Friday, November 28, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Friends

Marie, Nala, and Sophie met a new friend who came in from outside a couple weeks ago, and today he's going to his new home. The girls weren't sure about him at first, but Marie learned to like him real quick! He's going to a good home with two other ladies waiting to meet him. We're going to miss him!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Sophie!

Today is the Nala and Marie's pretty friend's birthday.
Happy birthday Sophie!

Sleeping Kitties!

The kittens LOVE sleeping on the big bed.
 Nala always takes one pillow and Marie takes the other. Even when it's 85 degrees outside (which means it's super hot upstairs,) they somehow find a way to manage. Sometimes it's laying in funny positions on the bed and other times it's hiding "in the shade" under the bed or a plant.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Can you tame a feral cat?

If the cat is young and has a nice disposition....yes, you can tame a feral cat. Just look at our babies.

We found them one year ago today shivering in our shed. Seven months later, they were in our house. It took time and patience, but they are tame house cats now.

Our Marie is still leery of being touched by humans. It's a bit frustrating. We are looking for advice to help her become more comfortable. Maybe you have dealt with taming feral cats. Please send your advice.

Friday, March 7, 2014


In our house, we give lots of nicknames. Sophie responds to all of hers: Sophie-doo, Bean, Mouse, Sopher (etc.) Since the kittens arrived, my dad has given Soph two new nicknames. Boss Lady and Aunt Sophie.
Our little Sophie

Shortly after their arrival, the kittens received their own nicknames. Marie became Ree, and Nala became Naly. Soon, we started saying things like "Ree-ree," "Marie-bug" "Naly-bug," and "Nala-bean."

My dad has his own nicknames for them. He calls Nala "Point Head," because of the triangle shape on her face, and Marie "Half face," because of the white side of her face. Goofy.

The Main Floor

The kittens learned how to use the cat door very quickly. Nala got the hang of it right away, but Marie had a little trouble. Before we knew it, they were spending most of their time on the main floor of the house. They gravitated to the dining room chairs, just like Sophie did when she was a kitten. It took them a few weeks to get comfortable in the living room. They found Sophie's blanket on the couch and decided to use that spot for naps. Occasionally, all of the kitties cuddle there together.
Cuddling on the Dining Room Chair
Sophie, Nala, and Marie all have "special," the wet food they only get in the morning, in the kitchen. The kittens are skittish when there is noise in the house, but they eat their food with Soph when all is quiet. Whoever is finished first usually tries to sneak some of somebody else's food. Hungry girls!
Playtime mostly takes place in the living room or dining room. Marie always carries her favorite mouse around in her mouth. Nala is more fond of a little hedgehog stuffed-animal that she likes to "clean." Wrestling is also a popular game for the kitties. Even Sophie joins in on the fun! The kittens also enjoy sitting at the windows, looking for outdoor friends.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Exploring the Basement

After the kittens' big heater adventure, they became a bit more comfortable with coming out of their crate and exploring the basement. We brought them out to eat and play, and they became more familiar with us. Our older cat, Sophie, was usually kept upstairs while the kittens were out playing, but we began to let her go down and watch them. Nala loved Sophie and always purred and tried to rub against her. Sophie wasn't a big fan of that. Marie seemed to be more shy and stayed away from Sophie and everyone else. Nala was definitely the friendly one. Nala and Marie found a spot on a shelf where we keep autumn decorations and made it their new "safe place." They used the crate less and less until they didn't need it anymore. Their spot in the shelf became known as "the hole." The new goal was to get them to come out of there and explore the rest of the house.

The Crate Escape

 The kittens spent a good amount of time in the crate. Two weeks since their arrival, we had to have our heater cleaned. Unfortunately, the heater was in the same room as the kittens. My mom was worried that they would be afraid of the noise, so she tried to move them into the small crate so that she could move it into a different room. The kittens wouldn't go into the crate and escaped into the basement. The heater guy was coming soon and my mom had to find a way to contain the kittens so they wouldn't run outside when the guy was working. Luckily, the babies ran behind the bar in the basement, which was a safe spot for them. Nala jumped over the bar and my mom had to chase her around to try to get her back with her sister. She needed to be picked up in order to be put back there. It was the first time she was picked up, so she was pretty scared, but she got back behind the bar. My mom kept watch over the kittens when the heater was being cleaned. When the guy was finished, the kittens were left alone in the basement. They eventually went back into the crate. What an adventure!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Big Dog Crate

 We waited. One of the kittens, Nala, had walked into the big crate, but moved back to the little crate when her sister wouldn't move over with her. My mom went upstairs to get tuna to lure them into the other crate. As soon as she was upstairs, both of the kittens walked into the big crate. This meant my boyfriend and I had to close the door to the big crate without the kittens escaping by ourselves. We pulled the small crate away and shut the door to the other crate. The kittens didn't even try to escape.

