...although 'friends' might be too cozy of a word.
These little ferals are not friendly at all.
They flee so quickly at the sight of me that I actually wondered for a little while if I was seeing shadows.
We have kittens.
They have cozied up in the narrow little spot between our shed and the house.
There are two black and whites and two blacks. There might be a fifth dark grey one but they are so very, very fast and so very, very skittish I only see them super early in the morning and super late at night when they seem to blend into the shadows.
If they see any movement from the window while we are peeking, they flee.
If we walk into the side yard, they flee.
When we started observing them more sneakily, we realized the mom is feeding them morning and night.
They are growing bigger and stronger right before our eyes and now venture farther up into the side yard. They are quite curious about the dog door.
Oskie, the weiner dog, is no help, whatsoever. He is old and can't see and rarely even barks at them.
Like I used to do in the 'old days', I started calling around to see who might want a kitten.
Every single person told me that they were allergic, had some cats or were already over-run with feral cats.
After watching the kittens race away and lightening speed for another day, we realized that even if someone wanted them we would have no way to catch them.
Mr. Jenny and I were at a loss what to do.
We called our vet's office who told us that the cats would move on when they were ready.
The vet tech informed me the only way that all the feral cats and kittens would be able to find homes is if every single person in our county took in eight cats.
Because of this sobering fact, most shelters will not take kittens even for euthanasia.
What an awful thought.
Prior to this, I realized on some level that animal over-population is a huge problem, but I've not encountered it up close and personal before.
I was really surprised by all this horrible information.
The vet tech continued with her advice.
"You probably should NOT feed the cats but just put out a bowl of fresh water each morning," she told me calmly.
We took this advice and started putting out water that the same day. It is moving into the triple-teens in temperature now and this seemed like a kind thing to do.
But it really, really felt like we should be doing more.
I can't stand the thought of anything being hungry or thirsty or scared.
Especially anything that's a baby.
But I also can't stand the thought of 5 or 6 cats living in my smallish suburban yard.
Mr. Jenny and I kept talking about this for a few more days
We continued to think about what to do...
...and then we noticed a little ad in the paper about feral kittens from the Arizona Animal Defense League. They advocated a program called TNR. Trap. Neuter. Release.
Neither of us had ever heard about this before.
We were never in a position to need to know anything about it.
I e-mailed the ADLA.
And they called me back the next day.
I got a real education in feral cats.
The coordinator spent almost an hour on the phone with me answering my questions.
And then she helped us put a humane plan together to help our fuzzy little feral friends and to help our neighborhood.
THIS IS GETTING QUITE LONG SO IT WILL BE CONTINUED.
You can CLICK HERE for part two if you like.