Fab four: my emotional difficulties in caring for feral cats

Fab four: my emotional difficulties in caring for feral cats

by Allie
(California)

A handsome Siamese cat frequented my back yard, (I named him Jonah). My two indoor cats enjoy watching him through the windows (my indoor cats never go outdoors.)

Going on 3 years now I have made him make-shift homes to keep him dry from rain, keep food out for him. Since Jonah is Siamese, I believe he has been spayed because no sign of his markings in the community in other kittens/cats.

Last year a long hair grey cat was coming to eat Jonah’s food…I would try to discourage this grey cat. A couple of months later I saw this same grey cat back with a litter of four kittens…I called them the fab four (fabulous four) but soon they went away.

We have an open field behind our back yard, where we’ve known sightings of coyotes, opossums, skunks, etc. As time passed, I noticed the fab four comfortable at the front courtyard of the house at the end of our street. Knowing this homeowner had been married to a veterinary gave me comfort in thinking that maybe these cats were being cared for responsibly.

This same house at the end of the street is up for sale now. With the vacating of the homeowner, the fab four came back to my back yard to eat Jonah’s food. As I increased the amount of the food for Jonah, not only the Fab four were coming to dine but several other neighborhood cats too.

I was mortified when I noticed one morning a litter of kittens. A few days later – one more litter. And then yet one more litter of kittens in the front yard – three litters…and I saw before my very own eyes proof that one of the fab four was male (no details…use your imagination)…

I assume he is father of the three litters and three of the fab four are momma cats. Interestingly, the kittens will feed on alternate moms but they feed as a litter – there are three different sizes of kittens. The smallest litter in the front yard was sickly and easy to catch – we were able to take them in to the SPCA. I cried the entire time to and from and have panic attacks when thinking of trapping cats, not because of what may happen to them (which is really sad) but the process makes me sick. I can not trap the cats or see them trapped…but I need to have them trapped and removed because they will only multiply and our back yard smells really bad.

I have tried to find someone to do the trapping and it is taking too long…I am afraid we will have more litters. I read and am told that feeding feral cats is wrong…but I can not see cats skinny and hungry. I am told by those who trap cats that it is best to have them contained to a specific area which I can only do if I continue to feed them…it frustrates me to be chastised for feeding them.

If it is their future to have to be put down since I can’t find anyone who wants wild feral cats…why then should their last days on this cruel earth be those of hunger?

Images of trapped cats bring back horrible memories of bad experiences. I know it must be done…but I can’t be the one to do it…If people had hearts for cats and were more responsible, I wouldn’t have feral cats in my back yard!!

Allie

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Fab four: my emotional difficulties in caring for feral cats

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Sep 19, 2010 update on Callie
by: Allie

In my fab four story I mentioned a calico cat I would see at the back gate of our community. I would often look for her to feed her. I later learned that a neighbor had trapped, fixed and released her. She and her daughter would look for Callie and feed her. And it was this remarkable neighbor that gave Callie her name.
Callie has been missing for a couple of months. I find myself still looking for her every time I leave or enter the neighborhood. Some of the cats we trapped were the cats that scared Callie from her regular hang out locations. These cats were wild and mean, but it was probably too little too late, maybe they scared Callie away or maybe she was killed…
But tonight I received a call and Callie has reappeared! That was the best news! The work in containing feral cats may not be over though. Although I haven’t noticed any cats in our backyard, it seems there are new feral cats and at least one that is intimidating Callie (she is too sweet) People who don’t care and just dump cats are down right inconsiderate and mean.


