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Rescued stray kitten uncertainty

eknuds
April 25th, 2007, 10:48 PM
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I ended up with a kitten that was born to a stray under her parent's bushes. I'm estimating that it's now just under a month old as back then it had its eyes open but could barely walk or hold its head up.
It took to its litter box immediately and purrs when we pick it up - recently it even started coming to where we are. Right now it's passed out on top of my arm while I write this post. It also seems to be extremely healthy and is growing rapidly.
What I'm worrying about is if I will be able to successfully socialize the animal. It still spits at us sometimes, particularly my wife who is having her first pet experience. I'm not sure how she reacts to the kitten when I'm not around - I think she may get a little rough as it likes to attack our feet and she's still working out the remnants of a general animal phobia. She grew up in a third world country where most cats and dogs were vermin.
My method for dealing with aggression/rough play from it is to hiss at it and blow at its face. This works most of the time. I will also redirect it to its feather toys and cat tree.
I think it's learning, but sometimes I'm really not sure. All I can say right now is that it doesn't draw blood when it "plays." I'm a true animal lover, but how much patience should I have with it before calling the Humane Society?
Also, we both work. I might be able to work out telecommuting sometimes, but it's going to have to spend some time alone at home.

dizzimom
April 25th, 2007, 11:05 PM
I have a six year cat now whom I rescued from under a bush. When I found her she was ferral, very ferral. The vet estimated that she was about 4 weeks old when I found her. Eventhough she was messed up pretty bad: her tail was mangled like animal had got her or it was caught in some kind of fan, a chunk was out of her tongue, she was very thin and covered in fleas and ear mites, she hissed and scratched at me. Well $300+ later, I had a kitten. She too took the litter box immediately. It took Dixie about a year to come around the family regularly. It was another year, (2 years old) before we could really pick her up and it had to be on her terms. However it took four years total, before she became a loving cat. I see more and more of a normal, loving cat everyday. She does not like her belly rubbed however she comes to us all the time, purring and meowing and wanting attention. She also started last year coming around other people. She had a rough start in life. Anyway, Dixie has been well worth the investment and time. I love my little girl! Give your kitten time and she too will come around.

eknuds
April 25th, 2007, 11:35 PM
Thanks for your encouragement :). We're quite a bit past that already and we should feel lucky. We'll just have to have some patience while he works through his teething.
The first thing I did after we got it home was a flea shampoo bath and I do it every couple of days still. I have an appointment set up for Monday to make sure he didn't bring anything home. Ear mites are a possibility because he does tend to scratch around the ears sometimes. It's the reason I I made the appointment. His skin feels smooth so I doubt there's much I have to worry about externally. I'm still kind of wondering if there's any possibility of Giardia and other such internal parasites.
Fortunately my wife is beginning to take to him but it's not part of the culture she grew up in.

badger
April 26th, 2007, 03:25 AM
I admire your wife for trying to put aside some of her cultural baggage so she can enjoy watching this little kitten grow into a beautiful, affectionate animal. I don't want to be rude, but your comment about 'how much patience should I have before I call the humane society' makes me a little nervous. If you want this experience, you should have as much patience as it takes.

The first few weeks of a kitten's life are so intensely social, he craves contact and his behaviour is entirely instinctual. If your wife is being rough or punishing him for this behaviour, it will have a long-term effect on the cat's personality. This doesn't mean that she can't shut him in a room for a while, if he's getting on her nerves, with a litterbox and a few toys, where he'll probably fall asleep.

Gently clip the tips of his claws, it makes them less murderous. Could your wife wear socks, to save her feet? Direct play with your hands is the worst, use toys or things he can chase, it doesn't take long to wear a kitten out, if you apply yourself :) They do become quieter and less demanding over time but in the meantime...

It's too bad you didn't find two kittens under that bush because to be honest, kittens are better in pairs. They drain each other of all that crazy energy, keep each other company (yes, cats get lonely) when you're away and entertain you 24/7.

So far, it sounds as if your instincts have served you well, except for the constant flea baths, please stop, this is beyond excessive, perhaps harmful. Can you see any fleas? Cats are very clean. I have three white cats and I never bathe them for any reason. They are so white, they glow in the dark. If I see a flea, I give them a remedy, but not before.

I'm glad you're taking the kitten to the vet. Don't be afraid to ask questions. The vet will probably suggest you buy a bag of the expensive food he sells (and gets a commission for). Don't. See the pet food thread for suggestions.

And I'm going to add this, because you seem a bit unsure that the kitten will fit in with your life and that's fine. There's no shame in re-homing this baby. You have already saved its life, which is positively heroic. A rescue group in your area will help you to find a good home. Unless your Humane Society is explicitly no-kill, please don't take him there.

Good luck. You didn't mention the kitten's name. He does have a name, doesn't he?

chico2
April 26th, 2007, 08:06 AM
Badger,well said!
To add,are you sure this kitten is less than 1 month old:confused:
I had several alarmbells going off in my head,first your suspicion about your wife maybe"punishing"the kitten when you are not there,simply because he's behaving like a kitten,secondly giving the kitten fleabaths.
The kitten needs comfort,reassurance and love to become a wonderful loving pet.
Kittens will play rough at times,I have road-map hands as proof,not to be recommended I guess,it just never bothered me much.
Like Badger said,unless fleas are visible do not give the kitten a fleabath,it will eventually harm his skin and might affect his health.
I have 3 cats and have had cats most of my life and have NEVER given a cat a bath(except for my white cat who was very dirty when found on the street as a kitten)there is just no need to bath a cat.
Lastly,if you believe your wife will always consider a cat vermin,it does not bode well for your kitten,a hostile environment will very likely produce an insecure,skittish and unhappy cat:sad:
If your vet,like many unethical vets,suggests declawing,please do not even consider it,this cruel procedure will only worsen this innocent kittens behaviour.
If you as an animal-lover feel,you cannot give this kitten a good home,please try to find him a new home,not HS where they are probably over-run by kittens at this time of the year:cat:
Forgot to mention,thank's for rescuing the little one!!

