Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Feral Colony

The ferals started with my husband. I was not going to help him at all. I didn't want to get involved. I knew from experience that if you feed a stray/feral--whether they are 4-legged or 2-legged, you will not get rid of them. They come to depend on you. My husband felt differently. Any critter without a loving family aka a home deserves a meal or two or more. He would give his last penny if he thought it would feed a child, so baby animals are no different in his mind. 

Anyway, he started feeding ferals and Momma Cat. I would only help out when asked and gave that with a lot of grumbling. Until I hit the plane of insanity during my last semester of my last graduate year.  It was Momma Cat's 5th litter under our house. I felt that if I could tame down the kittens, find them homes, get Momma Cat fixed, then we wouldn't have any more ferals. Research told me completely different. Ferals do not make good pets because many times they are untouchable meaning you can't pet them. Ok ok ok!

I got sucked into the vortex when I gave this last batch names. Pounce, Fearless, Tag, Peachy, and Lyon-Kitty.  It was easier to name them than to describe them, especially since Pounce and Fearless looked a lot a like! You know what I mean. "Hey Honey? That tabby-striped kitten with the tail tip has...Not the other tabby-striped kitten. The OTHER ONE!" 

Well naming them meant I got to know them. Playing with them meant I became attached to them. I'm sure that was in the scheme of things but it took me quite by surprise that I'd care about each and every one.  

 Sinatra, Fearless, Tag, Lyon-Kitty

Tag was the only female kitten in this litter, for which I'm thankful. We got her spayed the same time we got Merlin--the male patriarch of this colony neutered. I decided if we couldn't tame the feral kittens down for adoption, then we could certainly prevent them from reproducing. Easier said than done sometimes.

Frosty--who's picture you see on the top of the blog--is Momma Cat's and Merlin's daughter. She also gave us Sinatra, Java, and Topaz (who later became an inside kitty). She also blessed us with 3 more litters. She proved to be very elusive to trapping for spay purposes. We'd set out the traps and she would disappear for days. We pull the traps in, she would suddenly appear an hour later.  If a full male tom cat walked in the neighborhood, Frosty would become pregnant before they actually met! 

We got her daughter Java fixed and we got caught Sinatra and Lyon-Kitty for neutering. By the time we did, Frosty came to us pregnant. We took care of her with the intention of capturing her babies before they were too old to socialize and adopt out. We managed to do that. That must have vexed her because the next time she got pregnant, she hid her litter from us. I followed her for days, trying to locate the nest, but if I came too close, she would move them.  Typical feral cat.


It wasn't until she became pregnant with her fourth litter, that we struck a deal with Frosty. We told her to bring her other kids here, and we would help her with them. We explained that they would have to get fixed and vaccinated, but she could keep them here. We also told her that she could have this batch here and we promised NOT to take them from her. They would also have to get fixed and vaccinated and she would too. But we promised that all of them could live under the house and we would care for them all. 

She agreed because she had her last batch of kittens here. She was easy to trap after the kittens reached two months in age. I mean she literally walked into the trap willingly. We managed to get both her daughters spayed before they turned 6 months in age. We are still working on her sons. 

Anyway, back to the original colony. We had Momma Cat and her last litter: Pounce, Fearless, Tag, Peachy, and Lyon-Kitty. We had Frosty and her first litter: Sinatra, Java, and Topaz. And we had Merlin...the granddaddy cat of nearly all. They were how D and I learned about colony management, rather than colony care. They are no longer with us, save for Frosty, Topaz, and Merlin. I remember each of them fondly and with sadness that they are no longer here. More about colony management tomorrow.


Peachy in his tree


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