banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

RSSFeral Cats

Care of Orphaned Kittens

| August 7, 2012
An orphan kitten is a newborn kitten without a mother. A kitten may become an orphan because of death or serious illness of the mother, or the inability of the mother to produce sufficient quality or quantity of milk.

An orphan kitten is a newborn kitten without a mother. A kitten may become an orphan because of death or serious illness of the mother, or the inability of the mother to produce sufficient quality or quantity of milk.


An orphan kitten is a newborn kitten without a mother. A kitten may become an orphan because of death or serious illness of the mother, or the inability of the mother to produce sufficient quality or quantity of milk. Proper care for the orphan is vital to maintaining health and helping the kitten to develop and mature. While raising an orphan, care must be taken to insure proper nutrition, cleanliness, environment, as well as both mental and emotional support.

Despite all efforts, the typical mortality rate of kittens, including those that are not orphaned, ranges from 10 to 30 percent. Deaths may occur at any time from birth to weaning and may be due to pneumonia, hypothermia (low body temperature), dehydration, infectious disease, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), birth defects, parasites or trauma associated with birth. The most common signs of illness in the newborn are continuous crying, decreased activity and failure to gain weight.

After birth, all newborns should be examined for birth defects such as cranial (skull) deformities, cleft palate or heart murmurs.

Vital Signs

For the first 2 weeks of life, the normal heart rate of a kitten is above 200 beats per minute and the respiratory rate is 15 to 35 breaths per minute. Body temperature ranges from 96 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week of life. By 7 days, the body temperature rises to 100 degrees. Newborn kittens typically weigh around 100 grams and are expected to gain about 10 grams per day. At 6 weeks of age, kittens should weigh around 500 grams (a little more than a pound).


Orphan kittens depend on their caretakers to provide appropriate quality and quantity of food, in the form of kitten milk replacer. Feline milk replacer is composed of water, fats, sugars, minerals and proteins similar to feline milk. Cow’s milk is not an appropriate substitute for kitten milk replacer.

Kitten milk replacer should be warmed to 100 degrees Fahrenheit before feeding. If mixing powdered milk replacer, mix only 48 hours worth of milk at a time. The amount to give at each feeding will depend on the weight of the kitten and the number of feedings per day. Follow the label directions on the milk replacer container.

Orphan kittens can be fed by stomach tube or by nursing bottle. The stomach tube is quicker but may not be the best option for the developing kitten’s mental and emotional health. Eyedroppers should not be used since it is very difficult to provide sufficient nutrition to the kitten using this method. Nursing bottles are commonly used but the appropriate size bottle and nipple is necessary. Nipples that are too small can be swallowed and nipples that are too large make it very difficult for the kitten to nurse. In addition to an appropriate sized nipple, the opening in the nipple must also be appropriate. A hole too small restricts milk flow and does not allow the kitten to ingest sufficient calories. A hole too large can result in excessive milk exiting the nipple, which may result in aspiration. Bottle feeding should only be performed in kittens with a swallowing reflex. This reflex appears in cats at around ten days of age.

Tube feeding is often performed in kittens under 10 days of age since kittens this young often do not have a well developed gag/swallow reflex. With experience, tube feeding can be fast and easy. Typically, a 5 French red rubber catheter is used for kittens weighing less than 300 grams and an 8 French red rubber catheter is used for kittens weighing over 300 grams. The tube should be measured from the tip of the mouth to the last rib and marked. As the kitten grows, the tube will need to be re-measured and remarked periodically. Moisten the tube and insert into the esophagus. The tube should be inserted to the level of the pre-measurement. A syringe filled with kitten milk replacement is attached and given slowly over 2 minutes. If resistance occurs, stop feeding and remove the tube.

After each feeding, the kitten should be burped to remove any swallowed air from the stomach. Until 3 weeks of age, kittens need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate after each feeding. Use a warm moist cotton ball or tissue and rub it gently on the genital area. Urine and feces should soon be eliminated.

Newborn orphan kittens should be fed 6 to 8 times a day. Gradually reduce the frequency to 3 to 4 times per day by the time the kitten is 2 to 3 weeks of age.


By 3 weeks of age, kittens can be offered solid foods. This should be introduced as a thin gruel made of kitten food mixed with kitten formula. Continue to feed the kittens formula with a bottle during the initial stages of weaning. Over the course of the next 2 weeks, gradually thicken the gruel. By the time the kitten is 6 to 8 weeks of age, the food should be near solid consistency. Always have fresh clean water available.


Newborns dehydrate quickly and rapidly become hypothermic (low body temperature) and hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) when ill. Hypothermic should be warmed slowly to 97 to 98 degrees over 1 to 3 hours using heating pads, heating lights or warmer bottles.


The orphan kitten’s environment must be kept as clean as possible. The kitten should also not be exposed to other animals or multiple people until about 4 to 6 weeks of age to reduce the risk of exposure to infectious diseases. Carefully wash your hands after each handling and clean all equipment after each use.

The kitten’s living area must be kept warm and draft-free. Use heat lamps, light bulbs or a heating pad covered in towels to provide heat. It is crucial not to overheat the orphan kitten. The temperature should be 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the first week of life and about 80 degrees for the next 3 to 4 weeks. Kittens can do well at a room temperature around 70 degrees once they are 6 weeks of age. Place a thermometer near the kittens to monitor the environmental temperature. In addition to maintaining adequate temperature, the humidity must also be monitored. Try to maintain a humidity level of 55 to 65 percent in the immediate vicinity of the orphans.

To keep the environment clean, use newspapers to line the floor and sides of the nest box. These can be changed quickly and easily when soiled. As the kittens mature, the newspapers should be replaced with cloth bedding to allow the kitten the ability to move around without slipping. Change and wash the bedding on a regular basis.

Handle the kittens only 6 to 8 times per day, which includes feeding times. Excessive handling will interrupt their sleep patterns and can predispose the kitten to illness. Do not allow young children to handle the kittens until around 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Recommended Treatments

In the past, it was thought that kittens had to ingest colostrum (antibody-rich milk from the mother cat) within the first 24 hours of life so that they could become protected against infectious disease. Recently, it has been shown that kittens do not require actual colostrum. A kitten only needs to ingest feline milk within the first day of life. This means that a kitten can be placed with a foster mother and still acquire enough antibodies. But kittens that do not receive colostrum or milk from a lactating mother in the first day of life should receive serum as an alternate source of antibodies. The serum can be obtained from any normal cat and can be injected under the skin at a dose of 1 milliliter per pound. This generally gives the kittens some protection for about 6 weeks.

