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Thread: How to find a litter of kittens.

  1. #1
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    How to find a litter of kittens.

    Don't know if anyone here has any experience with this, but I thought I'd run this up the pole here and see. First, I'll let you in on a secret that I wouldn't admit to anybody, so don't tell. I'm a nut about cats. They pull my little strings and I turn into a big ol' slobbering softie.

    It's a long story, but a local idiot just up and left a cat, female, and very pregnant when I found her starving and scared to death. Well, that was it, my heart was hers. I was slowly gaining her trust, and she had the kittens in the process out in the woods.

    I need to find those little suckers before its too late, but she will not give me a hint of where she's keeping them. She'll come up like clockwork to be fed every day and then go back to her kittens. I tried to follow her this afternoon, but she just led me around on a wild goose chase through the woods, and finally just sat down and looked at me. Nice try, buddy, but I can wait longer than you, she seemed to say.

    And so I was wondering if there are any kitten litter trackers around here with any helpful advice. I'd like to get to the kittens before they get too old and become completely feral/wild. That's a mess. And second, there's some dogs around there nearby that I'm worried about.


    -Richard

  2. #2
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    based on personal experience.... you've not got a hope, unless she wants to bring them to you for dinner. We had a cat give birth IN THE HOUSE, and we couldn't find the nest (we found it when we junked the couch, years later - she had been up IN the back of the couch. very quiet, them little monsters)

  3. #3
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    That's what I'm afraid of. If I could just determine the general area, I could find it (given a few hours or days). Heck, I need a dog I had when I was a kid who somehow instinctively knew what you were looking for (if it gave off a smell) and would lead you right to it. Unfortunately, he's been dead and gone for a long time.

    There's very little excitement out here, but one time, when I was about, oh 8 years old or so, we had some. There is a dead man's curve in the road below the house, and over the years there have been quite a few wrecks. One was rather funny when some drunken idiot wrapped his vehicle around a tree. My father ran down there and found the lunatic sitting in there trying turning the key trying to restart it.

    Anyway, one fine day lo those many years ago, I hear the sound of car engine racing. Some lunatic, doing around 90MPH comes to that curve and loses it. The max speed you can take that in an average car is about 35MPH, and it was even close. I was out in the yard and saw the whole thing. The car slides sideways, hits the ditch, and flips over about twice, landing right side up in the field. We figure it's time for an ambulance.

    But, lo and behold, the driver gets out, *running*, and high tails it to the woods. We were sort of standing there wondering what was going on, when some sirens in the distance explain everything.

    He was running from the law. And a lot of them. A county sheriff car is the first to arrive and stop, with yet more sirens in the distance. The two deputies jump out, guns drawn and head toward the wreck. My father yells me back in the house, and run downs there and tells the guy ran off in the woods.

    One immediately gives chase, while the other radios the situation. More deputies, and a Highway Patrol car soon arrive, and they head off in the woods.

    Well, that little dog had been watching the whole thing, and realized we were playing a "find the human" game. He led 'em right to him. Piece of cake for him. After it was over, the deputies said they noticed the dog sort of trotting along beside them with his nose sniffing around, and they just followed him. He led them right to him, hiding in a bit of a thicket.

    Turned out the guy had just robbed a liquor store, at gunpoint. He didn't have the gun with him, nor did they find it in the car, so they figured he tossed it. They were grateful for that curve, as they were about 45 seconds behind him, and very grateful for that little dog.

    He was just a pet, with no tracking training at all. He just had a way of knowing when we humans were looking for something and he'd find it for us.

    -Richard

  4. #4
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    Right, in my experience, there's no chance unless you can find the general area.

    Some years ago I had a feral that decided to give birth in the crawl space of my house. She had apparently pried open or found a loose air vent. I had no clue until one day she had gone to hunt, and I saw the kittens when they came out to explore and play. She didn't trust humans at all, so there wasn't much dealing with her directly. I managed to grab two kittens by hand - at the same time, one kitten per hand. One time they came out, I stood perfectly still and they didn't recognize the threat until it was too late. I hadn't planned on it or expected to succeed, but I was lucky. I caught the other two kittens separately with a cage, both times when the mother had left for food.

    There's a long story involved, but she stuck around the area. An attempt to capture her with a cage ended up with a skunk instead (I did get a little spray on me, and phew!). Naturally, the feral had a second litter. I managed to get those too with a cage, but never her (though finally a neighbor did it). For the second litter, she moved the kittens around more, which made it harder. I kept three out of the two litters and managed to get the others to good homes.

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  5. #5
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    Some dogs have a ...knack. In fact, while it's very common in bloodhounds, it's not an absolute. And it's not something they're trained to do. The training is about focus.