The babies adjusted to the big crate very well. Their favorite spot was under or on top of a stool that we put in the back. The crate had open spaces in the sides, so we could stick string through and play with them. Eventually, we opened the door and played with them that way. They never tried to escape, but they did look curious. We spent a lot of time playing with them and my mom would sit downstairs with them so they would get used to being around people. We could pet the kittens a little bit inside the crate while they were eating. Nala was more friendly than Marie. They seemed to like life inside.

Beginning Life on the Inside

The kittens looked content in the dog crate. They say small spaces give cats comfort. I felt bad though. I felt they needed more space, but it worked. They had a quiet night.

In the morning, the crate needed to be opened to clean the litter box and add food and fresh water. What would the kittens do? Would they try to escape? Would they bite? I was a bit edgy about it. I never worked with a feral cat before. A pair of thick gloves would protect my hands just in case. I cautiously opened the crate. The poor babies just cowered as far back in the crate as they could get. I didn't try to touch them. I just talked quietly to them. I figured they knew me from talking to them outside. I hoped the talking might comfort them.

We tried to leave them alone in the basement to adjust to the sounds of the house. It wasn't easy. They were so cute, so we visited them often. We kept the door closed to the storage area of the basement where the kittens were because we were not sure how our six year old cat would react to them. She seemed oblivious to them at first. Then, she started sniffing around the door. No hissing or growling. So far so good!

I got in touch with my friend with the larger crate. She said it was ready and waiting for me. It was much bigger. The kittens would have a lot more room. The problem would be transferring them from the small crate to the large one with no one escaping! Three of us took on the task. The big crate was set up and ready. The plan was to open the door to the small crate and push it as close as possible to the opening of the large crate so the kittens could go right into the large crate and hopefully not escape into the basement.

We connected the crates. The kittens didn't move.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Thomas was the first cat to come home to be released. Male cats recover quickly from neutering. It was Wednesday, just three days after he was trapped. The trapper came in the chilly October evening. Here is a photo of Thomas just before his release. 

He shot out of the trap so fast when that door opened that I couldn't get a picture of him running free!
Next to return home were the kittens. The plan was to release them outside because I had no spare room in my house to use to try to tame them. People told me it was very difficult to tame a feral kitten that was more than a couple months old. Our kittens were about 7 months old now. Our trapper suggested we try to tame them anyway. She said they were very mild and Nala even purred when she was fed. She suggested the kittens be released into a dog crate inside the house instead of being released outside. Okay. Let's try. If it didn't work out, we would just let them go outside.

Now I had to find a big dog crate quickly. The kittens were coming home the next day! I knew one friend who had a huge crate for their German Shepherd that they were no longer using, but I couldn't get in touch with them.  Another friend had a crate not as large, but it would do. I borrowed hers. The crate was set up with blankets, a small litter box, food and water in our basement away from the hustle bustle of the house. What an exciting turn of events! Well, for me and the girls. My husband was not so thrilled!!!!

The kittens arrived on Friday evening. The first kitten was transferred easily from the trap into crate. The challenge was to transfer the next kitten into the crate without the first escaping into the basement. It took a little time but we did it. Both kittens were beginning their life on the inside!

Duchess came home on Sunday evening. She was kept by the trapper the longest due to the fact that she was an adult female. We wanted to be sure she was well healed before she returned to the wild. She shot out of the trap super fast like Thomas and disappeared into the darkness.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Renaming Toulouse

 I was slightly disappointed that Toulouse wasn't a male kitty, because we couldn't use the Aristocats theme anymore. My sister and I started looking for other Disney cat names. We found a few, including Dinah (Alice in Wonderland), Sarabi (The Lion King), and Nala (The Lion King). We decided that Toulouse looked like a Nala, so that was the new name. Since the kittens had already learned their names from when we would call them outside, my mom started calling Nala "Toulouse Nala," so she would make a transition to the new name. She quickly became just Nala and even responded to her name. We now had a Disney cat theme.

Succsessful Trapping

Sunday morning the traps were reset. We kept close watch all day. By evening, we caught 2 cats. Thomas and Marie. I covered their cages with sheets. Covering the cages calms the cats. The trapper was called and she quickly arrived and took the cats to her house until it was time to go to the clinic.

The traps were closed for the night and reset on Monday morning. All was quiet during the day, but by 5:00 that afternoon, we caught Duchess and Toulouse. I covered their cages. The poor things banged against the doors of the traps trying to escape. It broke my heart! I had to keep telling myself it was for the best. The trapper came a few hours later to transport  them.  She promised me she would call with updates on all the cats.

I waited anxiously for news from the trapper. Finally the call came. Good news! All the surgeries went well and the cats were healthy. They tested negative for feline leukemia virus (FeLV)  and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and surprisingly, had no fleas. We got confirmation that Thomas was indeed a male, Marie was a female and Toulouse was not a male after all! A name change was in order!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Feral Cat Programs

Something had to be done to help these cats. I started looking into programs for feral cats at various clinics. These are TNR programs: trap, neuter, return. The cat is trapped in a humane trap, taken to the clinic for spay or neuter and care, then released where it was trapped. Cats must be returned to their territory, their home.

