Oct 28, 2012

How to win over stray kittens

Any animal lover will occasionally encounter stray kittens and sometimes – either to get them spayed/neutered or just to adopt them as pets – it might become necessary to gain their trust and win them over. While it can be complicated, even difficult, it is do-able. The greatest tool we humans have is food. In the animal world, food is love. It should be noted, only try this with weaned kittens. Never approach nursing kittens of a feral cat.

The biggest obstacle is, of course, momma cat. Domesticated cats are protective of their young as it is - to the point they will even attack people they're accustomed to over their young. A feral cat will try to kill you if you get too close to their offspring. This is no laughing matter since a stray cat in defense mode truly is a deadly force. In order to even have a chance to approach wild kittens, you must first win over the mother cat. It will take weeks of regular feeding and gentleness to win over a stray cat. If you're lucky enough to have a cat see you protect it from a barking dog or a scary toddler, this will earn you fast points. Cats remember these small things.

If you're not successful in winning over the momma cat, you might want to consider asking for help in trapping them from the local humane society, which will probably also include having the cat spayed and then released. Be prepared to pay a fee for their services, still, they're reasonable.

If you've any sort of rapport with momma cat, half of the battle is already won. Now it becomes a matter of getting the mother to allow her kittens to eat, at least for short intervals. In our case where I live, we have a particularly gluttonous momma cat who seems to think she needed every single crumb of food before the kittens – now fully weaned – had even a chance at getting a bite. The solution is easy enough.

Since momma cat cannot be in two places at once, we would leave multiple piles of cat food so that the mother could eat to her piggish little heart's content and the kittens would have at least some access to some of the food too. They saw that we were the providers of their kibble. And out-smarting momma cat also allowed the little ones to become accustomed to our scent. Sometimes, it took three or four small piles of cat food for the kittens to get so much as a bite. But soon, she realized that she was getting enough herself, even though the young ones were also eating too. This effort might take a few days to accomplish.

But some cats are just pigs. No matter what approach you take, they will not let their young eat. In those cases, you'll need to physically separate the momma cat from the kittens before they have any opportunity to get even a single bite. Sometimes, you might consider letting momma cat into your house and closing the door. It's probably better though, if you have a garage she can be closed into for a few minutes while the kittens eat. After they've eaten their fill and after you've taken small steps to let them become accustomed to your scent and presence, let the momma cat back out so she knows her babies are safe. As obnoxious as a cat can be, she still deserves as much, at least. They are her young, after all.

In addition to feeding them, you'll also need to let the kittens see that you're no threat to them. If you sit outside while they eat, make no sudden moves toward them. It probably won't hurt if you were to soothe their over-inflated cat egos with soothing talk from a distance. Once they've discovered you're not going to eat them and that you'll probably protect them should they need you, you can begin feeding them gradually closer to your door each day. It's just a matter of time before their curiosity has them eating out of your hands, literally.

To see pictures of our stray momma cat the big pig, visit here.

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