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I have a question. Hub trapped this morning two roughly 8 week old kittens. They have (had) a mama but we haven’t seen her in several days. They are beyond feral and since my hub got bitten this morning, we’re keeping them in quarantine for the next 10 days. After that, I think they’ll be much happier spayed/neutered and returned to the barn. My question is: are they too young to be fending for themselves? They would have shelter, food and water but they’re so small!

Melodi left a great response to this question, but I’m posting it here so that anyone with experience with this sort of thing can jump in!

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Two things…First, what kind of heated pet bed do you use outside in the cat house? We have spayed farm cats that I would like to get those for, but am never sure which ones would be best? Second, I was Christmas shopping yesterday and I literally did a happy dance at Michael’s because I found a big bag of red, green, & white sparkle balls!! My farm cats LOVE them (we put them in a locked barn at night), but they like to carry them outside during the day (and lose them), so my supply was running low and I could only find regular balls, no sparkle and my girls gots to have the sparkle!!!

The heated pet bed in Maxi’s house is the large K&H Pet Bed Warmer. I put an old towel on top of it, which I try to take out and wash once a month or so, and between that and the heating lamp, Maxi is one happy girl.

Sparkle balls are absolutely the bomb – and holiday colors are even better! The permanent residents love to carry sparkle balls out into the back yard. It’s so odd to head out the door and see a sparkle pink ball sitting on the patio.

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Do you resist the temptation to call Maxi’s little house “Maxi’s Pad”?

Before I read this comment, it never occurred to me to call it Maxi’s Pad – and now I kind of want to paint a little “Maxi’s Pad” sign and hang it above the door!

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Are you ever afraid that some critter is going to trap Maxi in that outside house? I’ve considered building or buying one for my indoor/outdoor cat Barney, but I’m afraid a possum or raccoon will either take up residence or corner Barney in there for some reason (ok, it sounds slightly ridiculous when I actually type it out – maybe it’s a groundless worry?). I know you’ve had critters on your porch before – any thoughts on this stuff?

I’ve worried about that in the past, but two things set my mind at ease. First, we moved the feeding station off the front porch (where Maxi’s house is located), and that pretty much keeps the raccoons and possums off the front porch (I put the game cam outside for several nights just to be sure of that, and the only wild animal I saw was the mouse Maxi caught, yuuuuuuck). The other thing that made me not worry so much about it is that from what I could see on the game cam the times I put it on the front porch last Spring (when the feeding station was still on the front porch), the raccoons would leave if they heard Maxi coming to the porch. The possums, on the other hand, paid no attention to Maxi at all, and Maxi paid no attention to them. I think that their main interest is food, and if there’s no food near the outside house, they’re not interested in it.

Alternately, you could make (or buy) a house with a second entrance – if one entrance is blocked by a threatening animal, the cat could go out the second one.

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How do your cats generally feel about the heated beds? I saw one at petsmart the other day (the wife and I often go to oggle at the kittens) for $40 but I’m going to be really sad if I end up buying one that doesn’t get used. My max really loves to crawl and burrow himself in laundry right after it comes out of the dryer though so I’m hoping it would be close to the same result.

We have several of the small K&H Bed Warmers, and the cats love them. From the time I plug them in in the Fall to the time I unplug them in the Spring, they’re pretty much constantly occupied. I have a feeling that if I left them plugged in during the Summer, they’d be used regularly then, too! I think you should take a leap of faith – and if Max isn’t interested in it, you can always return it.

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Had to share this one – if this doesn’t warm your heart, you don’t have one.

Awww, what a sweet little guy!

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The eighth picture looks like Purslane should be singing “Gloom, despair, and agony on me.” (from Hee Haw)

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Okay, i am soo in love with Purslane. She even makes me love Miz Poo a lil more. I wonder what the Weed girls parents looked like? A black, white and tortie? And Dandelion looks kinds medium haired. Their parents must have been beautiful.

I don’t know what their father looked like, but their mother is white with one blue eye and one green (I think I’ve said a few times that she has two blue eyes, but I double-checked, and it’s one blue, one green). I bet she’s one pretty girl!

