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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-18-2004, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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I need some advice

Here's the story. A woman rang me up earlier today at work, she had 3-4 kittens that were feral that she wanted to euthanize. She has a feral cat living near her that she can not catch (she has tried everything...this cat is really feral) and she just keeps on having kittens. She took one litter to a pet shop to sell and they were so feral they asked her to take them back because people were scared of them. So she bought three of them this afternoon to be euthanised. She said she feels really bad but the RSPCA won't come and pick them up because she lives 'too far away' and the local pounds 'don't do cats'. She is elderly herself and can't make the hour and 15 minute drive to the RSPCA for these feral kittens that they would probably euthanise anyway. So she brings them to us. Her neighbour offered to strangle them (she refused) and a woman down the street told her to let them be, mind you that neighbour now has 30 feral cats living near her and goes out every day to pick up the wildlife they have killed. The woman that bought us the kittens doesn't see this as a solution either.
She bought three of them in cause she couldn't find the 4th but she is sure there is another one and said she'd bring it in next week. These kittens are gorgeous and look very healthy. But they are FERAL. They were hissing and trying to bite us etc. today when they were at the clinic. My boss asked me if I wanted to take them home and I said no. I felt really bad but three feral kittens and Biscuit and rabbits....not good. Afterwards I felt so guilty.
So my question is....can feral kittens (super feral kittens) be tamed? If she brings the one kitten in next week it will have a better chance of survival cause it will be four weeks old then but will it always be feral and want to attack people? I'm asking cause if there is a really good chance that it could become a sweety then I could be suckered in to bringing it home and taming it, and then re-homing it. What amount of damage can be done to them at that age? I'm curious cause I really have no idea and I'd hate to try and save a kitten that couldn't be saved...it would just be like prolonging the agony of it all. So does anyone know anything about this at all? I have NEVER owned a cat and therefore know nothing about their behaviour. I think I could manage one you know, it would be easier than trying to tame three. Until this woman can catch the mother we will continue to have the litters come in....this is the third litter this year. I know I can't save them all but if one could be saved I know this woman would feel so much better, and would possibly think about re-homing them herself.
I need to know serious facts guys, cause if I take this kitten (if there is a 4th) and decide to keep it (if alex says yes) and have to put it down cause it has severe behavioural problems, well to be honest, after Nacho I just can't deal with that.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-18-2004, 09:18 AM
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Well Carmen...I dont know a whole lot about feral cats...but when we found Gabby (as a kitten) she was very afraid of people and hissed at us and tried to bite us...(We dont know if she was dumped or else feral...we always assume dumped because it was around Easter and she looks so much like a Maine Coon) but we arent totally positive she wasnt feral...at first she hated us...after a couple nites she was ok with us and was sleeping on our faces at night. She was quite a terror sometimes...always creating messes and causing problems...lol...but most kittens do. But even now, she is a great cat, she just isnt too fond of people. She will let me hold her for about 5 minutes, then she will try to scratch and claw her way out of your hand, sometimes even biting me. She is a pleasant cat as long as you arent trying to handle her too much...she will let me and Josh pet her...and a few people that she sees come over often...but if its a new person, she will bite and hiss at them...so like I said Im not positive if she was feral or not, but she is still a good cat and warmed up to us ok...just not other people that well...and she just prefers not to be touched. LOL...

Good luck with the kitten.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-18-2004, 12:14 PM
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Okay this seems like a good question for me. All we do at my shelter is take in strays and ferals. Basically every cat that comes in is a feral but we usually reserve the term for an extremely visious animal.

First off let me explain that every once in a while we do euthanize extremely feral cats. We have been able to neuter an release a few but 1) we can get into a lot of trouble for doing that 2) a few of them have been hit by cars which is even more heartbreaking 3) Most people do not want them released back on their property, they just want all the ferals exterminated like rats.

With that said we have NEVER had to euthanize a feral kitten under the age of 6 months. If these kittens are under that age it usually just takes some time. I have a group of orange kittens that came in at about 10 weeks. Mom was really really nasty and the kittens were not much happier. Now all exept one can be petted. But the one that doesn't like to be touched doesn't hiss or swat at us anymore and we believe he will eventually calm down. They are pretty cute now. How old are these kittens? The younger they are the quicker they will calm down. They just need to be talked to at first so they get used to seeing you and we have noticed that wet food works wonders. They learn that people aren't so bad after all.