Sep 09, 2010 well…so long…
by: Allie

What a month…I have wept more this last month than I can recall. My good husband has unintentionally become quite the master trapper. We do prefer the “tru catch” trap over the other traps we’ve tried. The “tru catch” trap I purchased online was a brown one with an exit door on the back side. It was also favored by the SPCA when the cats were taken in.
Of the fabulous four, one stubborn black male cat remains. I suppose for now I won’t worry too much unless someone has female cats around that haven’t been fixed. I sure hope not. We will try to catch him again in a few weeks…
Today I enjoyed watching Jonah lay in the sun in the backyard- something I haven’t seen him do for months now. I watch for him and put food out for him before night fall…then food is removed so that other cats don’t come, but mostly so that those pesky opossums stay out. (they are creepy) It may be my imagination, but it looks like I am even seeing more birds! Jonah seems to be vision challenged; birds appear to be safe around him!
We actually caught a couple of mean cats that were in addition to the fab four bunch. These cats were very wild. We also caught friendly neighbor cats, but released them of course…they still come into our back yard looking for a free snack.
I will be happy to just have Jonah as my questionable outdoor (adopted) cat. One is enough to worry about. Poor cat is more afraid of me now than ever, after being trapped (& released) a couple of times…I wonder if he will ever trust me!
Meanwhile, Cally, the back gate kitty never reappeared. I still look for her every time I leave or come home…After this much time, I’m afraid that she may be gone for good, no thanks to those mean cats we trapped and took into the SPCA, as they were always harassing her.
As I enter my last comment to this series, I ask those who are reading to love your cats, if you have them, and if you do, you do not need to be told to love them because you know what I mean! …and if you don’t have a cat, you don’t’ know what you are missing! They are angels in fur! I love my 2 indoor cats, and I love Jonah, even if I may never be able to pet him or have him not run from me. Cats are remarkable creatures…my life is so much better for knowing the ones that have been in my life…even if for a short time. And for those who have cats that aren’t loveable, but keep the cats anyway…I believe there is a special place waiting for you in Heaven!


Aug 25, 2010 more about Jonah
by: Allie

Jonah is a handsome neutered abandoned Siamese cat. Jonah was released from the trap the other morning…My husband and I are attached to him and have seen him come around for three years, ever since his owners vacated their home (next door) and left it uninhabitable. Jonah is wild because I believe people have treated him badly which is probably what cats can expect in my neighborhood. I don’t live out in the country (although there is vacant property behind our house.) We can not have feral cats or any pets outdoors. We are trying to keep Jonah but not officially as keeping him is a violation of the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). If I had a country home things could be different, but that is not the case. I am touched that Dorothy would offer to assist in expense for neuter/spay. That is so sweet! (Thank you!) The cats are not healthy and so very wild. This morning a big male (not part of the fab four) was trapped-he was literally wildly hanging upside down in the cage. I never cared much for this cat as he did frequent out back yard and didn’t seem to care when I tried to deter him. This morning my favorite of the fab four was trapped. (She was the one that I was glad was hissing at me so I could hate her…I think I may have mentioned this before) She was a tuxedo cat as is my favorite indoor cat who is a rescued cat strictly indoors. We are having out backyard sprayed for fleas monthly. After twp days of spraying our backyard a friend was out for just a few minutes and came in the house with fleas. Then there is cat feces everywhere in the backyard including the lawn. It has gotten out of control. It hurts to see them gone, but the price to keep them goes beyond monetary. And the neighbors would not allow it.
As for update- we think there are two of the fab four that are outsmarting the traps and maybe one kitten, not sure. The daddy may be the most difficult to catch. It’s dusk and nothing has been set yet, so I’m not sure if tonight will be a pass.


Aug 25, 2010 more about Jonah
by: Allie

Jonah is a handsome neutered abandoned Siamese cat. Jonah was released from the trap the other morning…My husband and I are attached to him and have seen him come around for three years, ever since his owners vacated their home (next door) and left it uninhabitable. Jonah is wild because I believe people have treated him badly which is probably what cats can expect in my neighborhood. I don’t live out in the country (although there is vacant property behind our house.) We can not have feral cats or any pets outdoors. We are trying to keep Jonah but not officially as keeping him is a violation of the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). If I had a country home things could be different, but that is not the case. I am touched that Dorothy would offer to assist in expense for neuter/spay. That is so sweet! (Thank you!) The cats are not healthy and so very wild. This morning a big male (not part of the fab four) was trapped-he was literally wildly hanging upside down in the cage. I never cared much for this cat as he did frequent out back yard and didn’t seem to care when I tried to deter him. This morning my favorite of the fab four was trapped. (She was the one that I was glad was hissing at me so I could hate her…I think I may have mentioned this before) She was a tuxedo cat as is my favorite indoor cat who is a rescued cat strictly indoors. We are having out backyard sprayed for fleas monthly. After twp days of spraying our backyard a friend was out for just a few minutes and came in the house with fleas. Then there is cat feces everywhere in the backyard including the lawn. It has gotten out of control. It hurts to see them gone, but the price to keep them goes beyond monetary. And the neighbors would not allow it.
As for update- we think there are two of the fab four that are outsmarting the traps and maybe one kitten, not sure. The daddy may be the most difficult to catch. It’s dusk and nothing has been set yet, so I’m not sure if tonight will be a pass.


