Feral Cats

0

With great sadness, we report that our beautiful little tortie girl Samoa went to the Rainbow Bridge on Monday, October 24, after a brief but severe bout of pneumonia. We are still in shock as it seems just yesterday she was bounding up and down the stairs. We greatly appreciate the purrs and purrayers from family and friends.

Samoa came into our life in April of 2015.  She was rescued by a dear friend from Slavic Village, along with her four kittens, whom we named Ginger Snap, Peanut Butter, S’mores, and Thin Mint.  S’mores is the only girl and her tortie markings look just like her Mom Samoa!  Ginger Snap is an orange tabby, Peanut Butter is white with orange tabby markings, and Thin Mint is solid black. This first photo is from our first meeting with Samoa and her 2-day old kittens. The second photo is just a week later, and her kittens have grown so much that they look like they are smothering her tiny 7-pound body.

samoa-and-babies-2015-04-15

samoa-and-babies-2015-04-22

In addition to her own litter of four kittens, Samoa cared for four “Cowboy Kittens” (Cassidy, Clementine, Harlee, and Sadie) for a few days until their Mama Mae West was rescued, and could resume her motherly duties. Mae West was particularly elusive, and now resides with a dear friend.

samoa-and-boys-2015-05-11

No sooner than Mae West began nursing her four Cowgirls, than a 2-day-old kitten abandoned by his mother was found in the Waterloo neighborhood. We named this kitten, Snickerdoodle, and he was readily welcomed by Samoa into her little family. Snickerdoodle is mostly white with orange tabby markings, and closely resembles Peanut Butter, so he really looked like part of the family!

feeding-frenzy-2015-07-09

Finally came the “Charlie Angels” kittens.  Although Jaclyn Fluff, Farrah Fluff Major, and Kate Fluffson did not resemble Samoa or her own babies, they were also lovingly accepted by Samoa and treated as her own. The three black and white tuxedo kittens were rescued from the home of dear friends who have their own little feral family in their garden. By rescuing the tuxie girls, the hope was to give them safe and loving indoor homes, so they were rescued as young kittens close to weaning so they would be easier to socialize.

Samoa was a good Mom (and surrogate Mom) to a total of 12 kittens … patient with her kittens’ antics, and training her babies how to be Good Cats.

samoa-trying-to-eat-2015-05-19

While confined to the “back kitten room” (back bedroom), Samoa gradually became comfortable with Sue and would allow Sue to pet her on rare occasions. Samoa would rub against Sue’s legs and was pleased to accept treats. However, Samoa was still easily startled and would hiss loudly when Sue or David moved too quickly or without advance notice.

The orange marking over her left eye made Samoa appear as if she was always raising her left eyebrow at us, as if to ask “What now?”

samoa-2015-05-28

Over time, after Samoa raised her babies and they started to get adopted, we let her into Gen Pop (gave her full run of the house) with The Furry Bambinos.  Samoa was still a foster with us, and would hide when we needed to take her to adoption events.  Finally, David stated the obvious as we rode to the third consecutive adoption event without Samoa because we could not catch her.  “We may have just adopted our eighth Bambino.”  Shortly thereafter, we discussed it over dinner and concluded that she was happy here with us.  “Let’s just adopt her.”  And that’s how Samoa officially became a Furry Bambino, in early 2016.

samoa-all-tuckered-out-2015-11-16

Samoa (aka “Shmo”) fit in with The Furry Bambinos very easily.  She seemed content to be the low girl on the totem pole of the cat hierarchy.  She stood in the background and didn’t seem to care if she was the last one to be fed treats.  She never started fights, and always used the litter boxes.   She regularly helped the other Bambinos on “Bird Patrol” and “Squirrel Patrol” from her favorite position in one of the “tubes” of the cat furniture.

bird-watching-2016-02-28-b

meerkat-and-samoa-in-tubes-2016-04-18

She also liked to explore.  A few times a week we could guarantee hearing a loud “thump” coming from the basement.  It was usually Samoa landing on the washing machine after jumping down from exploring the crawl space under the family room. She would emerge with her whiskers covered in cobwebs, then dash off upstairs.

samoa-2016-01-19

For a long time, she would only eat breakfast by poking her head out from the chair covers in the dining room.

samoa-and-friends-snacking-2016-09-27-a

But over time, Samoa became more comfortable and would eat out in the open.  During our morning feeding routines, she began to occasionally brush up against David’s legs, and he got so he could stroke Samoa across her head and back after giving her a food dish.

