One of my Derry Township Community Cat colleagues sent me this picture this evening. A cat trying to get IN to our cat house. Now, most cats work real hard at staying out of our traps so they don’t have to come to the cat house. So this guy is confused. Either that, or he’s looking for a hot date with our single, nursing momma. Too bad, buddy. Momma’s busy.
Sometimes you make plans and things go more or less according to what you expected. Other days, the universe has something entirely else in mind. Friday was one of those days.
We have a TNR clinic coming up Wednesday and the two cats to be trapped were supposed to be trapped sometime between Saturday night and Tuesday morning. We try not to keep the cats in traps longer than need be, but one of the caretakers trapped her cat Friday morning. We weren’t going to tell her to let the cat go, and try again in 48 hours, so in the cat came to our cat house.
She’s a pretty dilute torti, and we checked her in case she was lactating. No, but she did have clear nipples underneath, and she looked, well…round. Really round. As in, probably pregnant, though that’s difficult to determine with a cat you’ve never seen before who is crouched in a trap.
Because she was very docile with us, and since she was going to be trapped longer than we usually like, we put her in a dog crate instead of her trap. Some nice fleece, a litter box, food and water. A little easier stay than in the traps.
After my last pet sit of the day I decided to stop for a minute and just check on her. She’d used her litter box and eaten some food, so I was getting a litter scoop to do a quick clean for her when I started to hear a small chirping sound. It wasn’t coming from the female cat. Instead there was a little head popping out with a couple claws, and a constant bit of chatter from…you got it…kitten #1, who popped out of mom a minute later. Given the cold and rain outside, my irritation at the cat being caught early instantly changed to gratitude that she had a warm, dry place to deliver her kittens. Because my presence was stressing her out, I left her to the task without disturbing her.
This morning, mom and five babies were all doing well.
Mom isn’t totally friendly, but she hasn’t been mean or difficult yet either. She’s okay with us caring for her and the kittens if we do it carefully. And she’s ok with us touching the kittens, which will be a big help. These little ones are going to be socialized to the hilt over the next three months! They will stay with mom for 6-7 weeks until weaned, and then they have a foster home waiting for them where they will get introduced to the sounds of a real home until they are 12 weeks old and ready for their surgeries. Mom, if she is very nice, may go into an adoption program, but if she isn’t comfortable with people, she will be spayed in 8 weeks, and go back to her caretaker. We’ll just have to see.
In the meantime, these little ones – all of 12 hours old here – are so entertaining. They do two things…eat and sleep. Well, actually, three. They climb all over each other in order to belly up to the bar. They are just a tangle of bodies at times.
They are so used to a much smaller space that crawling all over each other out in the open is no big problem!
Eventually everyone finds a space at the bar.
And once they’ve had their fill, nap time is next.
When nap time is over…start climbing, eat, and back to sleep. Repeat. That will pretty much be their first week. Eyes won’t open for about a week, and they’re not terribly mobile either. They can’t control their own body temperature yet, so they are glued to momma for now. She takes a break here and there to pee/poop and get a snack, but she’s basically their bed and breakfast for the next while.
It is truly amazing that Derry Township Community Cats has TNR’d around 930 cats and we’ve never had this happen before. Wouldn’t want to have this occur every day, but I think we’re all going to have some fun with it while the kittens are with us. And though I don’t venture into politics here much, I have to say that the kittens are a lovely corrective to the hate and mean spirit flying around our country, and others as well, right now. I’m glad to have something positive to focus on in the midst of so much that feels negative.
Stay tuned for photo shots over the next three months! Should be fun to watch the little ones grow.
I know I shouldn’t say this, and it is too early to say with any confidence…and I’m sure the phone will start ringing just to prove me wrong…but our Derry Township Community cat phone line has been incredibly quiet so far this year. Usually by this time we have lots of requests to trap/spay/neuter/vaccinate cats, but this year you could grow moss on the phone. (And yes, the phone is in fine working order.)