Aug 25, 2010 Agreed
by: Michael

Dorothy asked me to have a look at the comments. If you need some money for neutering and have a Paypal account just ask as Dorothy suggests. I’ll go along with what she says. And good luck.

Michael Avatar


Aug 25, 2010 Hi Allie
by: Dorothy

I’m reading your posts, wishing I had something more to offer. Is it possible to again trap your big black friend Jonah, and have him neutered? Michael, the administrator to this website might pitch in some dollars for that. I would too, if you have a paypal account. If you got him neutered, and let him live where he is it might help the problem develop further. What about one of the females as well? It might help keep the population at bay.

What do you think? I’m sure we can somehow find you the money to neuter one or two, maybe three of the cats.

I’ve been nurturing a beautiful feral here on my property for the past year or more. Someone else had her spayed and returned. Now she waits by the back door, looking up at me. I almost touched her this week, but she hissed, after ‘asking’ to be touched. It was precious. She will never be a domestic cat, as she’s old and has lived on her own for so long. But now I see her all day long, lounging in the back yard, waiting until next feed time. She has a best friend cat named Shadow. He was a feral kitten who was adopted by my neighbors before they moved here. It took them a year to coax him in. Now he is both domestic and a wild boy. He hangs with my yellow cat, and I feed him too. He seems to be teaching her that it is okay to be petted by humans.

I hope this helps, and maybe you will let some of us help you, so you don’t have to live this nightmare of all the cats being killed.

Stay in touch.

Dorothy
Central Coast


Aug 24, 2010 Day 3 and curious
by: Allie

I had to ask how many have been trapped so far even though I asked not to be told any details… 6 small and one mamma cat have been taken to the SPCA. Jonah was in a trap this morning and seemed nicer than the others according to my husband. He was pretty pleased to be released and “happily strutted away” as my husband put it. The big black male still is out there and that worries me as he fathered his three sister’s litters, who knows who else he’s “befriended.” I hoped for the process to get easier but thoughts keep finding me and my imagination is brutal. I have heard loud meows from the left grey mamma in the back yard- it is the first time I peeked through the blinds (first time I’ve looked in the back yard since this process began) and that was a mistake…so even though I have my radio blaring to block out her I know she is out there and it hurts me. She was walking toward the sounds the loud meowing with what appeared to be a lizard in her mouth. I worry if there is water for them out in their water dishes…I wish I could feed them… So much of this is painful and if anyone reading this thinks badly of the fact we are taking these cats to the SPCA- please understand that I spent countless hours researching all of my options and it was this or just cat proof my backyard which would shift the problem elsewhere. I could not do that. I already had a attachment to these feral cats and would have done anything to keep all of them but there was no feasible way. I just wish this process was over but we still have to find a way to outsmart the last few.


Aug 24, 2010 evening of day 2
by: Allie

My idea to take the night off and instead put out food to keep the cats coming back did not fly. He just left with I don’t know how many…He wanted to wait until morning to transport instead of making a second trip in the morning but I couldn’t bare to think of them trapped in the cage overnight…if I think about it, that is just where they will be anyway…in a different cage, but I don’t expect to make very much sense of all of this. I can’t wait for this to be over.


Aug 23, 2010 …didn’t complete Cally story
by: Allie

I mentioned that Mr. Grey reminded me of Cally and the reason for that is that Cally has been missing for a month now and I hope she comes back as did Mr. Grey…we miss her. Two other mean feral cats have been spotted sitting in Cally’s spot and have been spotted in our backyard too, however, Cally never ventured into our backyard.