At 2 weeks of age, the kitten may be dewormed. This dose should then be repeated in 2 weeks.

Despite receiving serum, orphaned kittens should initially be vaccinated at 4 to 6 weeks of age, as opposed to non-orphaned kittens, who begin their vaccine series at 8 weeks of age.


A log should be maintained for each newborn kitten. This log should include the daily weight, amount of formula ingested, urination and defecation as well as deworming information and vaccination. Each day, kittens spend their time sleeping and eating. Interrupting this sleep cycle or depriving the kitten of sleep can be detrimental to its health. Therefore, make a schedule for the kitten and stick to it. There should be sufficient intervals between feeding and sleeping to allow the kitten a chance for uninterrupted quiet time.

Kitten should be gently handled 6 to 8 times a day to mimic the stimulation they would have received from their siblings or mother. Prior to each feeding, spend some time handling the kitten. Twice a week, bathe the kitten with a damp cloth. After each feeding, the genital area should be stimulated with a warm, damp tissue or cotton ball. This should be done for the first 2 weeks of life. Periodically, take and record the kitten’s temperature. Until 3 weeks of age, take and record the kittens weight at least once a day.

Manhattan Cat Specialists carries kitten milk replacer and nursing bottles for people who are faced with the task of raising an orphaned kitten. Please don’t hesitate to call us with any problems or questions.
Copyright & Credit:
Article Source:
Dr. Arnold Plotnick is a board-certified veterinary internist and feline specialist. He is the owner of Manhattan Cat Specialists, , a full-service veterinary facility located in New York City. Dr. Plotnick is the medical editor of Catnip magazine and is a medical advice columnist on CatChannel. He authors his own blog “Cat Man Do”

Photo copyright and courtesy: Mark Heath Photography

Cat Hoarders Beware of ‘crazy cat ladies’

| September 1, 2012
In the past, “animal collecting” was the term widely embraced by animal shelters for people with a penchant for accumulating animals.

In the past, “animal collecting” was the term widely embraced by animal shelters for people with a penchant for accumulating animals.

We jokingly call them “crazy cat ladies”, but it’s no laughing matter. Animal hoarding is a pathological behavior that causes terrible suffering.

Grosse Pointe, MI – A woman who exposed her two teenage children to the excrement from 42 cats, three dogs and six birds kept in her Grosse Pointe Farms home has been sentenced to two years of probation.

San Diego, CA — Deputies arrested an Oak Park woman on suspicion of animal abuse Monday after finding dozens of dogs and cats inside portable pet carriers stacked atop each other in her heavily barricaded home.

Rapid City, S.D. – Some 100 cats were removed from a South Dakota home that was saturated with cat feces and urine. Phil Olson, executive director of the Humane Society of the Black Hills, said told the Rapid City Journal that the smell was “beyond anything” he had ever experienced.

Cortland, NY – A 54 year old woman was arraigned Wednesday on 49 counts of neglect of impounded animals, an unclassified misdemeanor, court officials said. On September 1, police and firefighters worked with the Cortland County SPCA to act on a search warrant and seize 275 ill and emaciated cats from the woman’s home.

As a feline veterinarian and writer, one way I stay current on feline-related topics is through an internet service that e-mails me relevant articles. Unfortunately, I receive articles like those posted above on a daily basis. The stories are horrifying. Descriptions of urine- and feces-soaked floors and beds, cats and dogs living among carcasses, and animals so malnourished that they need to be euthanized, are frighteningly common.


In the past, “animal collecting” was the term widely embraced by animal shelters for people with a penchant for accumulating animals. The word “collecting”, however, was thought to be too benign, considering the misery and suffering experienced by the animal victims of this behavior. In 1999, the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) – a group of mental health, social service, veterinary, and animal welfare experts – coined the term “animal hoarding”, as “hoarding” is the accepted psychological term to describe the pathological accumulation of inanimate objects.
According to the HARC, a hoarder is defined as someone who

• Accumulates large numbers of animals
• Fails to provide the minimum in terms of husbandry (nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care)
• Fails to act on or remedy the deteriorating conditions of the animals or the environment, even if the animals are starving, ill, or dying
• Fails to act on or remedy the negative effects that the hoarding is having on their own health and well-being, or that of other members of the household

“There is a great disconnect between what the hoarder thinks, and the reality of the situation”, says Dr. Anne Sinclair, veterinarian and owner of Cat Sense Feline Hospital and Boarding in Bel Air, Maryland. “They believe they’re providing good care, when in fact, the animals are usually starving, diseased, and dying.”

There are no strict numerical rules that define someone as a hoarder. It’s the possessive and accumulative nature of the person, and the violent opposition to letting even one animal go, that more aptly defines someone as a hoarder, rather than the number of animals accumulated, per se.

More common than you think

It is believed that at least 3000 cases of animal hoarding occur in the U.S. every year involving, at minimum, 250,000 animals. This is probably a low estimate, as the secretive nature of most animal hoarders results in many cases going undetected. Experts think the numbers are increasing. This may be in part because pets give unconditional love, something very appealing in a society in which more people are living alone and more families are being fractured.

Cats, and to a lesser extent dogs, are the most commonly hoarded species, however, there are reports of farm and wild animal hoarding, including horses, reptiles, rodents and birds.

Hoarding often goes undetected or is misinterpreted because some hoarders manage to operate under the guise of legitimate shelters, hospices, or rescue groups. In fact, the national push to control the animal population without resorting to euthanasia has allowed many hoarders to claim to be a “no-kill” shelter, with devastating results.

Veterinarians and those in related fields undoubtedly come across clients that could be considered to be hoarders at least once in their careers. “I was involved in caring for cats that were rescued from a hoarder on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about three years ago”, recalls Dr. Sinclair. “Over 300 cats were removed from one home. Thirty of them were dead or euthanized immediately. It was really awful. I hope to never see such horror again. And while the case was going forward, the hoarder was videotaped at a shelter in another state trying to get more cats.”