We have an adult cat named Magilla (I'm going to post pictures later) He was a nasty feral cat that hissed and growled at us all the time. He is a huge orange and white cat with eight toes on his front feet and he came from an area where there is a feral colony that we have known to be very nasty. He was such a beautiful cat that I wanted to neuter and release him where he was found because I know they would have let him back on their property. After about a week he stopped most of the hissing and growling. Would make lame attemps to swat us but nothing too serious. After a couple of weeks we noticed that when he swatted he seemed to be trying to pull all of his stuff back in when we took it out to clean. He was actually grabbing at his things. Then little by little we were able to pet him a little bit and he started to purr. We had him neutered and his shots and notched his ear. He got cuter and cuter by the day. He seemed to be letting us pet him more and more and then one day I said lets see what happens when I pick him up - thats a big test. Well can I tell that that cat is the sweetest most loving cat I have ever seen in my life! If you pick him up he will not let you put him down again and he hugs you so tight. Can you tell how much I love this cat. So if that big mean feral cat can come around every kitten can come around.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-18-2004, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice Dena and Mel! Next question....is it possible for ALL feral kittens to come around and like all people? The reason I'm asking is cause I don't really want to have a cat (or re-home one) that will bite and scratch other people. I know I'm probably sounding a bit harsh but if we decide we just can't keep the kitten and we try to re-home it and it tries to bite everyone else in sight, then we aren't going to have much luck and I don't want a cat that doesn't like all people. So if I bring this kitten home I'd be doing as much for it as possible, I'd take it with me a fair bit to see new people (my friends, my parents etc.) and I'd probably even take it to work until it was tamer and toilet trained (if it scratched up our furniture Alex would NOT be a happy man).
So there's another question.....is it easy to train cats? I was telling Alex the story last night and normally he says 'if you bring it home it has to be re-homed' but last night he just smiled and said 'ok'. But we have a rule in this house...no animals in the loungeroom. Now I know asking a cat to learn that it has to stay out of a room that has no door is probably impossible but you can teach them to stay of flounges, kitchen counters etc? To be honest watching a cat walk on top of a kitchen counter is a little icky to me. And if they have a scratching post then does that eliminate them scratching up our furniture? I have never owned a cat for these reasons (don't like other people, ruin furniture etc.) so i just want all the facts (this isn't to say I wouldn't bring it home...it would just help make up my mind about whether to keep it or not). Thanks guys for all your help!

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 12:50 AM
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Well each kitten is different. Some may become very affectionate others may just want to be fed and have a pat on the head. Usually when a cat comes around they will be fine with anyone, unlike dogs cats are not protective of their owners. Usually when a strange person comes in they will hide. Most cats will also hide from loud and obnoxious children no matter how friendly they usually are.

Cats do not need to be toilet trained. Don't know why but its instinctual. Put a litter box with litter and stick them in it. They usually jump out and run away but when its time to go they know where it is and will go back to it. If there is a problem just put some of their feces in the box and they will get the hint. I had foster kittens that had to be stimulated due to age. I had no idea how I was supposed to teach them to go in the litter box, thought mommy cat helped with this. It was becoming increasingly difficult to try to get them to go by stimulation so I put a little litter box down and wouldn't you know it but the little buggers used it immediately. Yes, it even amazed me. LOL

As far as training to not scratch and keep off of things, well good luck. I have one cat that is very well behaved - that would be Eve and my master of disaster is Varuca who is into and on everything. Eve is declawed and would have shredded my house to splinters - thats why she is able to be well behaved. Varuca suprisingly just doesn't scratch on anything except an old doormat which she is more than welcome to.