The rest of the time, Samoa usually kept her distance from us.  If we came within more than 24 inches of her, she would abruptly dash off to another part of the house.  She would sniff a hand extended to her, but we had to move slowly, or else risk a loud snake-like hiss of fear before she dashed off. There were a few rare occasions that Samoa would snuggle with Sue on the sofa.

samoa-cuddling-on-sofa-2016-03-02

Samoa made friends with Panda Bear, our friendly tuxedo cat.  All the cats in the house, and especially our fosters and former fosters, love Panda Bear.  Samoa would walk beside him, brush up against him repeatedly, sleep beside him in the front window or on Sue’s legs on the sofa, and eat next to him.

panda-bear-bathing-samoa-2016-01-01-c

Sunny, Panda Bear and Samoa having a snack.

In Samoa’s last nights with us, we had her sequestered to a large cage in our family room so we could closely monitor her and care for her.  Panda Bear walked into her cage, and even in her weakened state Samoa reached her head over to brush against him.

panda-bear-and-samoa-snuggling-2016-10-22-b

Samoa also had become a play friend for little Farrah Fluff (another new Furry Bambino, c. 2016).  Samoa and Fluff would chase each other the length of the house, back and forth, chomp on each other and bunny kick each other’s heads, and then dash off with wild abandon.  They both seemed to enjoy the play time.

On Sunday evening, the night before Samoa passed, Farrah Fluff reached a paw into Samoa’s cage to tap (maybe pet?) Samoa on the head, and then came around from another angle to tap her friend on the side.  Fluff was obviously checking in with her friend to see how she was doing.

We are so happy we chose to adopt Samoa.  We were honored to have been Samoa’s guardians for the relatively short time she was with us. We did our best to keep her well fed, safe, and happy despite her efforts to avoid us.

sweet-samoa-on-sofa-2016-01-11

We wish we had known earlier that she was ill.  Cats have a way of hiding their illnesses until it’s too late to save them.  It’s so frustrating to know we might have done more for her.  We had her at the veterinarian on Saturday, and by late Monday afternoon she was gone. Sue has the lyrics of the Hall and Oates song “She’s Gone” running on a loop in her head.

samoa-closeup-2015-07-05

It’s amazing that such a little cat could leave such a big hole in our hearts.  We hope that Samoa will be waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. When we get too close, she will probably dash off to hide.  So long as we see her there, that’s all that matters.

20161012_120435

Until we meet again, Sweet Samoa.  We love you!

80

Hi, “Dad” here with a report on how I built an outdoor cat shelter for Mama Rose.

If you’ve followed The Furry Bambinos, you probably know the story of Mama Rose and her 6 babies.  If not, you can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and the final post about releasing Mama Rose back into the neighborhood.

After we had Mama Rose spayed and released her back into the neighborhood, she kept coming around the house for food.  So, late in 2010, I decided to build an outdoor cat shelter for her.

We live in Northeast Ohio, and the winters can get rather brutal and cold.  Since we had taken Mama Rose’s babies, gotten her spayed to prevent future litters, and she was coming around for food, we felt obligated to give her a safe place to stay warm in the winter.

Here is how I built her a feral cat shelter.  You can find similar instructions to build a similar outdoor cat shelter on some other websites around the internet.  At the time, our goal was to build an outdoor cat shelter for occupancy by a single cat.

Materials for Our Outdoor Cat Shelter

There were only a few items I needed to build our outdoor cat shelter.  Here was my shopping list:

  1. Two plastic tubs.  One had to fit inside the other
  2. A piece of plastic “coupling” for the opening to provide a smooth entrance and exit
  3. Styrofoam insulation
  4. Straw
  5. Two (2) standard size bricks

For tools, I only needed an Utility knife and a keyhole saw.

Outdoor Cat Shelter Materials:  Plastic Tubs

The first items I needed were two plastic tubs with lids.  One tub needed to be smaller than the other because my goal was to put one inside the other, and stuff straw and insulation between them.

As you can see in the picture below, the grey container is larger than the green one.  The grey container is made of a soft plastic.  The green container is made of a very hard plastic.  As you will see in the instructions below, if I had to build another of these shelters I wouldn’t use another hard plastic container like the one pictured.  The plastic was hard to cut and cracked easily.  The plastic grey container was perfect and cut without cracking.

You might be asking “how big do the containers have to be?”

An outdoor cat shelter doesn’t need to be very big.  The goal is to give the animal a dry, safe place to sleep and that’s it.

