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5 Week Old Kitten

Posted by jeri (My Page) on
Tue, May 14, 13 at 10:23

I have a 5 week old kitten. Her mother is a feral cat. While visiting our Mom on Mother's Day, my sister caught 3 kittens and I took one home. Now I'm wondering if the kitten should be kept with her siblings for a few more weeks?

Romper is eating and drinking very well. She is also using the litter box aren’t cats amazing! She is very social, loves our attention, and is totally relaxed with us. Again so amazing to trust so soon! She loves to curl up in my daughter’s lap while she is doing her homework at the kitchen table. :-)

Basically all is good and we would like to keep things the way they are. We have all bonded with this little one and don't want her to leave for even a few weeks. However, is there some development issue that I might not be aware of?

My sister took the other kittens to her vet who pronounced them very healthy. He said she got lucky catching them at this age as any younger would have been too young, and if they were any older, she probably would not have been able to catch them. Our Mom feeds the feral cats that come into her yard, which is why Mommy Cat had plenty of food for her babies. My sister is planning on trapping all the feral cats and having them fixed, then she will release them back where she caught them.

So, what do you think? Can we keep Romper or should I take her to my sister's house to stay with her siblings for a few more weeks? Please say we can keep her! :-)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

It is best for a kitten's social development to remain with the mother and littermates until AT LEAST 8 weeks of age. If the mother could be trapped and reunited with her litter for the next few weeks, that would be ideal. If that's not possible, I recommend putting Romper back with her littermates for at least the next 3 weeks so that she can at least benefit from that social feline interaction. You could, of course, visit her as often as possible during that period so that you could continue bonding with her, and your sister could handle her daily to make sure that she continues to socialize properly with humans. But it really would be best for her to have more social development time with her siblings.

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

I've had young kittens from 2 to 4 weeks who couldn't be with their littermates and they did fine. I would keep her. Her mother will just teach her to be afraid of humans.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Another BIG vote for keeping her. She's already socializing and has accepted you and your family as her new litter mates and family.

Altho there's no way of knowing for sure, I feel that if you put her back out in a feral situation you may now be doing her more harm than good. Plus there's no guarantee that you will be able to get her back once set loose again.

She's eating and drinking, uses the litter box and apparently bonding with you. I would take her to your vet and have her checked out and start her shots when she's ready.

I agree with acorn, if let loose again her "feral gene' will kick in and her mother and other feral cats will teach her to be wary and afraid of humans. One of our cats was a feral kitten and we've never regretted bringing him into our home. Well..........maybe when he harrasses our older cat trying to get him to play. :)

I doubt very seriously that you'll regret the decision to keep her home with you and keeping her safe.

Please let us know what you decide and how your new baby progresses.

Jenna


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Apparently there has been a BIG misunderstanding about my recommendation to return Romper to her littermates. I am assuming that Jeri's sister is keeping the littermates safely inside and is socializing them properly with her human family. If that's the case, I believe Romper would benefit from several more weeks of interaction and social growth with her siblings. If the queen could be trapped and brought inside to rejoin her litter for the next few weeks, all the better. I am NOT, however, suggesting that Romper be returned to an outdoor living environment in a feral cat community.

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

My vote is either for her to go back to the litter mates, or, for you to take the other two kittens now for the next few weeks. It is what's best for a cat. However it's not going to cause the amount of issues that it would if it were a dog.

I think given the situation you could take her for frequent visits IF she tolerates car rides, thus having a more rounded cat who got socialized to car rides, traveling, other cats, and people.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Seven years ago I rescued two four week old kittens from a feral mom. I felt bad taking them but knew my window of opportunity was small and they'd be feral soon. They both fit into one hand. I brought them to my large carriage house(it was summer) and kept the two of them in there from July to October. They played with each other and I came out and gave them lots of attention thru out the day and played with them for hours at night. In October I brought one in the house and the other went to Petsmart as one of the cats of the rescue group. I wish I knew who adopted him, but Henry who fit in my one hand with his brother now weighs 25 pounds. He sits on my lap every night but still has a tiny feral streak in him. I would recommend yours visiting his litter mates.

BUT on the other hand I rescued a kitten who was two weeks old. Her mother was killed on the road and my son found her and only her. I bottle fed her and she grew up to be a sweet affectionate little thing who was a bit quirky.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Laurie is correct - she would not go outside - just to my sister's who has the other 2 in a safe room inside her home.

