Sad Update-Little Story and Advice needed regarding helping outdoor kitten transition into being an indoor. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 05-14-2012, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In November of 2011, I said goodbye to my 17 year old cat who eventually succoumbed to kidney disease.  For 2 1/2 years I took her to the vet twice a week for sub Q fluids.  I take my role as a pet owner very seriously and after having put so much emotional and financial investment into her, I couldn't imagine having the Strength to go through that again.  Then, I found out my elderly neighbor was in the hospital and had some outdoor cats which needed to be fed and watered.  So.....since November, I have stopped everyday and fed and watered these cats as well as made sure they were well cared for.  Recently, the mother cat had three kittens.  This past Saturday I saw all of the kittens (who appear to be about 3-4 weeks old).  On Sunday when I arrived, I couldn't find two of them and then discovered the tail of one :(  I'm guessing a raccoon or coyote got ahold of them....my heart was broken and I started bawling as the mother would go up to the tail and smell it and then search for her kittens.  It still brings me to tears.



Last night I was able to close the mother and her kitten as well as another sweet cat in the outdoor sun room with food and water and today when I stopped all was well.  I will continue to do so.  After yesterday, I decided that I want to give this kitten the life it's siblings never had.  But, I have lots of questions....



I have never adopted an outdoor cat who is used to peeing whereever it wants, how do I get him to use the litter box before he comes into my house?  How old should he be before he uses it?



How old should I let him get before taking him from his mother?



When can he start eating kitten food?



I'm nervous because I want to make this as least stressful for him and for me and my family as possible.  Any and all advice is appreciated!

 

 

 

On Wednesday morning of this week I stopped at my neighbor's house to let mama kitty and her kitten out of the sunroom.  All appeared fine.  I fed the cats, gave them water and then left.  When I returned that night to shut them back in, I couldn't find the kitten or the mama.  I am pretty sure I didn't sleep at all Wednesday night.  I looked everywhere.  When I returned Thursday morning, there was the mama there, but no kitten.  Such was the same last night and this morning.  There is a slim chance that she has hidden the kitten, but the kitten was definitely old enough to walk away.  So....i'm not sure if I should hold out hope or just come to the realization that she is indeed gone.  In the past couple of days I have also noticed more tom cats around the place as well.  The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.  I was definitely attached to that kitten and losing it brought back feelings of when I said goodbye to my cat in November.  Ugh....Thank you everyone for the advice!
 


Tricia, married to DH. 2MC's & 4 yrs ttc...finally mom to Andrew6/06 and Benjamin 10/09. Adopted bro & sis 2002. My 2 fav. words: Spay and Neuter! I'm an Ultimate Viewer, 2010!

 

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#2 of 9 Old 05-14-2012, 06:53 PM
 
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The momma cat will teach the kitten about the litter box - if she is used to being outdoors, it may take her some time. Make sure it is her only option. I believe kittens nurse for 8 weeks or so. I would try introuducing food in about a month, of course I assume you are feeding the mom. The kitten will try food when they are ready. I would also try handling the kitten as much as you can right now so mom and baby get use to you. I would also take the mom into the vet to have her fixed even if you don't plan on keeping her. I don't know if your neighbor is coming back of not, but more kittens is not a good idea for anyone. I would also take the kitten in to get a check up and shots, but you can ask the vet when they think a good time for that would be as well as spaying momma.

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#3 of 9 Old 05-14-2012, 07:16 PM
 
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They will start eating solids sometime around 4 to 6 weeks but will continue to nurse for much longer if they have access to momma. I've seen some nurse upward of six months. 

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#4 of 9 Old 05-14-2012, 07:18 PM
 
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Hi Gumby.  So sorry to hear about your beloved cat.  I've been through that before and it is not easy, not matter how one tries to reconcile with it.

 

Here's my story about an outdoor kitten and I hope it helps:

 

My husband's cousin has a farm in Maryland and we were visiting last summer with our DD.  Cousin has lots of feral farm cats and they are constantly having litters.  Our last precious cat died almost 11 years years ago and we were ready for a new cat member of the family.  Cousin said:  if you can catch one, you can take it.  Well, DD and her cousin caught a little orange female kitten who was about five weeks old.  I was a bit concerned because of its age and whether or not it could be weaned, but cousin said that it should be fine.  We came back to the city and immediately took her to the vet and she checked out okay.

 

Regarding the litter box.  The little five-week-old kitten went to the litter box the moment we showed her where it was!  She had one or two accidents over the course of several weeks but litter box training was never an issue.

 

It has been over a year now and our little orange kitten has grown into a healthy, content city cat (we live in an apartment and she never goes outside).  I should say that the hardest part was adjusting to a kitten/young cat.  Our dearly departed cat was over 20 when she died, and needless to say, we were not used to young cats and all their naughtiness!  

 

Good luck with your decision.  Honestly, I think it is probably harder for humans to adjust than for very young ferals to adjust to their new surroundings.  

 

Edited to add that most animal experts will say to wait until the kitten is at least 8 weeks old to wean from the mother (with 12 weeks being the ideal).  We probably should have waited a while longer but with this particular kitten, I don't know if it would have mattered.  There were litters constantly being born and my cousin couldn't even identify the mother.  


