And yes, I know ork is properly spelled with a “c.” I can’t be crazy cat lady if I know orc is spelled with a “c” and kobald with a “k.”
Anyway … I’ve mentioned on Facebook that a family of feral cats was living in my backyard. To be more accurate, they’re living under the shed in my neighbor’s yard and playing in the overgrown forsythia and pine at the corner of my property.
I spotted the mom about two or three years ago in the winter. She came to me almost right away when I called her. I didn’t see a collar, but figured I should get her inside, out of the cold, and check for other IDs. Flyers entered my mind. My dog, Eckie, did not. As soon as I carried Drifter (lost cat, drifts of snow, you get it) over the threshold, Eckie barked, the cat hissed, glimpses of chaos flashed through my mind. Drifter jumped out of my arms and out the door.
I figured she had just wandered a little far from home and was headed back to her family. She looked well fed and taken care of.
I spotted her a couple of times over the years, but felt same in my assumption she was an outdoor cat who just wandered a bit.
Until about a month ago. That’s when I spotted Drifter in the back yard with some little friends. Turns out Drifter got knocked up. The slut. She’s got five kids. One is definitely a girl ‘cause she’s a calico like mom and only girls can be calicos (trust me). Another one may be a girl because she’s predominantly grey but may have two other colors going on.
The other three are completely white. One is the smallest of the litter with the calico kitten not that much larger.
I put out some water for the family since I felt guilty about letting Drifter get away before. I was contemplating putting out food when I started talking to the aforementioned shed neighbor. Turns out he was feeding them twice a day. Then I found out next-door neighbor was also feeding them. Okay, no need for me to contribute to feline obesity.
We discussed various plans for the cats while the kittens grew up a bit and turned my bushes into a playground. I read just enough on the Internet (where everything is true) to conclude the kittens needed to get used to people if they weren’t going to be permanent residents of the fields around the house and all of them needed the Bob-Barker treatment (as do your pets unless you’re a professional breeder so get to it!). So I started hanging out with the kittens as did next-door neighbor. They’re curious but don’t get too too close.
Last night, our idle conversations became a plan. I spent an hour with the head of the Cat Angel Network at PetSmart picking out supplies to be a foster mom for the kittens. A decision I knew I was going to end up making, but which was helped by an encouraging email from the Fabulous Lorraine. Meanwhile, next-door neighbor had contacted Stray Cat Blues and their representative was visiting when I went to visit the kittens.
The ORK team had a long discussion about what we wanted to do. Here’s the plan.
Tonight, next-door neighbors will trap Drifter and take her to the vet tomorrow for spaying, vaccinations, defleaing. I’ll get her from the vet and she’ll live with me for about five days before releasing her back into the yards … unless in that time she suddenly reverts back to a tame cat, which is pretty unlikely.
Meanwhile (the word of choice for this blog post), kitten capture will begin. The hope is get all of the kittens before their mom is set free again. The kittens will live with me in a large cage to be socialized over the summer. Shed neighbor may want the grey one. If Eckie likes the kittens, I may end up with one or two. Next-door neighbor may want one, but doesn’t think their dog will. The others will be up for adoption for whatever amount will cover the ORK costs for that cat and to people who will promise not to declaw.
The rep from Stray Cat Blues is footing the vet bills, but the ORK team had already decided to do that so we’ll be donating something to Stray Cat Blues so it can reimburse their rep (the organization’s Trap-Neuter-Release funds for 2009 are already depleted). The initial vet bill for the spaying, vaccinations, deworming, defleaing, testing is going to run about $600 for the family. My PetSmart bill was $200 last night and I still need a cage, bowls and litter box for the mom. The neighbors have spent whatever on food.
So, here’s the awkward part. If you have a couple of dollars to spare, the ORK team would appreciate it. Donations to Stray Cat Blues directly are tax deductible; if you want to go that route, let me know the amount because we need to tell the rep what our donations are so he can be reimbursed. If you don’t have extra cash but have spare food bowls, cat toys, pet carriers, Fancy Feast, Purina One Kitten food, a cat cage, extra towels, etc., they’d also be appreciated. If none of the above are possible, your encouragement is all we need.
And stay tuned to the blog for updates on ORK.