Semi-feral kittens need a good barn home (Baltimore, MD)
I trapped three kittens in an alley in my neighborhood about 3 months ago. They were about 12 weeks, which is a little older than I would usually keep to try to socialize... but there is no caretaker looking out for the cats in this alley and no reliable source of food, so I really couldn't bear the thought of releasing them. I thought I'd give socializing them a try, and find them barn homes if they didn't come around.
One kitten got very friendly, but the other two are still somewhat suspicious of people and would be best suited for a barn home.
They are presumably siblings. Stripes is male, a black and white tuxedo with a cute little stripe on his nose. Darla is female, brown tabby with white. Stripes actually likes to be petted a bit (when he feels like it!), but Darla has never really warmed up to me and just wants to do her own thing.
Both are current on vaccinations, are fixed, and tested negative for feline leukemia. They are probably about 6 months old now. They have the run of my house and are used to the dog and other cats, and they're pretty comfortable being around me, but just don't really want to interact with me much.
There's a third kitten from a different colony who could go along with these two if someone was willing to take three. She's solid black, and her name is Speedy. (I'm not bothering to post a picture of her because, well, if you've seen one black cat you've seen them all!) I'm sort of torn on whether to barn-home her or not... she will actually hop up in my lap and likes to be petted, but is still very skittish and doesn't like to be picked up much.
The kittens would need to be crated for about two weeks in their new home, in order to get acclimated. They may get friendlier as they get older... some of them just take a good long time to come around. But even if they're not very pet-able, the semi-feral guys are usually good company -- they'll be out and about in the barn.
I do want whoever takes them to try to keep them current on vaccinations if possible, although they will be tricky to catch.
I'm happy to deliver them anywhere within reasonable driving distance, and can loan crates and supplies if needed. BBer Louise also will be in VA in November and is always willing to take kitties back to upstate NY with her if anyone in the area is interested.
Bump for your kitties. Feral cat question, we have been working on finding homes for a good size feral cat population at the barn we lease across town. I am still trying to figure out the right age to socialize tame them. In the summer, we would bring the weaned kittens to my barn at home --and within a day or so of tack room socializing, they were fine, friendly kitties that approach us for attention. All but one. We STILL can not pet that one. We trapped her to have her fixed and for shots. She comes at feeding time and now and again, I see her playing with the friendly cats-- but should we take one step in her direction- she's gone. Fast forward to the August batch of kittens at the other barn, I found someone to adopt a couple of them and thus brought 5 of the 6 kittens home to my barn to socialize/tame prior to a new home. ONE was super sweet and of course was adopted along with another one that seemed like it was coming around. The other 3 new ones at my house are difficult. I just can't seem to get them to tame. At the feeding dish, I can grab them and snuggle them, but they just dont seem to enjoy being held or touched. One requires gloves or it may hurt us. Do you have helpful hints to make them come around--or is it just that some of them will come around, and some of them wont? I am fine for them to be here at my barn and be unsocial, but would prefer them to be friendly. I think I now have 10 or 11 barn cats here at my place, all have been fixed/had shots but the last 3 & in a week or so they will be 12 weeks and we can go take care of them too. I have just been amazed at how tame and loving most of them are, but yet there are some that just will not come around.
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It's a *very* individual thing. I've had kittens who were way older than "should" have been socializable, like 3-4 months, who were friendly almost immediately. And other kittens who I got at the "right" age, but took a looooong time. I think a lot of it probably has to do with genetics or personality, so whenever I take kittens, I always do it with the thought in my mind that they might need barn homes if they don't become adoptable-friendly.
(On the same token, I've had true feral ADULT cats who have become friendly -- not so friendly that they could be adopted to a stranger, but extremely friendly to their caretaker. So it really just depends on the cat.)
The best time to get kittens is as soon as they're eating solid food. 5-6 week old kittens can literally be socialized in minutes. Usually up to 8 weeks of age they're not too hard -- it might take a few days or a week. 8-10 weeks it gets harder, but usually they come around in a week or two. 10-12 weeks... those are the ones that are tough, and may never come around.
I don't do the withholding food thing... I usually just crate the kittens and force them to be petted. It sometimes takes a while, but they eventually realize it doesn't hurt, and actually feels good... and then one day you finally get a purr, and it's usually all downhill from there.
But I do think it depends greatly on the personality of the kitten. I've got one kitten, Squeaky (who I posted elsewhere on Giveaways), who is VERY timid, but also VERY interested in people, and you can tell he really WANTS to get to know you and be friendly, he's just scared. Darla, though, who I mentioned in the original post... she just isn't really interested in me. If I corner her, I can pet her, and I can pick her up, but she would really rather I not. And she was actually younger than Squeaky when I got her and I thought she'd be easy.
For the kittens that you can grab and snuggle, definitely keep doing that. They may act like they hate it for 3, 4, 5 days... a week, 2 weeks... and all of a sudden they'll have a breakthrough and start to purr. Toys also help a lot, if you have the kittens confined somewhere like a tack room. You can get an interactive toy (like one of those wand things) that lets you stay a "safe" distance from the kitten, but drag the toy across your legs and let the kitten chase it across... sometimes that helps. Laser pointers are good for that too.
Letting them lick baby food off your fingers, as described in the article, is also a big help... you just have to be very careful that they don't try to chomp your whole finger thinking it's all edible!
If it ends up that they're not so friendly as to be adoptable, at least they've already got a home and someone to care for them (and make sure they're spayed/neutered ) and you may find they continue to get a little friendlier as they get older.
Anyway, the bottom line is, just as you said: some will come around, and some won't. But at least you can give them every opportunity to be a friendly cat, and if not, they've got a nice barn home for life.
Whoops, sorry, okggo, I didn't see your reply here til just now.
It could be either 2 or 3. I at least want them to go in pairs, but if someone really wanted a third, it could be arranged. Speedy (the third one) is actually pretty friendly, although she's also fond of swattiing at me so I'm not sure how adoptable she'll be...
These guys are not little kittens anymore, they're all around 5-6 months old. Still act like kittens, but not teeny tiny little guys.