Warning: Lots of Cats

Last summer was full of gardening and renovating and Going on Trips and Getting Things Done. This past summer has been about chilling, sleeping in, and playing videogames, with only the occasional break in routine to go to Nevada or build a garden box.

Instead of being actually productive in making my home and garden the way I want them, the actual changes going on have all been cat related.

In April, my brother, who moves around so much that he has all his mail delivered to our house for stability's sake, moved into a room at a house where the homeowner had a feral cat problem. There was a colony growing in the neighborhood, and instead of doing any kind of Catch and Release, the guy would catch a pregnant cat, keep her inside so she could give birth safely, take care of the kittens for a bit. . . and then let them all back outside.

When my brother moved in, the guy had a mama and four one-day old kittens in a box and filled my brother in on the procedure. My brother looked at Mama for a moment, then said, "My family will not stand for this." and took her to our house.

Mama Patch is tiny. It's been several months now since then, and her kittens are almost the same size as she is, and one is heavier than she is.

Two of the kittens are what Google tells me is "blue lynx point," with white bodies, dark tails, and delicate dark lines drawn on their faces. These were dubbed Sour Cream and Flurry. One chonky little guy was a gray tabby, and we called him Tubbs, and the last is a little girl and a "dilute tortie"-- gray and orange and white, instead of black and orange and brown, and we called her GrayC.

No, we did not keep all four babies. We fostered all four, desperately searching for someone to adopt some. After two months putting the word out-- including having our vet take pictures of the kittens and post them on their instagram-- two of the kittens were adopted by a woman who came recommended by our vet. The woman had just lost her cat of sixteen years, and she expressed interest in adopting. She had originally intended to adopt one, but when she saw the kittens in real life, she decided on two, and thus Flurry and Tubbs had a new home.

Funny thing; the woman told us how when she was a little girl, he had found a family of four kittens, with two white and two gray. She had wanted to keep the little gray one back then, but her parents instead had them all adopted out. This was partly why our kittens had caught her interest, as it was a kind of a "full circle" moment for her.

We're still in contact with her, and she and my mom send each other cat pics regularly. Tubbs and Flurry-- now named Tiger and Buddy.

The last pic she sent was yesterday, and I am pleased to report that, though his name is different now, Tubbs is still very much a Tubbs.

So, you'd think that would be the end of the cat adventures, right? We have Mama Patch and her two babies, and everything ended happily. Mama Patch and Sour Cream are both fixed, and GrayC's appointment is on the 16th. Patch is head over heels in love with her babies, and the biggest problem is that they keep nursing, even though they are over four months old. Everything is going well.

Then the feral cat in our yard seemingly abandoned her kittens.

So, about the same time we took in Patch and her kittens, a feral calico showed up in our yard. This isn't uncommon; we have water out all the time for the chickens, and this past summer we've have neighborhood cats come to drink, namely a gray tabby and this calico. She's absolutely gorgeous, but not tame in the slightest.

A month or so after we adopted Patch, calico mom shows up with two kittens of her own. One little gray one and one orange one. We started leaving food out in the back for them, and the whole little family showed up to eat. For several weeks, we though that was fine; the kittens were with mom, and while someday we would make use of the city's TNR program to get everyone fixed, for now we didn't want to take mom away from her babies.

Then Calico Mom vanished. The kittens still showed up every morning and evening for food, but Calico Mom was nowhere to be seen.

So of course we caught the kittens in a cat trap and brought the inside.

They are not tame. We missed the sweet spot of "younger than three months," and while I am sure a dedicated person who can spend hours and hours with them each day would be able to get them to come around, everyone here has day jobs that keep us out of the house. They're at the point where they will hiss, spit, and run if you reach for them, but once you're holding them, they go meek and frightened. The feral kittens mostly hide under the sofa, though they come out and play with our kittens at night. We have dubbed the boy Will Feral and the girl Lily "Lil" Feral, and collectively they are the Feral Twins.

As of this writing, they have been inside our house for about three weeks; it took that long to get in contact with a low-cost vet who could pencil us in for a spay and neuter. Because it turns out that the city Trap and Release program is no longer running; according to the dude at the counter, almost all the city vets quit, and the ones there can barely manage fixing the animals up for adoption. We didn't learn that until after we had caught them both, had them inside for a week, and finally made time to bring them both to the shelter. Oops. After that was a search through local vets and contacting cat charities until one pointed us in the right direction.

The day before Will and Lil were to go in for their fixing appointment, guess who showed back up?

Feral Calico Mom returned. She didn't seem to care about her missing kittens, but was definitely interested in the food we left out. So I set up the cat trap and we caught her too. We had hoped that maybe she would mellow out if we brought her inside (into the "baby jail" dog cage we have, not letting her run wild) and saw her babies, but she is completely over those guys, and they don't seem to care much for her anymore, either.

We switched Will Feral's fixing appointment with mama Calico, and as of this writing, both ladies are recovering from their spaying. Calico mom, absolute feral beast that she is, is currently set up in the garage. There's a back room that connects to the outdoor aviary, and we put a litter box and kitty bed and other fixins back there for her to recover in comfort.

Lil Feral is (last I checked) hiding in my sister's closet.

In a day or two, we will let Mama loose out of the garage, and the plan is to let Will and Lil go after Will's had his surgery and recovered from that. We're hoping that they'll be familiar enough with us that they may someday become our outdoor cats, but in all likelihood they're going to run off and never want anything to do with us again. In any case, at the very least we have done our part to ensure there are fewer feral kittens born in the future.

Also, fun fact, Sonion is still alive. He is ROTUND.