Monday, October 15, 2012

National Feral Cat Day - Oct 16, 2012

Sweetpea was the first to come inside since she was so tiny.

It is National Feral Cat Day and I cannot say enough good things about Alley Cat Allies.  I could not have done what I did for all my ferals without their help. I told this story several years ago when I first started blogging and have brought up parts of it since. For my newer readers, I would like to explain how we ended up with so many feral cats in an indoor shelter. Here is their story.

Darby was rescued as a kitten, living alone under a house in another neighborhood

Many of you already know that all but our oldest two cats (Chica and Yoko) are feral cats that lived in our old neighborhood in a rural mountain community.  When my husband and I purchased the 1920's farmhouse 14 years ago, we inherited a large feral colony living in the woods behind the house.  I asked around and no one knew anything about the cats. An older couple living in the nearby trailer was putting dry food out for them but they could barely afford that let alone medical care for the cats so litter after litter had been born.

Ivy on left, Nick on right and Big Guy in rear next to their first straw igloo shelter.

I wanted to do something to help them, especially after a blind kitten wandered into the yard suffering from a severe URI.  Being new and not knowing any veterinarians in the area, my husband took her to the local shelter and they promptly put her down. ( I later learned that this shelter always euthanized feral cats when brought in.  They were considered unadoptable.) I was horrified that she didn't even get any veterinary care and vowed to do better with the rest of the cats.

Mamacita on left, daughter Rosa on right.

I looked online and found Alley Cat Allies and contacted them.  They gave me all the information I needed about trapping the cats, working with a vet to get them neutered, vaccinated and then releasing them back into the area. With the help of a compassionate vet nearby who offered me a considerable discount, I TNR'd about 18 cats over a period of a year. 

Young litter mates Minnie in rear, Joey in front - now 13 years old.

The feral cats were fed twice a day.  My husband built an insulated multi-level shelter for them. And when they needed medical care, they were trapped again and taken to a vet. We lost a few to wild animals, cars, illnesses - living outdoors is a hard life. When some of the cats developed health issues, we began to bring them inside to live. Several years later when I found the main male Big Guy laying on the upper level of the shelter unable to move, I knew this was the end for him.  I rushed him to a vet but there was nothing I could do - he died in my arms, knowing he was loved very much.

Albert, our deaf cat, found as a kitten  along a busy highway in 2004.

That changed the dynamics of the group and other male cats began to try to move in, chasing off the remaining ferals.  I brought the few left inside in 2005.  If you know anything about feral colonies - when there is a good place to live, if you remove the cats from the area, another group will come in and that is what happened.

Neighbors told me about seeing a white mother cat and tiny white kitten that had been fed by a shop nearby that closed in November for the winter. There had been four kittens in the litter - three black and one white.  I don't know what happened to the black ones.  It was January now and the two remaining cats were without food during a cold and snowy winter.  Of course, I put a bowl of food out on our deck with a basic shelter for them to use.  Lily and Snowball found it soon enough.  They were starving. It was pitiful watching them both shove each other out of the way to get at the food.  At last they had a safe place to get out of the cold and plenty of food.  I even put toys out for Snowball to play with on warm days on the deck.

Snowball that first winter.

Lily went on to have two more litters in spite of my best efrots to catch her.  I tried humane traps,  dog kennel cages - anything and everyhting but she was very smart and out witted me every time. She was a great mother and with food and shelter provided, both litters survived.  Again, I began TNR on the kittens as they became old eough to spay and neuter. Including Lily, we had ten more cats.

Two Spot on left and Only on right. Now you see how they got their names.

We knew at this point we were moving out of the area and began to solicit neighbors to feed and care for the cats with our financial support. No one wanted to make the commitment and I could not leave them behind.  We started trapping them to bring them indoors to move them with us.  I finally caught Lily and the last of the kittens by leaving the enclosed porch door open and letting them wander inside at their leisure.  Once they became used to this, I started to set the door as a trap door, pulling the string from inside the house when they were in the porch, safely away from the door.

