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It has been a year since our last T-N-R campaign.  In 2017 we were able to trap 17 of 21 ferals in our neighborhood, hopefully putting a dent into feral population growth.  In the last year we’ve seen the colony go from 21 regular residents to 14.  A few have been seen in other neighborhoods while others didn’t make it through the winter.  Sadly one of the cats from last year’s births was hit by a car and was found on a lawn.  Apparently Hudson (yeah, he had a name) pulled himself out of the roadway, trying to make it back to the safety of the colony. Over the last year he’d become well acclimated to the house and would have been a great house-cat.

20180406_151955

Hudson. May 2017 ~ April 2018

Mid-May is usually when you see the first round of births show up.  We’ve been watching the back fence to see if there were any litters; crossing fingers that we wouldn’t see any this year.

2018 Kitty 3

First Kitty of 2018, female, somewhere between 4 and 5 weeks old.

The first kitty made an appearance a few days ago.    Yesterday I was able to qo out back and counted 9 young kitties, probably 4 to 5 weeks old.  It appeared they were not weaned yet so we’ll have to wait a week or 2 before we start on this year’s roundup.  Yes, it’ll be a roundup much like that ad that ran during the Super bowl a few years ago:  EDS Cat herders

So far only 2 litters that we can identify.  One litter is composed of gold tigers, markings like their mother and father (yes, we’ve identified Dad).  Not too sure the 2nd litter belongs to.

Junior 2018

Junior – neighborhood tomcat. Identified as father to at least 6 litters over the past few years. We have not been able to trap him.

So look for an update in a few weeks when we break out the cages again and try to capture as many as possible while they are  young.  Shelters will not take in cats over 12 weeks as ferals are ‘imprinted’ by then and chances are they’d never be a good house cat beyond that point.  Sadly shelters are overloaded at this time and, consequently, some of the less desirable ones are put down before they’ve had a chance to be taken into a ‘forever home’.2-18 Kitty 2

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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.