The Brattleboro Selectboard is meeting tonight and the agenda looks thrilling. By thrilling, I mean pretty ordinary. The biggest item, to my eye, is the hiring of two security firms for downtown patrols. They will also start to look at enterprise fund budgets. It’s all in their background materials.
Tonight, I’d rather tell you the tale of a stray cat that showed up late last fall. It was a little thing, and solid gray. It was getting cold out and I wondered if it was just lost so I put some food out. It seemed a bit on the feral side, or at least a bit standoff-ish or unsure, so I kept my distance.
Winter came and the little thing hung around. Didn’t want to come in, or even live in the garage with boxes and blankets. It preferred living outside under outbuildings. I continued to put food out in the garage and it kept dropping in to eat it. After a while I’d see the cat waiting for me and the food.
As winter came to an end I noticed the cat ‘s belly getting a bit big. I though maybe it had worms, and started to look at deworming options, but then it crossed my mind that it might be a she, and she might be pregnant.
I doubted it, though. The neighbors have dogs, and I thought for sure I would have noticed a second stray hanging around.
Well, one day I looked out on the back porch and there was a little tabby fellow looking up at me. Gave me a look like… “he he, it IS possible!” and then it ran off never to be seen again.
We started calling the cat Mini, but she was soon becoming maxi. Enormous, until April 15th when she was suddenly thin again. She had her kittens somewhere. But where?
I figured the best thing for the unseen kittens would be to keep mom healthy. I started feeding her anytime she asked, which stared to increase as the weeks went on. Two cans a day, three cans a day, four cans a day, five cans a day…. plus dry food and water and a neighbor who is slipping her extra tuna and cat food at night. Hmmm. That’s a lot of food for what was a small cat.
About 5 weeks in, I saw her sitting out in an unusual location, and then noticed some activity. There was something crawling up the side of an outbuilding. A kitten! I ran inside and got the camera, and started snapping whatever I could from about 80-100 feet away. Like bird-watching. I couldn’t quite see what I was getting, so I just snapped away hoping to get a rough idea of how many she had.
After a couple of days, and many photos, the picture was getting more clear. She had had six kittens! Solid black, two solid dark grey, two brown tabby, and a light grey.
Needless to say, their cuteness factor was beyond any measurable scale. (And for scale, these little things are small enough that you could hold two side by side in one hand if they didn’t wiggle. Those eyeballs are smaller than peas.)
Of course, this also presented some issues. What to do about the mom and six kittens? Of course, it would be best to have mom fixed and the babies adopted, so I contacted the Windham County Humane Society to come up with a plan. Mom, we would TNR – trap, neuter, release. The kittens we would catch and socialize the de-spice them.
I caught mom one morning then attempted to get kittens. I lured four kittens into a big cage with food and closed the door with a long string I had rigged. The kittens freaked out, and all but one jumped through the 1 inch bars. Still, I got one.
Mom and number 1, a solid grey male, were sent off with the Animal Control Officer while I went about borrowing some cages and setting up more food lures and string pulls. By the end of the day, I had two more – the solid black and one of the brown striped pair. It was too late to drop them off, so they spent the night in a cat carrier in the bathroom. I read them Cat in The Hat Comes Back to start socializing them.
The next morning I set the bait again, but had to step away to help someone doing an energy audit of the house. By midday, two more! Another brown tabby and the light grey. That left one solid dark grey kitten.
I took the kittens and swapped them for mom, who had been fixed, given shots, and had her ear-tipped. I brought her home while the kittens began their formal week of socializing.
Mom was let free in the yard and she went to look for her kittens. I think she was happy to find that one remained. She and I are now working to rebuild trust, which I don’t think is going very well because she knows I’m trying to get #6. I’m a bit worried that she moved him out of our yard to somewhere I won’t be able to find. I’ll see what I can do.
The other 5 have had their first week of socialization and are about to begin their fostering program, where humans hang out with them a lot and get them ready to be adopted.
We’re taking three to foster, and plan on possibly adopting one.
I’ll let you know how it goes.