Gary Norsworthy, a board certified feline specialist, editor of the veterinary text “The Feline Patient”, and owner of Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio, Texas, has had a few run-ins with cat hoarders. His most dramatic encounter occurred a few years ago. “She did not fit the typical profile”, said Dr. Norsworthy, of this particular hoarder. “She was in her 30s, married, and enjoyed a middle class income level. At one point, she had more than 70 cats in a three bedroom house. Many of the cats were feral, and she often could not handle or even touch them.” The woman spent a great deal of her time rescuing cats. When she managed to bring some of these cats to his practice, it was obvious that these cats were lacking in basic nutritional and health care needs. Cats would often present to Dr. Norsworthy with advanced signs of illness, and he would be limited in his ability to help, due to the woman’s financial restrictions. Occasionally, the woman would find one of the feral cats dead in her home. Their feral nature prevented her from ever being touched or handled, and often they died without her even knowing they were sick. “Although her intention was to improve the lifestyle of the cats she rescued, the end result was putting them in a situation that resulted in poor nutrition, exposure to multiple infectious diseases, and very limited medical care”, notes Dr. Norsworthy.

Laura Speirs, a feline behaviorist in Portland Oregon, has had run-ins with hoarders as well. Two years ago, she met a woman at the shelter where she volunteered. The woman adopted three cats. Laura kept in touch with the woman so she could keep tabs on one of the cats, one she had fostered and who held a special place in her heart. “At first I didn’t know she was a hoarder”, says Laura. “She was a nurse and seemed like a reasonable person. I thought she was just in over her head and tried to help her”. One day, the woman finally let Laura into her house to visit the cat. “I was absolutely appalled by what I found. There were 13 large dogs in her kitchen, not housebroken, most in cages, along with 11 cats. The litter boxes were overflowing, empty cat food cans were strewn on the floor, the carpet was saturated with urine, and the air was so filled with ammonia that I could hardly breathe”, she says. As mentioned above, hoarders have a pathological attachment to their animals and are reluctant to let any of their animals go. Laura, was lucky, though. “With the help of another volunteer, I was able to get the cat I’d fostered away from her with the promise of getting her hyperthyroidism treated. She expected the cat to be returned to her after that”. Laura managed to prevent the cat from being returned to the woman. Eventually the woman was evicted from her house for non-payment of rent and damaging the house. The woman moved to another county. It’s a safe bet that this woman is continuing this behavior. The recidivism rate for hoarders, even after arrest and conviction, approaches 100%.

Types of hoarders

Experts have proposed, based on how hoarders relate to people and animals, that there are three general “types” of hoarders: the “overwhelmed caregiver”, the “rescuer” and the “exploiter”.

As the name suggests, the “overwhelmed caregiver” typically makes an attempt to provide proper care for the animals, but gradually becomes overwhelmed with the task. This usually occurs as a result of a change in the caregiver’s circumstances – the death of a spouse that helped care for the animals, the loss of a job and income, acquiring an illness or disability, etc. They often have a strong attachment to the animals as family pets, and usually understand that the animals might not be receiving the proper care. Most of the animals in their care were acquired passively. They are less resistant to animal welfare authorities and are more likely to cooperate with those who try to intervene and comply with recommendations. Several of the hoarders encountered by Dr. Norsworthy fell into this category. In two instances, these overwhelmed caregivers were able to reduce their cat population as a result in a favorable change in their personal circumstances. “One of these clients got married and started having children, which forced a decision that resulted in reducing the number of cats. Another got serious about a boyfriend who was not fond of the huge cat herd, and she reduced her population to please him.”

The “rescuer”, on the other hand, actively acquires their animals. They believe that it is their mission in life to save animals and that they are the only one that can provide adequate care. Initially, they rescue an animal and adopt it out to a good home, but this usually devolves into rescue-only, with minimal adoption. They find it hard to refuse any request to take in more animals. They often work with a network of other rescuers, avoiding animal welfare authorities and impeding access to their animals. They are strongly opposed to euthanasia and this opposition eventually blocks their empathy for suffering.

The “exploiter” is the most difficult hoarder to deal with. They tend to have serious personality disorders that border on sociopathic behavior. Manipulative and cunning, they believe that their knowledge is superior to all others’. They use their charm and charisma to present themselves as competent and credible experts to the public, the media, and animal welfare authorities. They acquire animals actively rather than passively, to serve their own needs. They lack guilt, remorse, social conscience, and empathy for animals or people, and are indifferent to the harm they might be causing. They show extreme denial regarding their hoarding situation and will lie, cheat or steal without remorse to achieve their own ends. They strongly reject any attempt by authorities to intervene and will manipulate the situation to evade the law and beat the system, for example, asking friends and other hoarders to look after their animals just long enough to evade authorities.

The psychology behind hoarding

Animal hoarding is a pathological human behavior. It involves a compulsive need to obtain and control animals, with a failure to recognize their suffering. What leads people to become hoarders has not been clearly determined, however, it is believed that an aberrant attachment to pets in childhood may be an important contributor to animal hoarding behavior in adulthood. When consistent human nurturance is missing from early childhood, for example, in children that have been victimized by abuse or neglect, or have been rejected by their parents, relationships with companion animals might serve as an effective substitute for relationships with people. Pets, which are nonjudgmental and always accepting, are often treated as objects of love and care, and as a means of escape from the damaging experiences the children in these dysfunctional families are undergoing. This response may develop into a generalized distrust of people, eventually degenerating into compulsive attachment and care-giving in adulthood, often manifesting as animal hoarding.

Although there are many reports of men, married couples, and entire families being hoarders, the image of the “crazy cat lady” has some truth to it. The majority of animal hoarders are older, socio-economically disadvantaged women who live alone. Not all hoarders are socio-economically disadvantaged, however. Hoarders cross all demographic boundaries, and include those with white-collar jobs, health care professionals, nurses, and even veterinarians.

Denial seems to be a large part of the psychological makeup of hoarders. They claim they love their animals and would never harm them, yet deny the deficiencies in the living conditions or care, often going as far as to refuse to admit an animal has died. In fact, sick or dead animals are discovered in 80% of cases of hoarding. By storing corpses, whether in freezers, attics, or wherever, rather than having them properly disposed of, hoarders avoid responsibility, effectively ignoring the death of their animals.

