Feral kittens found abandoned...question about feral mama kitty...

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Purred: Fri Aug 24, '12 11:49pm PST 
We feed this feral cat (Honey) who we've failed time & time again to trap & spay. We trapped her mom & 4 siblings last year & got them all fixed, but Honey is too smart for her own good.

In the past year, Honey has had multiple litters. She always has them away from our property & all of her litters have either died or been killed b/c weeks after she gives birth she'll show back up on our propertyvwith nipples engourged & not leave until she gets pregnant again.

It's heartbreaking watching this poor cat go through having all these litters & then losing them. This has taken such a toll on her health. She is emaciated & I'm afraid she's got some horrible disease from breeding with all the feral tom cats that follow her everywhere. We feed her so much food but she is so thin. I think since she is constantly being nursed on by kittens, she is unable to gain much weight.

This afternoon we found two small kittens under a table on our back porch. They look around 2.5 weeks old. We figured Honey brought them. We watched these kittens all day & never saw Honey feed them. She did lay down near them & watched them for awhile. Later this evening we heard kittens crying under our porch. I climbed under there & to my astonishment, I saw Honey sitting with three kittens that appeared to be around 4 weeks old! These kittens are twice the size of the two we found on the porch.

I am so confused. The small kittens have to be Honeys kittens as well as the big ones. We have spayed every stray & feral female in our neighborhood & we are aware of all the cats who come onto our property. I'm thinking that these small kittens may be runts & because the other three are so large, Honey may have decided to abandon them in order to better care for the healthier ones. Honey is so thin I can't imagine she'd have enough milk to feed five kittens.

It's just so weird b/c the 2 small kittens don't even seem like they could possibly have been birn the same time these bigger ones were. The small ones ears are not even up & they are still mostly crawling. The three big ones have ears errect & they are walking easily. I am soooo confused!

Anyway, we have taken the 2 small kittens in & we've been feeding them kitten formula every 3 hrs. They have a healthy appetite. Is it possible for a female cat to get pregnant & then get pregnant again 2 weeks later, & have 2 litter 2 weeks apart? I don't think that's possible, but weirder things have happened!


Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 12:06am PST 
One other thought I just had was maybe these kittens aren't Honeys kittens, but maybe they are another females kittens who Honey adopted. About 2 weeks ago I started smelling a dead animal smell in my bedroom. It got so bad I've been sleeping in my livingroom. I got under my house & tried to find the source, but couldn't find anything. The dead animal is obviously right under my bedroom. The smell is so strong I thought it either had to be a large animal or a large litter of kittens. For the past two weeks I figured Honey had had her babies under there & they all died. But now I'm wondering if some new stray pregnant female had those two small kittens under there & died. Maybe Honey, already having kittens, decided to adopt this dead cats orphaned babies? I realize this could just be wild speculation, but it's all so strange & such a mystery.


Feral Frisco!
Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 6:14am PST 
Its so sad to hear about what Honey is going through but it is wonderful that you are trying your best to help her and the other cats in your area. I don't think its possible for kittens to be born that close to each other from the same mother however it is very possible that Honey adopted them if the mother died or abandoned them. That would also make sense why she ignored them all day, she wants to take care of them but her personal kittens are a higher priority in her mind.

As for poor honey, I have also had the experience of having a cat that could get in and out of traps without setting them off, I actually watched the female feral that lives in my neighbors yard under her porch (we both feed her) go into the trap, take the can of food out, and walk away with the can...she never set the trap off!! It was so frustrating!!

Then I started getting creative and my friend gave me some ideas...first, we stopped using canned food and instead used a chicken leg tied to the far end of the trap, this way she could not get it out of the trap. Then we put a smaller piece of chicken hanging from the top of the trap just in front of the trigger plate, this way she would try to grab the chicken and pull it down, falling on the trigger plate and setting off the trap. Using these two methods together we got her after just one night!! Maybe this would work with Honey...


