Careful what you wish for

The day after I posted about cats, a hilarious thing happened. The Universe reads my blog apparently, because that morning my husband was looking out the window and he said “There’s kittens under the steps!”

What?

I thought our little black cat had dumped hers elsewhere and that was the end of it. I try not to think about where her kittens have gone. The first litter, I think, is alive and well somewhere in this neighborhood. I’ve seen young smallish cats that sort of look like her around here and there. I know the second litter went to a shelter. A neighbor on Nextdoor posted that he’d had it picked up. Thankfully the local humane society is no-kill.

I figured this third litter would meet the same fate, or someone else had already found them. But she moved them under our steps. My husband saw four: a tuxedo, a tabby, a solid black one, and a white with black spots.

My daughter and I peeked out the window over and over, trying to catch the cats out. First we realized we had two tabbies, not one. Then we saw two black ones together. She had six!

For nearly a week, when I went out to feed Jiji, I’d put food near the kittens and lure them out. I was able to pick up four: both black, one tabby and the cow-spotted one.

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I got my daughter in the act. We petted them and put them by the wet food. They started learning to eat. I asked around on social media and found a few people who were interested in taking kittens, if I could tame them enough and swipe them from Jiji. I even found a potential foster home if we got them all at once.

But being under our only set of steps to the back yard wasn’t an ideal location, and even though Jiji lets us pet her and didn’t act stressed when we played with her kittens, she decided to move them again.

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One day I kept looking for them and never saw them emerge, so as it got dark I looked under the steps with a flashlight. No little eyes peeking back! I thought about posting on Nextdoor to ask if anyone had seen them, but I was worried I’d call attention to the fact that I was feeding feral cats in a suburban neighborhood with an HOA that fines people for letting the grass grow too long. So I waited.

Less than a day later, a guy from the next street over posted on Nextdoor that there were kittens under his deck. I offered to retrieve them, but he had a daughter who had worked with ferals before, so the two of them tried to catch them. They got the most sociable four, but not the tuxedo and the tabby with the sad face (at that point their names were Bond, for the tuxedo, and Sad Cat). After my neighbor and his daughter gave up for the night, Jiji moved the last two kittens again.

This time, the neighbor posted on Nextdoor that there were still two kittens at large. Various people offered to help. Jiji came to my yard bumming food and had mud all over her, so I assumed they were under yet another deck. I was correct: another neighbor posted a picture of Jiji a few days later asking if she was someone’s cat, and saying she seemed to have kittens under her deck.

But before anyone could try to catch them…she moved them back to my yard. My daughter was looking out the window upstairs and yelled “Hey! The kittens are back!” Jiji was sprawled out nursing them on the lawn.

I had a friend who wanted two kittens, and Jiji seemed to be moving them regularly, so I thought it was probably my last chance to nab them and get them in a home before she took them somewhere remote and they just grew up feral. So we waited until Jiji wasn’t around, and nab them we did.

I put the trap at the end of the steps in case one ran in that direction and set a borrowed cat carrier up on its end. My husband lifted up the first step (we had a deck removed this spring and these steps are just rigged from the remnants). I was able to get the stripey kitty easily; it was just waking up. I put it in the carrier.

The runt was more of a challenge. It ran to the back steps when we lifted the front one. When Dan lifted one end of those up (they’re really heavy), it ran to the other end. This went on a couple times until it paused in the bolt-hole they’d been using to go in and out. It looked like it might go toward the cage, but it was so small I wasn’t confident that it would even trip the cage. So I lunged.

I got its scruff kind of sideways and it fanged me, but I was able to get it in the carrier. When I opened the carrier and put it in, Stripey leapt up and nearly escaped. But we successfully got both!

I called my friend and warned her “these kittens are wild as hell.” She was up for the challenge. She set them up in a dog crate for a while and then in a playpen. They’re eating well and she’s able to handle them now.

A few days later I got Jiji spayed! I put the trap out and fed her next to it, then in it, and finally I shoved her furry obstinate ass right in the back door when she went to get her food. I took her to a spay/neuter clinic downtown. She recovered well and is now hanging around my yard.

I’d love to find someone who would take her, but sadly, most of the offers on Nextdoor from people involved in rescue dried up once I said the kittens were placed but the mama cat could use a home. She’s shy at first, but I think if someone patient could litter-train her (it’s actually not that hard with cats) and work with her she’d make a great pet. She lets me pet her and almost pick her up. When I go out to feed her and water my plants, she follows me and wants petted nonstop before she’ll eat.

Unless that happens, though, she can stay my yard-cat. There won’t be anymore kittens, and hopefully she will keep any other pregnant feral cats from moving in. I also have two extra vouchers to neuter the baby-daddies if I can catch them.

There are just too many wandering cats. Please spay and neuter your pets, adopt from shelters or rescues, and be kind to strays. If you want or need a certain breed, I’m not going to judge, but please PLEASE check rescues first (you wouldn’t believe the purebreds I’ve seen in the shelter, and there are whole rescues specifically for various breeds), interrogate your breeder, and make sure they’re responsible. Ask what they are doing to help surplus cats, too—if you’re going to make more and claim to love cats of any breed, IMHO, you should help in some way!

It was an exciting July but I’m glad to be down to one stray trouble-puff again.

 

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