Animal abuse linked to human abuse

Animals are often not the only victims of animal hoarders. Hoarding can be a sentinel for serious neglect of people, especially those who might depend on the hoarder for care, such as children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. In many cases of animal hoarding, human victims were discovered only as a result of an investigation of animal neglect. For example, in one case in which more than 30 cats, dogs, rats and snakes were found living in a home covered in animal and human waste, the only clean place for the teenage son to sleep was in the bathtub.

How you can help

Animal hoarders may appear to have good intentions, but the harm they do to animals is immeasurable. An individual animal in a hoarding situation may appear to be in reasonable health and coping well, however, one must take into context the environment and duration of the neglect. When multiple animals are kept together in filthy and crowded conditions, their suffering is magnified due to such factors as stress by aggression from other animals, possibly having to fight for food or to protect a litter, having to cope with being in proximity to predator species, and the exposure to contagious diseases.

As animal lovers and compassionate human beings, we are ethically bound to report cases of animal hoarding. Every community has agencies working on behalf of animals, and it can be difficult to determine exactly who to call to report alleged hoarding situations. Initially, one should contact a local animal welfare agency, preferably one that has the legal power to investigate animal cruelty complaints and enforce anti-cruelty laws. These include private humane societies such as the local SPCA, municipal animal control agencies, national animal protection groups, animal wardens, animal rights groups, or animal rescue groups. These animal welfare groups provide expertise that is usually unavailable from other responders. If the agency you call has appropriate jurisdiction, they will intervene, based on the authority granted to them via the animal cruelty laws in their state.

As in any criminal case, the success at obtaining a conviction depends very much on how closely the rules of criminal procedure have been followed. Evidence must be properly gathered, search warrants must be properly executed, and witnesses must be reliable. Hearsay evidence, poor quality photos and/or videos, and outdated evidence make for a poor case. Entering a private home or apartment to obtain evidence, even if the person entering is the landlord or owner, is an act that requires a search or inspection warrant, and may result in the evidence being inadmissible in court if entry to the home was obtained without the consent of the resident. It is important to work with local law enforcement officers for guidance when pursuing a complaint of hoarding.

If a community’s animal welfare agencies do not have the proper jurisdiction for handling hoarding situations, other law enforcement organizations should be contracted. These include local police, sate police, sheriffs, district attorneys, or local prosecutors.

The Health Department may be helpful in addressing animal hoarding cases. Because their primary concern has to do with disease surveillance and matters affecting human health, the physicians and nurses who staff at the Health Department understand how poor sanitation can create dangerous health conditions. Many homes and apartments in which hoarding takes place are unfit for human habitation for safety or sanitary reasons, and the Health Department may prohibit occupancy, which may help curtail the hoarding situation. In addition, the Health Department may connect hoarders with appropriate treatment providers within a community in cases where a hoarder might be sick from illnesses acquired from the animals they’ve been hoarding, or from failure to manage their own serious medical conditions. The Department of Social Services often works closely with animal welfare agencies because many animal hoarding cases affect dependent adults and/or minors as well as animals.

Because most of the suffering in animal hoarding cases arise from neglect and not deliberate intent to harm, prosecuting cases of animal hoarding can be difficult and frustrating. Some animal cruelty laws only focus on deliberate abuse with intent to harm, and charging hoarders with animal cruelty may be counterproductive in those jurisdictions. The recent changes in many state animal cruelty laws in which the penalties have been substantially increased have come about to address cases of deliberate abuse and torture. Ironically, because most animal hoarding cases are not a result of deliberate intent to harm, an unintended consequence of the effort to make deliberate acts of animal cruelty a felony offense has been to sideline cases in which neglect is the primary offence, as in most animal hoarding cases, since neglect is seen as more benign compared to deliberate acts of cruelty. Adding to this frustration is the fact that cases involving large numbers of animals are often prosecuted as a single case of animal cruelty, either for purposes of expediency, or because judges discourage multiple counts for the same case. This results in the court hearing a case involving one charge of neglect, despite the fact that tens or even hundreds of animals may have been involved. The penalty for a single count of animal cruelty or neglect rarely matches the severity of the crime.

Despite the seemingly uphill battle in terms of prosecuting hoarders, the criminal justice approach remains the best method of addressing animal hoarding. Over the years, legislators, courts, police and prosecutors have come to take animal crimes seriously, and for some hoarders, such as the “exploiter” hoarder, aggressive prosecution is the only effective approach.

Treating the hoarder

Currently, there is no consensus regarding the psychological treatment for animal hoarders. Experience suggests that a variety of other mental disorders are often present in cases of hoarding of inanimate objects, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, schizoaffective disorder/schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, generalized social phobia, and others. Exactly what role these conditions contribute to animal hoarding cases remains to be determined. Identification of these co-morbidities (other diagnosable psychiatric illnesses) may be very important, as they are often amenable to treatment, and resolution of these other disorders may help hoarders overcome their illness. Imposing fines, forcing the forfeiture of the hoarded animals, imposing prohibitions on future animal ownership, and even incarceration does not resolve the problem. The relationship of the hoarder with the hoarded animals must be professionally explored by trained mental health professionals. This approach, in combination with conscientious long term monitoring and follow-up, offers the best chance of reducing the recidivism rate, which currently approaches 100%.


Copyright & Credit:
Article Source:
Dr. Arnold Plotnick is a board-certified veterinary internist and feline specialist. He is the owner of Manhattan Cat Specialists, , a full-service veterinary facility located in New York City. Dr. Plotnick is the medical editor of Catnip magazine and is a medical advice columnist on CatChannel. He authors his own blog “Cat Man Do”

Photo copyright and courtesy: Red~Star

Feral Cats Can Make Good Pets

| February 22, 2011
Feral cats are cats that haven't been properly socialized. What this means behaviorally is that feral cats are not tame toward humans. Very often, feral cats result from the offspring of cats that were once owned and then abandoned. As a result, the kittens are not properly socialized to humans and become feral.

Feral cats are cats that haven't been properly socialized. What this means behaviorally is that feral cats are not tame toward humans.