Stella- Felinis--Queen- of All Kitties!
Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 10:37am PST 
It's Stella. Our person went through this with our Momcat, a stray who adopted our person and would bring her kittens over to be fed when they were old enough to walk. She also was never able to catch Momcat, and she disappeared after the third litter in 2 years. We think she was eaten by a coyote, as were a number of her kittens. Our person rescued 3 of her kittens, me and the demon kittens Fluff and Queenie. She also caught two more by hand and they went to a home.

It sounds like Momcat was a better mother than Honey, but we have no tips on how to catch such a tricky and wild cat. I myself was caught in a humane trap when I was ten weeks old, but I was a greedy little kitten.

The only further thought we might have is putting a sedative in her food that would slow her down so you could catch her? But that would be tricky. Is there anyone in your area that could help you trap her, that would be more skilled? Also, there are people you can hire to find the source of the bad smell under the house and clean it out. You do not want any animal having babies under your house on a regular basis!

Good luck with these kittens! They are so lucky to have found a person like you!

QGM- Harlequin- (Striped- Seven)

I am a show- champion!
Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 11:47am PST 
It is possible that Honey may have adopted another cat's kittens, or another cat may have abandoned the kittens you found.
It is also possible that the two smaller ones could be "runts" that did not receive enough nutrition and are delayed in their physical development compared to the other kittens. However it is also possible, although very rare, for a cat to become impregnated when she is already pregnant, and carry two litters at different gestational ages at the same time...

Are you able to catch the older kittens as well? If they are 4 weeks old, they are about the age when they are weaned so it is a good time to catch them and tame them before they become feral...


Knead softly &- carry a big purr
Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 11:58am PST 
bless you for helping these babies. I have several moms that had their kittens under our woodpile, and I saw them nursing each others babies. I am betting that smell was the other momma. I just went to a TNR workshop today as I am going to start that with my feral colony, and they suggested putting either tuna in oil, or canned chicken on a paper plate, then slipping the plate UNDER the trap & kind of smooshing the food through the bottom wires. Then kitty has to go in to get food. Makes sense to me - but this will be my first time trapping, so who knows. I did have one of the girls seeming to abandon her baby, but then she turned into a great momma. I wish you lots of luck! applause


Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 1:57pm PST 
My mom (who lives with me) and I volunteer for PET FBI here in cental Ohio doing T&R. In our neighborhood alone we've trapped and fixed several hundred cats over the last 4 or so years (people are CONSTANTLY bringing in unfixed cats here and letting them be outdoor cats....it's really an epidemic but when I approached the management about it several years ago, their answer was to have all the ferals killed. We convinced them not to do that, and we have just kept them out of the loop and focused on working with PET FBI and the Humane Society to get as many fixed as we can).

But Honey is one of those ferals that is crafty and won't allow us to get her. The day we trapped her siblings and mom (her mom is tame, but her and her siblings are feral or semi-feral) we lured all the kittens into a large dog cage with wet food. They all went in, even Honey, but as soon as we swung the door shut, Honey bolted and squeezed through. After that she went missing for several months. We thought she was dead, but one day she showed up looking for food. By then we had done a lot of work with her four siblings and they were pretty tame. One of them disappeared like Honey and was never seen again. We imagine she somehow died. Maybe a cayote got her...not sure.

Anyway, when Honey came back she was in heat and actually allowed my mom to pet her while she ate. One day my mom got her to go into a cat carrier, but as soon as she shut the door, Honey burst through, pushing the door open with so much force you wouldn't believe and escaping yet again. Now Honey is so suspicious of us she rarely lets us get too close to her.

The reason we can't catch her in a live trap is because we have SO many strays and ferals that call our property home that as soon as we set up a trap, they instantly want to go inside and they get trapped. When the trap goes off, Honey is out of here. She's no fool. We've thought about trying to net her, but my mom is unsure of how that will work and if we might hurt her trying to do that. We definately don't want to drug her, because she'll run and hide before the sedative takes affect and she would be at risk of being killed by a predator if she were unconcious or nearly unconcious and we couldn't get to her. I wish that were an option, but I don't think it would be a good idea for a cat.

