Bob and Kathy's Adventures with Feral Cats

Notes from Bob and Kathy:

A feral cat is a domestic cat or the off spring of a domestic cat that has been abandoned or dumped. Left to fend for itself, the cat will often become wild. Often these cats will band together to try to eek out a life in a colony. If the colony is lucky, a group of people will provide food and some kind of shelter for these cats. However, many are not. Unfortunately, many feral cats die slow, painful deaths due to starvation, poison, cars and preditors. Additionally, many of the cats living in these colonies are not neutered, meaning that many kittens will be born in the colony. (Many times an unexpected litter of kittens is the reason why a cat ends up being dumped.) Unfortunately many of these kittens never live to be more than a few weeks old. In order to prevent this needless suffering on behalf of the cats, many animal welfare and rescue groups advocate a Trap/Test/Vaccinate/Neuter approach to managing a feral colony. For more information about such a program, go here.

For the last few years, Bob, Kathy and family have been feeding a few feral cats that are living on some property that belongs to Bob's sister and her husband. During the last two years we have been trying to neuter and spay the adult cats, while catching the kittens, taming them and finding homes for them. Two of Bob and Kathy's cats, Ghost and Maggie started their lives as kittens in this colony. What follows is a diary of sorts (written from Kathy's viewpoint) that was sent out to several friends who were monitoring the progress of our endeavors.

Now the adventures begin:

July 2, 1998

Hi Everybody,

Just thought you all might like an update on the feline situation at the Rude Ranch. As you all know, Bob and I both have a soft spot for abandoned and homeless animals. OK, we should just have "sucker" tatooed on our foreheads, but that's another story. Anyway, here's the sordid details to date:

Last year we trapped and neutered a bunch have cats that had been dumped/abandoned behind Uncle Nicky's restaurant in Crofton. In the process we adopted the Grey Ghost. She's now a healthy, porky 16 pounder, who seems to fall for all the traps her older sisters set for her. But enough about Ghost.

This year we saw two cats taking care of a small kitten, we figured if the laws of biology still worked, we missed two cats last year. So we decided to trap and tame the kitten, and have mommy and daddy fixed. Sounds easy right? Anyway, we get a trap from the SPCA and make sure the vet who specializes in wild/unhappy patients is available. Its all set up, now all we need is to catch the cats. Well, the kitten is about 10 weeks old, and living in the same building/garage we caught Ghost in, so that's where we start. Caught the kitten in two hours. By noon, she had been spayed, tested for stuff, given her shots and was back in the garage. Ready to be picked up to begin her life as a spoiled rotten kitty. She just needed to be tamed. Guess who was elected for that job? Yep we picked her up and set her up in our quarentine room. She didn't seem to mind too much, and code named her MsNoName. After all she was just here to be tamed enough to be adopted -- but she is awfully cute. The Rude Cats were a little pissed, after all she got the yummy kitten food, while they were trying to choke down diet Iams.

Then came the next challenge -- catch mommy and daddy. Well, we set the trap up again on Sunday and went to work at the restaurant. Snuck out to check the trap, and there was mommy kitty, sitting beside the trap giving us the feline equivilent of the finger. On the way back to the restaurant we saw something gray running into another building and it wasn't a squirrel. Checked a little closer, yep, three more kittens, about 6 weeks old, they probably belonged to the little calico that we've been feeding around that building. Guess she really got around this spring.

On Monday morning I checked the trap and we had a cat, but not MsNoName's mom. It was the other kittens mom. Now I had a feline moral delima -- should I let the momma kitty go to take care of her kittens, or take her to be spayed. Chances are, if I let her go, we wouldn't catch her again, and she would probably go into heat again soon. But if I had her spayed, she would be away from her kittens for at least 2 days. Also, I had taken half a day off, and the vet was waiting, so someone was going to get fixed Monday, and Bob wasn't volunteering, so it had to be her. We decided to catch the kittens and take care of them.

The spay went ok, and it turns out some cats come out of the knock out stuff faster than others. (Some cops will accept having a cat bashing its brains out in the car as an excuse for doing 80 MPH). Put her in the quarentine /recovery building and set the trap for the kittens.