It may be that after “fixing” 930 cats in the last four years we are reaching a maintenance level…one can hope anyway. While walking a dog the other evening one of our faithful Derry Policemen was sitting in his car doing paperwork, and we had a chat about the program in passing. He said in the past when the police patrolled the Township cats were everywhere, and now he hardly ever sees them anymore. (Before our program started the police department had to go capture and try to deal with all the cat requests, so they pretty much love us for taking this task off their hands.)
As I said…just in case the universe if wanting to punish me for hubris…it is too early to call right now. But if we’re still this quiet by the end of the summer, I’m going to do a little happy dance.
Some updates for those of you who may be wondering how some of the cats we have trapped are doing. Sam, the cat I reported on most recently, had been sick for quite a few months before we got him. I think I mentioned that he was FIV+.
That’s not a big deal many times, and we’ve been able to find homes for FIV+ cats when they are friendly and not too far along. Sam, however, was unpredictable, and swatted hard with claws out when he wanted something. He managed to nail all who were caring for him, including his vet. He was probably used to fighting for what he needed after living outside. He was also very sick, and probably has an immune system that’s beaten up. Even on good antibiotics he doesn’t really get well.
So Sam is now living in a hospice situation for cats with FIV+ and FELV+. He doesn’t have to be caged there, and he has indoor space galore, with as much food as he wants. And a screened large catio if he wants to be outside. He has good days and bad ones, but at least he doesn’t have to fight for resources, and he is warm and cared for. He will live out his days, whatever they are, in a comfortable and safe place.
You might be wondering about Beck as well, the sweetheart of a Persian trapped awhile ago.
After his neuter surgery, and a complete shave of his severely matted fur, he is still with us being cared for.
His favorite thing is to give people bear hugs…total lovebug, this guy. His coat is starting to come back, more in some places than others, but it will get there eventually. He is not completely well yet. His bad eye is still causing some difficulties and we’re trying to sort those out for him. That doesn’t stop him from begging pets, pretty much 24/7, and I suspect his fosters, who are in love with him, are going to be foster failures.
And that’s what’s cooking for us right now. We have a clinic date in 2 weeks but only 2 cats on the list for now. Not that I’m complaining! I just hope all the cats aren’t hiding somewhere with a plan to all appear at the same time. And we are starting to hear about newborns litters, so we’re not counting any successes yet. Stay tuned.
Last week fifteen wonderful volunteers gathered and gave the Derry Township Community Cats cat house (yes, we call it the cat house) a spring cleaning. Just in time for our newest short-term resident to check in. Meet Sam.
Sam was being fed by a kindly caretaker who noticed he wasn’t very well, and she did a wonderful job of trapping him. DTCC doesn’t generally care for sick cats (though I wish we had the finances to do so!) but when cats come in as part of a TNR trapping week and they’re ill, they hit the jackpot. This poor guy came in last night, and we settled him in the sparkling clean cat house overnight, and then got him to our amazing vet this morning.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find out that he is FIV+. You can hear him breathing from the other side of the room, and when the vet looked in his mouth today it was full of lesions, even on his tongue. No wonder the poor guy can’t eat kibble. He hasn’t groomed himself in a very long time (due to the lesions, no doubt) so he stinks and is matted all over. Ear mites galore, and who knows what internal parasites. And the guy is intact, which probably means he was out fighting and got the FIV that way.
Luckily, he’s a sweet guy, as you can sort of tell from his photo taken at the vet’s office. He’s Mr. Mellow, and didn’t even mind being trapped…just kept eating the canned food at the back of the trap (our super duper trapping food – shrimp and fish…who is going to turn down that meal?) He’s very happy to eat canned food, and even ate a whole can at the vet’s office. (What cat does that??)
So, first things first for the guy. We can’t deal with any kind of surgery (neutering and cleaning him up) until his congestion is a good bit better, so he’s on an antibiotic for a couple weeks to see if we can help with that and the lesions. Some Revolution to deal with some internal parasites and ear mites, plus some ear mite medicine to help him be more comfortable. And all the food he wants to eat.
