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As noted in an earlier post, we’ve got a problem in that there are several large cat colonies living in the factory yard behind the house.  On the southwest corner there are roughly 30 cats in that colony.  The colony behind us has roughly 20 members; most of them are less than 1 year old.  This is the largest this colony has been in the 12 years we’ve lived here. Speaking with shelter staff and rescue volunteers, this was probably the busiest kitty season in the last 10 years.

In 2015 we trapped 7 cats; failed to trap one tiger and we believe he is the father of 4 of the 5 litters we are tracking.

Dad

Junior, neighborhood gigolo

This year we had help from a woman who works hard to reduce the number and sizes of feral colonies and managed to trap 15 over the course of 4 days.  There were 4 who managed to elude capture.

The kitties were taken to the local Humane shelter and, after a quick physical, were fixed and released back into the factory yard.   Dad, unfortunately, was not  captured but we hope to lay out the traps again in a few weeks, giving the colony time to settle down, before another attempt to catch the remaining “studs”.

Some questions come up when we talk about T-N-R:

  • Are the cats adopted?  Not often.  Adoptable cats are very young and by 12 weeks they are already feral; learning the social and survival skills from other members of the colony.
  • Do you feed the colony? Occasionally we’ll put out  few cups of cat kibble.  Putting out a lot of food will attract cats from other colonies and quickly the yard will be overrun with feral kitties.
  • Why are the cats returned to the factory yard?  The cats are returned to their ‘home’ territory.  If not, new cats will move into this space and you’ll quickly be facing another wave of kitties.  Returning the fixed kitties keeps the population under control as new cats looking for a home will move on.

It’s been a successful campaign.  While we believe we were successful, the real test will come in the spring when new kitties come across from the factory.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad are doing fine; she was the first cat we trapped this year so it’s safe to assume that she as well as the 5 females we trapped, won’t be contributing to nest season’s kitten count.

This year there was one kitten that took to me quickly, greeting me whenever I went out Mr Grayinto the yard, always hanging close (no closer than arm’s length however).  Mr.Gray, pictured here, is the only one of the colony who has figured out the screen door and sneaks into the house and eats Mr. Big’s food.  The larger cat hasn’t complained yet.

 

 

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It’s early summer and it’s kitten season here on the Court. Some years we don’t see any and other years we are inundated with kitties.   The summer of 2015 yielded 5 kittens  and this year we have 3 litters coming through the fence in search of a meal.  The court cats, with the exception of Junior, are not too pleased with the recent population explosion.

We have been involved in T-N-R efforts for a few years now; 2015 was a good year as we were able to catch 4 kittens and 3 adults.  A gold tiger manage to avoid the traps and has made our neighborhood his own.

Trap-Neuter-Release programs, managed by local animal control, will cover the costs for 20170628_204625neutering cats and releasing them back into their territory.  Placing them back keeps the population manageable by reducing the kitty -count and keeping transient ferals out.

This year’s kitty population, The current feral population consists of 5 adults and 10 kitties.  And all of this year’s litters all bear a striking resemblance to Junior’s coloring.  He is a tiger but doesn’t have the well-defined stripes.  His markings resemble gold splotches of paint thrown against a white wall.  Most of the kitties in the clowder have similar markings.

20170622_062119We’re pretty sure that there are 3 mothers, the oldest litter consists of 3, roughly 10 weeks old now, all gray fur their flanks showing the same mottled look as Dad.  Not sure who the mother is; have only seen a large gray female on a few occasions.

The second litter, 3 gold males that are very close to Dad’s markings, 1 female calico (like mom) and 1 gray and white male. These kittens are 9 weeks old now.

The 3rd liter is a gray and white mottled fur, we think she may be one of Junior’s children.  She has 2 kittens, gray tabbies and we estimate they are 8 weeks old.  All litters are fully weaned.20170625_173618-EFFECTS

The regular inhabitants of the court have been watching the kitties, waiting for the day when they are old enough to move on.  The cats will disburse eventually, if not caught first and sent over to the shelter where they have a chance of being adopted.