Aug 23, 2010 thank you to two:
by: Allie

Thank you Kathy- cute story about Rusty aka Rascal?! Lucky for him to have more than one person look after him! And Mr. Grey reminds me of an additional neighborhood feral cat story about Cally. I watched Cally at the back gate of our neighborhood for months. Coming home, I noticed her as she sat the same place. Soon I would look for her nightly to the point where I would drive to find her before/after dinner and would only feel relieved when I knew I was able to give her dinner. Some days it appeared she had been previously fed and I learned of the wonderful neighbor who actually had caught and spayed Cally, and actually gave her the name. She had different markings as a calico with orange on half of her face that from a distance would make you wonder if she was okay. This amazing woman also has a heart for stray cats and dogs. I wish our small neighborhood was made up of more compassionate people as it would be easier to keep strays or feral cats. But there are a few here that do not like cats, and we have in place leash laws for pets and then of course there is the city 2 pet per home “so called” ordinance- making it difficult assume the responsibility of TNR cats. Secondly, I also would like to thank Georgina for her comment- It is great that you love feral cats -I also do…but I have no other choice but to take them to the SPCA…I can’t find anyone who will take them especially since they are so wild. I have seen neighbors scaring off these cats as they walked by their yards and know that many people feel their duty is complete when the don’t feed feral cats and aren’t kind to them. The SPCA was our only other choice…and it was not an easy one.


Aug 23, 2010 morning of day 2
by: Allie

I want to thank Dorothy for her comments. I checked out the Caboodle Ranch website and am amazed that there are people out there with such a big heart. We have a cat ranch close by but they no longer accept cats, especially feral. I was afraid to post my comments here about my situation for fear of what others would write and am thankful to have found support instead, for which I am grateful! …looking back, I realize I should have been more fearful of not checking for spelling and grammar- (sorry!)
Normally I sleep pretty well, not so last night. One of the times I woke in a panic wondering if yesterday there had been consideration for the lawn sprinklers that come on at 4am…I had visions of what could be happening…at 6am my dear husband was dressed and ready to take another trip to SPCA-I think there was only one to take the journey to add to the confirmed two of last night. He said one of the traps had been “figured out” as the food was gone but the trap had not been tripped. I now worry about the cats left in “waiting” going hungry as we only leave food in the few traps that are set. I worry about Jonah, who will be released if he is trapped…I may see about taking a tonight off and not setting the traps, not only for the cats, but for my husband…and me…One of the momma cats hissed at us anytime I came within 50 yards while all others scatter at the sight of me…and I would thank her…please make me hate you, I would think…it didn’t work.


Aug 23, 2010 and so it begins…
by: Allie

With no other option, the traps are set in our backyard. I asked not to be informed about details, all the shades are drawn, I do not look at the backyard. I am not to know which cat/kitten is caught- My husband will be my Hero and is doing the trap and transfer for me because I can not. At this moment, my husband is taking on the mission of the 45 minute round trip to the SPCA, and for this he will earn much credit, so much more taking me on a cruise, a diamond or anything else. To take my mind off of the inevitable we decided to find a movie to watch…it was a big mistake to choose a movie about Dr. Kevorkian- Dr Death. (How do you spell Irony?) As the movie started I thought I heard something and my husband went to check the traps…he quietly returned to and said, “Sweetheart, I have to go for a ride.” He left…I turned the movie off…my migraine is back and I am sobbing alone with my two cats questioning why this hurts so much. I know it has to be done but it hurts. These feral cats have unknowingly been my companions for the last couple of months and I don’t know why I got so much pleasure from watching them eat the food I would leave out for them, watching them as the played, as the cuddled and slept on the patio chairs, and as the mothers fed their little ones. This is only the beginning- we have at least 12 feral cats to trap. I don’t know how many were caught tonight. This is going to be a long miserable week.


