Monday, June 28, 2010

Feral cats in my garden.

The Twitchits.
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. 


  1. Austringer10:33 AM

    Terry, why isn't it a good idea to let the colony remain as a way to keep the chipmunk and rabbit populations down?

    I've had it with chipmunks. They're cute and all, but I have gotten a total of one strawberry from the 75 plants I put in last year, because the chipmunks eat them up.

    We have a semi-feral cat that we have adopted to certain degree. After feeding him and talking to him, he eventually became freindly enough so that I can now pet him. He's not allowed inside as we have inside cats already, and don't want to expose them to diseases and parasites. But he does go after the chipmunks from time to time...the only problem is, there's only one cat and dozens of proliferating chipmunks.

  2. Anonymous11:00 AM

    You will need to buy or borrow a hava-heart trap if they stick around. Those kittens will reproduce themselves in 6 months time unless you get them fixed or to a shelter.
    I live on a farm. This is one problem I am too familiar with. If mom is really feral, it's going to be really hard to get the kittens tame enough to catch.

  3. Scuppered said it first saving me time. In the past I've borrowed the traps from the sheriff's department (animal section) They work quite well.

  4. Scuppered and Adrienne have the right idea, this problem can quickly get out of hand. I have previously done some reading on the subject; there has been some success with a "neuter and re-release" program. The rationale is that as soon if you permanently remove these cats from the area, others will just move into that territory and it will start all over. Where if you re-release them after they are spayed or neutered, the area is still occupied, and other ferals will not be attracted to it. Some vets are willing to reduce their fees for an effort such as this; and there may be help available from rescue organizations. I have a coworker who had two strays show up. He fed them but didn't feel he could afford to spay/neuter them. The two turned into 20 and he has undertaken Desperate don't want to hear about it. Good luck, we'll pray to St. Gertrude; I understand she is the patron saint of cats.

  5. Sorry, I can offer no good advice...
    the whole "population control thing" is beyond me...since I was a lad (unfortunately, a "nasty" lad who killed everything in his path), I can't even kill a ground squirrel or rodent without some kind of guilt;
    call me "a basket case"...yeah, that's right.)
    I see dead robin babies laying on the sidewalk at our Oratory and feel bad...
    I'm not someone to judge on this.
    My take: let the Kitties do "their thing" and then deal with it.
    I could never "euthanize" any animal now; my Dad did it with our dogs, ducks, cats, etc...when I was growing up.
    It was just nasty altogether.
    I must be a "closet Liberal"...:<)!

  6. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Get a yard dog; problem solved.

  7. Better to have feral cats than feral Catholics in your garden.

  8. Cats have 2 litters a year. Pretty soon your yard will be over run with feral cats. You will become known as the cat man!
    Here's a little song you can sing to all those cats: (with apologies to the Beatles)

    One, two, three, four...
    One, two, (one, two, three, four!)

    Let me tell you how it will be;
    There's one for you, nineteen for me.
    'Cause I’m the catman,
    Yeah, I’m the catman.

    Should five feral cats appear too small,
    Be thankful I don't want them all.
    'Cause I’m the catman,
    Yeah, I’m the catman.

  9. I'm really scared now.

  10. Anonymous10:00 AM

    Dogs have masters cats have staff. You are very well trained staff.

  11. Nazareth Priest - we're not suggesting "killing" the cats. Just spay and neuter and find homes for the babies.

  12. They left. No kidding - they are gone - I suppose after two days of stalking and trying to get them to come to me they moved on. I looked everywhere - no sight or sound of them. I now feel really sad because it reminded me of my childhood when we got kicked out of the places we lived and had to move all of the time. I'm such a sensitive little nut case, huh?

  13. No, Terry, you're not.
    You have a wondrous respect for all life (I think I understand).
    Hope they've found a good place.

  14. Oops! They are still there - but thanks Father.


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