My starting point was to choose the size of the green/inside container first since that was where the cat would actually be sleeping.  Containers like these are usually measured in “gallons”, but that’s not how I originally was thinking.

Since I was building an outdoor cat shelter for only Mama Rose, and I knew how big she was, I picked a relatively small container for the inside. I simply measured how much space one of The Bambinos took when curled up asleep on the floor. Then, I bought a container that had about that same space in length and width. It was small:  roughly 11 inches wide by 14 or 15 inches long and about 10 or 11 inches high.

I simply chose the size of the grey Outer Container so it could hold the inside container with room to spare for insulation.  I’ve long since thrown away the receipt and label for it, but it’s a “Latching Tote” made by Sterilite.  The outer dimensions are roughly 18 inches wide by 21 inches long by 17 inches tall, and according to the Sterilite online catalog, that size makes it a 20 or 22 gallon container.

Notice the vertical height of the containers.  I had read that the opening for the shelter should be “off the ground” to keep out moisture and other animals, so I made sure to pick a container that had some height to it.  The grey container is about 17″ inches tall.  It’s plenty tall enough for this shelter.

There is no “one size fits all” container that I can recommend because you probably have different places to shop than we do in Northeast Ohio.  Simply build your shelter for the number of cats you’re trying to serve and estimate sizes as necessary.  The colors are not important either. I chose what was available.  (Although if the outer container had been some bright neon color, I would have bought some brown or green spray paint for it.)

Outdoor Cat Shelter Materials: The Coupling

Since one container was going to sit inside the other, I needed a clean, safe way for the cat to get in and out of the final shelter.  At my local hardware store, I found something called a 6” Snap Coupling that fit the bill nicely.

The coupling is made of thin plastic and very inexpensive. I think it’s supposed to be used for flexible drain pipes.

Outdoor Cat Shelter Materials: Insulation

At my local hardware store, I found a package that contained sheets of polystyrene insulation.  The package of insulation was about 15” wide by 48” tall and contained several 1/2” thick sheets.  If your store doesn’t carry the same brand or size, that’s fine.  My plan was to cut it to the sizes I needed, so the overall width and height was not important.

Outdoor Cat Shelter Materials: Other Materials

The other materials I needed were straw which I found at a local garden center, and two (2) bricks.

Building the Outdoor Cat Shelter

Once I had all the materials assembled, I began building the actual outdoor cat shelter.  Here is my documentation of the process.

Step 1:  Cut the Opening for Entrance

I took the 6” Snap Coupling and simply held it against the inside container, at about the center of one of the shorter sides.  Then I traced the outline of the circular coupling on the container so I would know where to cut.

Step 2:  Cut the Opening in the Inside Container

I took the Utility knife and keyhole saw and cut around the circle I traced.  This was very difficult to do and the hard plastic was very hard to cut and it actually cracked a few times as I cut it.

As I stated earlier, if I were to build another one of these outdoor cat shelters, I would pick a sturdier type of container for the inside of the shelter.

Here is the final result.  You can see the cracks in the plastic under my hand and at the bottom of the opening.  I ended putting some duct tape over the cracks just to seal them up nicely.

Remember, the inner container isn’t very big.  The hole above is 6 inches across, so the container is only 10 or 11 inches high.

Step 3:  Cutting the Opening in the Outer Container

In order to cut the hole for the outer container, I had to make sure the inner container would be in the correct position first.

So, I began by placing the two bricks in the bottom of the grey, outer container.  The bricks serve two purposes.  First, they provide weight to the shelter so it won’t tip over easily.  Second, they lift the inner container so that there can be insulation underneath it.

Next, I used the utility knife to cut some of the insulation to fit in the space between the bricks.  Turns out a stack of three slices of insulation was the perfect height to be flush with the top of the bricks.

Here’s the styrofoam in position between the bricks.

Next, just to be sure I had enough insulation on the bottom, I cut a stack of two (2) pieces of insulation to fit on top of the bricks.

Here’s what these pieces looked like in the final assembly.  Again, these pieces are on top of the bricks at the bottom of the outer container.

Next I put the Inner Container into position so I could trace the hole location for the outer container.

Here I am tracing the outline of the hole on the inside surface of the Outer Container.

Here is the final result of the tracing.

Next I simply took the keyhole saw and cut along the line.  (I had to take the bricks and Styrofoam out in order to be able to handle the container and make the cut.)

Step 4: Installing the Coupling

Now that the holes for the Snap Coupling had been cut in the Inner and Outer Containers, I could begin the final assembly of the outdoor cat shelter.

