Sunday Coffee – Feral Colony, Part 4

Note: I predrafted this before going into the ER/hospital last week. I’ve added an update at the bottom of the extra missed week of updates.

I should start calling these posts “Sunday Kitten Time” ha! A lot has happened since my post two weeks back (I didn’t have time to write last weekend). I did say in my June Review post that we’d had some trouble with the neighbors we were working with. Long story short, they’ve taken over the TNR process, and we’re now in active communication again, because quite a bit has happened.

First: Mama cat had her kittens on June 29th, because no one managed to trap her in time. We don’t know where the kittens are, but suspect they’re in the backyard of the hoarding house. Because we haven’t seen them, we don’t know how many there are either. Mama is still coming to the neighbors for food, as well as our kittens’ mama (they’re a bonded pair), and the little grey one that Jason and I have called Bert for the longest time. The neighbors sent us this picture:

They trust their feeders fairly well and the two Siamese will allow short head pets. The traps have been set up fully open so they can all get used to them, and hopefully the trapping can start soon. Also: Watch this space in ~6-7 weeks when we’ll likely have another litter of feral foster kittens to socialize…

Second: Big Papa, as we’re calling him, does not appear to trust the feeders. He sometimes sits on their porch, but won’t let them near. He also looks extremely well fed, with no mats in his long coat, and has been seen over quite a bit of the neighborhood. Personally, I suspect that he’s someone’s pet, an outdoor cat who hasn’t been neutered (grr). Either way, he really does look like he’s the father of our kittens. He’s got the exact same markings on the forehead. (Tabbies all have similar markings, but these are identical.) He’s also got the same tail-pattern with the black tip as all our babies.

Third: You know how we were feeding what we thought was a pregnant Siamese kitty in our yard last month? Well, the reason that the neighbors sent us the above photo of the two mamas on their porch was because the Siamese kept coming back into our yard. We thought perhaps now that she’d had her babies, she needed more food. Except I took a photo, and Jason said, “Wait, that’s not either of the two over in the colony,” and we sent the photo to the neighbors, and…yeah. There are at least three Siamese cats. And we have no idea if this one was/is pregnant, or even if it’s a girl, or where it has been finding food if it hasn’t been feeding at the initial colony. Oddly, it actually stopped showing up at our yard for about a month, but this week it showed up multiple times a day, going straight to where we used to have the food. She (?) doesn’t look pregnant anymore. There are, perhaps, three litters of Siamese-tabby kittens out there. Or maybe this is also someone’s indoor/outdoor cat and just very well-fed.

Fourth: The kittens went to the vet for vaccines this week (~10-11 weeks old). Angus, Gherkin, and Ghost are all up to 3 lbs, while Reaper is up to 2 lbs (she’s definitely the runt). They all seemed healthy. They got their vaccines, and because Austin Pets Alive (who has an FeLV program we’re working with) requested individual tests instead of assuming they’re all positive based on Reaper’s, we got those tests too. And all three came back negative. !!! Those four play, fight, groom each other, and eat/drink from the same bowls. It seemed impossible that we had three negatives and one positive, so they retested Reaper…and it came back positive again. The vet says it’s probable they were all exposed as babies and the other three just had more robust immune systems that fought it off…

Fifth: The day after their vaccines, Reaper’s lymph nodes on either side of her neck swelled up. This is not a normal response to a vaccine, so we had to bring her back into the vet, where they eliminated a bunch of things (no fever, infections, mouth issues, other swollen lymph glands, parasites, or fluid in the abdomen). Highest probability is that this is a secondary progressive stage of the FeLV, essentially her immune system in overdrive post-vaccine as the FeLV virus tries to attack her lymph nodes and bone marrow. Poor girl. She’s really the sweetest baby and I hate seeing this happen to her. Just the night before the vet, she was the first of these kittens to make biscuits. ❤

So that’s our week in cat-land. The vet bills are stacking up and we don’t even have the kittens scheduled for their surgeries yet. Jason and I are thinking about starting a GoFundMe to help finance this, because it’s already been nearly $1000 and the surgeries will be another $600 or so, plus further vaccines etc. It feels weird to ask for help on something like this, but it might be something we need to do, especially with another batch of kittens (or two) likely to end up at home. With foster programs – through official foster channels – the shelter pays for food, medical care, etc, but with just doing it on our own…well, let’s just say my goal of cutting down debt this year is going to take a bit of a credit card hit this summer!

So all of that is one week delayed. Over this last week, I only have one major update: Reaper has a new foster home! Austin Pets Alive found a home for her to go to where she can get safe treatment for FeLV and also not be exposing her siblings (or potentially our cats) to the disease. Jason drove her up** to Austin on Thursday. It was bittersweet for me, as my meds make me too motion-sick to go on a long drive like that, so I had to say goodbye to my little girl at home. I really will miss my little Miss Carolina Reaper, my princess, my little Reap-Reap. But I hope she will find a loving home that will care for her through what will likely be a short life, given her condition (her lymph nodes were still swollen by the time we dropped her off, so she may even have fully developed lymphoma by now, the poor baby). Hopefully soon, we will find a shelter to take in these other babies, who can find them wonderful new forever homes, too. ❤

**This was An Ordeal. Just see my Instagram post for the adventure, and the story behind how the Gignacery suddenly found itself down to zero cars…

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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