Sometime in May we began hearing faint mewing noises under the house through the vents inside and realized we had a family living “downstairs.” Our normally closed-up four foot crawl space was discovered by an expecting Mama where the bricks had been moved. Four to six weeks later, we saw evidence of our new “neighbors.”
Catching them, however, is another matter entirely. Mama is wild, and part of a situation I am not in favor of, not by a long shot.
A family in our neighborhood, good people with whom we’ve had a very good relationship over many years, keeps cats for mousing purposes only. ONLY. These cats are not allowed in their house, they are not named, they are not taken to the vet to make sure they remain healthy, and above all else, they are not fixed. Food and water is put out once a day. These folks want a continual stream of cats strictly to keep down the mice population. (So, guess where these fluffy feline fur balls choose to live?)
And I gotta tell you: It makes me sick. I am a cat lover, some call me a cat whisperer. The method by which these cats usually perish is by car or coyote. We live in the country and it happens all the time on our road (and in front of our house). But this year, there was an explosion of cats, and they like our yard. We never put out food. Ever.
Since kittens take their social cues from their parents, and if Mama is afraid of humans, her kittens will be as well, at least at first. This was the case here.
They were all over the yard and porches, but we could not get close to the kittens. One of the striped kittens had an infected eye and it appeared to be getting worse. One baby was getting bigger than the other. Smaller Baby (SB) needed care.
Provided I could catch them, I was afraid to separate them, but this was the final straw:
That’s Mama* on the left, and one of her babies (Bigger Baby) had just caught a mouse. Baby slowly carried the mouse to the spot above while Mama had to watch her kitten polish off every morsel. She tried to approach once but backed off when I yelled. I walked over when Baby was done and I could not find a scrap. Not a bone. Nothing. A few days before I took this shot, Mama growled at her other kitten (Smaller Baby) when it tried to nurse.
That did it.
From then on, my daughter and I have been on a mission. We’ve been bound and determined to catch a kitten. Mama does not deserve them. Trouble is, days went by without seeing a hair on their cute little hides. We figured they musta left town.
Until yesterday. As I drove into our garage on a mid-90s degree day (we’ve been having a heat spell) I did not see SB lying in the shade. In spite of the heat, he looked weak, tired, and very hungry. My daughter opened a can of food and lured him into the pet carrier. He bit me as I tried to pick him up; poor thing was so hungry he thought the food would be taken away. (I didn’t ground him or anything. Made it bleed; I’m fine).
For a wild thing, SB did GREAT at the vet’s office and in the car. We were right, SB is a boy, about three months old, underweight, low body temp, and a droopy, weeping eye. Ears are clean, right eye looks good, left eye just irritated, skin and fur all look good. Heart and lungs good. One tiny flea on his tummy. He was cleared to go home (but back in two weeks).
I feel good about our endeavor yesterday. This kitty may not have made it through the fall–let alone the upcoming winter–in the condition we found him. I can safely say that for SB, it’s the END of fighting for food and water and shelter. It’s the end of fighting his mother for food. Best of all, it’s the BEGINNING of a
nice great life with people who will love and care for him for the rest of his life.
So, let me introduce you to #2, our second rescue cat this year.
Here’s big brother Gandalf, rescue cat #1. He arrived in January. He’s not spoiled or anything. He hissed at Otis twice through the carrier door. Gandy=15 1/2 pounds. Otis=2.4.
Wish us luck. ❤
*Not very big herself, my guess is Mama was a teen bride (i.e. part of that problem I mentioned).