Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I've got some feral friends...

...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.

I'm not.

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.


For kittens.

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.


You can CLICK HERE for part two if you like.

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Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for the very caring and informative post ~ glad you were able to 'take care of the cats' in small way ~

Anonymous said...

I am a huge advocate of spaying and neutering animals. There are programs around here that will do that fixing and release thing. Other times, the towns around have simply hired someone to trap and kill them when it's gotten to be such a huge problem. I'm glad you're looking into humane ways to help out.

EG CameraGirl said...

I really like the idea of neutering them so that they won't grow up to have kittens. I hope you can catch the mom too. :)

Janie Junebug said...

I was going to suggest trap, neuter, release. I'm glad you have the information already. My city is full of feral cats because of the rats, and because so many people feed them and don't participate in having them neutered.


Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh poor you. Actually, lucky for the cats they landed in your yard.
We had this issue last year too. I was able to trap mine and then get her sterilized. We tried to keep her on our lanai with our other cats, but she was just so skittish. (Mostly of the humans, not so much of my cats) Her story did not end so well, but I'm hoping yours will.
Trapping her was not as hard as I thought it would be....but you have a few more. Good luck Jenny. You are a good person!

Splendid Little Stars said...

stunning statistics.
TNR is a good solution.
Caring, responsible people would be even better.

Jeanie said...

Those are some lucky cats to have you advocating for them. Kudos to you and Mr. Jenny and I hope it all works out.

Maureen Wyatt said...

I've just brought home a litter of semi feral kittens to foster. The lady was able to get near the kittens when they were very young and they've made a good transition to house. The spay and release programme is wonderful!

Unknown said...

I am so glad you found a way to help the cats.

Ms. A said...

My two middle boys have a TNR program close to them. I used to follow their blog, but they disappeared because of an issue with their blog name, I think. Used to post great photos and little stories of the stray and feral cats and kittens.

Good luck!

Martha said...

Great post. When we visited cat shelters in search of a new cat is was saddening/maddening that there were so many homeless cats, and it was not yet kitten season.
Kudos for getting involved!!

Annesphamily said...

Oh Jenny please come read my post! HeeHeeHee! We think alike but if you go to Face Book please visit my friend Lorna Tallmon. She helps her vet with feral cats. They humanely trap and spayed and neuter them and find homes. I am apalled a vet would tell you to blow them off! UGH! But if you can catch momma too she could find a good home! Visit Lorna, she is the "Cat Lady" Queen"! SO kind and helpful with these lost pets. Best of luck with your endeavor! Hugs Anne

SarahBeth said...

Oh wow, I'm living with feral cats too -- I have my eight!! Two mamas, five kittens and one dad to three of the kittens. Gulp. We are checking into TNR too, so I am very interested in knowing all you found out!

SquirrelQueen said...

Jenny, I am so glad you found out about the TNR program. It is the most effective and humane way to deal with the feral cat problem.

I have been volunteering with a TNR group here in our town for over two years. In the past three years our group has spayed/neutered about 3,000 cats. We know we are making a difference since our local shelter is seeing less cats. Also the local animal control is getting a lot less calls about cat problems.

Fortunately our group works closely with the local vets so the vet techs in our area would refer someone to our program.

Good luck!

Gattina said...

This "vet tech" should choose another profession, butcher for example ! What a nonsense not to feed the poor ferals. we have the same problem here, but there are lots of organizations or vet students who catch the ferals, spay them and release them again. That's the best method !

vivian said...

I hate thinking about all the dogs and cats out there that are not cared for. It is very sad.
looking forward to hearing the rest of your story and hoping theres a happy ending for your babies!
have a great day Jenny!

Theresa said...

We don't have any animals but the neighbors have cats! I find them on the porch occasionally and hopefully they chase the snakes away:) Hope you got the little ones some help! Have a blessed day dear Jenny, HUGS!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes!. Trap, neuter and release. Can't wait to read the continuation...(notice I didn't say part II, in the event, a Part III might surface...)

Linda @ A La Carte said...

jenny all these sweet feral kittens break my heart! I think TNR is wonderful. I follow The Cat Guy and he does volunteer TNR!


Rita said...

Oh, that's perfect! Feral cats are not always able to be tamed or housebroken even if you have the patience of a saint and know what you're doing--poor things. If they can be caught for this program, at least then they won't produce more feral cats. I hope they can be caught! Can hardly wait to hear the rest of the story.

Pat Tillett said...

I know it isn't easy, but this is the only humane way to deal with problem. Truly feral cats are as wild as wild can be. They also live a very hard life. Good on you for helping those folks out Jenny!