The Kitten in our Yard

It seems that our backyard has become home to a feral kitten.

Last winter, my wife noticed a few kittens in the yard (I was out of town and was unable to participate in this story until now). From time to time, she’d see an adult cat also. Worried about how they would fare in an Alberta winter, my wife put out a bowl of dry cat kibble. It was eaten in due course. My wife put out more.

As time went by, the kittens and their mother became a little bolder. My wife caught sight of them–beautiful tabby cats, they were. My wife would catch sight of them occasionally; when they saw her watching, they would run away. But she was harmless, and they realized this, and got a little bolder. Mother Cat, however, always kept her distance.

Sadly, the three kittens that she first noticed now seem to be one. My wife has no idea where the others got to, but one still comes around. “Stripe,” as we call him, is at the point where he will come to get the food we put out and say hello through the glass of the patio door to our cats. For example, our Fiona will paw at the glass, and Stripe will do the same back at her. Stripe will even sniff at my wife’s outstretched hand, but he is always careful.

It’s a nice little story (which explains why this is in MPSIMS), but perhaps it also ought to be in IMHO. Stripe is a charmer, and we don’t want to see him come to any harm or misadventure. He is old enough to be weaned (he’s about six months old, so he should be), and now he’s on his own. Should we try to bring him inside and make him one of ours? Or should we just leave him alone (outside of the food we leave on the porch), and let Nature take its course?

That’s a very sweet kitty story. My MIL has a couple feral kitties. They lived under the shed and came to the back door for food, just as yours did.

We were visiting one day and my husband remarked on how cool it was that his dad buried an electric line in the yard all the way out to the shed. Turns out he didn’t. The bare spot in the grass was the path that the mama and kittens took to get the food each day. Single file, they marched up to the porch to eat and eventually wore all the grass away. I nearly died of a cute overload.

I would say make him your very own little feral rescue, but do it carefully. Take him to the vet and get his shots, a thorough check-up, a neutering operation, and quarantine him before he comes into contact with Fiona (the kitten may have infectious diseases). The outlook for feral cats is about two years of hard life; I wouldn’t let nature take its course if I could help a feral kitten. Not to mention all the other feral kitties he will be making in his two years.

Good for you if you do decide to take him in. At least get him shots and a neutering if you don’t, if you can catch him to do it.

This sounds like a toughie. I think conventional feral-cat wisdom is that he’s too old for human-socialisation now, at six months, but maybe he’s half-human-socialized from your patio door already.

I say try opening the patio door an inch at a time for a few weeks and see what Stripe does. If he doesn’t freak out when either a) he sniffs his way into your house, or b) you go cautiously out to meet him, then it might work.

Of course he should be neutered (for the good of Stripe and any cats Stripe meets) even if he can’t be a people kitty. This might be a compromise - if he’s “really feral” and you catch him and take him in for surgery, he might never want to be a cuddlekitty, but he might also stick around to be your back-door cat. So to say.

We have a 9-year old semi-feral cat living with us, inside. She’s clean, uses the litter box, has her “safe” places in the house where she’ll let me pet her. We were never able to pick her up besides the actual day we brought her in and she almost tore my son’s arms to shreds.

We thought she was just a kitten, but within days of being inside, she went into heat. We had repairmen at the house around that time, unexpected and unavoidable repairs, and she may well have been freaked out by the ruckus.

Naturally, she’s never been “fixed”, but then she’s scared of outside, so we sort of hope she stays that way. Our other cats go outside into the yard, and she lets us know when they want to come in. They both have all their shots, and we’re careful about giving them treatments so that they don’t catch fleas or other bugs, as we wouldn’t know what to do about her if that happened.

Odd to say, but my husband, son and I all love that little cat to bits. The moments when she’s lying in her favourite armchair purring loudly as I pet her are heartwarming. All in all, she’s had a much better life than she would have had outside, and we just love having that little shy cat around.

Stripe sounds as though he’s more socialized than AG was when we got her. Good luck to you. And post pictures!

He’s about at the oldest I would try to socialize him, back in the days when I did such things. Whether you decide to take him in or not, he needs to be neutered and have his vaccinations. The vet can test him for feline leukemia, you don’t want to expose Fiona to that.

If you think you have the patience to socialize him, go for it! You’ll be doing him a huge favor. If mama cat is out there you might want to see if you can borrow a trap and have her spayed. Otherwise you will be feeding more kittens soon.