Arrival Story: Most of this history has been recorded on our other cats’ pages, but I’ll give a lowdown here for the record. The story starts in late September 2010 with Big Mama, who left first Sleeper (as a one week old kitten who had to be bottle fed), and then one month later – Samhain, sick and with an ulcerated eye. We don’t know why Mama left the one kitten and took the other, or why she brought Samhain back later to that same spot and dropped her. The weather was already starting to freeze; maybe she realized she couldn’t care for both; maybe something else intervened – whatever caused Samhain’s injuries. In any case, these two became our first indoor-only cats. This decision was prompted by the disappearance of our last cat - Maya, another feral taken in some years previous, who - having grown up outside, was allowed indoor/outdoor status, but who in all likelihood was killed by coyotes.
After we took in these two, their Mama and a male starting hanging out around our porch, so we fed them through the winter. Our intention was to catch and spay Big Mama in the spring before she had another litter, but we were too late; she had 4 more kittens, and, of course, brought them to our porch for handouts. Not surprisingly, if you’re feeding several cats on your porch, others in the neighborhood will start coming as well. Aunt Bobbie showed up at this point, and, as we soon found out, she had her own kittens. At one point there were, not including the adults, around 9 kittens running on our porch – hence: Seven of Nine explains the name of one of our favorites.
Socks and Marble are both “imports” from somewhere else. Socks was found in the picture window of an abandoned building next to the village post office, sometime right after Christmas 2011. Apparently, as the post mistress informed us, he had been there a few days and no one had bothered to do anything about it. We decided he was better off on our porch and in our straw bale shelter, which we had built for the ferals to winter in.
Marble showed up on his own this spring, chasing every female in sight, spayed or not, trying to get to our girls in the cattery, and stealing food from the porch when no one was around. He looked so healthy and fit, that I figured he belonged to some neighbor, and shooed him away whenever he came around. Then came the day that he limped in, stiff-legged, scratch marks on his body and the inner eyelid of his left eye all but torn out. He had come to us for sanctuary; how could we turn him away? I started mixing amoxicillin in his food – difficult to be exact with dosage in this situation, but as our mobile vet said, when dealing with ferals you do the best you can. He has since recovered and is back to being a bully…but not as bad! :)
Lastly, Little Mama appeared – the only one of our colony that we haven’t trapped and spayed. Due to illness on our parts, we missed trapping her in time, and she has had her kittens, somewhere off the property, most likely on July 11th, 2012. No doubt they will head this way when they can walk!
I’ll add this: only a few of these cats will allow us to touch them. Both Socks and Seven, for some reason, are slavishly devoted to me, and sometimes would rather be petted than eat! Marble will come to me for a pet, but has more than once turned and bit me – gently, you understand, but it doesn’t give me confidence! Ricki and Little Boy from across the road both demand attention at times, but as for everyone else – very rarely have they been touched (except when they were trapped and spayed), and some not at all. We, with our neighbors, and including our indoor cats, have had 24 spayed in all. And that probably won’t be the last…
UPDATE 1-09-13: Last month we successfully trapped and spayed Little Mama and her 5 kittens. That puts the count up to 30. All are still around and doing well.
Taking inventory here after the worst of the winter has passed. Notice I say “the worst of the winter” – it’s not over yet. Today we are bracing for the next wave of frozen rain, possibly snow. Definitely it is already raining and has been most of the night, plus thunderstorming. And it’s about 38 degrees and windy. All in all, not particularly pleasant. But we’ve had our breakfast and are relatively content.
And just how many of us are still around?
Hard to say exactly, but we’ll take roll call: Socks (of course – he’s back and forth from the colony and the Big House), Little Mama and her five kittens, Big Mama, Marble, the two Sevens, Shadow (if that’s who he really is), Star, Becca, Ricki (though not as often as she was when it was colder), and occasionally, Mr. Pointy Ears – the blackfur who we think is the male the people across the road said they weren’t able to catch last year for the Papa to take to the spay clinic. The pawrents couldn’t catch him either. And, there’s one more – a gray tabby who showed up from somewhere, but who is very shy – even of us Ferals. He might belong to someone down the road.
So, that just leaves Aunt Bobbie – we haven’t seen her in quite awhile. She may be staying elsewhere, though. That makes 17 present and accounted for. I didn’t mention Littleboy – he really DOES live with the neighbors across the road, and we know he’s still around.
This is pretty amazing, really. I can’t believe the generosity which has been shown us by others who don’t even know us. But right now there are pounds and pounds of cat food in the spare room that have been donated to us by a local wildlife feed store, via the pawrent’s friends who run S-NAP, the Spay-Neuter Animal Project.
The S-NAP people brought the food by, saying that it was all stuff being taken off the shelves because of expiration date. Not way out of date, you understand, and besides, those are only dates set according to how long the product maintains maximum freshness – they don’t mean the food isn’t edible and even still tasty to us.
And it’s not just any food; it’s the cream of the crop: Royal Canin, Taste of the Wild, Wysong, Earthborn Holistic Wild Sea Catch (love the name), Wellness, Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul (can you believe there’s even a cat food), and Natural Choice. Mostly it’s stuff for Indoor Cats, but hey – like we’re complaining! MOL!!! This will help us all with our hairball and weight problems – hee hee, snicker, SNORK!
There were also about a dozen and a half cans of wet food. This is manna from heaven, folks. The Mama is presently mixing some of the new stuff with our usual, so we don’t freak at the abrupt change. But I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of us would eat just about anything anyway. This was a very kind thing, and we’re grateful.
Fourteen for breakfast this morning on the porch. That's pretty much everyone present, including Mr Ugly Face who was snoring away in one of the cubicles. The Mama knows it's him because he was there last night giving Little 'Un possum heck - she shooed him away, but couldn't stop him before he dove into the shelter. Not sure if Little 'Un is still around or not - he's not making any noise.
So far the winter has been cold, but no minus-double-digit temps which is possible for our zone 5 area. Minus 21 is the coldest the Mama has experienced in the over 20 years she's been here. I know there are colder places, but that's plenty nippy let me tell you!
So far everyone seems to be doing well; the kittens have thick fur coats and all have a fine layer of fat for insulation, including me! The Mama feels a bit sad at times, though, because she knows if she opened the door wide and said: "OK - anyone who wants to come inside, come on!" - that immediately Marble, Ricki, Seven Point One and Sirius would all come trooping in. And if they came, Seven would probably follow, and then Osiris, and probably Zane Grey, and maybe one of the other kittens as well. And maybe even Becca who for the first time this morning, let the Mama pet her. But, you see, it can't happen. There's not enough room for all of us. And here's the other thing: if any of the outside crew were to have been next to come in, it would have been Sirius. Except, Owl arrived...
Here are the pics (I hope they show up):
This was to hopefully get those monster trucks to slow down as they zoom down the dirt road in front of our house. Anyways, we didn’t mean it as an invitation to bring more ferals! Not that Owl seems very feral – he ran up to the Mama as if he was accustomed to humans. But he was ravenous, skinny and had a distended belly probably full of worms.
Now he’s been wormed and, thanks to the loan of the kitty condo from our friends at S-NAP (Spay/Neuter Animal Project), he is gradually getting to know the rest of the inside crew, of which I am privileged to be part. He comes out of the condo for visits and play, but sleeps in there the rest of the time. He is still getting back up to strength, I think. Don’t know if he is here full time or not yet…