Last Sunday, I posted about the feral cat colony that no one has been taking care of at the house four doors down from me. (I also posted about other things, but consider that post Part 1 of the Feral series.) In the week since, I’ve learned a few things, and there’s been a lot of continued activity. I’ll break this into parts.
The House: First, I want to apologize. I made an assumption in last week’s post that I’ve found out since was wrong. I said that we suspected the man who lives at the junk-house is a hoarder, and that given the things I’ve heard him say (refer to original post), he’s also a horrible man. In talking with a neighbor this week, I learned that indeed the man who lives there is a hoarder – in fact, he was actually on Hoarders in 2012. I’ve never actually watched the show, but I sought it out to see what sort of situation we might be dealing with…and I discovered that the man I’ve seen at the house is NOT the owner. So the hoarder and the a$$hole are actually two different people. I’m not sure who the guy is that I’ve seen – it could be a relative or friend or just a handyman who helps out, because I always see him trying to fix the cars or board up windows etc.
But it’s not the owner as I assumed, and the owner/hoarder actually seems like a nice man, and I feel really bad for him. Hoarding is a devastating mental health problem. The reason I don’t watch shows like Hoarders because they feel exploitative. And hoarding clean-ups like that don’t just have happily ever afters. It’s clear the man has gone back to at least some of his habits in the nine years since his episode. So hopefully we can trap these ferals and TNR them and have at least one less thing he needs to worry about.
The Ferals: Ferals are hard to trap. They’re smart, and pregnant/nursing mothers are especially smart and wary. Here’s what we know of the colony. There are two Siamese female cats, one of whom is the mom of four kittens, one of whom is pregnant. The first is also injured, so we’ve been calling her Injured Mama. The second, we thought may have had her kittens, but we don’t believe so now as she continues to get bigger and her nipples are getting larger. The neighbor we’ve been working with also believes she’s pregnant. She’s the one we’ve had eating in our backyard. The two Siamese moms are a bonded pair, and they both look after the kittens. Then, there’s a large grey tabby who is likely the father of all the kittens.
Lastly, there appears to be a slightly older kitten (maybe 12 weeks, but he might not be quite old enough for TNR) who is a grey tuxedo cat. He is not the sharpest hammer in the dishwasher, as Jason likes to say, and has gotten trapped four times. We originally thought that, as a kitten, we could try to socialize him too. He was on the edge of the social window, but we would try. Unfortunately, we moved him to the playpen we were using for the kittens after his first trapping, and he immediately escaped into our garage. We had to open the garage and let him go before he hurt himself. The second time he got trapped, we let him go, only to immediately have him set off the trap again, this time with one of the other kittens inside! We had to use a barrier to separate the two and then let him go so that we could capture the kitten! The third night, he got himself trapped again…like I said, not the sharpest of cats! Unfortunately, the others have watched this guy get trapped multiple times, and are staying away from the enticing food smells.
We’re currently taking a trapping break for a few days before we start again, to give them time to be less wary, to to let them have a few days of normal feedings again. I think we’re going to need to request the larger trap for the tabby and possibly Pregnant Mama too.
The Kittens: There are four grey/beige tabby kittens in the new litter, roughly 7-8 weeks old. We caught one last week and he didn’t do well, so after 24 hrs, we returned him to his litter. We waited a few days before going out to trap kittens again. On Monday, we caught Reaper and Ancho, whose name seems to have morphed into Angus over the week. On Tuesday, we caught Ghost. Ironically, the only one we didn’t catch was the one from last week! And his mom knew Jason was the cat-napper, because she kept getting between the two of the whenever he tried to catch him. But yesterday morning, the neighbor we’ve been working with (next door to the hoarder) caught the last kitten and we brought him home to the litter. His name is Gherkin, and all four siblings are reunited.
I’ve been posting the kittens’ stories on my Instagram, because a lot has happened since we caught the first two six days ago. As a brief summary:
- They are all underweight and dehydrated. There’s been a lot of vomiting/diarrhea, and we’ve been giving them probiotics with their food as well as Pedialyte supplements and (in Reaper’s case) force-fed syringe feedings of kitten replacement milk. (They are all weaned and can eat wet food without an issue, but their stomachs are used to whatever they can catch plus garbage scraps in the yard.
- Reaper, Ghost, and Angus have all begun purring, especially Reaper. They all let us cuddle them now. Gherkin lets us hold him but mostly because he’s very scared.
- Reaper is female, the others are all male. [Note: This is incorrect. After better inspection, we discovered Gherkin is also female. Vet confirms: two female, two male.]
- They’re just barely learning how to play. Play isn’t really part of feral life. Reaper is trying to show us she can play by biting/wrestling shirt collars when we hold her, ha!
- We have a vet appointment for one of them set up on Tuesday, at which point whatever worm/etc treatments the one gets, they’ll all get.
Hopefully this week, we’ll have some improved health for the kittens, more play, purrs from Gherkin, and weight gain from everyone. Hopefully we’ll also trap the other ferals and get them TNRed. I might post here, I might not. There’s quite a bit of other things going on right now – I either broke or severely sprained a pinky toe two nights ago (yes, I’m a walking catastrophe at the moment) and it’s solid purple, and I have a friend whose husband is going through a devastating medical situation. The kittens will also take up a huge chunk of my time. I have a few posts half-written that I plan to finish and post, but I think I’m going to continue on semi-break for now while things are really crazy here.