    I have a retired search dog living with me now (whom I may love more than my kids...) He's very very good at it. Just getting a little old and stiff.

    anyway, one of the things search dog trainers look for is a natural inclination to <ahem> follow their nose when the dog is playing.

    The search group I was part of had a half dozen bloodhounds, a whippet, a small german shepherd, I forget what else, and an American Tundra Shepherd (the one living with me).

    Bloodhounds are trailers - that is, they're *designed* to put their nose to the ground and follow the scent from point A to point B. Other dogs are trackers. They'll follow ground scent *or* air scent (this can cut huge chunks of distance off a search). The best dogs also use their ears, and will hear the person they are looking for.

    (and yes, as seen on Mythbusters, crossing water will not hide your trail. Not even getting in a car and driving away can do that - check out http://www.alie.org/ )

    oh - it just occured to me that this might seem as though I'm trying to puncture your memory of that dog. Negatory! Dogs like that are to be treasured - I'm just trying, in my own (thankfully) inimitable way, to shed a little light on why he was the way he was.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LurchGS View Post
    The training is about focus.

    ..................
    oh - it just occured to me that this might seem as though I'm trying to puncture your memory of that dog. Negatory! Dogs like that are to be treasured - I'm just trying, in my own (thankfully) inimitable way, to shed a little light on why he was the way he was.
    That's what I've heard. I know very little about dogs, of course, but I've heard that. They've got a nose that blows ours away by orders of magnitude, it's just getting them to use what they've got.

    And no offense taken at all. That dog just somehow had a sense when we were looking for something and would track it. What amazed me about that running robber episode was the dog didn't know those deputies from Adam's house cat, yet immediately picked up they were looking for that guy and helped them. My father figured the dog saw him talking to the deputies and that told him they were "friendlies" or something. My father stayed back, was ordered to, but the dog went with the deputies. I wonder if it was a "pack" thing. A pack was chasing the human, and he joined in?

    -Richard

  7. #7
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    Good luck finding the kittens. Around here, they all find me. I must have a "sucker for kittens" smell on me. I've probably found homes for a dozen and kept six - all have been spayed and neutered, of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by publius View Post
    She'll come up like clockwork to be fed every day and then go back to her kittens.
    If you are consistently feeding the "momma" , then eventually she will bring the kittens to you.

  9. #9
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    There is of course just a chance (if you cannot find them), that since the mother wasn't originally feral, if you continue to feed her & maintain her trust she might bring them to you. I know it's just a hope but possible. Also depends on how much food is out in the woods I guess, but since she is relying on you instead of hunting it might make a difference once they've weaned.

    Edit: What RAF said, I need to speed up my typing I did check out weaning times though: 1 to 2 months, 6 week average I think.

  10. #10
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    My cat's mother was feral, and he made himself found after his mother was killed.
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  11. #11
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    If mom's a feral, the kittens will become feral VERY shortly after weaning. I helped a friend with feral rescue, and I've handled kittens not much more than a month or two beyond weaning that we had to wear leather welding gloves to handle because they were so wild.

    I believe all were eventually "domesticated" enough to be placed, but if you're looking for them, find'em fast, and be ready for a fight if its too much longer from now. Kittens learn fast.

  12. #12
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    Yes, that's what I'm worried about. If I don't get too them soon, they'll be completely feral, and very hard to tame. I've handled wild kittens before, and learned to use welding gloves indeed. The last one I caught years ago was just a spitting, hissing, scratching little ball of fur.

    And yes, I think cats figure out I'm a sucker for 'em. Every cat I've ever had for the past 25 years or so has been a stray. I live out in the country, but civilization in the form of subdivisions are popping up everywhere. And as that increases, so does the number of starving, abandoned cats that show up around here. It just makes me sick.

    -Richard

  13. 2007-Jun-02, 07:57 PM

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  14. #13
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    I just don't get the mentality of people who abandon animals. Recently around here someone let a horse die of neglect. In an area surrounded by farms and horse ranches, any one of whom would have taken it in, they left the animal half-starved and filthy, until it died of an infection.

    It's sickening. What the hell were they thinking?
    I'm a cynical optimist. I think the only way out is through, but once we get through it'll be better. Very different, but better. Howard Tayler

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  15. #14
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    It doesn't sound like the mother is feral. If so I agree with R.A.F., she will bring the kittens to you. If you do find them and move them, she may try to move them back and/or lose some trust in you. Just a thought.

    My guess is they are under your house or another building. You could sprinkle some flour around suspicious holes and see if tracks show up. She probably scouted out the 'perfect spot' before she gave birth, and even chased a fox or something out of it. She will probably move them if 'security' is compromised.

  16. #15
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    Ya could go for the high tech approach, and order a custom made cat colar with a built in electronic tracking system.

    I did a quick google search and came up with the following website:
    http://www.navistarusa.com/

    From what I've read about them, they're likely to make custom stuff if you call or e-mail them.

