2011 Archives

4

Mom here. The Furry Bambinos graciously allowed me to borrow their blog for this post. As regular readers know, my husband and I volunteer for a local animal rescue group called PAWS (Public Animal Welfare Society). We foster kittens, I screen applicants for cat and kitten adoptions, my husband does transports locally taking cats and dogs to and from appointments, etc.

Now, we can also say that we have experience trapping a colony of feral cats.

It all started when my friend and co-worker Diane (name changed to protect the innocent) told me that her Mom was visiting a friend, and that there were “about six or eight friendly kittens” living outside the friend’s house. Diane’s Mom thought the kittens might be 2 to 3 months old. So Diane told her mom about me and PAWS.  I checked with PAWS if it was OK for me to “harvest the kittens” (as we say), and was given the OK and eight appointments for spay/neuter at the Cleveland APL.

On a warm sunny afternoon after work, Diane and I went over to the location to assess the situation. We were armed with the smelliest Stinky Goodness they make (Flaked Fish and Shrimp Feast, in case you were wondering), plates, water, dishes, surrender forms, and cat carriers. We were prepared to collect “friendly kittens” should they present themselves for collecting. We set up on the patio, and as Diane described it, “an army of cats” began appearing from the bushes once we opened the cans of Stinky Goodness.

It’s hard to estimate the age of a cat, especially when you can’t get close enough to hold and examine him or her. By my best guess, the youngest of the felines were in the 10-month age range. And all were skittish and afraid of us – feral. We counted at least eleven – possibly more – adult feral cats.

The difference between a stray cat and a feral cat is how they feel about humans. Stray cats are homeless cats who would make good companion cats for people. They like and trust people, and will let you pet them if you encounter them outside. Feral cats are not homeless – their home is the Great Outdoors, however inclement the weather or climate may be. However, they have not been socialized to trust people, and are therefore afraid of humans.

If a kitten is not socialized with lots of human contact early in life, they will grow up feral. There is debate as to what the critical age is, but from my experience, I would put it at 3 months. Which is not to say that an older feral kitten or cat cannot learn to trust people, but it will take MUCH MUCH longer, and A LOT of work. For more information about feral cats, please see Alley Cat Allies web site.

So, our hopes of harvesting young trusting kittens were scrapped – replaced by a TNR situation to get this cat population under control. It’s Kitten Season, after all, and by the looks of a few of the cats, some might already be pregnant. We needed to move fast to trap these cats before they started reproducing!

Tune in next time to find out if we were able to catch any of the feral cats!

25

Mom here, again. The Furry Bambinos graciously allowed me to borrow their blog to tell you this story. When I left off last time, what we had been told were “six or eight friendly kittens” turned out to be at least eleven adult feral cats in need of TNR before they started reproducing. TNR stands for “Trap Neuter Return” which is the best solution to manage the population of a colony of feral cats.

After much discussion regarding logistics, we borrowed eight humane traps from the Cleveland APL, and returned the following Sunday evening at 6:00 with more Stinky Goodness. It was raining, windy, and cold. The newspapers we used to line the traps kept getting blown around, and some of the traps were so sensitive that just picking them up would trigger them to close. Not optimal trapping conditions, to say the least. We set out the traps, and returned to our cars to wait. Nothing. So we left to grab dinner, dejected that we would catch any cats that night.

We returned an hour later to find four cats in traps! Woo-hoo!

We covered each trap with a towel, and instantly the cat inside quieted down. We transferred the trapped cats to our cars to keep warm and dry. After moving the remaining traps to different locations, we were able to trap three more cats before it got too dark to see what we were doing. We were pleased to have caught seven feral cats, but we counted at least five more, including a few clever ones who managed to eat the food without stepping on the trigger.

We brought the cats in the traps back to Diane’s Mom’s house, where we set them in the garage overnight.

Here are photos of the cats we trapped that night. Kitteh #1 is a long-haired orange and white male (I think). Orange cats are usually male.

Kitteh #2 looked to be a Siamese flame point mix.

Kitteh #3 is an orange tabby with some white on his chest.

Kitteh #4 is a long-haired brown tabby with white bib.

Kitteh #5 is a long-hair dilute calico female.

Kitteh #6 is a black, gold, and white calico female. Do you see two other sets of glowing eyes in this photo?

Kitteh #7 is a different orange tabby male.

We returned Monday night, May 16 (Panda Bear and Meerkat’s birthday) with five more traps, and with a nifty Drop Trap as well. Again, it was cold, raining, and windy, making trapping conditions less than optimal. The ground was saturated after weeks of rain, so there was a lot of squish squish squish through muddy grass.