Aug 20, 2010 Message to Dorothy
by: Allie

Thank you for your advice, Dorothy! I live in Fresno and am afraid that feral cats really don’t have much of a future here. I’ve spent many hours on the internet and called every cat agency and they do not accept feral cats. In order to do the TNR I would have to return them here and the neighborhood won’t tolerate them. As it is, our backyard smells so bad now…it breaks my heart but after speaking to my Vet and many other people I have to realize that these cats may be carrying diseases,…they are flea infested and my Pest Control bill has increased substantially, not to mention additional gardener maintenance. I think I may have the help I need for trapping and then they will be taken to the SPCA within the next two weeks. I have borrowed several traps and have them out with food now. I hope that I will not have to see any of the trapping. I will miss not seeing them play at night. In discussing this problem I’ve learned that there are so many kind hearted people who love cats as I do, and that shows in their eyes and into souls! Thanks again for comments…I will write again when this next chapter reaches a conclusion.


Aug 19, 2010 To Allie
by: Dorothy

Hi, I hope you have come back to read your comments. Meanwhile, I just discovered this…and they are located in Florida. Maybe they can help.

Best wishes, and do check back in.

Dorothy


Aug 17, 2010 Is there TNR in the UK?
by: Georgina

Does anyone know if there is anything like TNR in the UK. I am unemployed an can’t afford to pay for my feral cats neutering although I have had my 5 cats that live indoors neutered this was through a scheme where you send off proof of benefits to the Cats Protection League and they send you a £25 voucher for each cat but with 5 cats it still cost me a substantial amount of money to have them all done. I don’t want to ring the RSPCA because my friend was looking after 2 feral cats and she tamed them then rung then RSPCA to rehome them and they said they would let her know what happened to them but she never heard anything more and she suspects they may have put them down. Well I’m not risking that happening to mine coz although they’re feral, I still love them.


Aug 16, 2010 TNR
by: Dorothy

Hi again Allie. This is a good article on trapping cats. I thought you would like to see it. There are new communities popping up around the country who do TNR. Hollywood Florida is doing an experiment with it now.

Let us know how it is going.

Dorothy


Aug 16, 2010 I wish you luck
by: kathy

Your a kind hearted person to be helping these poor babies. I have Midnight who also was a stray with 4 babies. Our landlord took care of her and when he found homes for the kitties she was left out side to fend for herself. With the help of a group called Spay and Stay she was fixed, given shots, wormed and deflead. She now is our baby. We had who we thought was a stray, an orange cat who was older. My neighbor and I named him Rusty. He came everyday and ate, we both fed him. He was friendly but so skinny. I came to the conclusion he was very old. One day a teenager girl came to our yard looking for her orange cat named Rascal. She said he was old and was staying away now that he was older. We came to the conclusion he was our Rusty who had a home, was well taken care of and was just out for a friendly visit. We found this out after 2 years. Well I have one stray, Mr Grey. He only comes about twice a week. I love him even though I cant get close to him. When he doesnt come I worry about him. When I didnt see him for about a month I was so sad. He came last night and I was so happy to see him. He was skinny and grateful to be fed. Good luck with your ferals. Your a kind heart.


Aug 14, 2010 TNR
by: Dorothy

Allie, where do you live in California? Maybe someone, even me, can help you find sn organization to help. There was an extensive TNR done in my neighborhood years ago and the cats who were retuned are now living out there lives here peacefully. Some are even getting old. The TNR is great because without new kittens the group of ferals somehow keep out cats from other areas. I suppose it is a territorial thing. I am feeding two, and there is a wonderful woman who works near here feeding most of the rest. Some of us donate food to her. The cats stay hidden during the day and they certainly aren’t a nuisance to anyone.

I wish there were more communites out there doing TNR, as it solves the problem of over breeding. I hope someone here can help. Thank you for doing what you can.

Dorothy
Central Coast, CA


Aug 14, 2010 Empathy
by: Michael

Hi Allie, thanks for sharing your cat story. I can very much empathise with your feelings. It must be a agonising as you can’t resolve the problem and at the same time you can’t watch and see things unfold.

You are right in that they will be euthanised at a shelter.

The only true answer is for the cats to go through TNR (trap, neuter, return) and for irresponsible cat owners/caretakers to become responsible. Both are hard to achieve. The latter seems almost impossible to achieve.

Is there an organisation in your area who can do TNR work for you? I guess you have checked that out though.

There is simply no easy answer but neutering is the first step. Watch out people don’t start complaining. Sometimes people do when a kind person like you feeds stray and feral cats.

Good luck and try and come back with an update

Michael Avatar



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