    If you are interested in taking this approach, be sure to ask about their prices, as I have a feeling that they might be on the high side...


    EDITED TO ADD:
    Now that I think about it, it might be easier and cheaper to ask a local vet if they sell pre-made tracking colars for cats.

  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinemarten View Post
    It doesn't sound like the mother is feral. If so I agree with R.A.F., she will bring the kittens to you. If you do find them and move them, she may try to move them back and/or lose some trust in you. Just a thought.

    My guess is they are under your house or another building. You could sprinkle some flour around suspicious holes and see if tracks show up. She probably scouted out the 'perfect spot' before she gave birth, and even chased a fox or something out of it. She will probably move them if 'security' is compromised.
    No, I'm sure as shootin' those kittens are in the woods. That's where she goes and from where she comes. Would that they were under the house. No, she isn't really feral, she's just been abandoned and scared for a while.

    I've decided it is indeed fruitless to try to find them without some Herculean effort, so I'm gonna just wait this out. If the kittens get too wild and mama doesn't bring them over, I may try trapping them.

    I was looking at these radio collar tracking devices. Transmitter goes on a collar, and you use a little $200 - $500 receiver. Cool toy, but not something I'll buy just to use once. Might come in handy later. If someone would rent or lend one, then I might try it.

    I'd have to get a collar on mama, and she might not like that. None of the cats I've had have ever tolerated collars; they act absolutely nuts and show out. I could zero in on the location, but I'd be tracking mama, not the kittens. If she heard me coming, she might move, I don't know.

    Deer will do that. Several times, I've come up on a little fawn bedded down in a field with some machinery. The little buggers stay put and don't move until they absolutely have to. I didn't know this, but a little fawn doesn't give off much of a scent, and so the mother will leave so as not to attract any predators to the baby. The little fawn will stay quiet and still until you are right on top of him.

    -Richard

  18. #17
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    You could put a garage door opener on the cat, then haul a
    garage around in the woods...

    Really, if you can get a garage door opener and something that
    receives on that frequency, that should do you. If the receiver
    is small enough, you could put the reciever on the cat...

    Instead of a collar, you could try using a piece of string that would
    be strong enough to hold for an hour or so of the cat's fussing at
    it, but weak enough to break if given a hard pull. Have some way
    to fasten it really quickly with one hand... Like handcuffs.

    I'm gonna guess that the nest is within 500 feet of the point at
    which mamma cat enters the woods. I'm also gonna guess that
    she will move the kittens once or twice just on principle, whether
    they need to be moved or not. I'll also guess that she makes
    regular forays of a few hundred feet to poop at a good distance
    from the nest.

    Is she drinking water?

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  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I just don't get the mentality of people who abandon animals. Recently around here someone let a horse die of neglect. In an area surrounded by farms and horse ranches, any one of whom would have taken it in, they left the animal half-starved and filthy, until it died of an infection.

    It's sickening. What the hell were they thinking?
    I'm sorry, there is absolutely no thinking involved. People like that should be starved to death.
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  20. #19
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    All is well, now. All is well indeed. Had I not seen this with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it, but mama moved exactly where I wanted her to sometime last night. I had have to describe the lay of the land around here in detail for it to make sense, but basically, she was in a patch of woods across the road from my house, requiring her to cross a field and a road to get to here. There are some houses with dogs on the other side of that patch of woods.

    I wanted her on my side of that road, and in particular if I was successful in getting her and the kittens rounded up, I was going to try to put her up in an old pole shed. The shed is near the woods on my side. Well, I'd have to ramble on to describe it all. Anyway, it's ideal for a cat, lots of places to hide and climb, old scrap and junk everywhere, and a patch of little trees and honeysuckles and stuff around it, with a little hedge row type of thing that leads right to the woods. Ideal for a cat with kittens.

    Long story short, this morning mama was sitting over there at that shed, right where I wanted her to be, and looking at me as if to say, "where have you been? I've been waiting right here where you wanted me." My jaw dropped.

    I didn't believe she would move the kittens that far, and through that much open ground. Well, I don't know that she has, but there she was, and I'm sure she's got them, or is going to get them there soon.

    I did try to lead her off down toward the shed a few days ago. She didn't pay me any attention, or so I thought. But apparently she was paying attention, and knew that's where I wanted her, or at least thought it was a good place herself.

  21. #20
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    Or just contact Bonsai Kittens ... oh wait, you said litter, not liter of kittens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Kidd View Post
    Or just contact Bonsai Kittens ... oh wait, you said litter, not liter of kittens.
    Having two young kittens of my own, I feel a sudden and strong urge to smack Captain Kidd upside the head with a Nerf foam bat.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
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    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

  23. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Having two young kittens of my own, I feel a sudden and strong urge to smack Captain Kidd upside the head with a Nerf foam bat.

