Tuesday 19 November 2013

Raising Feral Kittens

Do you remember those cute kittens I brought home to foster in the summer?  One was adopted out and I kept the two girls.  I love cats but it's sure been a wild ride with these two!

Michaela has lovely, silky fur. ~

Clara Jane is a champion purrer, full of fun and wants to do whatever I'm doing. ~

They are adorable and they are very, very wild!  Their mother was a true feral cat.  If you consider adopting the offspring of a feral mother, make sure you know the difference between feral and stray cats.  Stray cats have had significant contact with humans and, even if they are skittish and frightened, can be re tamed and become great house pets.  Feral cats and their offspring have lived without human contact and are not comfortable interacting with people. 

I already had Maeve, offspring of a city feral and knew it would be tough to get these girls behaving in a civilised manner.  ~

I hope you are paying close attention to these pics because there will be a test at the end and you'll have to be able to tell these black cats apart.  Just kidding!  I can't tell them apart most of the time and never know which name to yell when they are into something they shouldn't be.

When I took the girls in to be spayed, I was talking to the vet about how different city ferals are to barn ferals.  I never have had problems taking in barn kittens no matter how wild the mother was.  He joked that barn cats are so inbred they aren't all that bright and that may be why the city cats are more difficult.

All three city girls are certainly clever.  Maeve mimics whatever she sees me do. She can pop down the toaster, wipes her paw over the dishes in the dishwater and works very hard at turning on taps.  Thank heavens she hasn't quite mastered that one yet!  She made my life hell for the first year.  There was nothing she didn't get into and lose or break.

With the new girls, for every sweet moment like this, ~

There's the roughhousing moment that sends the Internet receiver crashing to the floor.  Yes, a Rogers hub can be dropped repeatedly and still work! ~

It seems Clara Jane and Michaela were born hungry and they can't seem to get enough to eat.  They'll steal from each other, the other cats and any human food they can possibly get into!  They'll take it off your plate if you don't keep your eye on them.  For the first few months I had to lock them in another room just to eat a meal in peace!

They've broken more glass and china than you could imagine.  That favourite jam jar I showed you in the spring is just a distant memory. ~

They didn't seem to think the buttons should be on my burlap lamp shade.  No problem!  Just throw yourselves at it until you have the whole thing in tatters girls. ~

Clara Jane is a devotee of Buddha, it appears, and keeps those Tibetan bells ringing non stop. ~

Any marks on wall paint must be removed, in their minds.  I have no idea why they were pulling the drywall off where that arrow is pointing. ~

In the bathroom I assume they were trying to unearth that drywall screw. ~

I don't want you to think that I haven't made any progress with them.  They've learned, NO, QUIT IT, YOU'RE GONNA GET IT and LEAVE IT.  They've also learned to run like hell when they see me coming and not go back at whatever it is until I leave the room again. sigh

All three tried, but it was Clara Jane that managed to claw a big enough hole in that screen to squeeze out and chase the chickens around the yard. I'm sure she holds that as 'the most fun ever' in her mind! ~

Cat toys are a big help.  Nothing beats bringing a 12' ladder in the house for good times! ~

While I'm painting the family room white, they are wearing quite a bit of paint.  It's on their tails, paws and noses. They don't mind as long as they get to join in the fun.

I will try very hard to forgive them for knocking a solid lead, 100 yr. old cow statue, that I paid an absolute fortune for because it had it's original paint, into the can of white paint. ~

I'll forgive them because they trust me and curl up on my lap to sleep.  I'll forgive them because they come tearing to the door to greet me when I come home. I'll forgive them because the vet cautioned me that Michaela isn't very healthy and maybe I shouldn't put money into spaying her.  He knows all my pets are rescues and I have to keep veterinary costs down as much as possible, or I can't take them in. I couldn't adopt her out when I knew her adult teeth had never come in at the back and she may have feline herpes. So we've worked away at it and she gets healthier every day.

If you haven't had a lot of experience with cats, don't have at least a couple of hours a day to work with them or are terribly attached to your crockery and walls, think twice before you take in a feral kitten, especially if it wasn't captured in the first 6 - 12 weeks of life.  All of mine were about twelve weeks old when I got them and that is pushing it, in my opinion.  A better option for you may be an SPCA kitten from a socialised mother.  There are endless numbers of those waiting for a loving home.

It's worth all of this trouble to me when I think of the life they would have had on the streets and see moments like this. ~

If only Clara Jane would learn to sit like a lady! ~

I'll keep working on that one!


  1. Well at least her paws are keeping her modesty intact. I grew up with Siamese cats but the last one died before I had Samuel and I never got another. I loved him his name was Max.

    Sorry about the jam jar and the cow I hope Clara makes it.

