Is it the right thing to re-home my kittens

Queries and discussions about cat rescue & rehoming
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Daisy Burgun
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Is it the right thing to re-home my kittens

Post by Daisy Burgun »

Hi all,

Struggling with my beautiful kittens at the moment and I'm starting to wonder if I'm the right home for them.

We adopted two kittens from the same litter from our local rescue back in November. They were strays and were taken from their mother very early on. One of the kittens was actually left in the field when the rescue collected them because they couldn't find her. Three days later they got to her.(this one is called Lilith)
So when we got them home we expected them to be nervous and to take time to get their surroundings. Eventually we got them both spayed and then waited until the beginning of Feb to let them outside. Neither of them were interested at first but within a few weeks one of them (Mavis) was having a great time she was going in and out using the cat flap and wasn't having any issues. She now rarely comes back in which I expected for a younger cat. Now we have one of those cat flaps that read microchips because there is a big bully cat nearby who comes into anyone's house so we wanted to make sure they were safe.-this is just for you to understand it is harder to get in through the flap than it is going out. The other kitten, Lilith loves the outside she plays and runs round and it's great but she will not go out the flap, she will only go out the door if we open it.. she comes in through it fine but going out she just will not do even now. We've tried holding it up, coaxing her through, she's seen her sister do it and she does go through it herself but only back in... We are in a neighborhood where we can't leave windows open or doors so the cat flap is their only option outside in the day (at least 9hours a day cause of work) at the moment I've kept the litter tray but ideally this is something I want to get rid of. Does anyone have any advice on how to get her to use the flap properly?

Now second and more problematic question. Both of the cats are exceptionally nervous more than we expected but not only that if other people come over and try to stroke them the kittens attack and they are incredibly viscious. They run from me if I'm just walking through the house they sprint into walls, doors anything really just to try and get away from us and I am worried that they are going to hurt themselves and that this is an awful environment for them. I've tried calming sprays but they don't seem to work and we don't have any other pets or scents for them to react to.. I'm concerned that they would be better suited to a farm environment where there is less human interaction and more outside exploring for them. They seem to be a lot more feral than we were anticipating and than we were shown at the rescue.. does it sound like they shouldn't be with us, in this environment that at the moment is very upsetting to them?

I have spoken to the rescue and they will be letting me know some advice soon but I'm just covering as many bases as possible. They are lovely kittens but i would hate to stress them out just to keep them with me. Their mum was rehomed to a farm and seems to be settling in a lot better than the kittens but that could just be age..

Any help, advice or similar situations would be amazing!

Thank you so much in advance x
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Ruth B
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Re: Is it the right thing to re-home my kittens

Post by Ruth B »

It sounds like their Mum was a feral or farm cat but that doesn't mean her kittens need to be as well, however they will take more work to socialise than kittens born to a friendly house cat. I would have hoped the rescue had done a lot of that socialisation before they were homed, but it could just be that the change in environment brought back old ideas. You need to decide whether you have the time to put in to making them social and more accepting of living in human society. It will be a long and difficult road at times, but in the end it can be incredibly rewarding.

My first suggestion is to be prepared to keep that litter tray. Even if you decide to move it's location having one indoors is beneficial to any cat. I wouldn't want to use an out door privy in the middle of a frosty night, particularly if there was a local bully that wandered the area and could have a go at me while I was trying to do my business, why should we feel happy putting a cat in that situation. It is also helps if they aren't well and during times when people are letting off fireworks. I like a cat to have access to outside but never to be forced to go out.

Cat flap training does seem to be a problem area, one of mine took a year to learn how to use it, she would happily go through it if it was held open but would never push it open herself. Then we were trying to get her in to a carrier for her annual booster and she was panicking when were trying to pick her up. The cat flap had been locked and a board put in front of it, while she had never used it we were taking another cat as well and had done it to stop him running off out. We eventually gave up with her and decided to just take the one, I took the board away, unlocked the flap and the next thing I knew she was down the bottom of the garden. I did leave it with a peg holding it open so she could get back in, but after that she happily used it to come and go. Not a lot of help i know and not a technique I would suggest you try, but I do think she will use it when she wants to. Maybe try putting a peg on it to hold it open while you are around and she will learn she can go out of it, she obviously already knows how to open it which was the problem mine had she wouldn't push it hard enough.

As for them running around and into things that is partly just being kittens, but if they are old enough to be spayed they should be getting over that stage (unless you live somewhere where they are willing to spay young). Freyja (the cat who wouldn't use the flap) also has a tendency to panic if you meet her when she is moving around, we have learnt to freeze the moment she sees us, she then has time to sort herself out and decide where she wants to go to hide and get away from us. We have had her 4 years and if she is just about to come up the stairs as we are starting to come down now, as long as we stay perfectly still she will decide to run up and past us as opposed to back tracking and hiding somewhere.

I know little of Freyja's background, she was found in a tiny box, taped shut when she was about 3 months old, I suspect she has been badly treated, totally unsocialised, or possibly both. When I got her she was about 6 months old. It was months before I could even touch her. Four years on and I can't pick her up, I have to scruff her to put her into a carrier to get her to the vets I have one chance to get it right otherwise it is about a month before i can try again. Even putting on a spot on flea treatment is tricky, trying to retrain her panics her, she is now happy to come and have a fuss while i'm sat reading on the bed so I can occasionally sneak it on then.

In the end only you can decide if you are the right home for them, ferals, semi ferals or just ones that haven't had a good start in life are a lot harder work than a happy house cat, but when they do come around they are incredibly rewarding. The first time I got to scratch Freyja behind the ears was a wonderful feeling but such a little thing that most can not understand what a milestone it was. If you can make your home a place where Lilith and Mavis feel save, and learn that you aren't a threat to them, then I am sure they will be a great pair of cats for you. However if you do not feel you have the experience or the time needed to take care of the pair then talk to the charity and explain the situation and another home could be found for them, some of us enjoy the challenge cats like yours bring. Certainly don't be put off having cats, if you do decide they are better returned then maybe talk to the charity and see if they have another pair, possibly adult cats that would suit your experience and lifestyle better, I'm sure they would be more than happy to help.
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Re: Is it the right thing to re-home my kittens

Post by Kay »

I can't add anything really to Ruth's excellent advice, but just wanted to say that however it may seem as neither cat has chosen to wander off they must see your home as their home, and that is a good start on which to build
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Re: Is it the right thing to re-home my kittens

Post by Lilith »

Hi and welcome :)

Oh and a fellow-Lilith too! :D

I can sympathise - I dread visitors too lol.

Loads of good advice already but would just like to add, I too have an aggressive cat, who joined me as a misfit adolescent and will still bite and puncture me if I do anything wrong, like stroke the wrong ear ... and she's always had a home and came from a mother with a home (whatever fathered her I dread to think lol.) You just do get these nervous cats and my philosophy is to love them and leave them alone ... and they'll start following you, and possessing you, and ... being right little nuisances :)

On the other hand I've had ferals who've moved in and become big softies. Ferals can be the worst for their home comforts.

I talk to my Molly a lot. I think they like to hear a human voice, you know, just wittering reassuringly on. Lol, tough, if not. She's nearly eight now - and she's only just allowing me to stroke her face. Other than that, she possesses me. Like the proverbial rat, she's always only feet away.

Good luck with the girls and whatever you decide and fusses to little Lilith and Mavis, if they'll let you :)
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