    I think that's the reaction he was going for -- don't humor him.

    Of course, if anyone or thing seriously poses a threat to my cats, "daddy" here will get angry, very angry. As a raccoon just found about 30 minutes ago. Heh-heh.

    Those stupid things can smell food a 10 miles away, and I was down at that shed feeding mama, making sure she was okay and hoping to get her settled in. Once she's established, I won't worry so much. Raccoons only come out about dark, a little before, and I won't normally feed her this late for that reason.

    Anyway, she ate a bit and I was sitting out front petting her, when I heard a varmit scratching around back under the shed. A darn raccoon that had smelled that food that quickly. Darn things are a bit slow to get the message they aren't wanted. A big piece of 2x4 hard to his hind end got that message through.

    I didn't want to scare mama while I was doing that, so I was well, speaking softly while whopping something with a big stick.

    -Richard

  24. #23
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    Spray-paint the end of her tail bright orange, then climb to the roof of your house and watch the little orange tail go to the kittens. (note, dogs are color blind)

  25. #24
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    There is another company that does bonsai raccoons. Should I post a link?

  26. #25
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    Heh, sorry about that, I just couldn't resist.

    My wife and I love cats. Unfortunately, she tested out at 4+p so the two we had had to find new homes. Now our son looks to be highly allergic to cats too. Maybe someday if we live out in the country again, we'll get a couple outside cats.

    We use to leave food out on the porch at night for the raccoons. One scared me to death one night when I opened the door and he was standing there right at the threshold. I don't think it did him much good either. Then one night there was a brawl between three of them. Man can they make a racket. That ended our feedings.

  27. #26
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    Yes, raccoons are cute. For about 5 minutes. After that, they soon become very uncute. Like after they ransack the garbage cans, scattering it everywhere, crap all over the place, etc, etc. Do not feed them. Please.

    And yes, they can make one heck of a racket when they fight each other, which they will do when one finds some food and another tries to horn in. I think it's mostly noise, no real fighting most of the time.

    They will destroy gardens. I got tickled with a neigbor of mine down the road, who had some raccoons get in his watermelon patch. He swore they were "thumping" them to tell when they were ripe.

    He got to trapping and shooting them -- put the traps around and in his garden. Me, being a softy under my hard gruff exterior, I thought that was mean, but didn't let it show. Now, after my own troubles with the darn things (which started a couple of years ago), I understand it. The population around here has apparently exploded over the past few years. They are extremely destructive varmits.

    -Richard

  28. 2007-Jun-04, 02:42 AM
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  29. #27
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    I had a mother raccoon give birth in the floor of our vacation home last year. We tried to have the humane trapper catch her but she was trap wise -- he said if they've been trapped once, you'll never catch them again. He had to cut into the tarpaper and insulation to get the kits. Cute little varmints, and LOUD.

    She was apparently thinking about it again this year but after I cut up the deck to get at the entrance hole, she doesn't seem to have been back.

    Good luck on the kittens. We're cat lovers too.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  30. #28
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    The wildlife agency was air-dispersing rabies vaccine pills a couple years ago while we were still feeding them. I tried to get some to mix in with the food figuring it'd be a good way to ensure the local raccoon were vaccinated. Unfortunately we uncouth civvies weren't allowed to have any.

    My sister-in-law planted a garden this year. To keep the rabbits out, they routed a portion of their electric fence at rabbit nose height and powered it up at nights. After a few days, an entertaining line of rabbit pellets at a distance of about the length of a rabbit from the fence showed up.

  31. #29
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    Yes, rabies -- I forgot about that, but raccoons are notorious carriers of that. That's why you need to keep your pets vacinated, if they get in a scrape with one.

    The generally come out only at night. Be very leery if you see one out in broad daylight, as that's a good sign he might be rabid. It's not 100&#37; certain, as they might come out rarely for whatever other reason, but it is strange behavior that one should be wary of.

    There was a fox running around here in broad daylight several years ago. I got worried about that, and kept the cats inside, and penned up a dog I had at the time. Just last year, a woman a couple miles down the road managed to get attacked by such a fox in broad daylight in her own yard.

    She had to get the rabies course, and that still wasn't fun at all, and that got the fish and wildlife people on the case. I don't think they ever found that fox. The problem, as I tell some people to no avail, is all the rapid development around here, with the subdivisions popping up. There's lots of varmits in them thar woods and they're being run out. Need to go a bit slower.

    -Richard

  32. #30
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    My alma mater's surrounded by forest. The primary food source for raccoons during the school year is things thrown at them by freshmen. They do, however, seem perfectly willing and able to scavenge for themselves in the woods all summer.
    _____________________________________________
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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