Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Feral mom & kittens

    Posted 08-26-2019 11:36 AM

    Hello!  In my nativite, volunteered to take in a half-feral nursing mom & her kittens.  I am in a bit over my head.  I took in a pregnant stray  last year & it went well, this is a whole other ballgame.  We had been feeding the mom when she turned up at my job, and a decision was made to get them inside somewhere before the kittens were not able to be handled.  The mom has always been friendly, she would hang out with us frequently & let a few of us pet her.  The kittens were three weeks when we took them in (with mom!!).  They are currently penned in my pantry with a cheap screen door, its about a 4' x 5' space with a good sized carrier in which to hide.  I live alone with the aformentioned stray, its pretty quiet and chill here.  I live in a loft apt, the only other place I have to close them off is the windowless bathroom, meh.

    The kittens are great, walking, playing, all except one is bounding around & doing normal kitten things.  The mom will let me sit in there with everyone, she will even sit on my lap & head bunt with me, & I've been trying to spend about an hour a day with them.  They'll climb up on my lap voluntarily, they've fallen asleep literally in my hands : )  Mama, though...  she's gotten out a few times & beaten up my other cat pretty badly (that baby is like PTSD'd now).  She will literally climb the screen, howling.  I've experimented with letting her out, she does all right for a little bit but I can't cook or eat in her presence, she'll literally jump up on the stove repeatedly after food.  

    I mean, I get it, she's always had to hunt for herself, she's had little or no "home training."  I didn't know she would be an issue, my other stray was apparently the exception to the rule.  Five more weeks of this seems like a really, really long time.  Any advice from wiser, more experienced heads than mine would be greatly appreciated!!


  • 2.  RE: Feral mom & kittens

    Posted 08-27-2019 07:06 AM

    Good for you for taking them in.  I am by no means an expert.  I have been fostering for about 18 years, with a few years off after a litter of kittens with FIP.  I follow several other foster moms on instagram.  One in particular had a pretty feral mom recently who she took in a few weeks before her kittens were born. She made her a cave to hide in which she pretty much stayed in when she was in the room to feed her etc.  When the kittens were about 5 weeks old and were taking kitten food, she trapped the mom, took her to be spayed and returned her to her community.  The kittens had been handled sparingly before, but were used to her voice and were comfortable around her.  Once they were without mom, they were socialized completely and adopted out.  Personally, I had a mom almost 3 years ago who lived with us for 22 days before her kittens were born.  She was NOT feral, but was very hormonal both before and after the kittens were born.  I had 3 resident cats.  Mom Ginger, apparently saw one of mine because I wasn't careful enough when leaving the room.  She bolted and chased poor Doug and had his fur in her claws.  He was able to get away, I Captured Ginger and returned her to her room.  This was while pregnant.  When the kittens were about 3-4 weeks old, she saw Betsy and chased her down the stairs.  They had a standoff and I was so scared to pick up to get her away.  I got her by the scruff and brought her back up.  I was SUPER cautious after that and I think my cats were as well, so there were no more issues.

    So, I'd suggest introducing the kittens to food soon, and when you know they are eating enough on their own, separate them and get mom spayed.



  • 3.  RE: Feral mom & kittens

    Posted 08-27-2019 07:11 AM

    This mama doesn't sound feral if she's sitting on you and head butting you.  She's probably a stray.  However, she'll not like another cat coming in her area because she's very protective of her kittens.  Your original kitty being around will stress her out.  A LOT!    Is there any way possible to block the view so that mama doesn't see the other kitty?  And never let them loose in the same area until the kittens are weaned because mama will remain protective until then.

    And keep on handling those kittens!  I think you'll be OK and will have a mom and kittens that will end up very adoptable.


  • 4.  RE: Feral mom & kittens

    Posted 08-27-2019 05:18 PM

    I agree with Catster.  Try to block the view. And NEVER let her get to your cat. Nursing mom cats can be really crazy.  Also she could be in heat. I also agree with wolfden563. If this is a space problem for the foster family remove the mom as soon as the kittens are eating on their own. She needs to be in a place where she can't hear or see kittens for about two weeks until she dries up, and checked for mastitis as she is drying up. Try to avoid spaying a lactating mom if possible. It can be more complicated and is not an ideal situation. Separating the mom cat is painful for all parties, the mom who is full of milk, the kittens who would benefit by bring with their mom the first 8-10 weeks of their lives, and the human fosters who will feel terrible about separating them. But sometimes that is the reality of rescue- doing what's best in a particular situation. Another solution would be to reach out to the rescue and ask if there is another foster home available without pets to take on the mom and kittens. I used to somoetimes have success by placing a mom and kittens in a home when someone was actively looking to adopt a kitten by offering them pick of the litter.  Often they would adopt two kittens or sometimes even the mom cat.