Outside Kitties

Back in late July, Mike & I were awoken to the sound of meowing outside our window. We found a momma kitty feeding kittens! We went outside, but they all ran away. After we showered, we went outside again and found one kitten along our fence and two along our house. Mike picked up the gray one by the fence and I picked up one of the tiger ones by the house. The other tiger one ran under our porch.

They were so tiny and so cute. Little did we realize that would be the only time we would be able to pick them up or pet them again. At the time, we thought it would be best to put the two kittens we picked up back with their sibling. We went away for the weekend and when we returned, there was no sign of momma kitty or the kittens.

A couple weeks later, we found momma kitty and her kittens in our backyard again. This time, we saw 5 kittens! A few days or a week later, a big kitten showed up and was adopted into the family. We wonder if he was part of a previous litter. None of them would let us get near them. They would scurry off under our porch. We decided to start feeding them, hoping that we could make them people friendly and adopt them out.

I would stay outside with them when feeding them, but they were always too scared to eat while I was around. One time, we were gone for the weekend and they didn't have enough food to last the whole weekend. When we got home, we put food out and they were so hungry that they didn't mind us being out there while they ate. After that, they stopped hiding when we'd come out, but still wouldn't go near us or let us near them.

Eventually, I was able to pet momma kitty. I started to feel confident that I'd be able to catch her and get her spayed, but I got scratched and bit when trying to put her in the pet carrier. I had to go to the doctor and get a tetanus shot and be put on antibiotics for possible infection.

That weekend, I did some research on the web and contacted over 20 organizations soliciting help. One lady responded to give me the number of a local lady who traps feral cats all the time to spay/neuter and release. I called her and she made several trips out to my house to trap all 7 cats. She works with an organization called The Catherine Fund, who pays for all the spaying and neutering of feral cats.

Momma kitty was already pregnant again when they took her in, but they still did the spay. Unfortunately, we haven't seen momma kitty since the day she was brought back. Our best guess is that she popped some stitches while jumping the fence and died somewhere. This makes me very sad because she was the only one I could pet and she was really sweet. I was looking forward to having her around. For a while I would still look for her every time I went outside to feed the kittens. I'm very saddened by the loss, but I know I did the right thing in taking her in to get spayed.

A small part of me hopes she'll just show up again one day months down the road. One small bit of hope is that we found a dead rabbit in the backyard about a week after they were all fixed. When momma kitty was around, she was an excellent hunter. We kept finding rabbit parts in our back yard (skulls, legs, spines, etc.) So either momma kitty left one last offering to her kittens before taking off or the kittens (probably "big kitten") picked up the skill. That was almost two months ago though, and we haven't seen any rabbit parts since. So I guess there's hope she's still alive.

We still have all 6 kittens (her 5 and the "big kitten"), although they are getting very big now and won't be "kittens" much longer. We feed them twice and a day and give them fresh water. We've also put out a cat scratcher, a chair with pillows, and some blankets since it's getting cold. We can tell they want more than just food, but they still won't let us pet them. I've been able to touch a head or two a couple times while they're eating, and Mike was able to pet gray kitten a little bit a couple nights ago.

Here are some pictures of the kitties with the following description by Mike:

"These are neutered strays we have adopted. There are 6 of them, but only 4 are present here. Before we befriended the mother, she taught them to be afraid of people, and it's a hard habit to break when taught so young."