I took Romper to the vets yesterday - a new (to me) vet. She didn't seem to think it was necessary to take her (him?) back to her siblings. I had my daughter with me and purposefully asked in front of her expecting to be told that the kittens should be reunited for a few more weeks. I knew my daughter would be more accepting of this from the Vet, than plain ol' Mom. :-) My daughter was shocked I asked and thrilled the Vet said it was not necessary. We did discuss the need to redirect the kittens play biting away from our hands and arms and toward her toy's so she doesn't “learn” it is OK to bite us.

OK - The vet can't tell if this is a boy or girl? Really? I had no idea it was so hard at this age??? The vet is leaning toward boy - but I still think girl - we'll see!

I appreciate all of your input - Thank-you all very much. :-)

Jeri


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Hmm. Well, how about taking Romper over to your sister's house for frequent play dates for the next few weeks so that (s)he can spend time continuing to socialize with her siblings during this critical developmental period? That way your daughter wouldn't have to give up her kitten for several weeks, but the kitten would still reap the benefits of social time with his/her siblings.

What color is Romper? It shouldn't be all that difficult to sex the kitten, even at a very young age. It can, however, be a lot more challenging if Romper is longhaired. The orifices on a male look like a colon (:) and are further apart. The orifices on a female look like an upside down exclamation point and are closer together.

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Romper is gray - not long hair at all.

Vet just called and said she has Giardia. I have no reason not to trust this vet, but this little one has no symptoms - her stool is very hard, in fact, she has to strain to poop - which the vet didn't seem too concerned with yesterday. I'm to go get fenbendazole (I think that is it) from the vet.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Since you don't already have a cat who would teach Romper the niceties of life..like don't bite hard when you are playing, it would be best for her to visit her littermates for some play time. That is where they will learn that it hurts when you get bitten, etc. When you are adopting a kitten, the ideal situation is to get two. I'm not joking. Do some research on the web. One more really isn't that much more trouble, just expense when it comes to the vet visits.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

I agree 100% with Jeane. Kittens do much better in pairs when they have a same-species companion of their own size and age to play with and learn from. Even if your sister intends to keep both of Romper's littermates herself, it'd be a good idea to adopt another kitten from a shelter or other source to be a friend and playmate for Romper.

If you do consider adopting a second kitten, I recommend adopting a same sex kitten ... unless you adopt one of her siblings. Male kittens can be obnoxiously, relentlessly, and very roughly playful. Females aren't nearly as physically or aggressively playful as males. If Romper is a female, a male kitten may be too rough and tumble for her to handle ... esp. if it's not one of her own siblings.

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

gardia is incredibly easier for even adults to get, I too would trust it. Espeically if they were feral, drinking puddle water is where it comes from so that's probably what they were drinking.

I agree with getting a second lol, two is easier than one, goes with cats and dogs. If you aren't ready or can't for whatever reason though, I still think visits with the litter mates would be beneficial, and I bet your daughter won't complain about going to play with more kitten haha.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Actually, Romper will be our 3rd cat. :-) We also have a Labrador who cuddles and sleeps with our other 2 cats, so I have high hopes for this one too. We have not introduced Romper to the other cats yet, and now that she has Giardia, I'm doubly glad I waited!

Perhaps some of you can give me pointers on how to introduce her? She is so small, and they are so big! They know she is here, and Haku seemed a bit put out at first, but is back to himself now. Buddy is from a long line of feral cats himself, and seems non-pulsed. My best guess is that Buddy will simply ignore the kitten - but Haku might be a problem - I really don't know!

Thanks again for all your help!

Jeri


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Well, that certainly changes things. Romper could still use a kitten her own size to play and socialize with, since the adult males may not want to play with her or may play waaay too rough. However, Romper will learn lots of important feline social skills from the adults, and that's a very good thing!

As far as introductions are concerned, young kittens are generally very easy to incorporate into a household. You will, however, need to keep them under constant, close supervision until you are certain that the males have accepted Romper, because some males will kill kittens. Even with young kittens, some adults may get their noses out of joint for a while. They may even be afraid of Romper and hiss, run, and hide from her. But this will pass as they realize that she poses no real threat.

If I were you (and I have certainly been in your position), I would just start letting Romper out into the rest of the house and stay very close by as she makes her own introductions. As long as neither of your boys make any physically aggressive moves toward her, ignore any hisses and growls and just let them do whatever they feel they need to do in order to deal with the "situation".

If Romper is afraid, however, hold and comfort her. She's just a tiny baby, after all. Don't make a huge fuss over her. Just hold her so that she feels protected. If she'll play, try to distract her with some type of toy so that she can associate being in the boys' presence with a source of fun.