Acceptance by the Court Cats. The regular inhabitants haven’t chased the kitties off yet.  Some of the locals don’t seem to mind while others find them to be an irritant. Precious (the old lady) lays out on the back steps and yells at any of the kitties who come near.  (She yells at everyone who comes near).  Mr Big hangs out with the mommy cat and the kitties.  In the evening he’ll  be found by the food dish, waiting for them to come by.  In the late afternoons he’ll be sleeping out under a bush with 2 or 3 of the furballs tucked in beside him.

Ferals vs. Strays.  There is a difference that makes a difference when cats are caught.  A stray cat is one that was formerly someone’s pet; it is used to humans and can interact with them (usually to get into their good graces and get fed).  A feral is a wild cat, the parents being ferals or strays.  The feral is very cautious around people, it does not interact well at all.

When a cat is taken to the shelter the technicians will test the cat and make a determination  to either place the animal up for adoption or to  set it aside with the other ferals with no chance at a forever home.  Strays have a chance while ferals may not be as lucky.

So, until they either get caught or move on, we do what we can to take care them while IMG_20170517_075931_997they live behind us; food and water are put out in the back.  We clean their wounds (when we can get close to them) and put up with their ‘singing’ at 3 in the morning.

It’s late February and, here in Northern California, the weather is starting to break.  We’re still dealing with the rains but the temperatures are getting better with overnight lows dropping to the mid-40s.  For the feral cats that live in the factory behind us things are looking up.

This blog was started to relate the stories of the cats that call this house their home.  In the past few years, however, I’ve also written about some of the strays that come by to visit with the Court cats and share a bowl of kitty crunchies.  I won’t get up on my soap box today and preach the importance of having kitties ‘fixed’ at an early age.  Just keep in mind that serious cat-people have this taken care of quickly when the kitten is old enough for the procedure.

Currently there are 8 regulars in the neighborhood:

Junior, a 21-month-old tiger male.  We were able to catch his mother and 4 junior-nov-2016siblings.  Mom was neutered and released; the siblings were adopted.  Junior watched the family get trapped and avoids cages.

Roger, maybe 5 years old, a tiger with a white chest.  We’re not sure if he is really a stray. mHe is clean, well fed and wears a collar.  We haven’t been able to track him back to his people.  Roger’s territory covers the north side of the street and extends back behind the houses to include the apartments and the funeral home on the next block.  Mr. Big will occasionally cross the street to visit with some of the ‘house cats’ but doesn’t go behind the houses.

Princess, a female, white fur and maybe 3 years old. Our neighbor takes care of theimg_20170115_110522_021 Princess who has been neutered and sees a vet regularly.  She is an outside cat, not quite a feral then again not a house-dwelling cat.

The Trio, 3 siblings, maybe 8 months old and true ferals.  We have not been able to trap them (set out traps every night for a week and a half, managed to catch the same possum every night).  Mr. Big goes out when we put food out and spends an 20161029_174258hour back there with them most mornings.   Last week they managed to catch a finch and left half of the ‘meal’ next to the bowl, sharing the kill.

Blue.  Maybe a year old, lives in the warehouse behind the house.  He is not afraid to approach people as he knows that’s where the food comes from.

Calico Kitty, maybe 6 months and new to this end of the factory yard.  She seems to have figured out the schedules and rules.

We put out food every evening close to sunset (bowls of dry and wet food) and again around 6:30 the next morning.  Most feedings are cleaned up within a half hour; the cats are used to the schedule and know that if they aren’t there, another cat will finish the food.  Our cats don’t seem to mind, as long as the ferals stay out toward the other end of the yard and not approach the back door.  Seems our cats have laid out their territory and marked it well.

The winter hasn’t been too bad; there was a stretch where the overnight lows settled down to 29 degrees for a few weeks.  We assume the strays were able to find a warm dry shelter in one of the old warehouses.  For the first time in years we did not lose anyone.

Come April we’ll attempt to capture a few more of the strays for T-N-R; we want to keep the population down but not extinct.  We don’t have a problem with moles, mice or rats as the cats keep their numbers in check.

As for the Court Cats, with the cold and rain the Blue and the Old Lady stay in the house most of the time, venturing out on those occasional warm afternoons to sprawl on the back steps.  Long about April they’ll be spending more time outside, pursuing lizards and insects. At their age, they no longer go after birds; too much work.  The Old Lady is 13 now and not as agile.  The Blue – well, he never bothers to hunt for fresh food as there was always kitty-crunchies in the bowl.

