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A tale of 20 kitties
May 12, 2012 15:20
It all started with a cute kitten, likely an abandoned housecat, which showed up on our porch one day. Lacking any creative insight, we dubbed her "Porch Kitty". I'm not sure if she was already pregnant or became so shortly after showing up, but nevertheless, several weeks later, she had a litter of 5 kittens. Two weeks after giving birth, she found a nice nook by the side of my house to make a temporary nest, and we got a chance to play with the kittens for about 10 days, before she moved the litter elsewhere, and we never saw them again until they were older and sufficiently feral to prevent us from being able to adopt them out. She had at least 2 more litters, at least one of which was accessible for a short period of time, but again, she moved them away before we had a chance to socialize them.
A few months back, we notice that Porch Kitty is pregnant. Again. Only this time, she's not the only one. 3 of her previous kittens are now adult cats and are ALSO pregnant. Lovely. Realizing that the inevitable outcome of this circumstance is a LOT of kittens, followed shorly afterward by a LOT of cats, I decided to make a more substantial effort to ensure that the kittens would end up friendly and I'd be able to adopt them out once they were old enough.
The first stage of this effort was to establish trust with the mama cats, all of whom (with the exception of Porch Kitty) were feral. I've named the other three Mustache cat (or Mustachia) due to the white mustache formed by the fur colors around the mouth. Another cat I named FluffyStar since she's extremely fluffy and has a white star on her neck. The last one was named Loudmouth, since she just sat there making a lot of noise at first when she realized that eating would require getting within arm's reach of me. Hence, the building trust effort required a twice daily regimen of placing cat food right next to me, requiring them to be within reach while they were eating, and I would spend that time petting them (or at least attempting at first). Over the course of a few weeks, the cats, while never really developing a friendly demenor, at least gained enough trust of me that they didn't feel the need to stay out of reach. As a result, the cats mostly kept their litters close to home and accessible to me.
The first two litters were born 7 weeks ago, from Porch Kitty and Mustachia. Apparently they decided to share the nest, so they shared 9 kittens between the two of them. I have no idea which kittens belong to whom. A week later, Fluffy Star and Loudmouth gave birth to separate litters of 4 and 3 each. They did not combine their litters. All of the mama cats would move the litters every few days, but for the most part, I was able to quickly locate the new location. From about 2 weeks on, I would daily attempt to socialize each kitten. After the big litter hit the 4th week, they all disappeared and I wasn't able to find them. Also, one of FluffyStar's kittens disappeared as well. The two remaining litters then got all of our attention for a while. Fluffystar's kittens got to the point where they would come out of the nest when we called for them.
Eventually, we located the big litter again, in the bushes of a neighbor's house, and I moved them all back to our porch where they have remained. About this time, Loudmouth's litter disappears. A few days later I moved Fluffystar's litter to the porch as well, and noticed that the big litter had inherited an extra kitten. Somehow one of Loudmoth's kittens found it's way into the batch. No idea how that happened, but no matter. At this point 14 kittens were liviing on the porch. A few days ago I was able to locate the last 2 missing kittens, under the shed in my backyard where Loudmouth was keeping them. I was able to grab one of them and bring it to the porch, but the other one evaded me. Last night Loudmouth was walking to the porch and her remaining kitten followed her, so now all 16 are living on the porch.
They're all eating solid food and have learned to use the litterbox (which I have to change twice daily, it fills up so quickly). The next stage in this game is to take the mama cats one at a time and get them spayed, along with getting all of their shots. I'm not sure how well this is going to work out. I'm confident I'll be able to cage most of them without too much of a struggle. All of them will let me touch them, and a couple of them will let me pick them up, at least for short periods of time. I like having the cats around. The rodent, bird, and squirrel population is kept to a minimum and out of my house. I also like having the kittens around, but 16 is a bit much. I'm certain though, that even after fixing these 4, there will still be some strays in the future that will bless us with additional mini-cats.
Medically all of the kittens seem healthy. Some of them had a problem with eye discharge which I was able to solve pretty quickly with two daily applications of Terramycin. They also have a lot of fleas, which is to be expected since they live outdoors. I'm currently looking at some solutions for treating the fleas on younger kittens. Most of the medication I can't use until they're 8 weeks old. All that remains after that is to adopt them out, which I will start attempting to do next week. A few of the kittens already have takers. The remaining ones I'm going to attempt to give away by setting up a big sign in my front yard and sitting out there in the afternoon when school gets out. Since I live right across the street from an elementary school, I'm hopeful that this will be sufficient advertising. Any that remain after a couple weeks, I'll haul down to the pound which will make a concerted effort to adopt out healthy weaned kittens. I'm not sure if we'll keep any of them, but I doubt it. Leban has shown a great displeasure in the fact that I pay as much attention to them as I do, and while I'm sure she'd adapt to another housecat, there will be a training curve involved which I'm not sure I'm up for at the moment.
Enjoy the pictures here.