Friday, June 18, 2010

Please do your part...

After the feral cat we had cared for for nine years disappeared I continued to put out food in hopes she'd return. She never did, but a very pregnant calico feral started appearing each day at meal time.

After a month she disappeared for a couple of days and reappeared much thinner. I knew she had given birth, but didn't know where. I tried following her down the street and saw her head up a driveway a few doors down. I asked if they had kittens in their yard, but they didn't. I had no idea where the kittens were, but she continued to appear at mealtime, quickly eat, and then head down the street. After five weeks I noticed that she started hanging around our yard all day. I feared that something had happened to the kittens. Imagine my surprise when I opened the back door one morning and found her standing there with a little black and white kitten. The next day I discovered two more kittens and the day after that a fourth kitten. We now had the mother and four kittens waiting to be fed each morning.

I decided to move my car out of the garage and the mother and kittens started hanging out in the garage, under the deck, and backyard. Then a few weekends ago my husband spent some time working in the backyard. We noticed that the mother kept pacing and was a little nervous. That night she disappeared with three of the kittens. The next morning she arrived to eat and a little gray and white kitten came out of hiding and ate with her. Then the mother left again, but the gray and white kitten was still here. Finally, I decided the mother wasn't going to bring the other kittens back and I'd better try and catch the one left behind. So, I set a humane trap in the garage and caught him and brought him inside.

We set the little kitten up in the extra bedroom and he proceeded to hide under the bed and not come out. We tried to lure him out, but he was terrified. Meanwhile, after a couple of days the mother returned with the other kittens. Since we weren't having any luck taming the one inside we considered returning him to the mother, but then he turned the corner and started slowly getting used to us. He's been inside for three weeks and is now quite friendly. Still a little cautious, but glad to see us when we go in there to play with him.

Here he is stalking the cord on my camera.

Got it!

Listening to the dog on the other side of the door.

Meanwhile, I've found a place that will "fix" feral cats for a reasonable fee. Soon I will attempt to trap the mother cat and the kittens that are outside and have them fixed. We will let them live in our garage and yard. The mother is still nursing the kittens even though they're now 11 weeks old. They seem to eat plenty of food, but still nurse and the place won't fix the mother until she's finished nursing. I am concerned that the mother will take the kittens and disappear once I get the first one trapped. I'm hoping I can trap the mother first, but there's no guarantee who will get caught first. And the mother always positions herself between me and the kittens and if a kitten is caught first I might be torn to pieces. She is a very protective mother. I still wonder why she left the gray and white kitten behind.

I'd like to find a good home for the gray and white kitten we've managed to tame. He will also be fixed. I still have to have him tested for feline leukemia and I'm hoping he'll test negative. Feline leukemia is present in about 10% of the cat population and more likely in ferals. There's nothing that can be done if he's positive and I still don't know what I'll do if that happens. He won't be adoptable and I'm not sure the mother will take him back at this point.

No matter what all of these felines will be fixed. I read a statistic in the newspaper recently. Every unspayed cat that goes into heat three times a year - along with her offspring - could produce 4,948 cats during the course of seven years. This time of year shelters are overflowing with kittens and cats.

PLEASE SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS. The life of a feral cat is usually not an easy life. Domestic cats were not meant to live in the wild. They ended up there because somewhere along the line someone wasn't a responsible pet owner. I believe this mother cat was not born feral. She waits at the backdoor each morning for her food.

I open the door and she's waiting, but usually greats me with a hiss. She will approach me, but I'm not allowed to approach her. I have to be careful when I set down the food because she'll come over to get it, but scratch me at the same time. So, she's kind of used to people. Normally ferals won't come close and will hide until the food is set out. This all leads me to believe she probably was socialized with humans early in her life and then abandoned and became feral. Her contact with humans was probably only for a short period of time, but long enough that she isn't totally freaked out around them. However, she has taught her kittens well. Whenever she hisses they run and hide. I might have tried to catch and tame them when I realized the gray and white one was coming around, but that was during the time I was taking Reid down for radiation every day and it just wasn't possible. So, we'll just try and give them the best life possible.

These pictures were taken a few weeks ago before the gray and white kitten was brought inside. This is the mother with two of the red kittens. One is eating on top of the container and the other one is behind the post.

This is when the gray and white kitten was still outside. You can see him on top of the container. There's also a black and white kitten.

Meanwhile, I've put the trap outside and have the door propped open so it won't close yet. I've done this so they can become used to it and when I'm ready to catch them it might make things easier. They have no idea and sometimes go inside the trap and play. It looks as if I could just run over and close the door, but they'd be long gone by the time I got there. When they're done nursing and all are old enough to be fixed I'll use food in the trap. That's the mother's tail you see at the bottom of the picture. She always manages to position herself between me and the kittens.

Please do your part and spay and neuter your pets. I just can't stress it enough. There are so many homeless animals out there. If everyone did their part we wouldn't have this problem.


  1. I hear you! If only people would spay and neuter their pets, we would not have this huge population of dogs and cats with no home.
    We adopted both of our cats from the local shelter, The three year old cat had been a stray, and the kitten was born at the shelter from a pregnant stray. It is terribly sad when animals are dumped and just expected to take care of themselves. :-(
    Thank you for taking care of the little cat family that has found it's way to your door. You are a kind hearted lady.

  2. Oh my dear Betty, the gray kitten is so darling. You are so good to help these homeless kitties and you are right, we all need to do our part.

  3. It is hard to believe that there are people out there who would just abandon a lovely animal but I know it happens.

    I applaud you for your efforts in making their lives better!!!

  4. My son brought home a kitty he found in a dumpster in an apartment complex parking lot. Someone had moved and abandoned her. My vet said she'd had kittens at some point. After spaying her and removing a ruptured eyeball, she has become our treasure. Son moved out, but left Kitten here. My husband (who initially wanted her sent straight to the pound) wouldn't let him take her away. Karmen


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