Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One cat shy of crazy...

Welcome, cat folk!  The time has come for my very own blog documenting my experiences with cats!  Apparently I have a knack for acquiring strays.  I've also learned a lot about feral cats and kittens in the last year.  To make a long story as short as possible, my friend keeps her horse at a friend's house with his horse.  Last year, we discovered that feral cats had moved in.  I'm not sure where they came from, but damn if they didn't arrive in numbers!  If I can remember correctly, when we first discovered the lot of them, there was Coral (Mama Cat) and some kittens and a couple males that occasionally showed their faces.  I didn't have a cat trap at the time, but I somehow managed to catch two of the kittens.  These two kittens became Minnie and Grey.  That's where the feral cat "obsession" began.  My friend adopted them after I had socialized them a little, and they are now two normal, sociable cats with an awesome mommy to take care of them!  I never did catch the other kittens.  Well, not until later...

It wasn't easy since they were about 5-months-old, but I eventually caught Grey Kitty and Happy Feet, Minnie's and Grey's siblings.  Grey Kitty was sweet but a lot less sociable than Happy Feet.  The day I took her to have her spayed, she made a break for it.  I'm still mad about that day.  The door became dislodged when I pushed the carrier back into the car... and Grey Kitty pushed through the door and ran so fast that I had no chance of ever grabbing her.  The most upsetting part is that she was never spayed.  I looked for her with no luck.  I'm much more careful about pushing carriers by the door now.  Never doing that again!  Happy Feet was next.  My friend from the dog rescue helped me trap him in a carrier.  He was neutered and released.  He could have easily been an adoptable cat, but life at the barn where the horses were suited him just fine, too.

Around the same time, Coral had given birth again.  We discovered 6 kittens in the 5-week-old range.  We grabbed them while we could, and they came to my house to live in the spare room until they could be fixed, vaccinated, and adopted out.  They were feral, though.  They had never seen humans before.  I've never been scared of a kitten before, but feral cats are different.  They are literally wild animals.  Fortunately, when it comes to the little ones, you can prevent them from trying to eat you.  You can scruff them or hold them so they can't try to rip your eyeballs out when being handled.  Oddly enough, three of the kittens came around immediately.  Jellybean went to his new home within days.  Napoleon found his forever home in a short amount of time, too.  Tiny took more time to find a home since he had to have eye surgery first, but he was sociable, brave, and didn't mind human contact.  Elmo, Gizmo, and Peekaboo took a lot of work.  Eventually, they became sociable with me.  They'd play, purr, rub against me, etc.  It wasn't until people came to look at them to adopt them that I realized that they'd revert into practically feral kittens again in the presence of strangers!  Fortunately those looking for kittens were cat people enough to wait out the shyness and let them come around.  My friend who adopted Jellybean ended up adopting Gizmo.  A recently divorced young mother, whose husband took the cats with him, adopted Elmo.  Then a woman and her husband ended up adopted Peekaboo.  I've only gotten good updates from everyone about how they've been doing!  Everyone settled in nicely and turned out to be great companions!

Many months went by, and it was just me, Cricket, Cali, and Clover.  Well... there were the other critters, too, but they were my only cats.  Not long ago, though, a young man drove up the driveway of the barn where I keep my horse wondering if we owned a black cat.  We told him we didn't... and I stupidly asked him why.  He said he had found a black cat up the road at 7-11 and didn't know what to do with her.  She looked pregnant to him.  I said I'd take a look.  As I looked in the carrier, I couldn't imagine that she was pregnant.  She was young and had such a slim form... but I was looking at her from the other side of the carrier's door.  For some reason, I told him I'd take her and try to find a home for her.  I took her to the vet immediately.  She needed a name, so the young man that brought her decided on Gloria.  They said she was probably about 6-months-old and would be expecting kittens within a week or two.  I freaked out for a week-and-a-half and neurotically watched her for signs of being in labor.  Nothing ever changed.  She always ate, always purred, never nested, etc.  I had read so much information on cats and pregnancy that I'm surprised my eyes weren't bleeding.  Gloria did give birth to two kittens, but they were premature.  They lasted a couple days before they passed away.  It was really hard on me considering that this was my first experience with newborn kittens.  Gloria continued to act normal.  She didn't seem to care much that her kittens were gone.  I guess that's what happens when a young cat gives birth prematurely.  She was hardly producing milk, too.  A week later, Gloria gave birth to a full term stillborn kitten.  It was strange, and my friend, Jessica (from K9 Justice League), set up an appointment to have her spayed immediately... just in case she had more tricks up her... uhhh... uterus.  There were no more kittens inside of her, and Gloria healed up well after the spay surgery.  She's since been introduced to my cat clan and has really made herself at home.  I don't think she's leaving...

But the cat craziness wasn't over, folks.  I forgot to mention that in the process of dealing with the last batch of feral kittens, I did acquire a trap, and I managed to trap a female (Petunia) and a male (Jetson) and had them both fixed, ear--tipped, and released.  I had never seen Jetson in my life before!  Coral and Daddy Cat were still unfixed and on the loose, though.  It was only a matter of time before Coral had another litter.

And she did.  About 5 or 6-weeks-ago.  Fortunately, there are only four this time!  A friend caught the first kitten.  She looks a lot like a Siamese and is totally precious!  She's been adopted already by the person who owns the property where they have all decided to reside.  She was like Jellybean, Napoleon, and Tiny - very social!  I've been trying to trap Coral for a year now.  Well, the other day, I put some canned food in a carrier and miraculously trapped her!  I couldn't believe it!  I felt terrible that the kittens were without a mother, though!  Fortunately they could eat on their own, so they wouldn't starve.  It took a few days, but I ended up catching the three remaining kittens in the trap.  I had to add weight to the trigger so the kittens would set it off when they walked in.  They are little... so I wasn't sure if they would set it off or not.  I now have all three living in the "cat room" right now.  Two girls and a boy!  Dory, Gill, and Peach.  Dory is the most social.  Gill is coming around.  Peach is petrified!  But... it'll be fine.  At least I've had some experience now!

On top of that, I said that I had more room if anyone needed a place for kittens to stay in the "foster" kind of way.  I acquired two today from a woman who does TNR with feral cats/kittens.  She WAS going to release these two, though, since they aren't quite large enough to be fixed and just trap them again when the time came.  Jessica (again from the dog rescue) told her that I could hold onto them until they are big enough to be fixed.  The woman wants to just release them back into the wild... even IF they come around.  Hmmm, I think they will.  They are less difficult than my 5-week-old kittens, and they are 10-weeks-old!  I've named these two buggers Pebbles and Bam Bam.

So... in a very large nutshell... that's how the cat rescuing came to be!