There’s the Siamese mama and her three kittens. She’s a buff color with dark brown tips and blue eyes. Her three kittens are lighter, almost white, with grey tips and blue eyes. Their coats have slowly been darkening as they get bigger. There’s the black mama, whose lone kitten I found dead earlier this year. As cats rarely have single kittens, I can only imagine its siblings were likewise deceased. In my mind, I’ve assigned the black mama responsibility for the abandoned litter of four we found this spring and I bottle fed until they could be handed off to a professional kitten rescuer.
These are the boldest. Two of the kittens and the black mama will come to eat the food I lay out while I’m sitting on the concrete a few steps away. The Siamese mama will crouch patiently a few feet beyond her kittens, while her third kitten, the skittish one, works up the courage to reach the kibble I’ve spilled on the concrete. Sometimes she manages, but if I move at all or look at her wrong, she dashes away. This hesitancy got her into a tussle with the local tom, which I had to break up yesterday, sending the whole lot scattering into my neighbor’s junk pile, where the mothers give birth to their kittens.
The tom is a big cat, a brown striped tabby on top with a white belly and legs. He struts around the yard confidently, spraying the trees, approaching the other cats, and sitting tall and proud, never crouching. He looks at me with wide eyes of light green, but does not approach. He makes cooing vocalizations to attract mates, though none seemed interested in him this morning. They were all focused on the kibble and would cautiously approach until they saw the strange, robed figure sitting just under the eaves of the carport. Then they would either hunker down to wait, or scatter back toward the safety of the fence line.
There’s a second black female and two smaller cats, probably females, with the same tabby and white coloration as the tom. There is also a black and white and an almost wholly white cat except for an incongruous orange patch on its forehead. There’s a slightly larger cat with a very interesting pattern, who may be a younger tom. He’s also tabby and white, but his tabby stripes are orange or brown in random patches. This tricolor pattern may mean the cat is female, but it’s not exactly calico, which is known to be a female-only coloration occurring due to a recessive gene found only on the X chromosome. I’m very interested to trap this cat and find out. A tricolored male would be very rare.
This morning, I sat quietly and watched the kittens and the black mama enthusiastically crunching kibble, occasionally talking to them gently and moving my head and hands in nonthreatening ways. I could care less about the black mama, she’s too old to tame, but I am slowly trying to get the kittens used to people. I watched the other cats moving around and conversing in the yard. They’re fascinating and lithe and beautiful, like all cats are, but sadly too far away for me to photograph with my cell phone.
I have a recovery/kitten kennel set up and ready to go, a humane havahart trap being delivered on Monday, and an appointment at the local non-profit spay/neuter clinic for next Wednesday. The clinic will neuter and ear notch ferals for $25. I may spring for vaccines which is another $15. The plan is to trap, neuter, return or TNR the adults and trap and adopt the kittens. I will do my best to catch the kittens as soon as possible and work to tame them in advance of adopting them to good families. I have experience with feral dogs, but not cats, so this will be a new adventure.
I want to thank Colin, John, Terry, Vanessa, Alan, Eric, De Hong, Jingjing, Barb, and Anthuan, all of whom have either helped, donated, or pledged to support this project. These compassionate and wonderful people have responded so positively to my initial request, that I am encouraged that I can make this project happen. If you want to help, you can donate via Paypal by sending funds to email@example.com or by assisting with transportation. I need a ride/car to get to the clinic no later than 8:00 am on the drop-off days and no later than 4:30 pm the following day for pick-up. The clinic operates Wednesday through Saturday each week and I’m making appointments about a week in advance.
I see new cats each week, so this project may extend into the spring. If you were counting my descriptions, there were nine adults and three kittens in my yard just this morning. I’m hoping to clear my neighborhood of unspayed ferals by the time I graduate in May, because I don’t know where I’ll end up after that. A stable population of neutered cats will keep the rodent population down and prevent other ferals from breeding the population back up. I hope you’ll help me do the compassionate thing for these beautiful cats. Thank you so much. Your generosity and support are greatly appreciated!