Good luck!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 07:06 AM Thread Starter
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Again thanks for all the info! Alex and I were talking about it earlier tonight. I asked him if it was ok to bring it home still and he asked me how long for. I told him a few weeks to tame it and then we'd re-home it. I think I would rather do that if I couldn't train it to not claw on furniture or be sitting on our kitchen bench etc. Alex would hate it and it would annoy me too. It's a huge reason why I've never owned a cat. Of course if this thing was the sweetest thing ever and didn't take any interest in our furniture and stayed off our counters then we could re-consider. My best friend's boyfriend wants a kitten sooo badly and she wants one but wants to rescue one. I don't think they'd say no to it if they seen it!
Thanks for all your advice Dena. I'll let you know what happens. This is still all a big if cause I don't even know if there is a 4th one, she just thinks there is.

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 09:22 AM
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Well good luck Carmen!

Now I know asking a cat to learn that it has to stay out of a room that has no door is probably impossible but you can teach them to stay of flounges, kitchen counters etc?

I for some reason have never had a problem with Gabby on any counters or tables or anything. She was never banned from those things because I never personally had a problem with her on the table since we dont barely ever eat at it, so when we lived in our apartment (and didnt have any other animals and werent allowed anymore) we got her a fish tank so she would have something to look at every day while we worked...lol we set in on the middle of our dining room table for her to sit with them...lol every day when we would come home, the little tank would be moved over a little, like she was playing with it, or batting at fish, but it was too heavy for her to tip over. (NO fish were harmed in the making of this post...lol) We got her 5 fish, three died, and in the summer I put the other two in my moms pond...because we moved into our house and got her a puppy friend! (she loves puppies...hates dogs lol) anyhow...so with Gab we never had to train her to stay off counters she just did...but we allowed her on the table. Now with Jade it was a whole different story!! She was a major pain in the you know what! She was always on the counter every time we looked for her! Once she even hopped up on the stove while I was cooking!!! We had to do something serious about it because she really could cause harm to herself or even the dogs because she would knock stuff off the counters that the dogs couldnt eat...like chocolate bars and medicine bottles. So what we did was put tin foil on the counters and stove and in the sink and everywhere we didnt want her jumping on...and it worked pretty good...the second she would jump up on it, the sound of it would scare her and she would fly off the counter. And when we didnt have tin foil on the counters and we spotted her up there, we squirted her with a water bottle. It sounds mean, and I felt bad, but she had to learn the rules. She learned them too.


And if they have a scratching post then does that eliminate them scratching up our furniture?

With us, when we found Gab, Josh knew a vet that was a close friend, and for our upcoming wedding present she gave Gab all her shots, spayed and declawed her. When we found Gab we 1-didnt know the facts about declawing 2-Josh had leather furniture at the time and didnt want it getting ruined, and he lived by himself with a friend before we got married and hated cats...but kept her for me because my parents wouldnt allow another cat at the house, they wanted me to dump her back where I found her!! So I went door to door where I found her asking if she was anyones kitten, and no one said yes...So I just left her with Josh (at that point he still was telling me to dump her too!!) So I just gave her to him and said "YOU dump her, I could never do that!" Of course I knew he wouldnt do it, because he isnt a bad person...just didnt want the cat. And of course he said in an angry voice () "FINE I'll keep her!" But he told me I had to buy all the litter, food and shots and stuff. lol...men. (So that might have a little reason why she isnt too keen of most people...she lived with a man who hated cats!) But now look at him..he even has his own cat now and loves them both. (OK Im done with the family story now!!)

Ok and lastly for Jade...she has her claws, and she has not ruined anything that she could help...she has a scratching post and uses it all of the time. She never has ripped any furniture, yet loves to sleep on it. The only thing she has messed up is our back porch walls...They are cheap and need to be redone anyways, but anyhow, she always likes to sit in the windows in the summer, the windows are a little higher than normal, and she is a little ditzy I think because sometimes she would try to jump in the window when it wasnt open lol...and to try to catch her fall she would instinctively claw at the wall to catch her, so the wall has scratches from her trying to cling for dear life...when the floor is 4 feet lower. LOL...Its really our fault because we need to put a cat window seat thing on it for her, but just havent yet...if that was installed she would never fall.

Sooooooooo thats it...Im done now. IM sure many are glad I finally shut up!