Many people feel that feral cats cannot be kept indoors as pets. This is not true. In fact, feral cats are happy being kept as indoor only pets if you don’t attempt to treat them exactly like tame cats.

What are Feral Cats?

Feral cats are cats that haven’t been properly socialized. What this means behaviorally is that feral cats are not tame toward humans. Very often, feral cats result from the offspring of cats that were once owned and then abandoned. As a result, the kittens are not properly socialized to humans and become feral.

There is a critical period during kitten development in which kittens must be exposed to human caretakers, otherwise they will be feral or at least semi-feral. This critical developmental period is generally from birth to 8 weeks old. If the first human exposure occurs past the age of 8 weeks this usually results in a feral or semi-feral cat. Sometimes older feral kittens can be tamed toward one or two human caretakers.

What to do if You Find a Feral Cat or Kitten

Many well meaning cat lovers will find feral kittens and take them to their local animal shelter. Unfortunately, feral kittens aren’t very adoptable and most of the time animal shelters will destroy the feral kittens to make room for tame kittens that are more likely to be adopted.

Fortunately, there are some shelters that will spay or neuter the kittens and then return the kittens to their natural environment. This at least gives the feral cat a chance to live without the ability of producing more feral cats. This program is called Trap-Neuter-Return, and it is being implemented in many areas to control the outdoor cat population without having to kill the cats. It generally works like this: The kittens are caught in a humane trap, such as Havahart live animal traps. The animal is unharmed. Then the cat is taken to the vet or the shelter that participates in Trap-Neuter-Return and the animal is spayed or neutered and is usually given some vaccines. When the cat has recovered from the spay or neuter surgery the cat is returned outdoors in the same location where it was found. Trap-Neuter-Return is a much more humane way of dealing with feral cats and kittens than euthanasia.

Feral Kittens Can Also Make Very Rewarding Pets

Some people who find feral kittens take them into their homes as pets. This can be a very rewarding experience as you gain the trust of these special cats. It is also the best option for the well-being of the feral cat or kitten. Taking them into your home as a pet is even better than Trap-Neuter-Return programs. Taking them in as pets generally works best if you catch them when they are relatively young. The younger the better, although some people have taken older feral cats into their homes as pets and they have been fine.

It is also best to take in two feral kittens or cats from the same litter if possible. If this isn’t possible it is best to have at least one other cat in the household because feral kittens and cats really enjoy the company of other cats.

Feral cats need to be kept as indoor only cats. Cats sometimes behave differently once they get outside. Because feral kittens and cats don’t trust humans very much they may be fearful of approaching your house once they are outside and they may get lost. In general, they are very fearful of any humans other than the human caretakers that they have grown to trust.

I have four feral cats that have lived with me for about 2 years now and they have been very happy indoors. Three were caught when they were 10 weeks old and the fourth cat was caught when she was 12 weeks old.

For the first few weeks after I brought them in the house, all of the kittens used to hiss when I walked by them. Eventually they came to trust me and stopped hissing when they saw me. In fact, now they greet me at the door after work. When I wake up in the morning they come up on the bed to greet me the very first thing. They love playing with toys and with each other. They are still semi-feral, but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing how happy they are and knowing that they are indoors where it is warm and safe.

However, they aren’t exactly like other cats. For the most part you can’t pick them up. One of the kittens lets me pick her up and kiss her on top of her little head, but the other kittens don’t allow it (Actually, they are no longer kittens, but they still seem like babies to me). However, they do like to play toys with me, and except for one of them, they do like to be petted and to have their fur brushed.

Feral cats and kittens would not make good pets for children. Basically feral cats that live indoors with humans like to do their own thing most of the time. They don’t want to be held and will usually only let you pet them on a limited basis. Because of this they are likely to scratch a child that attempts to have more contact with them than the cat wants. The key to making a feral cat happy is to only have as much contact with the cat as it wants.

Also, you need to give the shy ones extra space when they are using the litter or eating. Sometimes it is best to keep their litter and food bowls in low human traffic areas so that they can feel safe while eating or using the litter box.

Vet trips can be difficult because they don’t always allow you to pick them up to put them into the pet carrier. However, there are ways to do it. Sometimes you can throw their favorite toy into the carrier and they will run in to get it and then all you have to do is shut the cat carrier door.

Feral cats are well worth the extra work and they are the best pets ever! Also, because they only want limited contact with humans you generally don’t have to worry about them walking on your keyboard while you are typing or laying across you newspaper or book while you are reading.

In my opinion there is nothing more rewarding then gaining the trust of these cats, especially if you don’t mind taking their special needs into consideration. The reward comes in knowing that you are providing a loving, warm, happy home with plenty of food, water, toys, and veterinary care for these special cats.

For more information about feral cats and cat and kitten information please visit About Cats

Copyright & Credit:

About the Author: Angela Ralano has a master’s degree in psychology and is currently working on her doctorate. She is a fitness enthusiast and cat lover. She also maintains the Web sites Official Fitness and and About Cats

Article Source: Cats Can Make Good Pets

Photo copyright and courtesy: Red~Star

Free Rescue & Shelters and Trapping & Sterilising Organisations Directory Listing

| December 28, 2011

For a Free Rescue & Shelters and Trapping & Sterilising Organisations Directory Listing

For Rescue & Shelters and Trapping & Sterilising Organisations listing please send the following information to

Organisation Name:
Contact Person:
Web Address:
Short Description / Info on organisation
Banking information for Donations:

Hillside Haven, Home for differently-abled cats and various other rescued animals

| November 3, 2010

Hillside Haven is a home for differently-abled cats and various other rescued animals. We provide sanctuary and healthcare for the animals so that they can lead a full and happy life. Hillside Haven aims to educate the public about responsible pet ownership and differently-abled cats and the possibilities they can still have as loving pets. Based in Durban, South Africa, Hillside Haven is an organisation which relies solely on the goodwill and financial support of its dedicated volunteers and especially from the general public. At present, our sanctuary cares for 83 cats, 7 dogs and various recued reptiles and birds. Many of our cats are blind, missing limbs or disabled in other ways, but visitors to our sanctuary would be hard-pressed to pick out the differently-abled cats. They get on so well in their protected environment that their disabilities become irrelevant.