The Spayed Club in Sharon Hill, PA was recommended to me by my vet. They charge $30 per cat for spay or neuter, rabies and distemper shots, treatment for fleas, ear mites and worms, ear tipping (this identifies that the cat has been neutered) and an overnight stay. Good deal! Problem: this package was for registered trappers only. I was not about to become a registered trapper. My husband would freak out if I transported wild cats in my car!

I had to find a trapper. It was no easy feat. These people are in demand. A friend of mine gave me the number of a trapper she knew. I called and left her a message. I got no call back. The Spayed Club put me on their waiting list for a trapper. Time ticked away. I waited and waited and waited. I got on another waiting list for Forgotten Cats of Delaware. Again I waited. A dear friend recommended her neighbor for trapping feral cats. I gave her a call. She said she had so many other cats to catch, she just couldn't get to mine now.

It was fall now. Mating season was coming. There would be more kittens to worry about! My friend stepped in. She called the trapper and told her of my plight. Finally a call! Plans were made. Saturday evening the trapper came and set up four humane traps loaded with mackerel, a smelly irresistible dish for cats. I kept an eye on the traps. One of the cats tripped the trap, but we caught no one. At 1:00 am I closed the traps for the night.

Link for The Spayed Club Clinic

Link for Forgotten Cats of Delaware

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let's be Friends!

The kittens would frequently come together to eat. Sometimes during the day, but always in the evening sometime between 6 and 7. Duchess would show up in the evening along with the occasional Thomas. You never would know the cat combination. Could be the 2 kittens. Could be Duchess and Marie. Could be Toulouse and Thomas. Could be Duchess and Toulouse. Could be all 4. Could be just one.

I was determined to make friends with them. Towards the end of the summer, I would put tuna or wet cat food out for the cats at the evening meal time. I would sit and wait for them to come. I would move closer to the wet food dish each night and talk to the cats quietly. Toulouse was the friendliest or maybe just the hungriest cat. I could get really close, but not touch. Toulouse would take off if a hand approached!

Duchess and Toulouse

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Watching the Kittens Grow

What fun we had all summer watching the kittens grow! Duchess and the kittens sometimes seemed so relaxed and comfortable lounging and frolicking in the garden chasing bugs, but most of the time they seemed scared. They would keep looking behind like something was going to get them. They didn't know how safe they actually were on our deck. The food and water dishes were carefully placed under a table out of the site of the hawks. Any unwelcome guests looking for a free meal were quickly chased away by us. We were there to protect them from any predators.

We were quite distressed at one point. Marie's eyes looked red and swollen. Soon Toulouse also had the eye problem. Eye infections. We couldn't get near them. There was no way to get them to the vet unless we trapped them. Luckily, their eyes healed within a week.

I did progress from watching them from the window to watching on the deck. I would sit very quietly outside on the deck quite some distance from the food bowls and the cats would come. They would see me and eat, but if I moved or made a sound they would run.

It was interesting to watch the interaction between Duchess and the kittens. Duchess started out standing guard as the kittens ate. She would eat when they were finished. She seemed very affectionate with them when they were little.

Later, as the kittens got bigger, she would eat right along with them. Duchess was getting less affectionate. She seemed annoyed with her little ones sometimes.

We knew Duchess considered the kittens part of the colony when she would swat them away from the food so she could eat first.

The little family did not seem as close as they used to.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Cat Family

Mama cat and the kittens would come to the deck every day for food and water at least once a day. We found ourselves checking the window a lot. They became our outside cats and it was our mission to befriend them. We started by naming them, which was a guessing game for the kittens since we didn't know if they were male or female. One kitten seemed a bit shy and skittish. Female maybe. The other kitten, a tree climber, was more bold and friendly. Male maybe. Monica settled on an Aristocats theme. Mama cat was named Duchess. The kittens were named Toulouse and Marie.

A big tabby cat entered the scene. We decided he was a male because of his size. Possibly, the father cat. The kittens seemed quite comfortable with him and he seemed to keep a watchful eye over them. He was named Thomas O'Mally. He would show up once in a while for food and eat a little bit, either alone or with Duchess and the kittens. What a cute little family!

Thomas and Toulouse                                                                         Marie and Duchess

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcoming Back the Kittens

Summer was just about to officially arrive and the weather was much warmer. The little garden outside our kitchen door was blooming happily. My mom liked to sit and admire it in the morning over a cup of tea, and who did she see cautiously sneaking through the bushes? Mama cat! Cat food was put out on the deck immediately. Our house cat, Sophie, was going to share her food (whether she liked it or not). Mama quickly found the food, and before long, she brought her babies! We were so excited to see the cute little kittens. We guessed they were about three months old. They were very scared and didn't like to eat when Mama wasn't there. We couldn't go outside when they were there, so we took pictures through the window. We were so happy to have the little ones back home.
Marie and Mama