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Thank you so much for stopping by. This blog is something I've set up just for fun -- yours and mine! There are any number of things that may be discussed here from everyday living in the California desert to digital scrapbooking to my favorite books to cardmaking to the art of letter writing to caring for feral cats to movies I like. After you read my bio, you should have a good sense of other topics you may find here. I welcome your comments and hope you return again and again!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Adventures with Feral Cats

My husband and I have been blessed to have had six cats during our 17 years together. Most came from a feral background. Sissy (below) just recently disappeared after 14 years somewhere in this big old desert. She was at least third generation feral. [Feral cats are those which have been separated from domestication, whether through abandonment, loss, or running away, and become wild. The term also refers to descendants of such cats. Feral kittens may be re-domesticated, to some extent, if handled by humans within their first 5 weeks of life.]



For some unknown reason, Sissy's mother, FluffNugget, became friendly with me toward the end of her pregnancy. She would let me pet her and even pick her up. After FluffNugget birthed her litter of four kittens, we found their location and catnapped them. They lived for several weeks in our spare shower. Four to five times a day, I'd go outdoors and bring FluffNugget into the house depositing her in the shower to nurse her babies. During this time, we also had a lot of play time with the kittens and handled them a lot.

This routine went on for approximately six weeks when, for an equally unknown reason, FluffNugget began to run from me each time I tried to approach her. By the time the kittens were that age, many mama cats would have weaned their litter anyway, so we felt they'd gotten the best start in life.




Pictured here when they were small enough to fit in a garbage basket, clockwise from top Missy, Bubby, Opie, and Sissy.


We were attached to all four kittens by that time, and kept them all. Sissy was soon the lone surviving cat. She was completely re-domesticated and was very affectionate with humans. She virtually made a 180 degree turn-around because she never became friendly with another cat after her litter mates were gone.



Then, along came Buster. Our Bluetick Hound, Mollie (above), was outside one night barking her head off and causing quite a ruckus. My husband went out to see what was up. When he walked back in the house, he was carrying the cutest little five or six week old orange kitten shown below snuggled on my hubby's chest.







We never did find out if Buster was abandoned or from a feral colony. He was a quite character and couldn't be called affectionate although he had his moments. He liked us, as long as we didn't get too close, too often. Above you see can Buster in all his glory lounging in one of his favorite spots under the dining room table. Buster disappeared in June 2007, shortly after his first birthday, which left us both very heartbroken. (Sissy, on the other hand, was quite happy.)


In the early days after Buster's disappearance, my DH spent part of every day outside searching for him thinking maybe he'd gotten himself stuck some place. On one of these outings, he came back with a little cat he mistakenly believed was abandoned in one of his old cars. She was about five weeks old, and we decided to keep her. She had a smoky color so she became "Smoky," also known as Smoky-Dokey and Mocha. Like Buster, she's not conventionally affectionate, but wherever we end up in the house, there's Smoky close by. She prefers not to be picked up or over-petted, but allows it at times. At night time, she snuggles tightly against the back of my legs as I sleep. As long as we follow her cues, we no longer get scratched or bit. (The sooner you figure these things out, the better it is for everyone.)



During another outing on our property, still in search of Buster, my DH discovered two other young kittens where he'd found Smoky. Oops--she was not an abandoned kitten, she'd only been left alone in the nest for awhile. Each time he went back to the nest, he saw more kittens! I told him to quit going out there because I didn't want the litter to keep growing! Final count was a litter of five kittens, not including Smoky. Eventually Smoky's Mama and some of her litter mates disappeared.


MizzSmoky-Dokey loves being in the middle of everything including my stamping projects!


Until last week, we had two of Smoky's sisters (Pretty Girl & Patches) and a stray (Blackie), who we feed morning and night on top of an upright freezer that sits beyond our deck. Each had kittens although Patches' lone baby was born early in the summer heat and was not able to tolerate it. In the past few days, Patches has also disappeared. Pretty Girl once had four kittens all of whom were healthy and feral--just like their mama, they’d run at the sight of us. Then suddenly, only two remain (Mini-Buster 'cuz he's another orange tabby, and Mini-Black&White).


Those two are the "teenaged" kittens of the clowder. We've noticed this week, they're becoming bolder and not taking off as quickly when we approach or inching their way in our direction. They now eat the food we leave out, too.


Blackie's five kittens are approximately six or seven weeks old and she has allowed us to handle them since they were about two or three weeks old. She sticks close by which means we can continue to socialize the kittens, and we hope to eventually find them good homes.



A couple of Blackie's kittens cuddle for a nap.




Kittens will do anything for their Mama's Milk,
even stand on their heads.

In spite of knowing, in general, outside cats do not live as long as indoor cats, desert life is rough on cats, and that these cats have no attachment to us, we find ourselves growing quite attached to The Feral Family that frequents our freezer top and deck. It's hard when any of them disappear.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Jeanie,

    Smokie is so pretty! Make her stay until I get there!

    And how nice to have the whole story with all the pictures :)

    Love, Jacqueline

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Jeanie,

    I love your blog-- such nice photos, and as Jacqueline, I enjoy having the whole story to go with them!

    Our little feral kitty She-She Marie-Rie is doing well, although, she isn't as ready to snuggle and all. She was quite a bit older when we got her from the vet, and she said that she might never warm up to us. She has, however, and it is interesting, compared to your story that she made good friends with Buffalo-Fawzi after a few weeks. She relies on him to lead her past Kendall, my new service dog. You can see her pic, and "Buffalo's on "Ken Doll's blog. http://myassistancedog.blogspot.com/
    Buffalo is still in charge though!

    Love,

    Reen

    ReplyDelete
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