Hillside Haven was started by Dr Taryn Turner who has more than a decade’s experience in rescuing and rehabilitating cats and kittens. As a homoeopath, she looks after the health of the cats and has developed many natural health protocols for them. Our residents come from all over Kwa-Zulu Natal (and some from even further afield). Their backgrounds are varied. Whilst out jogging one morning, a Bluff resident heard rustling in the garbage that had been put out for collection. When he investigated, he found a packet of newborn kittens. When they were brought to Taryn, they still had their umbilical cords attached. One of the kittens, Tallulah, ended up staying at the sanctuary. She has lost all of her teeth but it hasn’t made a dent in her appetite at all.
When a lecturer at the Durban University of Technology arrived at work one morning, a security guard ran up to her and said he had been anxiously watching a kitten on the roof of a very high building and was worried that she would fall off. With some very daring moves, the security guard managed to get the hissing, spitting bundle of fur off the roof. It was then that they discovered that one of her legs was missing. It seems that the kittens had been living in the air vents and it’s likely that the leg was cut off by a fan. When she arrived, we took her to the vet and had the rest of the leg surgically removed so that she didn’t succumb to infection. Lucinda joined the little kitten trio in Taryn’s sons’ room and has become part of their gang.



Ged was rescued from a petrol station in the KZN Midlands – his rescuers saved him from a crowd of people who were throwing rocks at him! He has radial hyperplasia which means the bones in one of his front legs are twisted, and he walks on the back of his ‘wrist’. Understandably, Ged is still not keen on people and who can blame him? Yes, I would like to sponsor Ged!



Leonardo and his brother were born in a factory in Pinetown. Their mom was feral and the kittens received very little care when they were little. When they got to us, they had terrible snuffles. Leonardo developed serious complications from the snuffles and started to have seizures. He had severe brain damage and was left blind, partly deaf and with very little sense of hearing. It doesn’t stop him being quite high up on the pecking order – Leonardo’s policy is to strike first and ask questions later. Yes, I would like to sponsor Leonardo



Andriel was about one year old when he was rescued from a feral colony where we presume he had been dumped. One of our volunteers, who feeds over 200 cats in and around Durban every day, noticed the new arrival was dragging one hind leg. She set a trap for him and he was so starving, he just dragged himself into it. The vet’s diagnosis was that his hind leg had been hacked with a panga (a large garden knife) – the previous strike marks of the weapon were clearly visible. The injured hind leg was amputated but this wasn’t Andriel’s only woe. He was skeletal and was covered with ringworm and mange. Today, it is hard to recognise Andriel as the same woeful, hairless, hideously injured little skeleton who arrived at the sanctuary one year ago. He still avoids people like the plague (and who can blame him?) but will allow Taryn to approach if she minds her manners (and has food in her hands!) Yes, I would like to sponsor Andriel

Click here to meet more of our Residents

JOIN OUR WALL OF HONOUR and support Hillside Haven for just R20 a month!

Hillside Haven is a home for differently-abled cats and various other rescued animals.

Hillside Haven is a home for differently-abled cats and various other rescued animals.

Contact Person: Dr T Turner
Tel:– 084 4555 529

Banking Details:
Dr T Turner
Nedbank, Umhlanga (135329)
Acc no: 1353 0484 70

How Feral Cats Can Be Tamed

| November 3, 2010
How Feral Cats Can Be Tamed

Because feral cats are difficult to tame, thus making them undesirable indoor pets, there are many rescue organizations that are dedicated to the trapping and spaying and neutering of feral cat colonies. Many times, these organizations trap the cats, have them spayed and neutered and then release them near where they were originally found. Then, they dedicate themselves to providing food to these colonies.

Feral cats are different from stray cats. Stray cats are usually the product of a person’s irresponsibility. Irresponsibility could be defined in two ways when it comes to strays: dumping a cat to fend for itself and/or neglecting to spay and neuter their cats. Stray cats can be timid, but are often easily tamed. Feral cats are cats that were probably born to wild parents and are wild themselves. Feral cats have had no human interaction and are very difficult to tame.

Because feral cats are difficult to tame, thus making them undesirable indoor pets, there are many rescue organizations that are dedicated to the trapping and spaying and neutering of feral cat colonies. Many times, these organizations trap the cats, have them spayed and neutered and then release them near where they were originally found. Then, they dedicate themselves to providing food to these colonies.

Feral cats are everywhere. You can find feral cats in rural or farm areas, abandoned buildings and even parks and alleyways. You might catch a glimpse of them, but chances are that you would not be able to catch them easily. After all, they have not been around humans so any contact would make them shy away from you. If you have feral cats in your neighborhood, you may wonder whether these animals can be kept as pets.

Taming a feral cat can be a difficult proposition simply because they are not accustomed to humans. Depending on the level of their interactions with humans, some cats might be classified as semi-feral, total feral or even a converted feral cat. Depending on what your cat is classified dictates your potential success in socializing it. In addition, it takes a lot of time, love and patience to tame these cats.

If you find a cat that is has been feral for a years, chances are that there is little to no chance of socializing it. With no human contact at all, these cats are overly independent and would never depend on a human for food or companionship. You might have better success with a cat that is semi-feral. In these instances, they have had some limited human contact. A converted feral cat would probably have the best chance at a normal life as someone’s pet. These cats were once domesticated, meaning that they probably started life as a pet and then was abandoned. The converted feral cat will more than likely eventually respond to human interactions such as love and affection.

If you want to attempt to tame a feral cat, remember that it can be hard work reaching out to the feral cat and getting them to trust you after being on their own. Sometimes, your efforts will not pay off for months, especially with older cats. If your attempts are a success, the rewards are well worth it because a strong bond can develop and loyalty and love is the reward.

If you believe you have the time and the love to attempt to tame a feral, there are some things to remember. First, these cats see you as an intruder and are very likely to spit, hiss, bite and claw. This is a normal response as they are defending themselves against a perceived predator – you. If they manage to get in a few bites or scratches, you should apply first aid immediately. After you have successfully trapped a feral cat, your very first step is to get it to the vet for spay or neuter and to check for any diseases it may carry. This is a necessary step and an absolute must if you have other pets in the house. After you have arrived home with your cat, you need to let it adjust to you and the surroundings by giving it a small, safe place to stay. Allow the cat to stay in a small bathroom or laundry room, where it does not feel overwhelmed. You will need to take time every day to spend time with the cat and allow the cat to adjust to you.