kiara
April 26th, 2007, 11:45 AM
Anyone who finds stray kittens under two months old ideally should find a nursing mother for the kittens. But often it is not possible. (They accept kittens that are not their own). The only way to socialize a hissing kitten is to make sure that a lot of people handle it, very gently. It will help socialize it.

eknuds
April 27th, 2007, 02:14 AM
Thanks for your replies. No more baths for the kitten :). I had pretty much decided to stop that when it started eating solid food and things got a lot less messy. I'm perfectly fine with kittens being kittens. There were actually several, the rest of which have gone to a foster home. I have several toys and a nice tree to use as kitten play tools. I try to keep my fingers and hands out of reach as much as I can. I actually think it's going to be a sweet cat.
I have tried to convince my wife that looking up one of the others to keep each other company would be good, but it would be difficult at this point. Maybe I'll try the hard sell on that. It meowed at its reflection on the front of the stove tonight. Part of the patience here is with my wife. So far what she's done is shut herself in one of the bedrooms and let the cat run around when it gets rambunctious. I'll try to play it to sleep. When it gets too much for me I usually set it atop a cat tree for a while, which is in a spare bathroom with its food and litter box.
EDIT: I would NEVER consider declawing a cat.

chico2
April 27th, 2007, 07:22 AM
eknuds,you seem to be doing all the right things for your kitten and i hope it works out:pray: another kitten would be ideal:cat:
It is very difficult,if not impossible to convert someone who sees cats as vermin.
I HAD a friend,who if she dared,would kill any cat she sees,she simply hated any animal,could not see anything cute or lovable in an animal.
She was brought up with the thinking animals are there to serve us as food,not companions, to her they are all dirty vermin.
Good Luck in trying to change your wives feeling about the kitten:fingerscr My husband did not think too higly of cats at one time,however he adores our 3 cats and cats we've had before,nothing is too good for our"babies":)

eknuds
April 29th, 2007, 01:42 AM
Thanks, Chico.
She uses baby talk with him, so I think things aren't too bad. I think it's mostly unfamiliarity with the concept. I grew up with people's cats and dogs running loose around everywhere and most people notice that I have a way with animals.
She grew up occasionally having trouble getting enough to eat.
There are some other psychological issues at play here.
She's coming around but it's going to take time. In the meantime I just had to agree to do most of the dirty work. Part of it is having to teach her how to deal with him.
EDIT: I think it would be a poor life if I didn't have respect for the other animals that live on this planet with us.
We just started using a water bottle to teach it to keep its claws and teeth to itself.

chico2
April 29th, 2007, 06:21 AM
I wish both you,your wife and the baby-kitten the best and hope your wife will learn to love this little ball of fur:fingerscr
Life without the pitter-patter of our fourlegged lovebugs(3) would be awfully sterile and boring.
Cultural differences are hard to overcome,but I believe your love for your wife and this little life will eventually win:fingerscr

marsupial mama
May 7th, 2007, 08:18 AM
Good luck with the cultural and phobic issues... I think your wife has made great strides already, and is to be commended.

I had a phobia of dogs at one time, due to some very bad experiences in childhood. I think I have come a long way, although I'll never be a "dog person" and I am still very nervous around strange dogs and/or if a dog is running around off leash. But I have been able to make friends with a few dogs (calm ones!) and I abhor cruelty to dogs as much as any other animal. So it is possible to get over such fears.

I'm appalled about the person who would kill cats just because... sheesh. :mad:

My husband is also from a "third world country" where some people keep cats as pets (there is a fondness for cats in the culture to some extent) but many more cats are totally feral, as are dogs, and it is very common for kids to throw rocks at any cats and dogs they see (also horses and donkeys etc. I would lose my voice if i went there b/c I would be yelling at the kids all the time). He resisted getting a cat for the longest time but finally gave in and is as besottd with her as anyone else.

One other suggestion - if the kitten is "attacking" your wife's feet and she is from a culture that doesn't wear shoes in the house, maybe she could get slippers or shoes for indoors only, to save her feet? We don't wear shoes in the house either but I can't go barefoot any more for medical reasons, so I have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes.

Kittens are very playful but they do calm down - eventually. Then maybe the "complaint" will be that the cat does nothing but sleep! But a sleeping cat makes a house cosy, I reckon.

trid2bnrml
May 13th, 2007, 09:25 AM
My little furball (well, not so little anymore) was/is extremely mischievious, doing things he knew I didn't appreciate---sometimes I think just as a "dare". I absolutely will not strike him or any other aggressive handling, so I took a lesson from my mother...

I got a new spray bottle with the single stream nozzle that shoots a stream about 6 or 8 feet and filled it with plain tapwater.

When he does something I don't appreciate, I let him have it with the water. After about 6 times of that, when he's at it again, all I have to do is pick up the squirt-bottle and he goes and finds something else to do, knowing full well that he will get wet if he continues. Plus, I don't have to stop what I'm doing to go get him anymore (6 to 8 feet of added reach).

This has not affected him with water otherwise, it seems to be the bottle and/or possibly the sound it makes that gets his attention. He's become a wel mannered gentleman who actually obeys (well, most of the time.)

But hey, he's a CAT! C-onceited A-nd T-empermental.

I do love that little guy. Wouldn't trade him for 3 husbands (sorry guys) even if they tossed in a bag of chow.