We have kittens! These are those elusive kittens I was pursuing last week when we met Charm and Scarlett. They seemed to have been sighted several times through the week, but not until yesterday, Saturday, did Jenn get a good tip that they were actually under the porch where we’d first looked Friday a week previous, two doors down from Jenn’s house. She looked to see the kittens on the patio and in the grass.
Charm is very friendly so Jenn sat with her after feeding some canned food. She messaged that she had managed to capture two kittens just by picking them up when they were eating and they seemed friendly enough. She put them in a carrier in the shade and Charm kept watch.
Goopy eyes and a little hissy but interested in food. Jenn could pet these two.
I had stopped down last weekend but I’ve been advising during the week when Jenn and Melissa, who works in the office building across the street, sent messages. We were trying to guess where the kittens were by watching Charm’s activity—sleeping on the front porch most days—and where she headed when anyone saw her leave. I borrowed a trail cam so we could try to follow her activity and narrow down where she went when she left. And here they were where we thought they’d been all the time, though she likely moved them more than once as she’d only the day before that begun to sleep on the back porch instead of the front.
Trouble was the porch had a low clearance and a pile of dirt and debris in the center, and the kittens were behind that. No one could really crawl in. “Hoping to lure them out with mom, food and toys so we can grab them instead of having to trap,” I posted on Facebook as I arrived there and took a few photos.
I looked at the area and decided on a plan to keep the kittens from possibly running off if we tried to grab them and to keep them from running back under the porch: Use black plastic fencing I sometimes used as display material to surround the area and pieces of cardboard and old window screens to drop behind the kittens when they came out.
I had also found the cage I’d used to initially foster kittens. The last time I’d used it was for Mimi and the Four in the first three weeks they were here. I went home to get it and also digging tools in case I had to dig my way under the porch, extra dishes, wire and a few other sundry items I just might need. Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine knew what was up when the dishes came in the house.
I set up the cage inside the perimeter. I hadn’t been sure the kittens were eating food yet so I wasn’t sure canned food would work as a lure, plus Charm regularly nursed them. But since the two had been caught while eating we set out food around the porch in a path that would direct them away from the porch. The sun was overhead and too hot to put Charm and the kittens in the cage, but we would do that as soon as the sun moved enough, later in the afternoon. Right then it was about 2:30.
And we waited. If you’ve never tried to trap cats or catch cats in any way, my main word of advice is “patience”. It’s going to happen in the cat’s own good time, not yours. Jenn has four children and their friends were around, so I could be preoccupied photographing the kids, the backs of old garages, dandelions in the grass, and peeling paint. Honestly, I enjoy all that, and someday they’ll be nice paintings!
No sign of the kittens until about 3:30 when all three came out at once. Jenn kept the kids busy at that end of the yard, and though the kittens had been spooked by the cage they were there, and they were hungry. I refreshed the food and went off to take more photos of apple and cherry blossoms, then came back about 4:00 to move Charm and the kittens in the cage, now in shade.
The tuxie and the buff kitten came out and played and went back under, but were now curious about their mom and siblings in the cage. When the tuxie came out alone again and began to eat I dropped the piece of cardboard between her and the porch opening, picked her up, went to the cage and put her in. Yes! The buff kitten came poking out a few more times and I let Charm out of the cage to lure her kids out personally. The buff kitten came out to his mom and started to nurse right where they stood, but I reached down and picked him up and put him in the cage too. Yes!
But the darker orange kitten had been the least active and appeared the least often of all of them so we knew we had a wait. Charm wandered around and looked bored. I photographed more peeling paint and the kids got tired and hungry. Charm thought she might leave but instead I picked her up and put her back in the perimeter. Instead of her kitten coming out to her, she went in and nursed him under the porch. No! It could be hours, after dark, until he was hungry enough to come out again. I looked under the porch, he was fully engaged in nursing but out of reach and behind the pile of dirt. Charm came out. I put her in the cage and I decided to see if I could dig him out. That was when I realized the “underneath” was far more than the porch, it was also a crawl space under that section of the house, which was an addition. I knew the other kittens had been too easy. I had the feeling we were headed for disaster. We couldn’t leave him alone, and Charm couldn’t be in two places at once. My phone battery was dead so I decided to go home, feed my cats, feed myself and make a few phone calls for ideas. “Got two more, still missing one–way under the porch, under the house! Thanks to Margo for meeting me back there with traps and ideas!”
Margo agreed to meet me back there as did Melissa who was bringing traps for the male cats she’d seen. We could try with a kitten trap, or we could just stand around and brainstorm.
But when I got back, Jenn had just captured the orange kitten! She said he came out on his own, she dropped one of the window screens behind him, he got tangled in the perimeter fencing and she got him! Margo and Melissa helped her open the cage and the whole family was inside!
So they came home with me last night and for now will stay here, in the bathroom. Charm’s kittens, awake and trying to glare at me, then later fast asleep.
Charm was the happiest kitty on earth! She was so happy when Melissa and I settled her into the bathroom that she just laid down on a pile of my slippers and kneaded them and purred. She ate a little and then laid down by her foods.
Some of the kittens’ eyes looked really nasty that night but not that afternoon. Most had goopy eyes, but I don’t see any extra discharge, no sneezing or nasal discharge, most of the goop cleaned right off the first night and I decided I’d finish it the next day.
Charm looked into the tub and checked on her kittens, their bellies were full and they were all safe indoors so she decided to take the night off. She finally settled down next to my feet, kneading the air. She would not sit on my lap though, not yet.
The kittens were pretty hissy that first night but today are way less hissy and eating well.
I’ve wiped eyes a few more times and snuggled them, and I’m guessing the tuxie and the calico are girls, the other three are boys. The tuxie and calico are distinctly different sizes than the boys, short-haired and petite. The boys are very fuzzy and feel much more substantial.
Charm had not nursed that night and the next morning her mammaries felt swollen and hot so I put her in the tub with the kittens and they readily nursed three times at least during the day, sitting up, lying down, walking around, however it would happen.
So because I’ve taken far too many photos already, here are plenty from today with better light and friendlier kittens, just total kitten and mom cuteness.
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