I discovered them yesterday afternoon. At first I thought someone had dropped off a litter in my backyard - beyond the hedge in what I call St. Joseph's wood. I let the wood get a bit overgrown thus far this year - hosta, lily of the valley, and ivy cover even the lime stone areas, while the lilac trees have sent up tall shoots. I've been putting off trimming back due to other projects. This week I need to get back there.
Now there is a colony of kittens however, and I just noticed the mama cat enter the yard this morning. I was certain the cats had to be born here after I had gone out at various times to try and get the kittens to come to me. Instead, they ran off and hid from me in the dense foliage. I became convinced they had been accustomed to the place however, after noticing how they romped and climbed the lilac tree trunks once I returned to the house. Like I said, mommy soon came along to nurse and tidy everyone up, demonstrating this was indeed her territory. I watched her with them from the house, while she kept an obvious eye on the door, lest I come out and disturb breakfast. She reminded me an awful lot of Mrs. Twitchit, therefore I decided that must be her name.
This just won't do however - that feral cats be permitted to live in my little woods that is. Even if I they allowed me to do so, I can't take them into the house because of the cats who own the house. They wouldn't tolerate it in the least, and as their caretaker, I do not want to expose them to disease or fleas. I'm not sure what to do at this point, although I am reading about feral cats online. I have learned that since the cats are not socialized, they will be very difficult to catch.
This past winter the rabbits killed a couple of small sections of the hedge as they were feeding on the bark and new growth from last season. Though Mrs. Rabbitowitz was always very careful about such things, her descendants have not been so polite. Hence I'm tempted to permit this colony of cats to remain in order to keep the rabbit and chipmunk population down. On second thought, that's not a good plan at all.
I now have a problem on my hands - these kittens didn't ask to be born... I know that is a silly thing to say - but it's true.