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#5 of 9 Old 05-15-2012, 05:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First of all...thank you so much for responding.  The advice on mothering is always more helpful to me than anything I randomly find on the internet.

 

Elsie:  I have a close relationship with my vet and am going to see if they will cut me a deal to get the mother cat spayed.  I worry though that she is at least 7 years old and not sure how she will do being taken to the vet, put out for the spay and then recovering outside.  It is definitely a priority for me (look at my signature ;)  My biggest concern is that she/he won't be able to use the litter box once inside and will pee all over the place.  My kidney cat had issues at the end and it was beyond frustrating.  No matter how much I love cats:) 

 

Fruitful momma:  Do you think there are benefits to the kitten to be able to nurse longer?  Past what catscradle said of 12 weeks?  I am in the position to wait as long as it is best, but also don't want to wait too long and really have a hard time litter box training the kitten. 

 

CatsCradle:  Ty for that story...it helps.  It will be different having a kitten around.  My dogs will be annoyed with their antics, but they'll get over it;)  Starting to wondering if I should get a second one a little older from our local shelter?  So many questions and I know I am overthinking things, but I want to have a healthy and happy cat. 


Tricia, married to DH. 2MC's & 4 yrs ttc...finally mom to Andrew6/06 and Benjamin 10/09. Adopted bro & sis 2002. My 2 fav. words: Spay and Neuter! I'm an Ultimate Viewer, 2010!

 

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#6 of 9 Old 05-15-2012, 06:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by gumby74 View Post

First of all...thank you so much for responding.  The advice on mothering is always more helpful to me than anything I randomly find on the internet.

 

Elsie:  I have a close relationship with my vet and am going to see if they will cut me a deal to get the mother cat spayed.  I worry though that she is at least 7 years old and not sure how she will do being taken to the vet, put out for the spay and then recovering outside.  It is definitely a priority for me (look at my signature ;)  My biggest concern is that she/he won't be able to use the litter box once inside and will pee all over the place.  My kidney cat had issues at the end and it was beyond frustrating.  No matter how much I love cats:) 

 

Fruitful momma:  Do you think there are benefits to the kitten to be able to nurse longer?  Past what catscradle said of 12 weeks?  I am in the position to wait as long as it is best, but also don't want to wait too long and really have a hard time litter box training the kitten. 

 

CatsCradle:  Ty for that story...it helps.  It will be different having a kitten around.  My dogs will be annoyed with their antics, but they'll get over it;)  Starting to wondering if I should get a second one a little older from our local shelter?  So many questions and I know I am overthinking things, but I want to have a healthy and happy cat. 

 

Are you going to take the mother in too? Will they be indoor/outdoor or just indoor? (I have an indoor only kitty - he's very happy but was a rescue and had been declawed by a former owner - sweetest thing in the world)

 

If you take the mother to the vet, why would you leave her outside the recover? Why not take her in? My experience has been the same as CatsCradles - I've never had a cat refuse to use litter. You just show them where it is and they remember. If you are concerned, you can at first confine them to the room the litter is in, and gradually give them more access to the house as they get used to their surroundings.

 

With the kitten, definitely handle it as much as possible. Kittens who are held lots, and used to being held generally grow up being very sweet and loving (particularly neutered males IME).

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#7 of 9 Old 05-15-2012, 06:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't take the momma cat.  She is definitely my neighbors cat and he is home now.  She would have to recover outside because she is strictly outside.  I am going to see if the vet would allow her to stay a couple of extra days there in order to recover.  I still stop everyday to make sure they have food and water as well as to offer the momma cat an occasional treat of moist food.  The kitten has already warmed up to me and loves being handled :)


Tricia, married to DH. 2MC's & 4 yrs ttc...finally mom to Andrew6/06 and Benjamin 10/09. Adopted bro & sis 2002. My 2 fav. words: Spay and Neuter! I'm an Ultimate Viewer, 2010!

 

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#8 of 9 Old 05-15-2012, 08:26 AM
 
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Well, yes I believe in full term/"extended"/kitten-led weaning winky.gif but if it is not possible the general rule is that they need to be 2lbs., somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks, to be weaned totally. Since you won't be able to keep momma, I'd try to get a minimum of 8 weeks in there and make sure kitten is on solids before seperation or otherwise you could look into supplementing if that doesn't work out.

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#9 of 9 Old 05-16-2012, 06:34 PM
 
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At work (Animal hospital) we have a momma and a litter of 5.  She was a stray brought to us pregnant.  The kittens are nearly 7wks now.  They get to go to their homes next week.  They started eating baby cat kitten food (yes this is the name by Royal Canin) and kitten canned food about 21/2 weeks ago.  Momma has slowly been weaning them (walks away mid nurse/will lie directly on her tummy so no access).  Generally we see them nursing only about 3 times in a 10hour day (as opposed to everytime we looked at them)  Momma taught them how to use the box (she was an outdoor feral who learned to use it too). 

Cats I find are pretty easy to litter train.  Place kitten in box.  Keep placing kitten in box.  They love to dig. Keep it clean and pleasant and a safe place to use.


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