Remember, not all feral cats can be socialized; however with love and patience, your time and efforts may be worthwhile.

Copyright & Credit:
Article source:
Author: Learn about tiger habitat and tiger pictures at the Tiger Facts site.

Photo copyright and courtesy: Fabrizio Turco – stock.xchng

Information on Feral Cats

| November 3, 2010
Information on Feral Cats

Feral cats are a direct result of humans not sterilising their cats, starting many years ago. Cats and kittens ended up on the streets, multiplying even more.

Feral cats are a direct result of humans not sterilising their cats, starting many years ago.  Cats and kittens ended up on the streets, multiplying even more.

These cats and their behaviour are completely misunderstood.  People see them as pests that should be eliminated.  Due to human’s destructive nature, rats’ biggest natural enemy namely owls, are now mostly only found in nature reserves.

At every shopping centre, restaurant, cafeteria, etc., food is thrown away.  This attracks rats and they multiply uncontrollably.  Fortunately, feral cats are also attrackted to the same areas, due to some availability of food.  Therefore, these cats keep the rat population under control.

The “problems” people have with feral cats include spraying, fighting, screaming, multiplying and going into buildings and houses.  This is all typical behaviour of unsterilised, hungry feral cats.  Once they are sterilised and fed, these problems disappear.  Feeding ferals away from a building will keep ferals away from the building.  Ferals do not like humans; they have no desire to be with us.  The only reason why they climb into buildings and houses, is because they are looking for food.  Well-fed feral cats are healthy cats.  Rats and left-over food is not a balanced diet for cats.

We have sterilised many feral colonies all over and urged people to feed them.  At all of these places, humans and cats are living in perfect harmony and both benefit each other.  It has been proven over and over that where ferals are removed, other ferals just move in.

Facts about feral cats:

  • Ferals keep the rat population under control, as rats are attracted to the same areas as ferals; normally where food are thrown away.
  • Where ferals are removed, a void is created and other ferals soon fill that void.
  • A sterilised feral colony will not allow other ferals to move in.
  • Ferals that are forced to live on rats and mice, suffer from malnutrition, as this is not a balanced diet for cats.
  • Feeding ferals will ensure good health and minimise the spreading of diseases.
  • Feeding ferals will not stop them from hunting rats, as hunting is a basic instinct.
  • Ferals pose no threat to humans.
  • Feeding ferals away from a building, will keep them away from the building.
  • Ferals cannot be re-located or re-homed, due to their nature. Removing ferals therefore means killing them.

The ONLY proven way to deal with feral cats is to trap, sterilise, release and feed them!

4paws - To improve the quality of life of underprivileged animals. In our urban surroundings, the main categories are: squatter camp animals and feral cats.

To improve the quality of life of underprivileged animals. In our urban surroundings, the main categories are: squatter camp animals and feral cats.

Copyright & Credit:
Merinda Brits
Four Paws – We are currently only relying on private donations, but we are also hoping to gain the support of the public sector.

Photo copyright and courtesy: Davide Guglielmo – stock.xchng

Neutering and Spaying of Cats

| December 22, 2011
Neutering and Spaying of Cats

We all love our cats and many of us would prefer them in their natural body form i.e. not subject them to any surgery or general anesthesia. But there is one procedure for which I do recommend surgical intervention...sterilization of cats.

We all love our cats and many of us would prefer them in their natural body form i.e. not subject them to any surgery or general anesthesia. But there is one procedure for which I do recommend surgical intervention…sterilization of cats.

We all know by now the outcome of allowing uncontrolled breeding of cats (ferals…remember!). But apart from that sterilization of cats has several important benefits. And unless you are a serious breeder, I do suggest you consider the following:

Male cat – When your tom cat reaches puberty at nearly six months of age, he will start yearning for female cats, and it’s not his fault – it’s only natural. He will meow at night, spray foul smelling urine all over the house aside from his litter box, and totally ignore all your attempts to control him, in short there will be a total change in his personality and it will continue…until you let him out! Once outside your tommy boy will be no match for the ferals who have grown on their own and are much better hunters and fighters than your pet who never learned to fend for himself under your loving care. So when he’s gonna eye female cats and try and establish his territory, he’ll end up inevitably in a fight with another feral male cat – and return to you with a scratched face and scarred ego! You’ll worry about him but there’s not much you can do – he will go outside again – and this time may not return (as your domesticated pet he didn’t even learn how to cross a street or avoid humans!) And you’ll be left with heart break, uncomprehending…when all of this could be avoided by a simple procedure…neutering. The surgery is one of the simplest in all of veterinary medicine. Carried out under general anesthesia your pet will be discharged the same day and will have no significant personality changes!

Female Cat – Here you have a lovely queen who adores you, rolls on your feet and shows affection for the whole family – until she reaches puberty (again at approximately six months). Now your sleep every night is disturbed by her constant yowling! She desperately wants to get out and meet a tom cat – and she can’t help it…she’s in heat. You try to soothe her but to no avail. Finally you let her out. She returns after a few days, relatively unharmed. However, she continues to venture outside periodically, much to your concern, where she is exposed to unhygienic conditions and diseases. A few months later she bears a litter of four kittens. Now you have a problem – what to do these with these new cats. This will continue every few months and your house will become crowded with cats, you will be left wondering if it’s a good idea to keep pets? Again all of this could be avoided by a similar surgery…spaying (ovariohysterectomy). Your cat will no longer come in heat and will lead a happy, healthy life!

Even if the above does not motivate you enough, remember this, sterilization also reduces the risk of cancer in cats (testicular in males, ovarian in females)! What’s the right age for neutering? I’d say at puberty…around six months! No use letting the cat have one litter since they may only learn a behavioral trait that you don’t want!


Copyright & Credit: | The author is a blogger about cats and an expert on sterilization of cats.

Photo copyright and courtesy: Jelle Boontje– stock.xchng

Spay and Neuter your Companion Animals

| December 22, 2011
Spay and Neuter your Companion Animals

Neutering is the surgical removal of certain reproductive organs--in the female, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries; in the male, the testicles. Neuter surgery on female animals is sometimes called "spaying." The surgery prevents females from becoming pregnant and prevents males from impregnating females.

