Kitten Taming

By
Real Estate Agent with Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com

A wonderful animal lover posted about a dog rescue and a kitten rescue that she spearheaded.  I have some experience with rescuing kittens and socializing them to become affectionate lap kitties so I made a super long comment, I realized it needs its very own post, so here it is.

We currently have 5 kittens staying in our mudroom becoming socialized, this is our 3rd litter so I am going to dispense advice for anyone undertaking similar tasks.

One of our clients had a stray momma show up and have babies. We coached them about feeding the kitties each day and getting the cats used to humans providing food. Little things like shaking the food and making some noises when pouring it out, even calling "here kitty, kitty", putting the food bowl near the house entrance, to help them associate humans as food providers.  After a few weeks of our client feeding and being able to pet them while eating we decided it was time for kitten "finishing school" and brought our cat carriers and a have a heart trap. We had one carrier for each kitty.  Once you get one in and the door closed, do not count on being able to open it to get another one in. We also brought a have a heart trap, just in case.

Luring feral kittens with babyfood

A food that cats cannot resist is babyfood, the pureed meat kind.  Any flavor seems to work, chicken is especially tasty to them.  We put some on a spoon and have the kitties lick it off, they love it, once they get brave enough to try it.  For this litter, they had developed a liking for mackeral (what cat can resist?) so our client opened a can and put some on a plate and was able to lure most of them into one carrier.  Then we had the 2 hold outs that each was lured into its own carrier, the last one with some man handling.  This one did a spreadeagle and made the task difficult but not impossible.  If this happens to you, put a towel over him while still holding firmly by the scruff, (covering their face can get you a couple moments of calmness).  Be sure to wear gloves, make sure you can grip them firmly with the gloves on.  Holding firmly by the scruff makes their body release endorphins and may help calm them somewhat.

Once they are in the carriers cover the carriers with a towel - it calms them and they won't try to dig their way out. It also might be a good idea to have small towel in the carrier in case they have an accident on the drive home.

When you first take them indoors they are understandably freaked out.  The best place to start is in a small room, a small bathroom can work wonderfully.  Cover any windows or mirrors so they don't try to throw themselves through or claw their way through, we have taped cardboard over them.  You can probably uncover the windows after 4 or 5 days, but err on the side of longer.  Also make sure any hard to reach spots are closed off or the shy ones will have a place to avoid you.  We had to tape cardboard over places like the chest freezer so they can't hide behind it.  They do like having a box that they can hide away in, so have one or two available for them.  I used a BIG dog crate in my mudroom, and had a litter pan and a box in there.

Have minimal interaction for the first night just let them get their bearings without having to deal with strange humans.  Keep them in the crate (if you have one) for a couple days and talk nicely to them when you go in to attend to the food, water and litter. And you can leave the dry food out but only put down wet food when you are in there, and try to feed them from a spoon, they will get brave after a day or two. Having a radio playing talk shows might help them become accustomed to human voices also. I try to sit in there and just read my email or make phone calls to get them used to me.

Bear Goose Rascal and Scout

About litter training, I have never had to show a cat how to use the litter, it is a natural inclination of theirs. The main issue is to keep it clean as often as possible, then they will not develop any bad habits. They are pretty tolerant, I have been busy and not gotten to it until late at night and thankfully no accidents.

They will become a little more relaxed so you can start petting them when feeding, and eventually you will be able to pick them up. Try not to force things, you will win them over gradually.  For our current bunch at this point, after about 3 weeks of having them in our mudroom, they are little purr machines, and are all over me once I walk in the door.  There is one hold out (little princess Buttercup) that is still afraid of my husband who only visits once a day, but she is slowly becoming more trusting, she loves petting from me, so it is only a matter of a few more days before Peter charms her.

Keep them confined to the small room for a couple of weeks or until they start coming to you when you call. You do not want them finding some hiding place in your house where they will not have to interact with you.  We are just starting to open the door from the mudroom to the rest of the house and they explore a little, until our "real" kitties (the first litter that we socialized) hiss at them and scare them back to the mudroom.

We are hoping that a no kill shelter "Defenders of Animal Rights" will have some space in their kitten room soon. Their kitten room is awesome, the kitties and people roam freely so you can get a better feel for how the personalities will match.  And I can go and visit my "graduates" once a week and pet them and quiz them on their lap cat lessons, until they get adopted. 

