Yesterday I cut holes in the nest box so the baby foster kittens can start their lives as free feline spirits. They are about one month old and I’m fairly sure they are both girls. Within the past few days they developed depth perception so I don’t have to be so worried about their walking off the 7″ step in the bathroom. I have blocked the step with some boards to help reduce the fall distance and aid in climbing back up. Mom hides behind the toilet when I’m present, so the babies need to be able to reach her. Soon they will be navigating the step with ease.
Mother cat Moon remains a feral bundle of nerves. The frequency of her hissing, spitting charges at me have diminished, and she tolerates being scratched and patted with a long dowel. She even likes to play when I flip the string on the end of the dowel for her. Any quick movements elicit growls and hiding.
I have read that kittens take socializing cues from their mother and that it is often necessary to separate the babies from the mother at 6 weeks if you want them to be friendly. By this age kittens are developing social relationships and over-protective feral mothers can prevent babies from trusting humans. I have been frequently handling these kittens since the day they arrived 2 weeks ago. After the initial spitting fit, the babies found they enjoy being held, scratched and patted.When I enter the room and speak, the kittens immediately recognize my voice. Their ears perk up and they look for me. Now that they are out of the box, they both come running when I call them. Mama doesn’t like that, but she doesn’t try to come out from behind the toilet to prevent contact with me. The babies crawl all over my legs and arms. They seem to delight in humans. Last night one crept inside my shirt. They lick and snuggle, roll over and purr when their bellies are tickled and rub their tiny noses on mine. So far mama cat has not hindered the kitten socializing. I’m hoping this continues so the babies can receive their full 8 weeks of milk.
The animal shelter said that once the kittens are weaned, mom can go in to be spayed and socialized. I can keep the little ones for a few weeks longer without the mom to work on accustoming them to living in a home. They will meet more humans including children, the other cats and the dogs. They will learn to find the litterpan in a large area and use cat flaps. It will be difficult to let these babies go. That is the hardest part of being a parent. Like any good parent, I hope to instill the tools young ones need to survive and thrive on their own in the world.