Bob checks the trap after work and there's a kitten in it!!! Yea, so his game plan is to transfer the kitten to a box and reset the trap for the next kitten, easy right? To make sure he didn't lose said kitten, he got into the car and closed all the doors. Then proceeded to open the trap. The kitten promptly proceeded to scramble out of the cage and into the dash of the car. And stayed there. Yep as in got stuck in the dash of the car.

Bob decides to call me to see if I can come and get the kitten unstuck. Oops, both cellular phones are in my car, so he goes looking for a pay phone. Turns out there aren't as many pay phones in Crofton as there used to be.

Turns out there are about 8 screws and 4 bolts holding the dash of Bob's car together. Useful info huh? Anyway, the kitten had gotten its head stuck in the blower of the air conditioner. As we were pulling the kitten out of the now disassembled dash, the kitten started spitting and bit me. Was promptly named Pain in the A$$. (PITA)

PITA ended up spending the nite in the garage, MsNoName was still in the bedroom and the Rude Cats were properly annoyed. The corker of the nite was when I accidently stepped on a slug on the patio while feeding the fish. Did I mention I had kicked my shoes off before going outside?

The next morning (Tue) another kitten was in the trap, this time it went better, Bob only got bitten twice, and we didn't have to take the car apart.

Went back at lunch and kitten # 3 was waiting in the cage, but bad news, two more kittens were outside the cage, bringing this litter's total to 5. Momma kitty was downgraded from ambitious to slut. We were thinking about signing her up for Jerry Springer. Bob felt this kitten might be the ring leader, at least this kitten bit the hardest.

Caught kittens # 4 and 5 Tuesday nite. By now we had gotten smart enough to at least bring a pair of gloves with us. So PITA and her siblings ended up in a 2 PC box condo in the garage, while MsNoName was developing a serious foot and beard fetish, and the Rude Cats were just happy they weren't the ones going in the kitty carrier.

By Wednesday, we are racked with guilt about Momma kitty (the slut) first she was going to have no idea what happened to her kittens. Plus with all the excitment with the kittens the previous day, we forgot to feed her in the garage. (I said we wanted to help the animals, I didn't say we were smart about it). So we decided to retrap her in the garage and bring her to our house to be with her kittens.

The trap was reset in the garage, Momma kitty ended up in it. Lets just say she was more than a little ticked off. More like death to the human race ticked off. Anyway, brought her home to what we hoped would be a heart rendering family reunion. Well maybe, we left Momma in the cage and opened up the kitten box so they could see her, well all they saw was her butt, while she kept turning to use with that "die evil blood sucking pond scum" look in her eye. (She was definitely ready for the Springer show). Now we had to do some rearranging.

The Rude cats were removed from the second bedroom and put into the master bedroom. MsNoName was moved to the second bedroom. PITA and Co was moved to the third bedroom and allowed out of the box. Momma kitty was brought up (still in the cage and glaring) and put into the bedroom. Billie Jo took one look at Momma kitty and decided it would be prudent to hide behind Ashley and Tia. Then we had to let Momma kitty out of the trap. We opened it and ran.

It was with great trepidation the next morning when we opened the door to the third bedroom. However, it wasn't bad, momma kitty had taken up position behind the printer. Two kittens were huddled with her. Two more were hanging on the other side of the printer. The last kitten was under the desk. Only a few CD's had been knocked down. Guess momma kitty is tired of LeAnn Rimes and Shania Twain also.

Mama Kitty and Brownie (the ringleader)

So in summary, we now have 11 cats hanging at our house.

Tia, Billie Jo, Ashley Ann and Ghost are ready to hang a "better help wanted" sign on the door.

MsNoName is getting pretty tame -- she's starting to look alot like a Maggie or a Maddie. --with ear mites. (Really looking forward to dealing with them)

Momma kitty has decided not to do away with the human race in general, just Bob and I.

The 6 week old kittens aren't sure about anything, just show them were the food, water and litter box are.

Bob and I are considering getting rabbies vacines, and having our heads examined. (You never know there may still be functiong brain cells in there)

Bob's car is still working (surprisingly) after being reassembled.

We still haven't caught the original Momma kitty we set out to get.

We think there is one more cat with kittens on the property.

Did I mention we're still working at the restaurant also?
Anyone want to adopt a kitten?