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Anyone have experience with Feliway reducing stress especially in chronic cystitis? Elder-cat Mabel has kidney/bladder trouble, vet’s working on it, has mentioned Feliway. I can’t imagine a less-stressed cat, but can’t rule out the other alpha-cat contender psyching her out somewhat. Thought I’d ask before springing for either the spray or the dispenser.

I use Feliway plug-ins when we have a lot of kittens and I feel like the permanent residents are getting a bit stressed. It seems to help chill them out a little. But it does NOT seem to stop the spraying when weโ€™re having an issue with that. Grrrr. Y’all, feel free to weigh in on this!

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The chickens are molting now? That seems counterintuitive to me unless they get โ€˜winter coats.โ€™ Otherwise, I would think theyโ€™d molt in the spring when it gets warmer.

It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? I searched around on Google to see if I could find an answer, but didn’t find a lot. I did find, on the Wikipedia page for Forced Molting (which is not something we’d ever do), the process of molting allows their reproductive organs a rest. Molting, when it happens naturally, takes 1 – 4 months to complete, so if they start in November and take the whole 4 months (most of ours don’t seem to take that long), they’d be ready to start laying (and perhaps go broody) in February or so. They tend to start going broody in March and April, so the timing kind of works out!

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So how do the ducks get into the water dishes with the fencing in place? I’m imagining them sitting on top and dangling their little webbed toes through the wire.

Sometimes they nudge the fencing out of the way, and sometimes they kind of perch on the fencing and look sadly at the water. God forbid they go alllll the way out to the pond where there’s as much water as they could ever hope for!

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Oh dear, someone has a new rooster in our neighborhood. Wow, he makes a racket all-the-time. All day & all night, talking about himself. Really, is that normal? Any chance that hens make eggs w/o roosters around?

Yeah, it’s normal, unfortunately. Our roosters sound off at any ol’ time of the day. And yes, hens absolutely will make eggs without roosters around. There’s been at least one season of Survivor where the contestants were given a rooster and two hens, and they opted to eat one of the hens because – they thought – hens won’t lay eggs without roosters. WRONNNNNNNNNG. Had they eaten the rooster, not only would they have had two hens producing eggs, they would have had more protein in their chicken meal, since roosters tend to be larger than hens. OH, I was so irate when they did that!

So, in short: hens don’t need roosters to lay eggs; they just need roosters to fertilize the eggs. (Though I should add that roosters – at least the good ones – will protect their hens as best they can from predators.)

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I think Stompers SHOULD have a calendar all to himself. (hinthint)


I would buy that! I would also buy an “Inspector Stompers not judging you” coffee mug! ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, okay – let me see what I can do for you guys!

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Have you seen these? A maudlin, introspective to the nth degree cat named Henri. Thought you and your readers would enjoy Henri’s misery. ๐Ÿ™‚

Henri, Le Chat Noir

I’ve seen them, but I don’t think I’ve linked to them. They are AWESOME!

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Magoo and Joe Pickle in a fight to the death.

Percy Pickle needs a hug.

I love the look on Magoo’s face.

Thistle, staying out of the fray.

Magoo in profile.

Percy, trying to determine whether he can make it to the window perch from there.

“It seems a little far.”

Magoo, biting the cords to the blinds.

Polly, biting the cords. I shouldn’t let them do this but it makes them so haaaaaappy. They’re going to be saaaaad after this weekend, though. We’re going to replace the blinds with inexpensive shades, and there are no cords on the shades!

Magoo and Polly decide they’d rather bite each other.


“Wha happen’?”

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Smilin’ Corbs, in the back yard.

And relaxing inside. I swear his back feet are as big as mine!


2011: If you, by any chance, were ever concerned about what would happen if Harlan lost the use of his back legs โ€“ how would he get around?! โ€“ he would like to assure you that heโ€™s got it figured out.
2010: The Reacher Creature, in the back yard.
2009: Iโ€™m pretty sure you can actually see the ear floof growing longer.
2008: No entry.
2007: โ€œPls do not disturb unless it is snackinโ€™ time, thx.โ€
2006: Miz Poo sniffs out the situation.
2005: So we have six now, but it really seems more like ten.