Be strong about finding a home, be sure to question the responsibility level of any prospective cat parents.  Never let someone get them as a present for somebody else, that rarely works out. And always Spay and Neuter!  There are some low cost programs, in our area there are SNAP certificates and the Humane Society has a low cost program.  Some vets will give you a break on price so be sure to ask and let know about your project.

Good luck, it is a very rewarding commitment of about 2-6 weeks depending on how old they were when you caught them, the younger the better.  Our current bunch was probably 4-5 months when we captured them. They did have human interaction with the daily feeding, so that probably helped quite a bit.  They are very happy chappies and love when I show up and pet them, they are jostle for position under my hand and a couple jump in my lap on their own. 

Merry Christmas,

Maggie

410-852-9524

And of course if you need a bigger house for your cat rescue projects just give me a call, we have some great bargains in the area right now. 

Search for house Bargins in Maryland at www.HelpShop.com

 

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  1. Jim Frimmer 01/05/2009 09:55 AM
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Rainmaker
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Jim Frimmer
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
HomeSmart Realty West

That's an excellent post, Maggie. Would you consider making it so that we can re-blog it? It's too valuable not to give it some more exposure. Let me know if you turn re-blogging on.

January 25, 2009 11:57 AM
Rainer
13,912
Maggie Baumbach
Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com

Hi Carmie, That was an amazingly gorgeous house on your site, real dream home material!

Hi Marchel, your Queen really has a regal look about her, and so cuddly looking too.

Hi Kent, about the litter box changing, my husband Peter has come up with a slight alteration to the littermaid automatice litter box to make a much larger used litter receptcle, so I do not have to tend to it very often. I still do scoop/scape the bottom once a day, especially with 5 kittens sharing it! We have another orb like automatic litter box that is in our "real" house for our "real" cats, that one is amazingly easy to use. 

Hi Erol, thanks for cozying up to some kitties, it is pretty rewarding.

Hi JoEllen, Great point about adopting from shelters whenever possible, and also remember the older kitties, they tend to get overlooked, and also black kitties. But of course my fab five are pretty adoption worthy too!

January 25, 2009 11:08 PM
Rainer
13,912
Maggie Baumbach
Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com

Hi Jim, your Zoey is a doll, I want to reach out rub her head. She is quite similar in markings and color to my Giles, one from our first litter that we socialized (and adopted all 4).  I just made sure that reblogging was turned on, reblog it as much and as often as possible!  And give Zoey an extra cuddle this evening, she is a star that I look forward to seeing on your blog!

Hi ChrisAnn, yes you read me pretty well - a sucker for kitties, happily enslaved!

Hi Marianne, it's great to hear that Dory is adjusting a little better. And my husband Peter suggested using a brush during any one on one sessions, our kitties love the brushing. Some of them were a bit wary at first but were won over after a couple tries.

Hi Sandy, I have to send a "great job with dogs" right back at you! You seem to really take the time to make sure that all the doggies in yours and your clients lives are getting the home situations that they need.

Hi Lara, Thanks for the vote of support! And DR Horton homes are gorgeous! I bet you love your job!

January 25, 2009 11:24 PM
Rainer
13,912
Maggie Baumbach
Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com

Hi Loretta, Your action figure is PURRFECT! I love it and my husband loves it, and yes I am definitely the crazy cat lady! Thanks for sharing it, I am definitely going to be looking for my very own!

January 25, 2009 11:26 PM
Rainer
13,912
Maggie Baumbach
Search Homes for Sale in Maryland at HelpShop.com

Hi Debra, I was fortunate to find a lot of tips online from Alley Cat Allies, Metro Ferals and others that regularly trap, neuter and release ferals back to their original territory.  We started by having a stray momma have a litter and keep them in our garage and under our porch. We did not know how we were going to get them since she kept them hidden away so we started researching online, etc and came up with a "plan" and went for it.  I guess once you start you just have to stick with it until you have them, (and then what?) a bit like life!  That first litter became our indoor kitties and then we caught "Little Momma" and Twinkle (another stray) had them spayed and they are now our outdoor / garage kitties. I definitely see Little Momma spending time at neighbors houses, she is an adorable mooch!

Hi Jim, I just made sure that reblogging was turned on. I think you may have already re-blogged this one at the very beginning of the year, I was pretty flattered when I saw it on your blog! It was like winning an award that someone found it worthy of a re-blog! Thanks!

 

January 25, 2009 11:39 PM
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