Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sterile Ferals round 3

You may be aware that my most recent kitten finding wasn't the first evidence of the feral cats. The first one actually appeared about two years ago. Bruce saw it wandering around and as the weather got colder, he felt bad for it so he put some blankets under an upturned wheelbarrow to give it a place to be out of the snow and maybe a little warmer.

Then last summer there were three. They'd hang out together on the picnic bench in the backyard. Bruce "tried" to find them homes, but of course you can't adopt out feral cats. (They don't like people.)

In May we found the four kittens under the porch. They were young enough that three of them would let me pick them up, and the fourth had to be fished out from under the steps by the animal control officer. She took them all to a shelter and promised to find them homes.

At that point I decided to take some action. Our Companions is a local non-profit with a series of programs for animals, including the Sterile Feral program, through which I learned how to get these guys to stop multiplying (in theory, anyway). They rent out traps, teach you to use them, and make appointments with a local vet who does subsidized sterilization. Once they're fixed, you re-release them and they don't make any more babies. This is the goal: no more baby kittehs.

They're cute, I know, but the more there are, the more there will be starving or getting hit by cars. So no more baby kittehs.

When I started, I knew of three cats: the mother of the first set of kittens (calico, let's call her Eve), a gray male (Adam), and a black female (Merab). They're all large enough that they must be at least a year old. The first one I got was Merab. She had visible nipples, so I'm pretty sure she had recently had kittens, and not much later I saw them. Of this year's litter(s), there's at least one black one (Mahlah) and two calicos (Bobo and Critter). I caught the two calicos on my second try. (I have two traps.) I've also seen a white cat, but I think it's domestic, and one that's white with light brown spots. Both of them are adults.

So I think the mother of the more recent baby kittens is probably the same calico mother from before, Eve. (Two of those kittens were gray males, the other was a calico female.) I don't think any of this year's kittens are big enough to have babies.

And today I've set the traps once more. It was a real pain this morning because the mosquitos were out, and not long after I set them and covered them with a sheet, it started raining, and pouring. So I didn't expect any cats to be wandering around looking for canned food. But apparently they were, because a couple of hours later (when the rain had stopped), I found this one.

This may be Eve, but I'm not sure. Eve had a scowly mouth, and I don't have any good pictures of this one's mouth. It's similar coloring though. I also can't tell whether this one looks like it's been nursing, which would probably be the case if she had those baby baby kittehs so recently. I don't even know if this is a female (does the coloring mean she is?), but it's definitely an adult. I'll find out when I take her to the vet tomorrow.

While I was taking pictures, another cat wandered by, and let me get close enough for more pictures. (I found out later that the reason it didn't bother going into the second trap was that it wasn't set properly, and some cat had already been in there, eaten the food, and left. So I reset that trap again.) This one is smaller, so probably born this year. I haven't seen this one before. I'll call it Delilah.

Its eyes had some discharge and it kept closing them, like it hurt to keep them open. Both Bruce and I noticed the same thing on Mahlah (the small black one). They both have the discharge and act kind of stoned. It's easy to get close to them, they close their eyes a lot, and they're kind of lethargic. I think it's conjunctivitis, which is too bad because it probably won't get treated.

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