11-9-12 — 28 Comments

  1. **I used a Feliway calming collar for my old lady cat Einstein during the last year of her life. We were having work done in the house while getting ready to sell it and she was really stressed to her max. It worked well in calming her down, but it also had an effect on Simba (the pesky little brother cat who lived to jump out at her when she walked through doorways and around corners). He was a bit more mellow around her and not nearly as interested in bothering her. So I guess there’s the chance that the Feliway will affect the alpha cat too and make Mabel’s life a bit easier in return.

    **In regards to the 8-week-old kittens, my current crop of fosters are 9-weeks-old and they really are just babies. True, they can eat on their own and use the litter box and do everything that they need in order to be separated from their mama. But I’m not sure they’re ready to be “fending for themselves”. They’re not unable to be tamed at this point either. For an 8-week-old, everything is a new experience and (depending on the kitten) every new experience can be terrifying. But they only learn to be social if you’re being social with them. Things that frighten them one day will be great fun or very interesting the next. Mine are constantly changing and surprising me. I wouldn’t give up yet. ((And bless you for taking them on!))

    **I am picturing Maxi’s sign in red glitter (and I canNOT stop snorting at the thought of the name… good thing I have no coffee and Norm is sitting behind me instead of in my lap!)

      • I’ve noticed that Sabrina has taken to sitting under my lamp on the dresser in the mornings now that it has turned chilly. I asked her if she would like Santa Claws to bring her a heated bed and she meowed yes! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        And I would totally hang out with Maxi at Maxi’s Pad!!

        • The late great Einstein LOVED her heating pad. It was a regular human heating pad, but ancient and only capable of heating up to less-than-low heat. Every evening she would park herself on top of it and meow at me to turn it on.

    • I got my two girls at 6 weeks – feral mom and 3 littermates had vanished, presumably dead. So I took these two, and they were terrified for a while. Now, 2 1/2 years later, they love to snuggle and smooch. The only thing they don’t like is being picked up and held. Yes, it takes time, patience and lots of effort, but I’m so glad I did it.

  2. Feliway works by mimicking that welcoming pheromone that kitties rub on things with their chin. It makes the environment more welcoming, it doesn’t actually physically calm them. Rescue Remedy helps a lot – I call it courage in a bottle. Spirit Essences are pretty cool too. You can also go into most health food stores and find Bach’s Flower Essences which is what RR is a blend of, and you can find specific essences to address different issues. These things are all “nudges” and not medications so results will be subtle and cumulative.

    I am currently working with some feral 8 weekish old kittens. It can be done, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It would not be wrong to not try to tame them (a triple negative? really Connie??) While those of us who deal with kittens regularly think that 12-16 weeks is a more appropriate time for kittens to leave the nest and move on, kitties in the wild will often leave sooner. Some mothers get sick and tired of nursing far sooner then others and send kittens away. Yes, their chances of having something happen to them is greater when they are younger, and if you can keep them and work with them that is great, but most of us wouldn’t even consider it if these were raccoon babies and not kitties. it stinks that not every cat can have a home and a bed and real live dead shrimp fed to them on silver platters, but that is life.

  3. Heating pads: we bought one for our arthritic kitty. For the first week, both cats went out of their ways to ignore it. Now it’s been 9 months and she spends 22 hours a day on it! Self heating pads are also liked but that electric one is her BFF. She can’t stand a human heating pad, even on low, for more than 5 minutes.

    Robin, I played one of your videos of kittens mewing for food, for my husband. Halfway through he made me stop–either get me 5 kittens now or stop playing that before I explode!

  4. While not feral by any means, Oreo was 8 wks when we got her. I think its okay for a kitten to leave its momma when so little as long as it has some help in figuring out the world. I’m not sure about leaving them feral. Maybe the quarantine is a nice middle step.

