IT'S ALL GONE TO THE
DOGS CATS! (Part 1)
If you have any experience living where there is a
feral cat population, you know how quickly the number of cats can increase
– exponentially! Since I’ve owned this farm, stray or feral cats haven’t
really ever been much of an issue.
only 2 strays I did find, ended up house cats – so, no issue, right?
(Ed, originally misnamed as "Eden",
joined the rank and file of indoor housecats when Eve rejected his company
as shop partner. Too fidgety, she said.)
But I was about to learn, and learn quickly, what an
issue a couple of seemingly innocent stray cats could become.
Recently, a neighbor sold their place and unbeknown
to me, 2 young, un-spayed female cats were left behind.
Apparently one of their horse boarding
customers had been managing the “barn cats”, but these two had either
matured after she had left or they got missed somehow.
There had been an intact yellow male cat who would
occasionally visit Eve, my resident shop cat, but she had been spayed so
there was no issue. Or so I thought.
I’m kicking myself for not trapping and neutering
Yellow Tom when I first discovered him hanging around with Eve; but I knew
of no other cats in the area at the time, so it didn’t seem a priority.
How quickly priorities can change!
Cammo Kitty, the gypsy female, as I mentioned,
appeared out of nowhere. I noticed her suddenly, and she was "with
kittens". “Where did YOU come from?!” And what was I going to do with her
and a litter of kittens?
Yellow Tom had discovered the two young ladies next
door – and a third who I guess lived as a gypsy, because she'd never been
seen around here by anyone – and well, suddenly, I am up to my eyeballs in
had retired to the house, as of this past winter – after 10 faithful years
as shop kitty. After recovering from a leg injury, she showed zero
interest in returning to her post outside. Zip. None. Nada. She snuggled
in with me every evening after dinner and seemed quite content – so long
as those boys in the other room left her alone.
So, I let her stay in the front of the house with me.
This, however, I found, opened the door –
figuratively anyway – to potential new residents at the shop.
I started noticing a small yellow cat and what I
swore the first few times I saw the flash of fur, was a possum. Plus Cammo
Kitty hung out near my house, which Eve used to frequent just to torment
my inside cats, but of course had now abandoned.
Following the man who’d taken over feeding them, when
he moved his horses to be boarded here, were the two females left
to fend for themselves next door after the neighbors moved on. Once the
cats heard his voice and recognized his car – they more or less moved over
Well, it wasn’t long before I noticed one of the next
door cats looked a bit heavy. And even though I’d not noticed Yellow Tom
around for a long time, figuring that he’d moved on since his friend Eve
was not outside anymore – nor was her food available to share –– it was
obvious he made at least one last visit….. to “Lil Yellow” and her
littermate, "Possum Kitty" who was also showing a bit of a bulge.
He called upon, I suspect, Cammo Kitty as well, who
apparently was his first rebound girl after Eve was no longer available to
pal around with. You know, any ol' port in the storm, as they say. Humph!
So now what? I had no idea how long that a cat
carried kittens for, how many weeks in between they had a litter could
they get pregnant again, etc., much less how I was going to afford to feed
and alter all of these cats it seemed I was sure to inherit?
Since all of my pets, have always been altered, I was
pretty unfamiliar with all of the particulars.
As it turned out, Cammo Kitty’s kids as well as she
were “wild as fire” – as they say. I couldn’t even look at her without her
hissing and spitting. Her kittens had become just as wild. So I knew I’d
just have to trap, neuter and release them. But my goodness, I thought I’d
seen 5 or 6 kittens! This was going to cost me a small fortune. Plus, I
couldn't let them go hungry. They'd surely all been helping Eve eat her
food - which explained why she went through food so fast.
Lil Yellow and Possum kitty
were a bit more tame – hissing AS they approached the food bowl you put
down for them, but still approaching you nonetheless.
I hoped at least their soon to be kittens might end
up friendly. It would be nice to have cats that could be petted by
visitors again. But then again, how would I ever afford to vet and feed
Then, soon enough, the 2nd litter came –
in my lawn mower bag. Lil Yellow had brought her litter to my garage for
safety I supposed. I took a few pictures of the day old (or so) kittens
and posted on Facebook – of course – with the lingering question – now
In the meantime, Possum kitty disappeared – and about
two weeks later – reappeared, much thinner.
Now I’m about in panic mode. Three mommas. Three
Thanks to a lovely couple from the early days of my
CSA, I'm able to have working farm dogs. The farm’s 2 LGD’s vet expenses
and some of their food costs are sponsored. That’s right; my dogs sort of
have “godparents”. I can't tell you how grateful I am and it was the only
way I agreed to get them.
Vet bills can stack up fast and high and I didn’t
want to be unable to afford proper care for them should the need arise.
But the chickens were being lost to a bobcat and coyote and we knew
something had to change or we’d be out of the chicken egg business, so we
rescued two Great Pyrs. (Now, don’t ask me how many more we lost during
the training process…. that’s another story.)
But I didn’t have sponsors for stray cats, nor did I
think I could really justify asking for any - after all, in the kind of
numbers I had, they'd really not have a direct benefit to the farm; and
the only place I had known of for low cost to almost free spay/neuter,
from what I understood, had closed.
quickly held a mini collection one Market Day and called it our “itty
bitty kitty fixin fund” and raised about $50. That should at least vet
one, I figured. Only 20 more to go.....
Thankfully, I was about to discover, feral cats have
guardian angels.... (to be continued)
Chef Justin Box and CSA member Jerry
look on as our cute as a button CSA member Vicky makes pitches for the
kitties. She was hard to resist!
Eat your food, Naturally!