On Sunday I moved the CVS cat from Nancy’s apartment to Amy’s basement to continue fostering. He smells very strongly of boy cat and Nancy has respiratory issues. She and Shannon and I hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but Nancy’s offer helped us get him off the streets, and gave me time to ask around for another place to foster.
The day I moved him to Amy’s I found a tiny bird’s nest on the steps down to the entrance to the basement. Tiny, as in about 2″ across inner diameter. It’s lined with some fairly coarse black dog hair and even a few black whiskers, some of which may also be cat whiskers; Amy feeds a feral cat at that corner of her deck. The nest had originally been flattened on one side as if it had been built on a shelf against a wall, under the deck, perhaps, or around the eaves of the house. I picked it up thinking it might actually be a decorative nest, and gently rounded it out. Possibly it had been flattened when it landed from where it had been.
Traditionally, finding a bird’s nest is good luck. Bird’s nests symbolize home, family and security. I thought finding a bird’s nest, considering what it symbolized, built including bits of some of the animals around, was a good sign for the cat we had rescued and Nancy named Smokey.
He was neutered Monday, and the clinic remarked that he was quiet and polite, not at all aggressive. (On the way to the clinic, another car issue: my hood had been somewhat loose, not certain why, but driving there not far from my house and only going 30mph my hood flew open and flipped back to hit the windshield! The windshield stayed sound, I put on my flashers and slowed knowing there were no cars behind me, and could just see under the hood a spot where I could safely pull over. I hopped out, yanked the hood down and it latched, like, forever, with a big dent from the windshield in the center. I pulled on the hood to make sure it was latched completely and decided it was safe to be on my way. One of my worst fears, an accident with a cat in the car, and I’d be driving through some high traffic areas on the way there and back. So far, so good, but I have to get that checked and possibly replaced.)
I brought him back to recover and he politely ate everything I gave him. On Tuesday I managed to touch his nose through the trap. He didn’t pull away, and he didn’t lean into it, but that he didn’t object at all was a good sign.
Yesterday, Wednesday, I borrowed a crate for him and installed him with the trap, tied open, and a litterbox and his food bowls. This morning he was sleeping on top of the trap when I came to feed him. He had eaten all his food and walked through the litterbox but not used it. He wasn’t sure what I was doing so he slowly got down off the trap and settled down at the other end of it, peering at me around the side. I talked to him for a bit after I set up everything and he gave me one good slow blink. I hope that is progress. Unless he decides suddenly he’s my buddy, this is going to be very slow. I hope the bird’s nest is a good omen. Wish us luck.
Ink and LeRoi, and Rosie and Vanilla Latte
I haven’t updated for almost a week! Last Saturday I retrieved Ink and LeRoi, mother and presumed father of Rosie and the other kittens I was trapping last week. The weather was clear and warmer after a few days of rain, and Emma had found where the kittens were hiding in the meantime, so it was a great day to do all the things.
I prefer to release earlier in the day but the earliest I could get the adults and be ready for release was just before the sun went down. Emma joined me so I could show her how this was done, and Peg photographed us because I can never have too many photos of TNR activities. First was LeRoi, who was ready to go as soon as I opened the door. The shutter speed was slow and he was fast, so look for the grayish blur in the bottom left corner of the photo.
Then came Ink, who wasn’t moving anywhere even with the door all the way open. I slowly pulled the cover back and she moved back, so I removed the cover entirely, and finally she took off. Look for the brownish blur in the lower left corner.
Then I set up traps for the other two kittens seen with Rosie, a buff creamsicle and a longhaired tux. Emma had spotted them going under the neighbor’s shed, and the neighbor and next door confirmed the kittens had been going in and out for several days. They were under the back of the shed in shallow tunnels likely made by a groundhog. The shed was tightly fitted into a corner made by the house and an addition with about one foot between the shed and the addition, 18″ between the other side of the shed and the fence with a hedge growing through it, and two feet between the house and the back of the shed where I would set the traps. I only mention this because it was quite the trick to get back there with traps and covers and warmed mackerel as bait.
I was back there along with Emma, then she left and her father came back with an extension cable to use with his phone’s camera and looked into the tunnels under the shed. No kittens, but that didn’t mean they weren’t under there. We all left and I went out to the street to keep watch for feline activities at dusk and early night. It was quiet enough that I could hear a trap if it closed from across the street, so I felt better away from the shed. The kittens would be wary having been without their parents for a few days, and other humans had been looking for them too. I did see a cat headed for the back yard but it was out of sight by the time I got there. An adult tabby cat came down between the houses, then went back.