I now have a new definition for Insanity: Standing in the bushes, in the dark, in the rain, holding the pull cord to the Drop Trap, and trying to trap a solid black cat! We gave up trying to trap the black cat in the dark, but did manage to trap five others. But we saw at least three more cats, including “Blackie”, the solid black cat with a noticeable limp.

Diane’s Mom and her friend were able to catch the last (we hope) three cats, and all have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped. Ear tipping is the universal symbol that a feral cat has been neutered and vaccinated. It is done while the cat is under anesthesia. It is done so that if they get trapped again, they won’t go in for surgery because the ear tip will indicate that they have already been neutered and vaccinated.

We were worried that Blackie might be euthanized due to his limp, but the APL did not note anything wrong with the paw. We had implored the APL staff to let Blackie live, since the property is on a quiet dead-end side street. So either Diane’s Mom caught a different black cat (not Blackie with the limp) or Blackie’s limp was not due to a fracture. We’ll never really know.

Next, releasing feral cats back in their home territory!

7

Mom here. The Furry Bambinos have graciously allowed me to borrow their blog to tell you the story of trapping a colony of 15 feral cats in a local neighborhood. When I left off last time, all 15 cats had been trapped, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated.

The first night we trapped 7 cats on Sunday May 15. They had surgery on Monday, May 16, and recovered overnight in my friend Diane’s Mom’s garage. That night, Monday, May 16, we trapped 5 more cats. Their surgery was on Tuesday, May 17. The last three cats were trapped on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning.

To make things “less complicated”, Diane’s Mom wanted to trap all the cats before releasing any of them so we wouldn’t have to figure out who was who. The problem with this plan was that the feral cats were returned after surgery in cat carriers, with the idea of being released very soon, not in a day or two. So Diane’s Mom cleaned the cat carriers and transferred the cats from a used carrier to a clean one.

One of the feral cats got loose in the garage during one of the transfers.

On Wednesday night, instead of releasing the first 12 cats back into their home territory, we had 11. Believe me, we tried to convince the missing cat to join his brethren for the Big Return. We searched all over the garage (which I have to say, is the CLEANEST garage I have ever seen), but there was no sign of him. So I suggested that he *might* be inside Diane’s sister’s car which was parked in the garage.

Sure enough, there he was, sitting on the engine block. He was so startled to see us, and we were so startled to see him, that we all froze for an instant. Before I could scruff him, he disappeared down into the engine. I donned a pair of gardening gloves, and reached in, trying to scruff the guy. He was so bony and at a weird angle, that all I could feel was his shoulder blades.

And then I felt his teeth, when he turned around and bit me.

OK then. Plan Q: we would set a trap for him and hope he would be hungry enough to get trapped again so we could return him back home. We waited around awhile, but he was not budging from the innards of the car.

We loaded up the other 11 cats in our cars and headed back to their home. Of course, it was cold, windy, and it started raining as soon as we stepped out of the cars with the cats. We carried the cats into the back yard (squish squish squish through the muddy grass), and set the carriers down on the patio.

We unlatched the doors, and swung them wide open.

Free at last!

Free at last!

All but one of the cats shot out and took off headed back to safety of their thicket of shrubs. David carried that carrier closer to the thicket and then the cat sped out and joined his buds. Diane’s Mom returned the other four kittehs to their home a few days later, including Engine Kitty, who did get trapped overnight inside the garage.

Despite all the logistics, the cold, the rain, the dark, and the exhaustion, it felt so good to know that these cats will not be reproducing. They will be healthier, and will no longer contribute to the population of cats in the area.

12

::Tap tap tap::

Ahem, is this thing on? Oh hai! My name is Sunny. I used to be known as Mr. Wild Child when I first came to live here. I was scared and didn’t know if I could trust The Lady and The Man, so I hid in my Pink ManKitten Cave a lot.

Now I am Sunny, the Former Mr. Wild Child.

My Kitteh Mommy is Mama Rose.

I don’t know for sure who my Kitteh Daddy is – but we have seen a grey/brown striped kitteh hanging out in the yard, so we think that is him. (Mom’s Edit: We don’t know for sure if “Daddy” a boy, but I just have this feeling. Woody – one of Mama’s babies, and Sunny and Sky’s brother, looks SO MUCH like “Daddy”. We will be doing TNR – “Daddy” has a neuter appointment at the Cleveland APL in July.)

My Real Daddy is Daddy.

Isn’t he great?

He has a very comfortable lap.

He really does.

Sometimes we watch the talking picture box together. He likes it when I sit on his lap and purr.

Happy Daddy’s Day to all you Daddies out there!

10

Greetings furriends!

