I know that in many ways, I am a hopeless cliche. I am a writer, a female, and I love cats. (I love all animals, but that inches outside of the cliche, for the moment.)
If you are new to this new blog that I’ve had for about 6 minutes, you don’t know the history of why I have so many darn cats. I’m not going to go into the whole drama of it right now, but to sum it up: A neighbor abandoned a litter of three kittens and then moved away. The kittens took up residence in my backyard 2 summers ago. I was finally able to rescue the kittens and bring them indoors just before Christmas that year, but they used the cozy warmth of being indoors at Christmas to surprise me with two litters of feral kittens before I could trap them and get them to the vet to be fixed.
Last summer was a nightmare of feral, mostly unadoptable kittens. Even though I had gotten all of them fixed, gotten them all their shots, got them injected with those chips in case they got loose, etc., feral kittens, in constant contact with feral parents, become feral the longer you keep them, no matter how much you handled them as babies. Okay. Very long story short; rather than opting to have them all euthanized, I chose to keep the unadoptable ones with me and give them a loving home and a good life.
Now, of course, I can’t imagine life without them. They are beautiful, personable, and whacky. And all are in various stages of becoming less feral. It occurred to me, though, that since this is the height of unadoptable-kitten season, maybe I should post some of the sanity-saving things I learned about life with feral kittens and cats.
Over the next couple days, I will post things I’ve learned that could make your life a lot easier if you are in that situation of having a bunch of kittens you weren’t planning on, especially feral ones.
I will start by saying : RESIST THE URGE TO PUT KITTENS (or any other small animals) UP FOR FREE ADOPTION ON CRAIGSLIST!! Please, please, please investigate any and all other agencies . Kittens and other small animals are used as bait in illegal dogfights. Keep them clear of craigslist, unless you personally screen every single person wanting to adopt a kitten, and get check-able references, then check them. Preferably, even take the kitten to its new home yourself, to be extra sure it is going to a real new home.
That said… Today, I’ll start with the most important step: Trapping. Either go to Home Depot and buy a raccoon-sized humane trap, or see if you have an animal hospital or cat rescue agency in your area that will let you borrow traps from them. Each trap costs about $50, so if you borrow a trap from someone, return it when you’re done.
Don’t feed the kittens or cats. Place the trap in an area where they commonly go. Bait the trap — what worked best for me were pieces of rotisserie chicken, or boneless sardines packed in oil or water. Set the trap and place the bait at the far inside end.
I had the most luck when I draped the trap with a bed sheet. Cover the entire trap, except the entryway, with an old sheet. This helps keep the cat from becoming completely terrified once the trap springs and they are stuck inside it. It also keeps them from lashing out at you from inside the cage. I learned this the hard way. I absolutely recommend a bed sheet.
You know, even if you have tame house cats that are afraid to go to the vet, draping a sheet or towel completely over their carrier once you get them in it, will calm them way down, right away.
Hopefully, you have an ASPCA or cat rescue agency in your area that can help you get the cats fixed at little or no cost to you. Usually they include rabies shots and ear tipping for ferals. The ear tipping is for ferals that will be returned to the wild. A tiny nick in their ear will let people know those cats have already been spayed/neutered and will not reproduce.
That’s the basic first step. My next post will be about fleas. If you’re dealing with fleas right now, you’re probably wishing I was already posting about it, but I will come back ASAP and do that! I do actually have a life beyond my cats.
Meanwhile, keep calm and check out this most recent photo of Huckleberry — the first kitten who came to visit 2 years ago, and the cause of it all!