I began by putting the bricks and spacing Styrofoam back into place.  This time I added some straw to fill in the corner spaces where there was no insulation.

Then I put the two pieces of insulation for the “floor” back into place.

Next I lined up the holes and put the Snap Coupling into place.  Here are a couple of photos of the final result.

At this point, the “hard part” of building the outdoor cat shelter was done!

Step 4: Insulating the Cat Shelter

At this point, the only thing left to do was to insulate the space between the two containers.  As you can see in the photos below, I needed two pieces of insulation on each of the other sides around the inner container.  I simply used my Utility knife to size the different pieces as needed so it would all fit snugly. 

Here is the final result before I began adding straw to fill the empty spaces.

Next, I started packing in straw into all the spaces where there was no insulation.  I started by shoving straw all around the Snap Coupling so the entrance/exit would be well insulated.

Next I added straw in-between the Styrofoam and the inner container.  Fortunately the translucent plastic of the inner container makes it easy to see where the straw is packed in.

Finally, I added straw to the inside of the Inner Container.  I wavered back and forth on how much to add, but ended up erring on the side of enough to cover the bottom when smashed flat, plus more on top into which a cat could “burrow” for warmth.

It’s better that the cat can create its own nest to sleep in, so having more straw is better than not enough.

Now it was time for lid of the inner container!  It snapped right into position with room to spare on top for more straw.

I covered the top of the Inner Container with more straw for a final bit of insulation.

Lastly, I put the lid on the Outer Container!

The Final Shelter!

From the outside, the outdoor cat shelter simply looks like an innocuous storage tub with a strange hole in it.

Final Inspection of the Outdoor Cat Shelter

At this point, all that was left was a final inspection!  Would a cat actually climb inside and use the shelter?  Hmmm … maybe the Bambinos could inspect it for me!  (To prevent a mess of straw in the house, I removed all the interior straw for this “inspection”).

All five (at the time) of our cats turned out for the inspection.  Our largest cat, “Cookie”, immediately climbed inside.  You can see her tail dangling out of the shelter here:

Cookie was able to turn around inside and seemed very content with the new facility.  She was reluctant to let the others inside, but eventually just about everyone had the chance to try it and climbed in of their own free will.

After the inspection was complete, I put straw back inside the shelter and we worked on deciding where to put it outside.

Final Comments on Building this Outdoor Cat Shelter

Overall, this was a fun project for a worthy cause.  It took about 2 hours to build the entire shelter once I had all the materials on hand.  If you have a reasonable amount of dexterity, you should be able to build your own shelter in about the same amount of time.

The final step was placing the shelter in a good location.  Most rescue organizations recommend placing outdoor cat shelters far away from human intervention.  In our case, that would mean placing the shelter in a corner of our fenced-in backyard.  We knew that Mama Rose rarely ventured into our backyard, and we couldn’t see her changing her routine in the winter.

However, in the front of our house, we have a large Rhododendron bush and some other shrubs.  We knew that Mama Rose had a tendency to walk back and forth in the area between the bushes and the house so she could get to our porch to be fed.  So, we simply placed the shelter along that path in the front of our house.

outdoor cat shelter

There was a double benefit to this placement, the bushes helped shield the shelter from rain, snow, and harsh winds.  The bushes also helped make the shelter practically invisible from view by anyone walking by the house.

Overall, the construction project was a great success.  We weren’t sure if Mama Rose actually used the shelter until it snowed.  That’s when we saw footprints in a pattern suggesting she (or some other cat) had gone in and out of the shelter entrance.

Last year (2011), I opened the shelter up and peeked inside.  It was obvious the shelter had been used as sleeping quarters for an animal because of the rearrangement of straw that was left.  I put in fresh straw, and sealed it back up for the 2011-2012 winter.

As of this writing, September 2012, Mama Rose still comes around to be fed just about every day, and we have actually seen her poking her head out of the entrance to her outdoor cat shelter, even during the Spring and Fall!

10

Greetings Furriends! Sunny here. The Furry Bambinos and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter/Summer Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, etc.

Clearly, we are happy. Why?

Well, for the past four weeks, we have not seem Mama. She is Sky’s and my biological mother. Mama is feral (afraid of people), so she lives outside. Mom and Dad have been feeding her for over a year now. In the summer, Mama slept on our front porch in sunbeams. Now that the weather has turned cold, Mom and Dad prepared a winter shelter for Mama. Mama had been coming to eat on the front porch just about every day, except when it was raining really hard.

