Kitty situation - feral cat and her kittens in the garage

So there’s this cat in the neighborhood. Very shy.

This is the closest I’ve ever been to her.
That’s her buddy Hobo on the right. He just had some catnip.

So anyway, she was looking incredibly pregnant, so we built her a little nest in the garage, hoping she’d use it as a safe place to give birth. Guess what?

And at about 4am

Now what? She has food and water, a litter box, and the garage door is propped open a bit so she can come and go as needed. Hobo stands guard when she’s out. Do we need to do anyting else? The ultimate goal is to get her fixed, but I don’t think we need to worry about that today. Or do we? Nobody has touched any of the kittens yet, I don’t want to screw anything up.

I don’t know nothin’ 'bout birthin no kittehs!

The kittehs done been birthed… now comes the hard part.

Good on you for taking in a homeless mother. There are too many of them out there. Too many people dump cats in neighborhoods where “Someone will take her in, she’ll be fine”. In reality, it’s more often a slow, painful death.

You need to talk to a vet or a more informed doper to know what mom and the kids need. But I’d start with a visit to the pet store for quality food for nursing moms, plenty of water, and plan on parking outside for a few months. (Hope you’re in the northern hemisphere!)

You can try to make friends with mom by just being around her a bit, and increase that time as tolerated. Keep in mind you don’t know her status as far as rabies, distemper, fleas, worms and other parasites, etc. So you may need to keep a close watch on Hobo, too. He can get most of those from her if he’s not careful.

Oh, and you’ll probably have to pick out names, too. And start looking for good homes.

A call to your local vet would be in order, I agree - they can advise you on what needs to be done, in what order. I don’t know how soon Momma should get spayed, but my guess is pretty soon, as well as getting her shots. She might even be chipped or tattooed, and she could be returned home.

And, in closing, yay! Furballs! We will need LOTS of updates and pictures! :slight_smile:

Quality food, plenty of water, car is outside. I sat in the garage with her today, being careful not to be between her and the kittens or her and the door. Point taken about Hobo and parasites etc. Thanks.

Why let her come and go? You could put a box down for her and keep her safe in the garage while her kittens are young. I mean, I guess it depends on whether you’d consider adopting her, but it would seriously suck balls to have her hit by a car and leave little kittens.

Well we’re trying not to stress anyone out. I can lock her in the garage if that’s what’s best. I see your point.
Take it easy on me, I’m new! :slight_smile:

Is Hobo your cat? Or another wild cat? I thought that male cats sometimes killed kittens?

Good on you for what you done!

I’d put a litter box in the garage and see if Mama will use it. I’d also lock her in and give her plenty of food and water.

And definitely call your vet, as others have suggested. If she’s truly feral and won’t make a good pet, at least her kittens can be socialized and be someone’s feline overlord(s).

Since you’re looking for advice, I’ll move this from MPSIMS to our advice forum, IMHO.

Once the mother is spayed, her milk will dry up.
Just something to consider.

Even if the kittens are born to a feral cat, they could be adoptable/domesticated if they have enough positive human interaction. … Is taking them inside an option?

Our last two adopted masters were feral kittens. Adopt a couple, and try to find homes for the others. It’s a Good Karma thing.

Former cat trapper/kitten socializer checking in…

Mom needs kitten food right now, she’s expending a lot of energy and may not have been too well nourished to begin with. Spending time near her is wonderful; she may warm up to you if she hasn’t been feral for a long time. Many ferals are abandoned housecats.

The trick is getting your hands on the kittens witbout freaking out MamaCat. You don’t want her to move them. Kittens are very easy to socialize when they are young.

If you can’t get your hands on Mom, you should talk to your vet or local shelter about borrowing a trap when the kittens are no more than six weeks old. Mom can and will go into heat while nursing, so she needs to be spayed as soon as possible.

Do you have access to a crate? You’d need one for small animals to keep small kittens from escaping, but crating them and handling them several times a day (when they’re a little older) is going to be the best option for getting them socialized and rehomed.

If you want my phone number send me an IM and I’ll describe my method for socializing feral kittens.

If mama cat is truly feral, here’s a bunch of info on why TNR.
To make sure the kittens are adoptable, here’s some info on socializing them and preparing them for adoption
Here’s the page from Alley Cat Allies those other links jump off from.

It’s kinda too bad you didn’t know about TNR before now. If you contact a local shelter they should have a TNR program or know another shelter that does, or if you’re really rural, some vets may do some TNR stuff for the public (which may take a little more digging to find, but they’re out there). TNR program veterinarians would have done the spay before the kittens showed up, giving cats already in shelters a better chance at being adopted. But it’s neither here nor there at this point with this litter, it’s just something for you to know in case this happens again.