If Romper is anything like the kittens who have been abandoned on my road and/or shown up on my farm, she'll be a lot more fearful of your dog than she will be of your other cats. But as she watches your cats interact with your dog, she'll quickly learn that the dog is no threat, either.

Don't force interactions on any of the animals. Let them all figure it out in their own ways and at their own paces. Just keep Romper safe and separated from the others when you are not able to directly supervise until you know that they are all accepting and comfortable with each other.

Having written all of that, I feel compelled to tell you a tragic story of a kitten who was briefly a member of my family many years ago. I had two adult female cats and three dogs at the time. The dogs had all lived peacefully and happily with multiple cats their entire lives. I adopted a young male kitten who was a real pistol, as male kittens will be. The adult cats would have absolutely NOTHING to do with him, so he had no same-species playmates with whom to expend his youthful energy. Of course my ex and I played with him as often as possible during daylight hours and before bedtime, but his need for play was insatiable (again, as if often the case with young male kittens).

One morning I awoke to find the kitten with a broken neck, dead, under our bed in the exact spot where our old lab always slept. Since the lab didn't have a cat-aggressive bone in her body, all I could imagine was that the kitten had decided he wanted to play and pounced on the lab in the middle of the night. I'm guessing he woke her out of a sound sleep with all those little needles on his feet, and she woke up snapping without even realizing what she was doing. His death must have been instantaneous, because we heard absolutely nothing. Needless to say, we were heartbroken. The moral to this story is to keep your kitten and your dog separated when you're not around to supervise until your kitten is old enough to have learned some manners, because tragic accidents can happen in an instant.

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Thank you Laurie for taking the time to respond so generously. I'm very sorry about what happened to your kitten and can see how it could have been a simple accident. :-(

I will follow your advice about introducing the animals after she is cleared of the Giardia - about 6 days time I think. She has seen Koda (Lab) and done well I think. I was holding her and playing with her - just as you said. She would turn and hiss at him, then turn back and play. She repeated this a few times and then stopped hissing all together. She now appears to be more interested than afraid. Last night, she left my lap and toddled across the coffee table to get a better look at Koda who was working on a stuffed Kong. So cute!

I'm still torn about taking Romper to my sisters. While it is true she will have her siblings to interact with and I believe that is important - I'm not sure how much people time they will get there. My sister lives alone and works outside the home. Plus, she has a very active social life, so I fear they will be alone most of the time. In my house, there is someone around all day. I was hoping to get them together this weekend for a play date, but with the Giardia, I'm not sure that is a good idea.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

I think play dates with Romper's siblings is a great compromise. The giardia shouldn't be an issue as long as you bring a litterbox with you for Romper and ONLY Romper to use while at your sister's house. You'd just have to supervise all of the kits closely enough to prevent them from sharing the same litterbox.

Have you considered adopting a second kitten and becoming a 4-feline family? I know Romper would benefit from a full-time play buddy her own size and age.

It sounds like Romper is doing very well with acclimating to Koda. I would caution you, though, not to allow them to spend the night together loose in the same room while you're asleep. You don't want one of those horrible accidents happening to your baby.

I thought you might enjoy this photo of the GoBoys (Gomer and Goober) shortly after I found them abandoned on my road, enjoying mealtime with the Lion King, Noddy (RIP).

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

I don't think it's necessary to take Romper to see his sibs. He has other animals to bond with, and I don't think the cats will be a problem. I'd watch the dog though. All kittens I have introduced did well with other cats here ,because of their small size they were not a threat. Henry, the kitten I got at four weeks, came into the house at three months and incorporated nicely without anyone batting an eye. It's only when he reached 25 pounds that he throws his weight around the one cat he doesn't like. But still nothing serious, just meowing.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Great picture Laurie! As for a 4th kitten - I was shocked when DH said we could take Romper home on Mother's day. Our other two have scratched some furniture and DH said “No more when these are gone!” - I guess he didn't really mean that. :-)

Lily - I very much appreciate your input as well. Thank-you.

Jeri


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

Hey Jeri,

Tell hubby that if Romper has a same-size play buddy, she can scratch him/her instead of your furniture!

Laurie


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

The Moma cat showed up on my parents patio with a baby white kitten - doesn't even have it's eyes open yet. They suspect she stole it from another cat they thought was pregnant.


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RE: 5 Week Old Kitten

If Momma has "stolen" a newborn from another queen, then you should try to trap them together so that the newborn isn't left abandoned with no mom at all. If you can trap Momma and the kitten at the same time, you could let Momma go ahead and raise the stolen baby, as long as she's still producing milk. That would at least give you the opportunity to get Momma spayed after she weans the kit so that she doesn't produce any more.

Laurie


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