He’s got our king-sized dog crate for now, right next to the window so he can watch what’s going on outside. Lots of fleece to sleep in, and room service for litter, food, and water twice daily. And a nice warm and sparkly clean cat house to hang out in. And that’s a whole lot better than living outside for this guy. He won’t be going back out. I’m not sure where he will land yet, and that may depend on how well he responds to treatment. But one way or another his outdoor days are done. Welcome to the cat house, Sam. Enjoy your stay.
Beck says to thank you all for your good thoughts on his behalf. He’s doing very well these days. He got to spend a couple days at the vet’s last week, but is back hanging with me for a bit until he heads to a really fabulous foster situation where he will get loads of attention. If there’s one thing Beck loves, it’s loads of attention and he’s not afraid to demand it.
We trapped Beck on Sunday 3/5, and because he was matted beyond belief, and had wounds behind his ears, he went right to surgery the next day, getting neutered along with everything else. By Wednesday he had only eaten a few teaspoons of food, and only grudgingly at that, so back to the vet we went. He was constipated big time, and wasn’t eating because there was no room at the inn for food. He had a mild fever as well, and was pretty lethargic. (We didn’t really know he was lethargic then…but we do now!) After some kitty enemas and appetite stimulants for a couple days, he was back with me.
He is a totally different cat than the one we trapped. He is full of energy, as befits a three year old cat, and eating like a pig and pooping daily. (It doesn’t take much to make me happy, does it?!) He is very sweet, but also quite demanding when it comes to attention. Getting anything done in the office while he’s out of his crate is pretty much out of the question. He will, however, let me work for a little while if he can sit on the chair with me. I get the front half of the chair, and he gets the back half. And then he stands up and puts his paws on the back of my shoulders to see what I’m doing on the computer, and work becomes impossible. He loves behind held – like a baby, or propped up on my shoulder – all good to him.
His ear wounds are healing up, and he’s getting a little peach fuzz to start that Persian fur coat going again. He loves nothing more than head bumps and pets around the face and chin, and he adores the cat dancer. We had no idea how closed down he was when we trapped him, and it is lovely to see a sweet and happy cat emerge from the one who was lost or dumped, or whatever it was that happened to him. He probably wouldn’t have made it if he hadn’t been lucky enough to be trapped.
He heads off to a perfect foster situation on Monday where he will be appropriately adored and enjoyed (and did I mention adored…he likes being adored), and from there to a rescue and a real home. Someone is going to be very lucky to have this guy as part of their household. Happy life, sweet Beck!
It doesn’t happen often, thankfully, but here and there it is bound to occur. A trapped cat gets loose. We have a pretty good record on this one: only four loose cats in over four years. There have been some daring retrievals, but until yesterday, I never had to be involved in one. Yesterday, however, I earned a merit badge in TNRology.
This guy was my merit badge helper. While he was being set up with food and water he got out. Fortunately our cat house is closed up and there aren’t places he can go but still, catching a feral cat who is truly ready to be out of the trap is just a little challenging.
Others were present and helping but we only have one pair of the fabulous leather and kevlar gloves, and, perhaps foolishly, I felt like I should be the one to try to get him. If anyone was going to get hurt, I would rather it be me than one of our volunteers. Gloves on hands…
and towel handed to me by those present, this cat played cat and mouse with me for a bit. Others tried to herd him in various directions while I focused on getting near enough to catch him. I got him in a corner once and had him, and was very glad that the gloves kept his rather intense bite from actually reaching my hand. He mostly had a solid mouthful of leather. He got away, however. I didn’t have a good enough grip on the guy.
Years ago I learned a lesson from the man who is now my husband. When faced with people who were overly stressed, even hysterical, my husband gets very quiet. The calm in the storm. That was the tool needed here. Quiet, calm stalking of the cat, and a real quick, firm grab, hold on tight, and I finally had the guy. My husband, standing by with an open trap, swooped in, and the cat was captured.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an adrenaline rush. Even so, I’d rather not have to do this very often. Still, it is good to know that I can do it. Four years ago I had no idea how to work with feral cats, and yesterday I caught one without a trap. Not bad. I’ll wear that merit badge with pride!