Lily - mother of all the white cats.

So yes, we do have a lot of cats but I love each and every one of them. I can't imagine life without silly Lily (who is now a love bug), Snowball, Only, Two Spot and all the rest of them.  The white cats have a separate cat shelter on our land with an insulated heated indoor room and a big screen porch to play in.  The older cats are in the house with us so we can monitor and medicate them if needed.

Tabitha, one of two of Lily's tabby cats.

I am so grateful for organizations like Alley Cat Allies and other groups and individuals that have stepped up in the past 10 years to care for feral cats and educate people about them.  With love, time, effort and patience, feral cats can become a part of our community, our lives and our homes. 


Summer at said...

You have helped so many feral kitties in so many amazing ways! Thank you, and thank you to Alley Cat Allies for helping!

dArtagnan Rumblepurr/Diego Hamlet Moonfur said...

Thank heavens for your kindness. These little ones will know love every day because of you.

meowmeowmans said...

Awesome. Thank you for caring so much and loving your cats. Happy National Feral Cat Day!

Mr. Black said...

Beautiful story. You are special people to take such wonderful care of all those cats. You are truly guardian angels.

Marg said...

Great story and glad to hear about all the cats. That is so terrific that you took all those cats in. And that Alley cat allies is a great place. Great post for Feral day.

SeaThreePeeO said...

All those feral felines are so lucky to have yous and great places like Alley Cat Allies.

The Paw Relations

Fuzzy Tales said...

We're so grateful for humans like you, Cheri, and all those who do what they can to help, in whatever ways they are able to.

Bless you.


Hannah and Lucy said...

That was so interesting to read how you got catnapped into helping all the feral cats - it is so lovely to read of these delightful creatures who can be taught to know that all humans aren't the bad guys. Thank you so much.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

Old Kitty said...

These beautiful kitties are so lucky they found love and a home with you! It's a great day to celebrate!! Take care

Pip said...

There is a special place in That, that comes after, for people like you. Your generosity and love are amazing and inspiring. Those are some lucky, or perhaps, devinely inspired kitties.
For them and for Squashies we are grateful for all you do.
Love and Light, TK, Squashies, Pip and dee

Brian's Home Blog said...

I so enjoyed your post and I know how much you love your babies. We love all feral kitties and try to do our best for them every single day!

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

You "walk the walk" and I love it!!!!!!!!!! ((((hugs)))))

The Island Cats said...

Wow, what a great story! Thank you for helping those kitties! And thanks to Alley Cat Allies for helping you!!

Julia Williams said...

I too am grateful for all those who care for the feral cats, including you. They deserve to be as happy as possible given the circumstances which they had no control over.

P.S. You didn't miss our Cats in Boxes photo contest -- it runs until the 31st of October so you still have a couple of weeks to enter. And ten people will win cat food and/or treats! Here is the direct link:

Cat said...

You are fantastic!!!

Cats Herd You said...

You sure have helped a lot of feral cats. An amazing stories. Props to you for going the extra mile for so many cats in need!

Anonymous said...

You and your husband ARE THE CHANGE FOR CATS! your commitment is incredible. THe best post I read all day. paw pats Savannah and Mom

Ellen Whyte said...

Good for you! We love your story and your ferals look cute and happy. Meow from Au, Target and Guido - ex-ferals!

catsynth said...

You admire your kindness and compassion for all these cats, the ones you have welcomed into your home as well as those who can fed and cared for outside. Happy National Feral Cat Day!

Catherine said...

You have a great big beautiful heart my friend. We are so lucky there are wonderful people such as yourself in the world. Fantastic! So many lucky kitties that have you to look after them.
xo Catherine

Kat said...

We are so happy for you! This post warmed us and mom's heart :)

A Tonk's Tail said...

What an incredible story - you've dona an amazing job managing that colony and have made such a difference in the lives of so many cats!

We are especially fond of Albert since mama has a soft spot for hearing impaired kittehs.



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