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Socializing feral kittens--question

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions - big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

  
Bella

Bella- Notte--Beautiful- Night
 
 
Purred: Thu Jul 25, '13 9:17am PST 
Hello! It's that time of year again, and a stray cat has had kittens under our shed. They are about 6 1/2 weeks old, and I read this is the best time to socialize them, but also read that they are not yet old enough to leave mama. Mama is definitely not feral--very affectionate and loves to be petted. So I decided to bring the whole family in the house to work on socialization. Mama and two kittens are in the bathroom and have been there for about two days.

I have read lots on kitten socialization, but never done it before myself, so wanted to get some thoughts from the experts. smile So far I have been going in the room several times a day and just sitting on the floor. I put out canned food and bring in a toy on a string to entice the kittens to play. I've had pretty good success with one kitten--it will come out and eat, let me stroke its back, and play with the toy. But the other kitten is very shy and runs to hide as soon as I come in the room. It won't come out at all. Both kittens are still nursing, so I guess the food is not a big enough incentive.

Based on your knowledge and experience, what should I do to encourage the shy kitten to interact? I realize it's still early in the process, so should I:

--let it be and keep doing what I'm doing, hoping it will get brave enough to come out?
--put it in a cat carrier in the main part of the house so it can get used to being around people?
--take it to another room for one-on-one socialization?
--remove Mama altogether?
--any other ideas?

Thanks so much--I really appreciate your thoughts. Also, in your experience, when can you say the socialization process is "done?" What behaviors am I looking for?
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Fri Jul 26, '13 7:43am PST 
You're on the right track but you may not see real progress until they're weaned. Just keep doing what you're doing for now so the shy one gets used to you and once they're weaned use the food as enticement. It may take a while but hunger will usually overcome their fear at this age and he'll come out to eat. Work on sitting closer and touching him while he's eating. It's best to keep them in the small room while you're working with them.

A social kitten is one who won't run and hide when someone enters the room and looks to you for food and affection. It's a long process but very rewarding.

I'm sure this is unnecessary to mention but make sure all three are vetted to be sure you're not dealing with any parasites. The kittens will need vaccines and neutering and you'll need to have all of them tested for FIV and FELV.

Good luck!
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Bella

Bella- Notte--Beautiful- Night
 
 
Purred: Fri Jul 26, '13 11:12am PST 
Thank you! Do you think they'll be ready to leave Mom at 8 weeks? I'm afraid to wait to long, because most of the stuff I've read says by 12 weeks it's a lot harder to socialize.

Also, at what age should the kittens get their shots? Can Mom get shots while she is nursing?
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BK

Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
 
 
Purred: Sun Jul 28, '13 9:36am PST 
I do think they'll be ready by 8 weeks and you can start giving them tastes of canned food now. The other questions would be best answered by the vet - I would get them all in ASAP.
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