Feral Kittens

Earlier I wrote about Socializing Feral Kittenshow to approach stray cats, Stray Cat Strut.

If you find kittens who are alone, try to find out if the mother has abandoned them or if she is just off looking for food. The only way to find this out is to wait. Often, she will return within a few hours. you can observe from a distance or a hidden spot to be sure she is not returning before moving the kittens. Use common sense and be patient.

Mom’s Not Back Yet
If the mother cat doesn’t come back after several hours, and you think she has abandoned the kittens or they are in danger, you can choose to raise them yourself. Do think about this decision before you take action, Read here. You will need to decide if the kittens require neonatal kitten care (one- to four-weeks-old), if the kittens are young enough to be socialized, fostered or adopted (six- to 16-weeks-old), or if they are at the age to be trapped, neutered, and returned (four months or older).

Mom Has Returned
If the mother does return for her kittens, there are a few options you can think about.

If the mother is feral, and the kittens are too young to be separated (one to four years old), the best thing to do is to leave them alone, as long as the place where they are is safe. And if you think the mother will be able to take care of her kittens, just leave them alone. Provide water, food and shelter and keep a good eye out on the cat-family daily, and if you are able to make the place where they stay safer, why not do so?

If you won’t be able to keep an eye on the cats, or won’t be able to foster, socialize and adopt the kittens in the future. You can trap them, neuter and return them when the kittens are 8 weeks old or two pounds. If you can socialize, foster and adopt the kittens, the best moment to do that is when they are six to twelve weeks old. An even better idea to trap the mother, spay her and return her.

No Safe Place
If the kittens are too young to be separated, and you think it is safer for the kittens and their mom to come indoors—you can trap the mom, trap or scoop up the kittens depending on their age, and bring the family inside to a quiet, small room like a bathroom, where they can live until the kittens are weaned and it is safe to get them all neutered. From there you can decide what is best for the kittens and either return mom outside if she is feral or find her an adoptive home if she is fully socialized.

If the mother is feral and the kittens are old enough to be separated from her, you have a decision to make: commit to foster, socialize, and adopt out the kittens, or trap, neuter, and return the kittens when they are 8 weeks or two pounds. Or call your vet/SPCA/No-kill shelter who might be able to help you. I think it is understandable that not all people who are willing to help kittens have money to get them all neutered. I think in this case the SPCA can be of any help. Or maybe your vet can give you some ideas/help.

Oops, The Cat You Trapped Is A Nursing Mom
If you trap a cat and discover at the clinic that she is a nursing mother, get her spayed immediately (Nursing mother cats continue to produce milk after being spayed, and can continue to nurse their kittens) and return her to the spot where you trapped her as soon as she has opened her eyes and is ready to go that same evening, with approval from the veterinarian.

Make sure the clinic knows your plans for returning nursing mothers as soon as possible; they may have an anesthesia protocol that will enable her to wake up from surgery more quickly. It may seem counterintuitive to separate her from her kittens, but it’s really difficult to trap her again—this may be your only real chance to spay her and prevent further litters. Try to find the kittens (following the mother after you return her) so that you can trap and neuter them when they are old enough.

The Cat You Brought In Is Pregnant?
If you discover at the clinic that you have brought in a pregnant cat, It is possible to have her spayed anyway but have her spayed by an experienced veterinarian who has performed this surgery before. It may be necessary to allow an extra day for recovery and extended observation. For many people, this is a difficult aspect of Trap-Neuter-Return, but as with nursing mothers or any cat in a trap, it may be difficult to trap her again—this is your one and only chance to protect her from the health risks and stresses of mating and pregnancy.

Difference Between a Spray and Feral Cat
Feral, stray, it’s not the same. A stray cat is a cat that is separated from his owner. He could be lost, got dumped or abandoned when the owner moved or died. These cats are used to people.

A feral however, is a cat that is born “in the wild”, they are the offspring of strays (or feral cats). Feral cats can not be approached.

If you don’t have space/time/whatever to take care of kittens no matter their age call your vet, the SPCA or any no-kill shelters who might be able to help you.


15 Responses to “Feral Kittens”

  1. mbavaresco

    I translate your text into Portuguese and post it on the Brazilian blog with your appropriate authorship.
    The importance of awareness that spaying and neutering is paramount, is worldwide.
    In Brazil there are millions of stray cats, at risk.
    If you do not understand it convenient, you can tell me that I take off teh post on our blog.
    The post is translated into “http://listagatos.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/2617/.”
    Thank you for always clarify our doubts and their rich suggestions relevant posts.

    • Dianda

      No, no! Please don’t take it off your blog! I am flattered! Thank you! And ofcourse, I hope a lot of people will read it, and learn from it! :)


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