  5. Oh, Magoo, you delightful little ratcat! I snorted at the picture of him making that goofy face while Purslane walks off and channels Miz Poo: “Do you SEE these boys? Honestly, I have to LIVE with them!”

  6. I have tamed feral kittens – it can be work but rewarding. If not, consider keeping them enclosed for another few weeks to keep them safe.

    Love the sparkle ball thing. There was a 9 week old kitten at the shelter last night (male) walking around with a pink sparkle ball in his mouth – growling at anyone who got within 2 feet of him and his sparkle ball. hahaha

    love those Corbs feets

    • That was my Eloise! She would run around the room, carrying her sparkle balls, growling at her much bigger brothers to warn them about the dangers of trying to take said sparkle ball. Gosh, I hope Santa brings the Wheeze a stocking full of sparkle balls this year.

  7. We use Feliway in the plugin right next to the cat boxes to curb bullying behavior which was causing the victim to not use the boxes. It’s worked like a charm and I can always tell when it needs to be changed. :-/ Bully (Kash Ew Yuck Napoleon) is him now wearing the collar version as well – so far so good. He seems to be a much more mellow fellow. We had previously tried Rescue Remedy and Bully Remedy with no result. Prozac helped, but I hated him having to be on that.

  8. As far as feral kittens I’d think they’d be rather easy to domesticate. At such a young age they have so much to learn and constant human presence would likely do the trick. There really isn’t any trick or gimmick to it. Just be around them and give them love and eventually they’ll reciprocate it. My grandma had a huge farm and over the years we attained a huge clowder (like 20+) barn cats. Most of them just kind of appeared and stuck around (rural Arkansas). Every once in a while we’d get a feral kitty and while I don’t know if it was the best means of taming a cat it always seemed to work. My little brother and me would bring them special treats every day until we could lure them in close enough to pet them. They’d decide after a few weeks of this routine that they actually really loved being petted and the special attention plus treats. The ferals always ended up being our most cuddly and friendly cats eventually time and time again.

    I don’t think you have anything to worry about with the kittens.

  9. Being a shameless cat lover, I think eight-week-old kittens are too young to fend for themselves. I’d keep the kittens in a wire cage or seldom used room and tame them.

    My parents had a wild stray cow cat they felt so sorry for in the winter. She was a very pretty cat. They found a barn home for her kittens and had her spayed. They started feeding her in their enclosed entry porch, which is small. One day my dad grabbed her by the scruff and back legs. He tossed her over in the utility room and shut the door. She bounced around the walls a while but eventually calmed down. She became a house cat and seems secure in quiet surroundings with familiar adults. She likes to be petted and brushed but will never be a lap cat. My sister has “Momma Cat” now.

  10. I dont’t know what it is about this expanded batch of kittens, but I am gonna miss them soo much when they graduate! Pickles and Weeds alike.

  11. Taming ferals: I’ve heard that keeping the cage up near eye level helps a lot. Critters are more interested by faces than ankles, and you’re more likely to interact with them every time you pass by. Be sure to pet them if they’ll accept it. Start the wilder one with a long-handled showering brush, so she associates the human with the sensation but you’re still outside her human=danger zone.

    I’ve met ferals who were converted to indoors as adults. Some seemed happy; others seemed to be enduring the attention, when they’d really rather not be touched. Success clearly depends on the individual!

    Heating pads: After she was diagnosed with kidney failure, THE Gwyndolyn had a human pad set to low and tucked under 2-4 layers of a fleece blanket. We kept her lactated Ringer’s tucked underneath, so her daily supplemental fluid infusion was almost kitty-temperature. She slept atop the pad All The Time. I wouldn’t want to use a human pad on an immobilized kitty (or human), but it seems fine for any critter able to move away if the thing was too hot.

    My honey still sets up the heating pad for our year-old kitties on really cold days. I can always tell: they’re piled atop it, wearing goofy blissful expressions.

    Thanks for a great blog.

