How Do I Coax 7 Week Old Kittens Out of Basement?
July 5, 2011 3:53 PM   Subscribe

How Do I Coax 7 Week Old Kittens Out of Basement?

(This is part III of ongoing saga of Kissa and her kittens.)

...and in this part, Kissa has moved her family two times--the last move was to the basement, where kittens have been for past few weeks. They've ventured upstairs a few times, but spend most of their time in cold, mostly dark, drafty basement. (Because they're down there, I've moved food, water, litter boxes, toys and tunnels down with them.)

I don't want to annoy the cat mother (Kissa) by moving the kittens against her will, but feel like they are old enough to now roam around the house and maybe trying going outside. Anything seems better than hanging out in basement without windows...

Overall, kittens seem to be thriving--eating tons of food, playing with each other and all the toys I threw down with them, etc. I would just appreciate any suggestions on how to get them exposed to wider world...


posted by Jon44 to Pets & Animals (23 answers total)
I'd be down there nomming little black-and-white cookie kitty bellies, because, OMG CUTE. SO I vote for annoy the mother and move them upstairs because KITTY BELLIES! ON DEMAND!

But someone less kitten-drunk will probably come along with better advice.
posted by cyndigo at 3:57 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Stop providing them with tons of food downstairs, and your problem will vanish overnight.

(you might leave a trail of food going up, to give them a hint, but make no mistake, hungry kittens old enough to walk will explore to find food)
posted by pla at 4:03 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

When I had a nursing mother cat here last summer, she was so hot all the time. It might help Kissa if you set up a fan or something. It may be that she moved to the basement for the coolness.

As for luring kittens, the thing I've found that they can't resist is a long, moving toy, like a shoelace (choose one with a color that contrasts with the floor), or a willow branch stripped of leaves (don't let them eat the leaves), or one of those peacock feathers you can sometimes find at pet stores for $0.99.

Seriously -- they are helpless against their prey drives and will play with _anything_. The "snake" family of toys works very well in this case.
posted by amtho at 4:06 PM on July 5, 2011

They have plenty of time to be exposed to the wider world. Cats are curious; they will eventually want to see what's up the stairs, especially if that's where the food and loving is. Your concern that the kittens would prefer to be somewhere "nicer" than the basement, if they only knew it was there, is pure anthropomorphizing and goes against the clear preference of their mother, who moved them down there in the first place.
posted by kindall at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2011 [9 favorites]

ZOMG those are cute.

I wouldn't move them - she's happy with them "living" in the basement and you don't want her to attempt to hide them again, really, because it will delay access to supercute kittens. I agree that luring them into other areas to play is a great idea . . .but Kissa may disagree. :) Be prepared for mom to imperiously insist they GO BACK DOWN NOW, and by imperiously assist, I mean, clearly, she may carry them back one by one.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:09 PM on July 5, 2011

I'm not sure they're old enough to be roaming around the house at large at 7 weeks old, much less go outside. They're so tiny at that age and are learning a lot about inter-cat relations with each other and their mom just hanging out in their nest. I would give them at least 2 more weeks down there.
posted by bleep at 4:12 PM on July 5, 2011

If you hope to find homes for these kittens, it's getting to be time for them to get used to people. If they won't come up yet, go down (or send a willing child, friend or mefite down) and play with them to socialize them to human presence. They'll be much more attractive to possible new owners if you can emphasize they've been socialized and are friendly and happy rather than feral and skittish.
posted by zadcat at 4:13 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Definitely do not let them outside at this point, but do try to start socializing them to humans either by bringing them upstairs (keep the food up there) or by sending humans down to play with them.

Another thing to keep in mind -- female cats can go into heat very shortly after having kittens, especially once they start weaning, so you shouldn't let her outside until she's been fixed (unless you are looking to add more kittens to your house).
posted by Felicity Rilke at 4:23 PM on July 5, 2011

I've given this more thought, and decided that I'll come and eat adopt the kittens right this minute. Dilemma solved!
posted by cyndigo at 4:23 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The basement is probably the best for them and their mother right now. Provided they can physically climb the stairs, they'll find their way up when they're ready.

Also, If you are close to NYC and need to find a home for one of the kittens, please mail me.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:30 PM on July 5, 2011

Leave them where Kissa has moved them. Go down and see them, but your Kissa knows the house. She picked that spot. When they're ready to explore they certainly will.