It’s usually about two hours after I set a trap that I see action, but after an hour I went back behind the shed and added more warm mackerel, moved one trap to the corner of the fence where they would exit if they didn’t walk around the shed, and took the other trap to the original back porch where we’d trapped the parents. Now fully night I’d probably see other cats around, and it was much more likely the kittens would come out. Michele had set out a chair for me so I set it up on the sidewalk where I could see or hear both traps and see up and down the street. In time I saw a cat come out of the yard where the shed was and head up the sidewalk, cross the street, then start down the sidewalk on my side of the street, strolling right down the middle of the walk. It came to about ten feet from me, slowing as it saw me, and watching me. This was a long-haired tuxedo cat, looking like a catten, and older kitten, much larger than Rosie and the creamsicle kitten had been. It was not acting like a young kitten either, hiding under cars and keeping in the shadow, darting here and there, but was boldly walking its territory. I did not move and it continued toward me until it scented me, stopped, and, realizing I was not a garbage bag on the sidewalk, turned around and ran up the sidewalk and into a yard. There was no way I could have chased it so there was no point in trying. I did get up and looked all over the area with my flashlight and did not see any sign. If that was the tuxedo kitten it was and older kitten, likely from a previous litter, still hanging around when mom gave birth to the little ones. That changed the game a bit.
The neighbors where I had the trap set came outside and said they’d seen the little creamsicle kitten. The husband came down to show me what he was watching on his phone from the surveillance camera, and there it was, in black and white, a tiny pale kitten emerging from the tunnel under the shed. It kept receding and then coming out the other tunnel, and finally came all the way out near the trap. We could only see the front edge of the trap but we saw the kitten walking around it, trying to tuck a paw into it. It went back under the shed and came out again a few times, then disappeared near the trap. As we stood and watched, waiting for it to show up again, we both hear the trap close. Success! Vanilla Latte, named by Emma, was coming in from the cold. Whew! You don’t realize you’re holding your breath until you exhale.
I retrieved Latte, told Michele and Emma and contacted Peg, who was fostering Rosie and would take Latte too. I told her to hold the kitten in the carrier for a while, until she went to bed, and feed and handle Latte to form a bit of a connection with before she put the kittens together. Rosie, trapped on Wednesday, was already easy to handle, and because Michele caught her by hand she was probably naturally a little more socialized. Latte was frightened, wary, and a few days can make a huge difference in a young kitten’s life. Latte might choose to hide behind Rosie and not really bond with the human, so a little alone time could mean a lot. After she had put them together, she would carry them to the bathroom, larger than their crate but smaller than her office, to run around for a while each day and handle them more easily than when in the crate.
Back to Smokey
I had intended to go to Nancy’s apartment to help her with Smokey in the crate, and had hoped to do that while someone else watched the traps, but it didn’t work out that way. I called her when I got home and Shannon had come over and cleaned up Smokey and his trap and the crate, so I didn’t have to go over to work on him, but Nancy let me know that fostering him was too much for her. I understood and had already been messaging around for another foster. I told her I’d come to get him tomorrow when I had secured a place for him to go.
Then back to Rosie and Latte
Peg had prescheduled a visit to family for several days and was leaving early Wednesday, and needed a foster for the two while she was away. I considered holding the kittens for that time but really didn’t thing being loose in my bathroom would be good for them, though if no one else was available I’d do it. I asked Amy, who fosters tons of kittens, if she could hold them and we decided they could stay in the basement too. Despite the fact she had 30+ kittens to take care of, she wanted to help these two as well, but since they’d just come in she wanted to keep them quarantined from all the others she currently fostered. I picked up the kittens from Peg when I went over to Amy’s to take care of Smokey, and Amy had a playpen set up for them. I could already see the difference in them from being handled for just a few days. Here they are the first night, sneaking peeks at me as I was feeding Smokey and changing out the pee pad in his trap.
Then the second day they were there, a little bolder and sitting up to watch me.
Then the next day, trying to convince me to let them out to play. I petted them and picked them up to handle each day too. Definite progress! They will go back to Peg on Saturday, and both have prospective adopters.
It isn’t lost on me that while I’m literally working between the rescued kittens and the rescued adult cat that if no one had cared enough to notice the kittens so we could trap them, they might someday be in the trap like Smokey.
Send Smokey socialization vibes
I hope I can find some help with visiting Smokey, or he decides to suddenly socialize. Amy can’t walk steps well and once the kittens leave won’t be going to the basement too often. Some days I spend four or five hours on cat things and I really can’t keep that up because I need to pay the bills. But he deserves his chance, and I’ll see what I can do.
Would you like to help?
As always, I love being able to help cats this way. My goal is not just to go out and trap the cats, but also to be a good example to others who are following, then give lots of information so that others learn how to do this too, and if they find a cat in a similar circumstance they have an idea what’s entailed. Even more than fostering, bringing a cat in from a perilous life outdoors is so rewarding. Of course, it’s also time-consuming and has its expenses, and I’m on a tight budget. Thanks to those of you who have sent donations that paid for spays and neuters and food for Smokey and the ferals. If any of my readers would like to help me with expenses like extra food and materials for trapping, or gas money, no small amount when running back and forth to clinics and trapping sites, I would really appreciate it. Not only is there still a potential car repair, but also this is the time to register for several vendor events during the year, including the Steel City Kitties Cat Show next month. My Paypal address is bernadette (at) bernadette-k (dot) com, you can go to Portraits of Animals and purchase a gift certificate in amounts of $5.00 or more and let me know it’s for me, or whatever else you’d like to do. Or buy something from my website www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net .
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