  12. Ahhh, thank you so much for the link to the bed warmers….I foresee some toasty farm kitties who will be very appreciative ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Thank you to everyone for taking time to offer help. They do seem to be coming out of their shell a little bit. The gray tabby is a little more inquisitive and the tortie is far more timid. Last night I laid on my stomach so I could be at eye level and tempted them a bit with a new peacock feather. It took a few minutes but the tabby became quite fascinated with it, lots of pouncing and chewing. The biggest thrill was when Tortie came out of her box to take a few swipes at it. I attempted to pet Tabby and got as close as a quick sniff but I have high hopes! This morning, my hub and I cleaned the litter box and refilled food and water then afterward I set out a plate of kitten Fancy Feast. I want them to think I do more to them than scare them out of their wits! They’ll remain caged for the near future and then I’ll call the Humane Society and get them set up for exams. I do have to add that I can’t keep these little guys since I already have 14 indoor cats. So they’ll need to be socialized so they can be adopted out or they have to live in the barn.

  14. I say this every year ๐Ÿ˜‰ but please make sure you buy cat heating pads, not human heating pads. And especially for senior kitties, make sure you use heating pads with a temperature limit! Older kitties lose some sensitivity to heat and won’t realize they are getting too hot. I’ve had to deal with far too many burned kitties in the clinic!!! The best electric pads for kitties are the ones that don’t heat up a lot until the cat is actually on the pad, and that have a temperature limit of 102. (100 is even better but 102 is safe)

    And thank you for the reminder, time to get the heated pad out for my senior kitty! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I’m in agreement with everyone who is saying that 8-week-old ferals can be tamed. My husband and I fostered a couple of feral (or at least semi-feral) kittens who were 6-8 weeks old a little over a year ago and eventually had them climbing onto our shoulders and snuggling in our laps. One was definitely more friendly than the other, but after a couple of months they were quickly adopted (together!) and, from the pictures I got a week later, totally at home being brushed, petted and snuggled by a 7-year-old boy and his family.

    Our favorite tool was finger-fed chicken (human) baby food. Boy, did they love that stuff. It was what first enticed them to climb up onto us and purr. I did get nipped a couple of times, but it was because they were SO EXCITED, not angry or scared. Aw, I miss those munchkins.

    Good luck — getting them to play is a great step forward. I also did a lot of just sitting on the floor near them while working on my computer or reading and chatting to them, too, just to get them used to my voice and presence. A radio is a decent substitute for that when you can’t be around as much.

  16. I wish I could afford kitty heating pads for my two oldsters. Oh well, they have their fleece self-warming pads scattered around the place.

    I found this fun emoticats video, if you haven’t seen it. It made me lol.

  17. thanks on the Feliway comments, probably would be a good idea to try it, the younger 2 are rather flighty and hide from anything unusual, whether small grandkids or the sight of someone walking by carrying something they haven’t seen!

  18. Were watching old twilight zones and b/w scary movies. I always say “where is the cat or dog”? Animals are great bs detectors.

  19. Feral kittens – what Melodi said! For handling, when you have to, and I guess you will if you’re crating, then going to the vet: WELDER’S GLOVES. Last pair I got at Harbor Freight was under $10, I think. They are elbow length suede gloves, and while determined kitty teeth can be felt thru them, they protected me from having any blood drawn once I started using them. Good luck!

  20. Dandelion’s getting really pretty!

    I bought a heated kitty bed quite a while ago. My cat Midnight liked it just to be warm. Now that she has arthritis in her hips it’s just the thing. Her young sister Molly, however, doesn’t have much of an undercoat and likes to sneak into the bed when she can. Trying to trick the other cat out of the heated bed used to keep them amused, with the loser taking the tent in the cat tree. Midnight can’t handle the cat tree anymore so I did buy another heated bed. After I get as much black cat hair out of the fake shearling as I can, I will wash the cover to the old bed and set that one up too. We had some problem with the beds skittering around on hard surfaces. I found putting the cushy plastic mats for vegetable bins underneath works quite well.

  21. Magoo is like the feline version of the Ugly Duckling story. He has become such a handsome boy!