Also. OMG the gray one! I want the gray one!
posted by 26.2 at 4:37 PM on July 5, 2011

I'd leave them where they are, but agree with those who say you need to be spending time with them. They won't be good pets if they're not socialized to people.
posted by Mavri at 4:39 PM on July 5, 2011

Go down there and play with them. Constantly. Stop reading this and go down there and play with them right now. Please do not let unvaccinated cats outside under any circumstances. And after these kittens are old enough, please have them and Kissa spayed/neutered.
posted by crankylex at 4:45 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

One other thing -- the kittens don't really need to go outside. A lot of adopters will want indoor-only cats, and if the kittens have never been outside it will be much easier to persuade them that they don't need to rush the door every time it opens. Also, it's pretty dangerous out there :)

By the way, it is possible to have nursing mother cats spayed -- the vet can go in from the cat's side so the nipples aren't disturbed. Also, the rescue organization I work with gets kittens spayed (by a specialized, low-cost vet service) whenever they weigh over two pounds.
posted by amtho at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, and don't just play with them. Hold them! Carry them around :) My dear cat was very cuddly, and I think it's because his fosterer's granddaughter carried him around constantly.
posted by amtho at 4:49 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is the time to being socializing. If Kissa is okay with it, I would start spending time down there and playing with them. Use food, toys, etc to lure them out to play and to eat from your hand. The more time you spend getting them socialized now, the easier it will be in the long term, because the more used they will be to social contact and the more adoptable they will be. It would definitely be good to hold them and cuddle them as much as possible as well: contact, contact, contact is the key...

It is also time to start thinking about getting Kissa neutered. That can be done with a nursing cat, so she could be back and nursing the same day.

Oh, and PHOTOS!
posted by baggers at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2011

Um, cats love basements. If I opened the door to the outside and the door to the basement, my two (adult) cats would choose the basement, every single time. Just because YOU wouldn't like hanging around in a cold dark basement doesn't mean a cat wouldn't.
posted by desjardins at 6:01 PM on July 5, 2011

Thanks for all the helpful advice.

I take the point about cats only go down to the basement when they're injured or ill, so partly I just have negative associations with it. I realized I need to spend more time in socializing--the kitties are skittish now. (They'll let me hang out with them, but jump as soon as I make any movement).

Oh, and more photos
posted by Jon44 at 6:14 PM on July 5, 2011

Good grief, I think my head just exploded from the adorable-ness!

Maybe, if playing with them makes them jumpy, just sit next to 'em and read and occationally pet 'em. (Weird thought: how about sitting there reading with a bowl of food next to you/on your lap? Some way of sort of sharing the catfood's smell with you, and making you even more acceptable?)
posted by easily confused at 8:47 AM on July 6, 2011

The eye patch kitty?

It has a home with me. Really.
posted by 26.2 at 3:41 PM on July 6, 2011


Are you playing with them? Are you carrying them around? Can you set up a 24/7 kitten-cam?
posted by cyndigo at 5:34 PM on July 6, 2011

26.2, if I weren't in Korea, I'd fight your for the eye patch kitten.

OMG I'm in kitty heaven. And my kitty Ivory is giving me the evil eye for drooling over adorable kittens instead of fawning over her highness.
posted by kathrynm at 5:48 AM on July 7, 2011

Yeah, you gotta sit with them until they're used to you and then start having your way with them. This is the age where you want to touch their faces, mouths, ears, paws, bellies to get them used to being handled and set them up for a life of easy claw clipping and petting, rather than skittishness and not-toch!

I got my latest foster kittens at about 4 weeks, and the first night they hid in the carrier and one of them tried out his weak little lion-hiss on me, and I said "now, now" and scooped them out one by one and prodded and inspected them. Kitten socialization boot camp! Time to learn how to cuddle! They are so little that they startle easily, but they are also so little that all their habits are still forming and you need to get in there and cement their impression of you as the friendly giant that gives food and love, and who should be sought out for attention and play.

I'd probably start feeding upstairs-only, but leave the basement available to them as somewhere to retreat to. As they get older and get over their nervousness, they will voluntarily spend more time out and about in the house.

And I strongly concur with the chorus of keep them indoors, vaccines stat, neuter/spay as soon as possible. (2 lbs. is standard for early neuter/spay -- just another month should do you.)
posted by little cow make small moo at 9:02 AM on July 7, 2011

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