What is Spaying & Neutering?

Neutering is the surgical removal of certain reproductive organs–in the female, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries; in the male, the testicles. Neuter surgery on female animals is sometimes called “spaying.” The surgery prevents females from becoming pregnant and prevents males from impregnating females.

Animals are anesthetized during the surgery to spare them from pain. They typically go home within a day of the procedure. Neutering is a relatively safe and simple operation, and its potential for helping to save animals’ lives is tremendous.

Neutering is generally done around the age of two-four months for females and males, before they even reach sexual maturity. If fact many veterinarians will perform neuter surgery on puppies and kittens as young as 8 weeks of age. This early surgery ensures that your pet will not contribute to pet overpopulation, and their young age helps them recuperate quickly from the procedure.

Neuter surgery is a standard procedure done by nearly every general practice veterinarian. If you would like a referral to a veterinarian experienced in early neutering, call PAWS.

Benefits For Your Pet–And For You
Neutering lowers the odds of breast cancer and dangerous uterine infections in females and prostate problems in males. By reducing the animal’s urge to roam, the surgery also decreases the chances that your pet will run away, become lost, or be hit by a car while roaming loose.

Neutering is not a cure for aggressiveness, but it will lessen the urge to fight for sexual dominance. It also diminishes the likelihood that an animal will spray, wail, mark territory, or make inappropriate sexual approaches toward people or objects. Animals who are spayed or neutered are three times less likely to bite. A benefit for everyone!

Un-neutered pets may be anxious because they have no outlet for their natural urges. Neutering eliminates this frustration and makes your companion less distracted, more easily trained, and a more contented member of your family.

A lifesaver – more reasons to alter your companion:
Neutering increases your pet’s life expectancy and helps reduce the numbers of animals put to death in shelters. If you love animals and want to help them, neutering is the place to start.

“I don’t want her to become fat.” Remember, too much food and not enough exercise makes animals fat. Neutering doesn’t.

“He’s a purebred with papers.” One-fourth of the dogs killed in shelters are purebreds. Purebreds and their pure- and mixed-breed offspring also suffer from overpopulation–and contribute to it.

“I already have homes lined up for all of them!” If each of the eight great homes ready to welcome your pet’s offspring would instead adopt from a shelter, they–and you– could save eight animals who would otherwise probably be put to death. For every terrific family wanting a companion, the perfect animal is already waiting–in an animal shelter.

Many clinics offer surgeries for healthy animals who are four months or older. Please speak to your veterinarian about the advantages of prepubescent surgery and when it is appropriate to have your companion altered.

Copyright & Credit:
Source: Paws –

Photo copyright and courtesy: Marc Gommans



| November 3, 2010

There are many responsible cat lovers and breeders who make it their responsibility to help strays which turn up in their neighbourhood, but there are also far too many cat lovers who turn away saying 'it's somebody else's problem' or allow their own unneutered cats to roam and breed.

Two years ago two black and white cats began making regular night-time raids through the cat flap to pillage my own cats’ food. Nothing unusual in a street where there are plenty of pet cats, except that a survey of the neighbourhood revealed that no-one actually owned them (most people thought they were mine!). It seemed that they had been dumped in “the cat lady’s” garden by someone who just could not be bothered to contact a cat shelter.

“Tom” and “Fred” were unneutered adult males and close buddies rather than rivals, so they must have been raised together. They were so people-shy that they were virtually feral, vanishing as soon as they realised I had spotted them. They liberally sprayed my kitchen, to the great delight of my spayed girls and the not-so-great delight of myself.

What should I do? Should I chase them away? Should I supply food for them and suffer a kitchen reeking of tomcat? They weren’t my cats, so I had no duty to see to their welfare. The family two doors away temporarily solved the problem by setting their dogs on the two cats. Tom never returned and Fred ceased spraying and slept in the kitchen at night which still left me with a tomcatty odour about the place.

All my cats are neutered so the presence of a full tom was not going to cause me any family planning problems. The wildlife here is not endangered so there was no need to eliminate a single feral cat. Not all owners in the area were responsible enough to have their cats neutered (though I had been working on them) and Fred was a big, unneutered tom ready and willing to do his duty for catdom. There was no urban animal problem in the area, but Fred could change all that.

Calling him somebody else’s problem was not going to make the problem go away. He had established a stable territory and found food so I made it my responsibility to make him socially acceptable. I borrowed a box-trap and caught several of my neighbours’ cats, my own cats (until they wised up to the trap’s purpose) and some wildlife before I finally caught Fred. I got a good look at my pungent captive. His face was scratched and his fur was full of grime. He was whisked off for neutering next morning and was returned to me that evening, still swearing but two lumps short of a tomcat. The vet had ascertained that Fred did not pose a health risk to other cats so I released Fred in the familiar territory of my garden and he limped off into the dusk without a backward glance.

It was weeks before I saw him again and I barely recognised the old rascal. The scratches on his face had healed. The once-grey areas of his coat were white and he was in better condition. I set up a mirror near the kitchen so that I could see him come in to eat without him seeing me. The cat hairs in his usual sleeping place proved that he still ‘lived here’, but he no longer left a distinctive odour.

Fred was not ‘my cat’, but he lived on my land so it became my responsibility to either eliminate him or neuter him. Had I had him destroyed, another stray would soon have taken over the vacant territory. It isn’t good enough to simply feed strays, they must also be prevented from adding their offspring to the stray and feral population.

There are many responsible cat lovers and breeders who make it their responsibility to help strays which turn up in their neighbourhood, but there are also far too many cat lovers who turn away saying ‘it’s somebody else’s problem’ or allow their own unneutered cats to roam and breed. These strays aren’t somebody else’s problem, they’re everybody’s problem. It’s up to every cat lover to do something to reduce the stray cat problem – by ensuring that their own cats don’t stray or breed (no, not even one litter), by or aiding cat welfare organisations and by educating their friends.

Copyright & Credit:
Sarah Hartwell – MESSYBEAST.COM

Photo copyright and courtesy: Stefan Nicolae – stock.xchng

banner ad
banner ad