lederhosen: (Default)
lederhosen ([personal profile] lederhosen) wrote2016-12-16 10:46 pm
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Newest member of the family

Not going to post about politics just now (it's all horribly depressing, I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said better than I could.) Instead, something cheerful.

On November 1, Silverblue and Brandt (+ Velociraptor) came over to help us with our garden, which was getting *cough* slightly unkempt.

While pulling weeds, Silverblue made a discovery in an old compost bin:


Three tiny kittens, somewhere around three weeks old. We have a lot of roaming cats around, and evidently some feral mama had decided that this would be a good place to hide her babies.

They were much too young to be separated from their mama, so we weighed them, put them back, and hoped she'd keep them there. Unfortunately she was scared, so she took the babies away and hid them somewhere else - our neighbour thinks under his house. We put food out for her every so often, in the hope that she might come back, and she was happy enough to take the food.

Last Sunday, Rey looked out the back window and saw three not-quite-so-little scamps and their mother exploring our back yard. We tried to catch them but they bolted. At that point we borrowed a cat trap and baited it.

We checked just before bed on Sunday night - nothing.

Around five in the morning I woke up and went down to check the trap, and found this rather pretty black-and-white kitten: thumb_IMG_0800_1024.jpg

We set up the trap again on Monday night, and caught the remaining two.

Second kitten: all black, long hair. Looks rather like one of the soot-sprites from Totoro/Spirited Away.


Third kitten: all black again, but short hair, a bit smaller than the others two.


Mama was hanging around, clearly looking for her kittens.


We wanted to trap her too, so we could get her desexed and vaccinated, but she was much less gullible than the kittens. We put them in a crate behind the trap, and draped a cloth over it so she could only see them and get close up by going into the trap.

She sniffed at the trap but wouldn't go in. Instead she sat next to the crate being piteous, while a couple of the neighbourhood toms decided to keep her company. (Dudes, so very not the time.)

At one point we looked out to see this scene:



Mama lying next to the cage, lamenting her poor imprisoned babbies.

Another black cat nearby. Possibly the father.

Cage is flipped on its side, trap is sprung, and although you can't see it in this photo there's a tuft of white fur caught in the door. The plot thickens.

Later on Tuesday we finally caught her. Here she is, looking baleful:


When we picked the cage up to carry it into the garage (as a nice quiet spot until vet time) she freaked out, and before we knew what was going on she'd escaped. Turns out that one of the little metal clips that hold the sides together was missing, and she had been just able to force a tiny gap - can't have been more than a couple of inches - and squeeze her way through.

She escaped into our garage. So we mended the trap with some cable ties, re-set it inside the garage, and closed the door, figuring that when she got hungry enough she'd go for it. Unfortunately, the door doesn't latch, and although we'd piled heavy stuff against it, somebody forgot to put that stuff back while checking on her. So she got out again and remains on the loose. Very frustrating, but I have to admit I feel a certain respect from her. She still takes food (but not from the trap) so hopefully we can get her again, eventually.

Meanwhile, we now had three small kittens living in a crate in our bathtub.


Rey and I love cats, but she's allergic, so the plan was to give them away.

Then we took them to the vet, and tux-cat snuggled in my arms and climbed up onto my shoulder, and Rey looked at my face... long story short, we have a keeper-kitten, and Rey will be taking a lot of antihistamine. We found takers for the two black kitties.

On Monday we left them quietly in the bathroom. On Tuesday they started to explore, and we decided to start socialising them. They hissed a bit when we approached, but let us pat them. Eventually black-and-white kitten was willing to let us pick her up.

It became clear that she was Boss Cat of the three. She was the boldest (no surprise she was caught first) and once she'd gone first, long-hair-black sister would follow in her footsteps. Smallest Kitten tended to stay back hiding in their crate, and I think she wasn't getting her fair share of food.

On Wednesday I worked from home, and spent some time out on our balcony with kittens.

They poked around a bit.

Then they figured out they could jump up onto the wall (don't worry, there's a flyscreen there).

Then they figured out they could keep going...


I had to go up a ladder with welding gloves on to get Small Shorthair free. Lesson learned: cats don't get to go out on the balcony (at least, not while they're still trying to get away from Vile Durance.)

Later on, I was foolish enough to leave the bathroom window open a little way to get some fresh air in. (There was still a flyscreen.) When I returned 5 minutes later:


Meanwhile, tuxedo kitty (now Bilqis) decided I was okay:


She took to sitting on my lap, and perching on my shoulder. After a while Middle Cat decided this was an acceptable arrangement and came out to do the same. Then she saw a strange cat in the mirror, leapt at it, and *rest of incident deleted for the sake of her dignity*.

More gratuitous kitten photos:

I haven't worked with ferals so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I certainly didn't think that three days would be enough to turn Bilqis from wild into a lap-cat. She is beautifully soft, and her mama must have been doing an excellent job of grooming because her long fur is free of tangles. A bit thin but we'll fix that up soon enough!

The smallest cat (now named Nightshade) went to a new home this afternoon, and Middle Cat gets picked up tomorrow morning. After that it'll just be Bilqis... at least until we get a puppy in a month or two.

n.b. Rey is a big sweetie and I love her very much for saying we can keep Bilqis.
tcpip: (Default)

[personal profile] tcpip 2016-12-18 11:52 am (UTC)(link)
Nice work and lovely photos. Mother cat is quite the survivor, isn't she?
winterkoninkje: shadowcrane (clean) (Default)

[personal profile] winterkoninkje 2016-12-19 03:48 am (UTC)(link)
Yay kitties!

Any particular reason for trapping the when they're still young enough for mama to be watching over them?
winterkoninkje: shadowcrane (clean) (Default)

[personal profile] winterkoninkje 2016-12-20 01:38 am (UTC)(link)
::nods:: Yeah, I wasn't sure quite how young they were from the pics. All but one of my kitties have been via human abandonment, so I haven't dealt much with feral kitties, but I can definitely see the socialization aspect.