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  1. #1

    Raising Feral Kittens

    Dear all

    I'm hoping to reach out to others who have had experience (and also need a little moral support) in raising feral kittens. We've recently taken on two, a boy and a girl I think. We found them at about 10 days-two weeks (their eyes had just opened) and they are now about 3.5 weeks old.

    They were found by a staff member out on our farm (we live in Tanzania, east Africa in a very rural location) and he said he'd heard them squeaking for about 3 days before he found them and brought them to us. I'm not sure what happened to their mother, but she had not been around for the entire time, so was probably chased off by dogs, or worse. As you can imagine, they were not in a good state when they came to us, very weak and dehydrated.

    Anyhow, they have since been with us, they're safe, they're warm, they get kitten milk formula (mixture as recommended by my UK vet), they poo, they wee, they have each other to snuggle with, and my life now revolves around 60/90-minute feeding/waking intervals.

    I have had cats all of my life, and often had kittens, but with their mother. I have never had ones like these before. They can be quite savage, at one point I seriously decided that I might - mistakenly - be raising two cheetah cubs, seriously!! The little boy, when it comes to feeding time, rips his face to shreds, digging his claws into his nose, his mouth, even his eyes. If I don't catch him in time (and now I only ever feed both of them wrapped in a towel so they can't get their claws up to their faces, even the little girl) he ends up covered in blood. Before I started wearing gloves to handle them, my hands were also scratched and bloody.

    I am very quiet with them, our days are gentle and our other cats (three mature cats) haven't yet been introduced (too scared to introduce them at this point, my three gentle boys are no match for these two). They are doing really well, health-wise...I can see that, but I wonder at how long this extreme 'self harming' will continue and if it's normal? It does mainly happen when I am feeding them and I think well their first few days/week were probably fear-filled and full of hunger so it's no wonder that they are stressed about eating. I hope that as their feeding times continue to be quiet and gentle, and on routine, they will calm down and I do spend a lot of time cuddling them, holding them, and then they fall asleep purring with little fat tummies. But it's the digging into the face with the claws, particularly from the boy, that bothers me - is that normal behaviour?

    Many thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Oct 2018

    Re: Raising Feral Kittens

    Very much sounds like they've never had the chance to learn proper cat behaviour from their mother. It's hard to give my thoughts without actually seeing the little one hurting themselves, but I do have two thoughts.

    Firstly, kittens pushing on their mother's mammary tissue can help to stimulate letdown. Since this only happens around feeding you said, it might be that he is simulating pushing on his mother. Replicating an innate behaviour. If this is the case, I'd expect the behaviour to stop once weaned off milk and onto solids.

    Otherwise, my only other thought is that it is just a 'weird' behaviour of his. Again, hopefully it will stop once on solid foods.

    Let us know how the little ones go over the next few weeks. We would love to be kept in the loop. What are your plans for them once they are older?
    Hi There, how are you?
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