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