Here in the United States, we are celebrating Independence Day.

Here at Casa de Furry Bambinos, I am celebrating my right to Freedom of Expression. I am a Purrfurmance Artist.

I call this one “Spring Water”.

This next one I call “Turning Spring Water into Niptini”.

Dad does not understand my art. He promptly cleaned out the fountain, removing both the spring and the nip toy.

Have a safe holiday efurryone! We are planning on hiding in the basement if it gets too loud.

P.S. Aunt Patty, what do you think of my Art? (Aunt Patty has a masters degree in modern art criticism.)

10

Greetings furriends!

Well two more fosters have graduated from Furry Bambino Foster Academy – Nadia and Bart! Nadia is the grey tabby female and Bart is her black tabby house panther brother. They are half of The Gymnasts class of Kitten Season 2011.

They got adopted TOGETHER into a great family where they will have the best time!

We thought we would share some photos of the Little Lunatics (as Mom calls them).

They were in PetSmart for just 24 hours and had two different families apply to adopt them!

Nadia and Bart were the most “creative” kittens in the history of Furry Bambino Foster Academy. This is what they did to Nadia’s folder containing her medical records and adoption contract. (Silly Mommy left it out where they could get to it.)

Bart is the only kitten in the history of Furry Bambino Foster Academy to perform this stunt. Look at those Froot Bats on him!!

Redecorating is another Special Skill of Bart and Nadia.

All four Gymnasts were skilled climbers. Nadia demonstrates her talents on our cat tree in the fambly room.

Not to be outdone, Bart applies his climbing skills to our screen door in the fambly room.

They especially liked to climb people! That’s Bart on Mom’s hip.

This is Vitaly on Dad’s leg.

Nadia really liked to sit on Dad’s shoulder.

Or the back of Mom’s neck.

Wonder how she got there? Here’s how.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HehSRp0lllo

The past few evenings Mom and Dad let Nadia and Bart mingle with us Furry Bambinos. I had a great time chasing them all over the house. I am embarrassed to admit that we had to take turns chasing them – they wore us out! Also, I had to tell Bart to stay away from MY prey – I don’t share my kills. Nadia is sitting behind me with her high beams on.

As you can see, Nadia … (photo taken by Mom’s friend Zhou Zhou)

… and Bart liked to do everything together. They will get to spend their lives together!

Next time, we’ll tell you about our new students at the Academy!


6

Greetings, furriends! It is me, your Floofy Furry Bambino, Caramel, with today’s update on our second class of Kitten Season 2011.

Meet Joan, Jett, and Braveheart! Sisters Joan (back) and Braveheart (front) are huddled together in the kitten bed. Brother Jett is sitting next to the kitten bed. (Mom and Dad considered naming Braveheart “Blackheart” to be consistent, but thought that was too unkind. Plus, Mom hopes that little Braveheart’s name becomes self-fulfilling.)

That’s because Joan, and especially Braveheart, are feral. Presently, Joan is “semi-feral” and Braveheart is about 90% feral. Brother Jett is the most trusting of the three siblings. They were found in a cat carrier along with their three other siblings in a local park. Because all six kittens were all skittish, the litter was divided up between two foster homes to socialize the babies.

Soon after enrolling in Furry Bambino Foster Academy, Jett developed some weird lesions on the bridge of his nose. About the same time,  Daddy casually mentioned to Mom over dinner that (another PAWS volunteer) “Eileen called this afternoon, and said that the other three kittens in the litter might have ringworm”.

Mom stopped eating, and replied: “R-r-r-ringworm? Do you know what that is? It is SO contagious! Aaahhhhh! That must be what the lesions on Jett’s face are!!!” She fled the dinner table and immediately called Eileen.

At the time, Daddy didn’t understand how serious ringworm is. He thought Mom was just being melodramatic (again). A lot of people think that ringworm is a parasite because of the name. Actually, ringworm is a skin infection that is caused by a fungus, the same one that causes Athlete’s Foot. Its spores become AIRBORNE and it can spread rapidly, and the spores can survive a long time (like a year) outside the host.

So Mom and Dad removed Joan, Jett, and Braveheart from the kitten room and moved them into a cat condo in the garage. Unfortunately, Nadia and Bart got exposed to Joan, Jett, and Braveheart, and would need to be quarantined for 14 days to see if they developed ringworm, too. Luckily, Lilia and Vitaly had just gotten adopted, so they were not exposed.

Next time: Treating the feral threesome for ringworm! Good times, kittehs, good times.

P.S. Joan, Jett, and Braveheart are the 13th class in the history of Furry Bambino Foster Academy. Not that we’re superstitious or anything …