Saturday, June 1, 2013

Feral-Cat-Care The "nursing feral mom" set up

Every now and then I end up with a feral mom cat with kittens. This mom cat decided to give birth to her kittens in the trap while waiting for surgery at the SPCA of Tompkins County:

I put two dog crates back to back, after folding the back panel of each one down inside. I fasten them together with wire ties. I put folded towels on the bottom (with one under the nest tub, and one on each end), a rubbermaid bin or small laundry basket in the middle, with towels draped within and over the sides so the growing kittens can climb in and out while mom glowers.

I put food on one end in bowls attached to the wire (I like Quick Lock crocks) and a cat box on the other. Both ends have doors, so the food and cat box can be addressed without reaching over mom. There is plenty of room for mom and kittens to move around.

I cover the whole thing with a sheet. I then put the kittens in the tub, and release mom into the cage.

It's important to check the kittens to make sure they aren't ill, one hasn't died, or mom hasn't killed one. In this case, mom did in fact attempt to kill one of the kittens who seemed rather premature (he had to be put down). The other kittens did great while I was traveling, but when one didn't open her eyes at the appropriate time, I snitched them out, and sure enough they had an upper respiratory and her eyes were crusted shut with pus (yick) beneath. Usually a mom cat licks their faces rather vigorously and the crust is washed off and the eyes get cleaned out, but apparently this mom did a good job with kitten butts, but not so great a job with their eyes. So I bottle fed them for two weeks and sent them of to a great foster home to be cuddled and fed by a family with kids and teens, with lots of love and noise.

They came back a few days ago, full of piss and vinegar, and with the beginning of a new upper respiratory, which went away almost immediately with Clavamox.

They are almost perfectly litter trained. Yes!

I'll get some pictures of them when they finally sit still.


  1. I've had great luck with the Vicks Waterless Vaporizer for cats with URI. It fits great into a carrier with them, which I cover with towels to keep the vapors in. I usually run it for 30 minutes a couple of times a day. I've recommended it to all of my local cat rescue friends.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Connie. I have a vaporizer but it's not waterless so I'll check that out. In this case I think the kittens caught their first URI from being in my place, and then caught a different one at the foster home, since they also foster for other organizations. The place was clean as clean can be, but you know how that goes--kitty viruses and bacteria are sneaky things, especially when there are cats already on site. Nonetheless they have cleared right up. I also have them on lysine at the recommendation of my veterinarian as well.

  3. I should also add that I'd rather risk kittens catching a bug in a foster home than staying with me in my house. It's too quiet here and they grow up too shy. A URI can be treated. Shyness can be permanent. Also, there is just as big a chance of a kitten getting sick with me...probably greater, since I have so many cats coming and going, and lots of adult cats who probably continue to shed viruses they caught when younger.

  4. I'm with you on that Susan. Kittens, especially feral kittens, needing tamed, need a loud busy multiple person household for fostering, but those are hard to come by. I've fostered a lot of feral moms with kittens. Have used a similar set up with two cages together. I think the last one was the Siamese mom who had kittens in the live trap. Three lived, all girls, but one had severe flat chest syndrome and died at about 10 weeks of age.

  5. That is really helpful info, Susan. I had a "birth in trap" last year and used the normal single-cage setup, but reaching past mama was sometimes an adventure. BBQ tongs were my friend!