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The cats on the Court have been quiet this past year; the regulars are still found sleeping on front porches or lawn chairs in the afternoon heat.  On Monday nights they go around the the neighborhood checking out the trash cans that have been left out for pickup.  An occasional jogger accompanied by their dog will stir the cats from their slumbers; some go off and hide behind bushes while others strike a pose on the porch steps and stare at the interloper as they transit the block.  Very quiet.

There are a few strays that reside on the court.  On the north side of the street is a tiger male, maybe 2 years old. He usually makes his way around the houses on that side of the street in the early morning and again just about an hour before dusk.  Not sure if he is a stray or if he has a forever house and likes to patrol the neighborhood.DSCN0499

Behind our house is an old factory that hosts a half dozen cats and possums. I’ve been putting a small plate of Cat kibble out for a few years now.  Paying the cats off for taking care of the mice that used to reside in the back. In past years there were a few Tigers (mostly orange and an occasional gray), white cats, blues and others.  Some lasted a year or two, others came and left quickly.  This year we saw a bumper crop of kittens and adult ferals.

We call her Lilly; a regular for the past 11 months, she’s maybe 18 months old and has recently had DSCN0453a litter of 5 kittens.  Probably had them in early May, at the beginning of the “season”.  The litter contained 3 orange tiger males and a pair of gray and black striped females.  Dad seems to be an older persian blend that has been hanging around for about a year.  Currently he and Lilly are a team, never more than a few hundred feet apart.

She was weaning the kittens and  would probably have a litter in the late fall if Dad had anything to do with it.  Time to look into TNR.

Trap-Neuter-Release.  Kittens are cute when young but, after a 20150729_193105year they are cats, not cuddly little fluff balls anymore.  They are skilled hunters and pro-creators.  Left to their own resources their population will grow quickly. In the past the population problems were handled by animal control by eliminating the feral population.  The absence of the cats allows the rodent population to increase, bringing along disease.  TNR programs handle the problem in a much more sensible way.  Males and females are trapped, brought into a humane shelter where they are evaluated for health issues, neutered/spayed then release back into the area they had been trapped.  The ear is clipped so the neutered cats are easily identified.

By releasing the cats back into their territory they keep the rodent population in check and no longer reproduce so the population won’t grow.  The population is kept steady; new cats drift into the territory as old cats die off.

The local animal control officer who provided a humane trap and instructed us on how and when to bait and set the trap. And how to handle trapped cats as well as possums, young raccoons and others who are attracted to the bait.20150729_200355  In 6 days we were able to capture Lilly, Dad and 4 of the 5 kittens.  Later our granddaughter adopted one of the kittens (and had the cat neutered).  Eventually all 4 kittens were all adopted out.  Lilly and Dad were returned to the neighborhood after they were neutered.  She quickly reconnected with the remaining 20150802_122822kitten (we tried for a week to catch him but ended up with the same possum in the trap 4 days in a row).  A neighbor took in another stray and took care of the surgery and shots.  

A few weeks later, the family has settled into a routine (breakfast in our yard at sunrise, spend the day in the neighbor’s yard sleeping on lawn chairs by the pool) and a quick dinner out on the back steps.  The Oak Court Cats have gotten used to them and are frequently share meals.  There are still a few strays out in the back but they must have heard about the trap and avoid the yard.

Last night I heard 2 cats “talking”DSCN0504 through the front screen.  Dad was having a conversation with our kittens, one of his kids.  Not sure but I believe he recognized her scent and was trying to connect with family. At some point she’ll get outside and I wonder if she’ll prefer to stay with her rather than to return to the house.  For now, however, she is the newest member of the clowder.

And, on a sad note, Missey, the “old lady” on the court passed away in late July, just past her 17th birthday. Missey 2013 1 In ‘cat’ years she lived to the ripe old age of 84; I’ll miss those late nights when she’d nudge me awake so that I could walk her to the kitchen for a snack.  Missey came to us as a kitten, shared her food bowl with the rest of the court and only hissed at me when she felt it was necessary.