Till next time –

 

It has been a while since the past post; I’ve been busy on some other things.  Today I’d like to update on the progress made in dealing with the stray cat population in the neighborhood.  The city where I live supports stray-cat population control through a relationship with the local animal shelter.  To summarize, the city picks up the cost of neuter/spay when a stray is brought in.  The cat is added to the shelter population for adoption or, if an older feral, released in the neighborhood where he was picked up.

In 2015 we successful in that we trapped 6 feral (the parents and 4 of their 5 offspring). The kittens found new forever homes and the parents were released in the neighborhood but have since moved on.

This year we again set out to trap strays.  3 new strays moved into the factory yard. The adult is a large tiger; I guessed his age at 2 to 3 years and he seemed to be quite well fed which leads me to think he was someone’s cat at one point.  There are 2 kittens, maybe 6 months old at this point that have taken to visiting our yard, looking to share a meal with our own cats. The 5th kitten from last year’s litter is still here, visiting most every morning for a meal.

Working the trap for a 10 day period we were able to capture the adult tiger (taken to the shelter) and Paul the Possum (repeatedly).

The current stray population:

Junior, 18 month old tiger.  He has managed to avoid the traps (we’ve tried to catch him on junior-nov-2016a dozen occasions but have not been successful) and has settled into the role of ‘neighborhood cat’.  While he still stops by here in the mornings for a meal, he is also fed by some of the other people living on the court.

The Kittens – They started showing up in the back during the summer.  Not sure where they came from but, due to their coloring, we think their parents started to visit the yard in the early spring.  Always seen together, they come out at sunrise and again near sunset, looking to get a handout.  Mr. Big, our Maine Coon, has taken an interest in these kitties and visits with them at meal time.kitties-and-mr-big

Paul the Possum – A frequent visitor, Paul has spent more time in our trap than all other captures combined.  He likes the cat food we put out and doesn’t seem to mind getting caught, as long as there is food available.20150802_122822

And the Court Cats are all doing fine.  Precious just celebrated her birthday; she’s 13 and is talkative.  Fatty and Mr. Big are doing well; they spend the autumn days sleeping on the back steps, warmed by the sun.precious-at-13

In the fall I posted a blog that covered our attempts to trap-neuter-and-release a family of cats that lives behind our house.  The kittens are 10mmonths old now; time for an update.

There were 5 kittens in the litter.  We were able to trap 4 of them and they were all adopted quickly.  My granddaughter adopted 1 while her mother adopted another.  The shelter told us the 2 gold/white tabbies were also adoped.  The 5th kitten managed to avoid being trapped.  Junior (ok, we named him).

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Junior and Mom in September, 4 months old.

The cats continued to come around through the falll and into the winter.  We noticed that the father stopped coming around on a regular basis in November and has not been back since early December.DSCN0541

This picture was taken late in January.  The mother (on the left) is about as big as her 9 month old son.

The mother comes around most mornings, looking for a bite in the early morning and again in the evening, just after sunset.  She won’t hang around after eating; usually has a quick meal and is gone in 15 minutes.

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After the father moved on, Junior used to spend time shadowing The Big Guy.  Meal time, nap time andplay time.

Junior, on the other hand, liked visiting and would spend the cold nights in the garage,  sleeping close to the hot water heater where the temperture says around 65 degrees.  We set up a box and blanket where he could snuggle under cloth and keep warm.

In the last few weeks Junior has stopped coming around.  Towards the end of January he stopped sleeping in the garage and hasn’t shown up for meals either.  The assumption is that he has moved on to a new neighborhood where he can find warmth and a meal.    Either that or he succumbed to the winter.  I’d like to think he has found a home where he has a quiet corner near the heater and a bolw of crunchies to snack on.

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This is Kimchee, my granddaughter’s adopted kitty, around 6 months, having a conversation with her father through the screen door.

Hopefully we won’t see any new litters this year; the neighborhood females are all fixed and we haven’t seen any new ferals slinking around.

Meanwhile, The Big Guy continues to patrol the neighborhood, going out early  to visit the others on the Court and chase unwanted visitors away.