If the male cat isn’t neutered, trap him now and get that guy neutered now. I would wait a few weeks before spaying mom, she’s producing lots of milk right now and makes for a more difficult spay, plus the kittens will do much better with mom nursing them. Look to spay her when kittens are about 6 weeks old, as soon as 4-5 weeks depending on how well kittens are taking to the food you’re leaving out. As soon as kittens are eating off paper plates of canned food without too much help, it’s time to spay mom. There’s a very small window between her weaning them completely and getting pregnant again. Too small to try to find. I’ve seen mom cats with mammaries starting to dry up a little, but are already in heat or in early pregnancy already, so don’t wait the full 8 weeks (especially if you object to spay-aborts) if you want to get her in before she’s pregnant again. If you don’t mind spay-aborts, you have a few more weeks leeway. Even better if she’s happy with a litter box and food in the garage and isn’t going outside.

If mom proves truly feral, and doesn’t learn by example with her kittens while you’re socializing them, I would definitely let her back outside after she’s spayed. ((Garaging her in the meantime will make getting her into a trap for her spay so very easy for everyone, though. You can feed her inside the trap without springing it for a couple of days to get her used to it.)) If she has a male companion cat, they may do quite well outside together. Cat’s don’t mate exclusively, though, so you can count on her getting pregnant whether or not he’s neutered. She may continue to hang out with him, but she will get herself a sperm donor one way or another if she’s out and in heat!

I’ll check back in later if you have any other questions, feel free to PM me if you need specific details, I might be able to find info on TNR in your area if I know where you are.

I ended up with a semi-feral cat in my neighbourhood hanging out in my basement. She had already had a litter of kittens in the neighbour’s shed in the spring who all grew up wild and unapprochable. In the fall, she started sneaking in through the window I left open for my own cats. I started leaving food for her, but she was very spooky. She had been someone’s pet and one day, she just let me approach her and pet her. She was so thin and so obviously pregnant. I closed the window and locked her in and contacted a rescue. The rescue agreed to help me rehome her and her kittens and get the medical attention she needed and that I couldn’t afford.

Clara, the mama cat, had her kittens two days after I locked her in. While she was having them, she let me near her. The next day, she hissed at me, so I didn’t get too close when I checked on her. I think it was few days before she let me near again.

I didn’t handle the kittens a lot, but did make sure I spent as much time with them as I could while they grew up. I moved them out of my dark, dingy basement and into my guest room when they were about four weeks old and just starting to move around. It really is amazing how fast they go from staggering around like drunken sailors to being little Indiana Jones daredevils.

Hopefully your Mama cat will come around and become more comfortable with you and her kittens will grow up healthy and happy.

One reason to keep the mother in the garage…

If you tick her off during your attempts at socialization, she could decide to move the kittens.

I came in to say this. Mom needs that kitten food and plenty of clean water. Most adult cats don’t produce the enzyme to digest milk, and will have diarrhea, so resist the urge to give her milk or cream. I’ve had some pretty good success with food and just talking to the cat when I bring out the food. Cats are pretty quick to make the association between food and the person who brings it, though some will remain feral. The kittens will usually be weaned by 10 weeks old, at the very latest, so you need to plan to get her spayed around then, even if you have to trap her to do it.

A little bit of canned food mixed with some hot water to warm it up and make it a bit sloppy and smelly is like crack for my cats. May help persuade your kitty that you’re a nice and trustworthy friend. If nothing else, helps get fluids into them and is a nice treat in addition to whatever kibble you leave out for her.

My first forum change! Woo hoo! :smack:

Mom and kittens are in the garage, now locked in.
I will get some kitten food after work.
Hobo is tame and neutered. He basically lives in the garage anyway. I’m not sure what the relationship is between the cats, I know Hobo came from the shelter, but was left behind when a neighbor moved. A different neighbor was taking care of him, but cats being cats, he adopted us. :slight_smile:

We asked about Momma cat while we were at the shelter, getting another cat (Loco) neutered. They gave us some info on a local feral cat outfit, but the contact was out of town/abducted by aliens/hibernating. We really did try.

We fully intend to take care of everyone, vet trip, fixed, adopoted to good homes etc. She is getting better about being around us. I got pretty close without freaking her out. I’ll just keep working on it. We’ve just never had “fresh” kittys.

Thanks everyone for the support.

I could really go for some home made Tabby Claw Pie. :stuck_out_tongue:

I am so jealous of you.:slight_smile: