Ramble On

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Barn Cats

Sometime in the early summer we noticed this litter of kittens taking shelter around the shed, mostly under the lean-to where some old building materials are stored. Four of them, and sometimes when the mother showed up - barely more than a kitten herself - five.

They stuck around, and later we learned that the neighbors had been feeding the mother, so she stuck around the area and considered it home.

About a month later, I saw four more kittens in the front yard, emerging from under the pool deck.  It wasn't long before we saw the mother there, too, and we also learned that the mother was being fed by the neighbors.

Ten stray, un-neutered cats. Well, over the course of the first month or so, one of the kittens from the first batch, and another one or two from the second, had been killed off or died.  They're strays, and nobody is reliably taking care of them - we don't live there full time and have no intention of adding feline pets, certainly not seven or eight of them, to the family.

We started looking for sources of help with getting these guys adopted out or relocated to a place where they could be looked after.  We found out that there is a nonprofit called Cat's Cradle in the Valley - web site is http://www.catscradleva.org/ - that will catch, neuter, and release feral cats like this bunch.  Seven feral cats is a good start on 50, for Pete's sake after all.

So the adventure began - there was an evening of trap setting, and eventually everybody was caught.  Here's the first litter - having lost one of their siblings by this time.

It turns out that with the long hot summers we've been having, cats are having two heats a year - it's very important to get this under control.

We also caught the mothers of both litters, and some of the younger litter, who turned out to be too small for the operation just yet.

Now, they're all back.  They're free to live a feral life around the Hawksbill Cabin, although Mary feeds them on the weekend and the neighbors pitch in when they can.

I guess you could call them feral with emerging domesticated habits.  They know when they're going to get fed and they emerge from hiding places all over the place when they hear the food bag.  And they've started to interact with the humans around the place.

Sunday when I got back from errands I saw the little black striped one sitting up on a fence post near the shed.  I guess they are getting personalities too.

No comments: