You know that if I disappear for a while, it’s usually got to do with cats. This being kitten season, this happens more frequently than usual, but I always come back to tell the tale. The light was dim at dusk when I took these photos so they are somewhat blurry and unclear, but just figure I took my art materials and did some sketches because these kittens are too cute not to share!
Kittens are popping up everywhere! A local family discovered a litter of kittens living in a shed on their property, near their chicken run. Even though we are definitely small town and suburb here many people keep backyard chickens, and much of the land was actually farmland even within the past 50 years so you find a lot of interesting old buildings and bigger yards that are just right for a mom kitty trying to live outdoors and care for her kittens.
You might wonder how people could miss a family of cats living in their back yard and think they just appeared, but that’s the way cats usually do it. It could be that they recently arrived, or they’ve been there all along, but well hidden.
They may have recently moved in, in accordance with the biological habits of cats. Mother cats move their kittens as they grow, typically about every two weeks, to accommodate their bigger size and need for space and safety, and for their next stage of development and training as kittens. Kittens start to move around at about four weeks, but don’t usually leave the nest to roam very far until they are about six weeks old, so mom may have just moved them closer to the source of food, or to a larger accommodation that’s safe them to live while leaving for brief and then longer explorations, and learning to hunt for their food. It could also be they were forced to leave their last home in some way and mom found the shed in your back yard to be an acceptable place to live.
But they may have been there since birth. The mother cat initially searches for a safe place to give birth that’s close to a food source, whether that be from hunting, being fed, or dumpster diving. She forays out for food alone only when necessary, and often nocturnally for safety, so unless someone is up in the middle of the night they won’t see her. And even if it’s daylight you may not think twice about a cat in your yard now and then. She could belong to a neighbor or be a stray passing through, and it’s surprising how many people don’t even notice cats, even in broad daylight, unless they really like cats, or they don’t like them at all.
Mom will usually begin to bring the kittens out at about five or six weeks for brief explorations and play, eventually bringing them to the food source and showing them around the neighborhood. Seeing her alone may not alert a person, but kittens always do. So after all that time and all mom cat’s work, the human finally notices there’s a little of kittens in their yard.
So it was with these guys. The mother was around, not friendly, but not timid. They live near a park but also in a residential neighborhood, and she could have been an outdoor-roaming cat. Mom cat is longhaired and was first seen after she’d given birth. The family saw her in their yard regularly and began to put food out for her, which quickly disappeared so they presumed she was a stray. She seemed to love the chickens and the chicken coop area, and because there are often rodents around chickens they welcomed the cat, and that may have been why Oreo chose this shed in the first place.
There are five kittens, the bold gray and white and mom’s mini-me the tux, a gray pouf and two little panthers. The kittens are getting close to the end of the optimal time for socializing, which is eight weeks, so we met Tuesday evening to figure things out. They are willing to take the kittens into their bathroom and socialize them for adoption, surrendering them to Animal Friends when they are ready to go. Mom approaches her feeder but has never allowed herself to be touched so she will be vetted and returned to the yard, but if she wants to come in, she has a home. We made plans for how and where to trap so she can start feeding them in a particular place, and I tied open a trap for them to grow accustomed to.
The feeder called me Thursday to tell me that she was holding the fluffy gray kitten and what should she do? I said just take that kitten inside and put it in your bathroom with food and water and a litterbox, and possibly she’ll be lucky and get most or all of them that way!
I will update as things progress. And maybe I’ll get some better photos next time!
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Spring is back.
Catbird is having a bath. Yes, a catbird. We are surrounded by these chatty busy birds who occasionally make a very convincing mew.
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Ophelia is a formerly feral foster who came to me in September 2015. By July 2016 she was pretty relaxed, as you can see. But she is such a bundle of cuteness that she has to think her name is “Oh My Goodness”! I’ve also included the graphic I created to help promote her adoption. She does love that mirror. Read more and purchase.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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