Mama had even started to talk to Mom and Dad!!! This is HUGE for a feral kitty. Normally, feral kitties are silent. Kitties that trust people talk to them.

The last time we had seen Mama was November 23, the day before American Thanksgiving. We had begun to assume the worst had happened. Mom even called the Animal Warden in our town to ask if she had been found.

As it turned out, no news was good news.

Last night, as Mom and Dad were leaving to take current fosters Panda and Domino to PetSmart, Dad spotted Mama!!! On our porch!!!

Happy Dance!!!

So Dad told Mom, then went back inside to get food for Mama! Mom got out of the car, and went to the porch, where she talked soothingly to Mama. Mama had jumped off the porch and was under a bush. All Mom could see in the dark was Mama’s white bib. (I have a white bib and white footies just like my Mama. And both of us have our left ear tipped.)

Mama came out from under the bush and got close to the porch where Mom could verify that it definitely was Mama! Dad gave her a big bowl of stinky goodness, and a big bowl of crunchies.

Merry Christmas, Efurryone!

P.S. We still see Daddy about once a week, so he must have other restaurants he visits. Mom and Dad see him crossing the big busy street when he leaves our yard.

Recently, another kitty – white on belly and legs, grey stripes on head and back – has been coming to eat from the porch. He/she is big, but timid, so Mom and Dad don’t think this kitty has a home. When Spring comes, they will trap this kitty and get him/her “snipped” too.

8

Hi efurryone! I’m Sky! I would like to tell you about National Feral Cat Day (October 16). I will tell you about it, by telling you my story, and the story of my parents, Mama Rose and Daddy.

Last year, my brothers and sister and I were born to Mama Rose. We don’t know exactly when, but it was probably in July 2010. When we got big enough, Mama started bringing us to visit the back yard at Casa de Furry Bambinos. Mama was young, probably less than a year old herself. Our Human Mom and Dad began feeding us in a special cafeteria.

One day, the cafeteria door closed behind us while we were eating! We were trapped! That’s my brother Rusty and sister Marigold (now Mia).

Our Humans kept us in cages in the garage at first. Every day they fed us, scooped our boxes, and tried to cuddle and hold us. They gave us Baby Food as a reward for cuddling with them. That’s Sunny and me (Sky) huddling and trying to hide in our cage. Back then, Sunny was known as Mr. Wild Child, and I was Mr. Hissy.

Then one day we were all put into PTU’s, and taken to the Cleveland APL for our hoohaectomies and ladygardenectomies.

This is Woody, Hunter, and Sunny in the PTU. (Note the airplane ears and scared little faces.)

Soon after that, my sister and brothers and I moved into the Dormitory at Furry Bambino Foster Academy (Kitten Foster Room). That’s me on the right, hissing at Woody and Hunter. I was kind of crabiliated back then.

Mama was released to the Outside.

Our Human Mom and Dad feed her every day.

Recently, Mama has started TALKING to our Human Dad!!!  For those of you who know something about feral cats, you know that this is HUGE!!! And yesterday, for the First Time Ever, Mama said Hello to our Human Mom!!!

Per usual, our Biological Daddy was never part of our little family. He planted his seeds and left the scene. Our Humans saw him from time to time in the neighborhood.

My brother Woody and I look  A LOT like our Kitteh Daddy, which is why our Human Mom was convinced that Daddy was: a) A Male Cat, and b) Our Biological Daddy.

Then this summer, Daddy started showing up every day …

… to nom on Mama’s foods on the porch. Do you see Mama in the photo, too? She’s waiting for Daddy to finish eating. She always lets him eat first.

Our Humans got a Cafeteria (trap) and after some resistance on his part, trapped Daddy in July. He got his hoohaectomy at the Cleveland APL, and was released that night.

Now Mama shows up just about every day, and Daddy shows up often. Mama spent most sunny summer afternoons napping on the porch here at Casa de Furry Bambinos.

To celebrate National Feral Cat Day, our Human Mom is shopping online for some better ideas for winter shelter for Mama and/or Daddy. Our Human Parents are discussing the best way to keep Our Biological Parents safe this winter.

This Just In: Please if you could spare some purrs and purrayers, our Dear Friend Perfectly Parker and her family could use some.

And, while you are purring, please send some purrs for Carol, a Very Kind Human who is the volunteer coordinator for PAWS, the animal rescue group for which Mom and Dad volunteer. Carol is in the hospital right now after a terrible fall, and she and her family could really use all the purrs and purrayers you can muster.

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.

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!

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!