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 09:23 AM
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Oh yeah and I had to add everything Dena said was great advice too!!! (REALLY shutting up now! )


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 03:18 PM
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Cats need something to scratch. It helps them shed their old outter claw coverings, stretches their toes, and scratching is how they leave thier scent behind. It is an instinctual thing for them to do. Any cat may scratch the furniture if there isn't anything more inviting for them to scratch. I donT think it's fair to the cat if you don't provide something it is allowed to scratch. And often the cat posts you can buy are too short. Most cats like to stretch up to their full reach to scratch. Something else I've found many cats addicted to are those cardboard scratchers pet shops sell. If you own a cat and want to get really elaborate and fun, check out either the book or the web site "The Cat's House". I've done some of this in my house and it's sooo much fun. It gives cats that live with dogs a good place to get away to when chased, or to hide when strangers come over. They give you construction tips too. I keep my cat's nails clipped and they can still easily climb to the cieling. But please don't punnish the cat for scratching furniture if they don't have an appropriate alternative.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 03:33 PM
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I don't know a lot about cats but my violin teacher adopted a kitten that her neighbor found that was feral. The mother abandoned her and the other kittens, and she was really wild at first too. Now she is okay around people but still very shy. She's about a year old and loves my violin teacher, and follows her everywhere. Cats are like people I guess, every single one is different, good luck Carmen! Good advice everyone!
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 05:52 PM
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I have 4 cats and my roommate has 3. All 7 are boys. When she first moved in there was some fighting. We got the Feliway plug-in and it really seemed to help. It lasts ~1 month. When the fighting increases we get a refill. It is also recommended for any stressful situation, such as at vet hospitals, new additions to the household, moving to a new house, and to help with spraying. It's expensive, but I have only heard good things about it.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-19-2004, 08:27 PM
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When I used to do my own private rescuing (many feral cats and kittens were left behind the mall where I worked at the time), I took in many feral kittens. The great majority came around. I would say 4 to 8 week old kittens will definitely tame if given a chance. I would put them in my bedroom because they find me less threatening when I'm sleeping and start to relax faster. Of course I had to deal eventually with mock foot "attacks" LOL but it was fun watching them adjust and trust.

I did have one kitten about 4 months old that I finally was able to catch and she had a very hard time. It was heartbreaking for me. She would only come out and play when I was sleeping. Otherwise she would resort back to hiding for the most part. I finally found a home and I was completely honest with them about why she was that way and so on letting them know she may always be fearful. They claimed they understood and no problem. I was so disappointed when they called me a few weeks later asking me if she were previously abused because she was still so scared. I re-explained the situation but I don't think they believed me. I offered to take her back but they said no. Probably because they though I was the abuser

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-20-2004, 12:32 AM
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Carmen, I hope you can find a home for the 4th one (if there is one). Did the others get put to sleep?


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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-20-2004, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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First off....Twinkleslug I would offer it a scratching post. I know that cats need something to scratch and I'm not cruel. What I meant when I was asking was whether it would just scratch a scratching post or if it would still scratch up my furniture.
I also know that cats aren't super friendly to all people, like dogs are, but I just don't want to have to worry about it attacking other people, especially if we re-home it (which is most likely at this point).
Steph, yes the other three were put to sleep. Unfortunately we actually aren't allowed to keep any strays at work, unless one of us nurses take the strays home. We don't have boarding areas and by law we aren't allowed to keep strays for than a day in a clinical environment. It sucks big time, and it's the hardest part about my job. If they were sweeter I probably would have taken them to the RSPCA myself but I know they probably would have put them down cause they don't have heaps of room for cats (they are expanding to a muh bigger area next year so they can keep more animals for longer) and would have euthanised them anyway.
Mel the more stories the better!!!! Keep them coming!!! I liked reading your stories! Thankyou again for everyone that has had some input! I'm sure that when/if I bring it home (depending on whether there is one) I will be asking lots more questions.

Here's one I thought of....at 4 weeks old it shouldn't be away from it's mother. what's the best way to feed it?

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-20-2004, 08:04 PM
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RSbunny, please don't think I was trying to imply you we're cruel! I'm new to the list so I don't know everyone and how much they know, I was just trying to say that for each thing that is a "no-no" there should be an allowable alternative (for any pet). I just am tired of seeing so many cats get declawed when there might be an easy solution to avoid that. I see you know all this and I am sorry. Please don't take offence. I'm very sorry.

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