outdoor local cats when fighting if they have the feline hiv virus (sorry maybe not Hiv virus I need to look it up I can't remember but it's the cat herpes another poster mentioned) and it's torturous for them once they get it. Plus she will have a very tough winter if she can't hunt and if she is that small she will be absolutely freezing.
Many farmers just leave the farm cats to their own devices - as long as there are enough to keep down the rodent population.
This is true - my Mum lives in the countryside and I see this all the time but I'm glad I don't live there because I would definitely become a crazy cat lady - find it so tough to say no to them especially when they take a shine. The small kitten I definitely could not leave. My old cat was a feral stray I found him literally on a mountain when I was hiking - he followed me all the way back on my walk tiny kitten and I had him for years
Also a lot of city dwellers take on these type of cats for rodent control specifically. So they often can be rehomed if people want a low maintenance cat who doesn't enjoy being indoors all the time. Not the best reason to get a cat I suppose but anyway people do so they can be rehomed even if they can't / shouldn't be domesticated entirely.
This is what happened every time I opened my door after starting to feed a colony of feral farm cats when we moved in. And this was only a few of those cats.
All have died out now through traffic, injuries and probably even disease. There are 5 of their descendants left on the farm and I have one living with us. There would have been loads more had I not asked the CPL to help trap and neuter them.
Oh god. Don't think I could deal with that - definitely CPL are the ones too call. Not sure I would be able to turn them away and then I would end up with hundreds - honestly when I see that video I understand how seemingly sane people wind up with a million cats
Take her in, if she's tiny she will struggle to hunt, and if she wants to be friendly now she will make a lovely pet. Insure her then take her to the vets to make sure she is OK, and to get her wormed and deflead. TBH once the worms and fleas are addressed you may find she starts to grow. We have inherited a colony of feral cats and CPL were wonderful and have neutered them all. We caught one of the kittens and she turned out to be a lovely, intelligent cat, who has now settled happily into her new home as an indoor cat, she was tiny to start but grew tremendously once properly fed - I was like a mother with a PFB each time she was weighed .
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