Anyway, my mom is hoping once she goes back into heat she'll be friendly again and let my mom pet her. My mom's gonna try her darndest to get her in a cage next time around. She is going to wear gloves, scruff her, and throw her in our big dog cage. She might get ripped up, but she's so determined to catch Honey and stop this cycle of having litter after litter.

Anyway, I think I was so full of adrenaline last night that when I looked under the porch and saw those three kittens, I thought they looked huge. Mom and I looked again this afternoon, and they are definately bigger than the two small ones we took in, but it's definately possible they are all from the same litter. Maybe it was a racoon or some other animal that died under my house. Not sure. But I think Honey brought these two small babies up to the back porch because she is unable to provide enough milk for them, and they are too small to compete with their 3 bigger siblings. They are both eating very well every two hours, however they have not had a bowel movement since we brought them in last night. Whenever we feed them we use a wet cotton ball to stimulate their bowels and they always pee, but no poopie. That worries me. I called my vet this morning and they said that it might take them awhile to poo since they are now on formula....it might take their bowels awhile to get used to it. I just hope they go soon cause I know that can be a problem.

Anyway, thanks for all your advice! It's gonna be a long road with these two kittens (if they survive...crossing fingers). We're already exhusted from feeding them every two hours and being up all night with them. And it's only been one day! Ahhh!


Purred: Sat Aug 25, '12 2:03pm PST 
Oh, forgot to add...no, we haven't gotten the three under the house. They are probably only 3 weeks old or so now that I've gotten a good look at them. We're gonna work to try to tame them, but at this point we're not going to take them from Honey. We really don't have the time or energy to take care of all five kittens, and I think Honey will do okay with just 3. But eventually we need to snatch them up and tame them and get them a home. That's something we're gonna eventually work on. But right now we're gonna focus on these two little ones we took in and see if we can save them first.

(P.S.) Gypsy (the calico pictured on my profile) is Honey's sister. She was semi-feral but got attacked last winter and developed an absess that was so infected she had to have surgery. After her surgery, we brought her home and kept her in my mom's room to recover. We were eventually going to put her back out with her mom and siblings, but we fell in love with her during the time she was inside and couldn't bear to put her back out in the cold! She's pretty much domesticated now and we love her to pieces. Of course, we didn't need ANOTHER stray to take in...we've already got 7 others! So Gypsy makes 8!)


I want it and I- WILL get it!
Purred: Sun Aug 26, '12 11:11am PST 
It's Queenie, Stella's half [?] sister. Don't feel bad, our person has two feral cats that she can't catch--and they live inside! shock It's me and Fluff, my brother. We are very friendly, cuddle with our person and enjoy our indoor life, but she cannot catch either or us or pick us up when we do not want to be picked up. We haven't been to the vet since we were spayed over four years ago.

The most recent suggestion our person got is to scruff the cat and IMMEDIATELY throw the cat into a sturdy canvas or nylon bag and tie it closed. Then put the bag in the cat carrier. Use a bag that has a coarse weave so that the cat can breathe while she is in it.

Good luck with all of these kittens! You know even better than we do how important it is to socialize the kittens so they trust people and are not like Honey! Or even like me!


Feral Frisco!
Purred: Sun Aug 26, '12 9:49pm PST 
The bag idea is a great one!! Lots of cats can escape through dog crates, they are able to really squeeze their body's and twist to get out through any little opening. If your mom decides to try and grab her be very careful, cat bites and scratches can get infected VERY easily and tend to cause more damage than most dog bites as cats are very good at hitting nerves. I would suggest using a top loading carrier as its easier for us to get them in as you can scruff them and set them on the bottom and hold the scruff until the very last second (i close the top as much as possible and have a friend standing by to slam it closed and lock it once I get my arm out). With front loader its a little harder to close the door without them bolting out.

Good Luck with her and the babies..