Taming Barn kittens

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by Caprice Acres, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. Caprice Acres

    Caprice Acres AKA "mygoat" Staff Member Supporter

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    Well I got three new cats last week sometime. A mother, and her two longhaired kittens who are about 7 weeks old, maybe 8 now. They're in a large metal dog crate in the milkroom of the barn. The mother is the sweetest little thing, she follows me around to get petted, and rubs on me... so much that I trip over her, lol.

    However, where she came from the owners have too many cats and don't really like them... Situation where someone dumped some cats, and the family felt bad for them and fed them, so they stuck around. At first they were happy because they took care of thier mouse problem but now they have several breeding cats at thier house, and almost all are semi to totally untame. I think I took one of the only tame cats there.

    Anywho, these kittens are untame. So much so that every time I reach in the cage they roll over and hiss, cowering away from my hand. They look so mad when ever I pet them or pick them up. When I do pick them up they don't bite or scratch, but you can tell they DON'T like being held or handled.

    I was thinking that I should whip out a can of tuna before I feed them, and tempt them around to me with the tuna, when thier bellies are empty, and get them to eat out of my hand or at least near me, where I can pet them.

    The only reason I'm so concerned is because they're barncats and I don't spend more than an hour even in the milkroom this time of year and no more than 15-30 minutes with them daily. I do think that tame cats will stick around better, IMO, and I can't stand keeping unferal cats as well... Especially if they get hurt to a point where they need vet care and they can't be caught. I almost think that I should try to find them another home where they can have some 1 on 1 treatment, but I don't want to give away my future mouse-catchers!
     
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Use A pair of cotton gloves when you pick them up. And the food idea works. I have 5 kittens that were wild A few weeks ago. I have the scratches to prove it,. I just started to pick them up. And hold them now.They climb all over me. For affection.
     

  3. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would keep them inside the house and interact with them daily until tame then let them outside a hour or two a day til they prove theirselves outside and let 'em in and out but some people prefer their cats to be 100% outdoor cats. 30-60 mins a day isn't going to cut it for feral cats.
     
  4. GoldenMom

    GoldenMom Well-Known Member

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    Kittens come around fast. I would make sure to handle them 3-4 or more times a day. Keep them in the cage for a week or two so they don't have any other option. One day they will be hissing at you, the next no hissing but not particularly friendly, then in a couple of days will be purring. It helps that the mother cat is tame so they can learn by example too.
     
  5. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When you pick them up, feed them out of your hand. This is a real positive association. I also agree them keeping them inside with you will tame them faster. I've had indoor/outdoor cats and outdoor only cats. They need a lot of holding to be tame and having them inside for a couple of weeks (or bringing them in part of the day all the time) will give you real nice cats that are comfortable inside or out- very convenient when vetting.
     
  6. Caprice Acres

    Caprice Acres AKA "mygoat" Staff Member Supporter

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    Well when I got the kittens I made an agreement with my dad. The only way I can get them is if they never set foot inside.

    right now mommy and kittens are all exploring the milkroom. I have no doubt that they will go back to thier cage when they want to sleep or eat, so it's not that big of a problem.

    Having them be skittish is annoying. I'm going to try the tuna idea. Just hope my dad doesn't find out, lol.
     
  7. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everyone else. You just have to catch them and hold and pet them as much as possible for awhile. We had barn cat once that was just the meanest, most unfriendly thing I ever saw. I just kept catching him, petting him, and talking sweet to him. He never got friendly enough to WANT to be held, but he would purr like the dickens whenever I got near him. That poor old cat got his jaw nearly ripped off by some other critter in a fight, and we lost him. I shed a lot of tears over that old boy, I think because we had both worked so hard to be friends. Who knows, your little ones may turn out to be your favorites!
     
  8. Judy in IN

    Judy in IN Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When you go out to do chores, catch one of the kittens and stuff it inside your jacket. (or shirt, if you're brave) Carry it next to your warm body while you do chores. Do this with a different kitten each time.

    You'll be suprised how fast they tame down! It's almost like you're imprinting them with your body smell and warmth.