  2. It's just a lovely ride! Really, Maureen? What else would you spend your time doing? Gardening, painting, cooking, crafting??? So much more fun to run around and put your curtains back up!!! lol! They are adorable and loving, so at the very least, you've enhanced your world and theirs by being a sweet rescuer! xo wendy

  3. WOW...this whole post!! And that last picture cracks me up!!!


  4. I just keep thinking they are in the right home no matter what. You have the patience and can see through all the destruction to love them and keep them safe. They should (some day) calm down as Audrey has in the last year. She's more particular about her destruction now. I love your photos, Maureen. You really captured these lunatics. They always have a loving side, don't they? I'm so glad they let you hold them and cuddle with them. It makes all the difference. Love the last photo but it is a runner up to the tibetan bell shot. Hugs,

  5. You certainly have to love cats to put up with all the shenanigans. Most kittens get into everything but, oh yes, ferals are sooo much worse because of that natural wild streak. We're pretty sure our Monkey was a barn cat, and she was quite the handful (hence the nickname that stuck),.. but she turned into a very communicative and loving cat with time and a whole lot of patience. Your Michaela and Clara Jane are beautiful cats, and hopefully will calm down a little as they age.

  6. But at least they are beautiful! I had a feral kitten and she was a holy terror always! I don't think she ever got civilized. Till she was my Cat from Hell and I missed her when she was gone!

  7. what a patient soul to God's creatures

  8. These little cuties deserve a chance, and they're certainly getting it with you. I'm sorry for the loss of your beautiful jam jar and the damage to your décor, but it's so hard to be cross at our wee furry ones for long, isn't it !

  9. Of course the cow got knocked into the paint, I've never had feral kittens, but they certainly do sound like a handful. They're lucky to have found you.

  10. I'm not a cat lover at all (sorry) but I enjoy seeing and hearing about their antics. Our son has a cat (he's highly allergic to cats!) and 3 dogs and they all get along. I have to look after them nearly every day and I'll pet Tex a few minutes. She was a rescue found injured with a broken pelvis, but you wouldn't know it now. They nursed her back to health. Yours sound like they keep you really busy. By the way, I didn't like dogs until our kids decided they needed one when they were 21 and 19! Of course, you know who got to look after him the most. :) And I learned to love him and all dogs after that. So, I guess there's hope for cats too.

  11. Oh only you Maureen! You are a gem to take in all these animals. I absolutely love that about you!
    We found a home for our dear little Felix. My allergies to cats is so intense but I do love them..really do. They have such character and can be so much fun. I hope that the little one does continue to get better. Fingers crossed.

  12. I too have rescue cats. A mama had her 4 babies in my yard. I just couldn't let them live outside, so I got them in the house. Of course my other cats did not like that idea very much, so I had to separate them. I have a door at the top of my stairs leading to the 2nd floor so we keep that closed. She had 2 boys and 2 girls. I managed to get 3 of them spayed at the same time. The other 2 were another story. We had to chase them around the house and we still did not catch them. I just had the girl spayed and I now have the one boy left to fix. He is a pisser. He pees on everything so I have him locked in a room upstairs. We spend time with him everyday to keep him friendly but catching him is another story too. So in total I have 12 cats. 3 were my brothers, 4 were mine and then the 5 from the yard. They are a lot of work and cost me a fortune in food and litter. But I would never get rid of them. Keep up the good job of caring for those devils. Some of mine are just like yours.

  13. Congratulations on "taming" those hooligans. But really, I think it's wonderful all you do for animal kind. I would be the same way if I had a home that did not have condo rules. Bleh, rules, I have tried enticing some of the cats I see on my patio from time to time, to no avail. I guess it's probably for the best, at least for now. Cathy

  14. That is the craziest cat post ever. I was exhausted just reading about all their mischievous adventures.

  15. Oh I wish I could have cats. I find them so mysterious...even if they are mischievous! I could so easily be a crazy cat lady. Dogs are fun and loyal, but cats are just plain awesome. I can't believe they are finding drywall screws and are annoyed at wall marks. How funny. You are so awesome to take them in.

  16. YOU are an amazing lady...


  17. Maureen,

    You crack me up, every time, it's a miracle I'm still in one piece! As I read this post, I tried to imagine your voice, and for some reason, the narration started to sound like a stand up act! LOL at, "They've learned, NO, QUIT IT, YOU'RE GONNA GET IT and LEAVE IT. They've also learned to run like hell when they see me coming and not go back at whatever it is until I leave the room again. sigh''!!

    You are amazingly patient, resourceful and...stern, (you have to be with that kind of behaviour!), but, it is quiet evident that you LOVE your feral kitties and they love you back!


  18. Oh my! You have your hands full with these kitties! I have two but adopted them when they were adults so they had calmed down by the time they came home with me. I don't know how I would handle kittens, though! You must really love them!!

  19. they are adorable. you, my friend, are very sweet to put up with such shenanigans!

  20. Oh they are such cute little monsters!!! I love black kitties.

    Louise is on a rampage and has been breaking something every few days.. augh!