In dealing with the feral kitten issue by our house I've been trying to learn as much as possible.
If you'd like to read part one of this story before you read this, just click here.
I thought we had a random female cat that had given birth to a random group of kittens.
Apparently our geographical area, like many, is covered by territorial type cat 'colonies'.
Many of the facts about feral cat 'colonies' surprised me.
First of all, I didn't even know such a thing existed.
We had originally noticed a black and white cat in our area but at the advice of the TNR (trap, neuter, return) volunteer we took a drive around our neighborhood just before full dark.
It was like an Easter Egg hunt.
"There's one! There's one!"
Mr. Jenny and I were shocked to spot another black and white female with much larger kittens, four or five additional black and white cats and a black cat.
The coordinator told us that most like our cat colony would exist of 15 - 25 cats.
Each female could give birth to UP TO 15 kittens EACH YEAR!
Her first litter of kittens each year would be producing kittens before their first birthday, often as early as 6 months of age.
The number of new kittens each year in an uncontrolled colony was astonishing.
She went on to explain to me that a colony is stable at a specific number and that the death rate is quite high above that.
The more kittens born, the higher the death rate.
Food, water and shelter that supports 15 cats will not support 30 cats so the 'excess' will be plagued with illness, infections and more aggressive behaviour to find food and shelter.
I never imagined that such a sub-culture of cats even existed, much less thrived in the bushes and trees and greenbelts surrounding our urban neighborhood.
I persisted in our conversation with the idea that perhaps we could catch them and socialize them.
She gently discouraged my idea. Many of these cats and kittens are dozens of generations deep into no human contact. They are socialized only to cats and it is difficult and nearly impossible to socialize them to humans.
She gently suggested that a more humane use of our time might be in indentifying and neutering other cats in our neighborhood.
TNR procedures can and are:
- Ending the breeding cycle and stabilizing the population
- More effective and less expensive than extermination
- Eliminates or minimizes annoying behaviors such as spraying, yowling, and fighting.
- Helps end the suffering of unwanted, homeless cats.
-Reduces euthanasia due to the number of kittens flooding the already overburdened shelters.
She then asked me if my husband and I would be interested in having a trapping volunteer call.
When I agreed she informed me that someone would contact me within 24 hours.
"What do I do in the meantime?" I asked. "The vet's office told me to just give them water and that they might move on."
"They are not moving on," she told me. "To a feral cat shelter is almost as important as food. If the kittens are getting that big, she's not moving them now."
"What are they eating? There's no restaurants here or open trash cans?"
"The next time you're in your yard look around. Do you see any bugs or scorpions? What about birds? Spiders? See if you still have a lot of lizards in the yard."
I told her I would look for sure.
Then she said, "You don't have to feed them, but the healthier they are the more they can resist infections and fleas. You could put out just a small amount of dry kibble with the water to help keep them healthy. Don't give them tuna or tablescraps or wet cat food, though, because that will make the trapping process harder."
Wayyyy too much information for a non-cat person like me to absorb.
I relayed everything to Mr. Jenny and then we both realized that we haven't seen any pidgeons or bugs in the grass lately. It has been months since I've had to wash off the pool apron from nasty bird droppings. There are no spider webs and we haven't seen a scorpion EVER at this house.
Apparently the mother is working hard to keep those babies fed.
This morning I took my cell and caught this quick shot of one of the black and whites. It disappeared in a micro-second.
The cat kibble was almost gone this morning so I refreshed it and gave them new water.
And I waited for the trapping coordinator to give us a call.
TO BE CONTINUED