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Operation Save Teh Kittehs Part 3!

Written By : John Hawkins
June 19, 2009

There have been more twists and turns to the saga of the kittens that were born under my house — starting with the fact that they apparently weren’t born under my house. A neighbor told me that the mother had kittens under his out-building, then his dog started nosing around, and she moved them. Since the mother moved them from under my house as well, I thought he might have been confused about the timeline, but I discovered them six weeks ago and the vet (more about that in a moment) told me the kittens are about 9 weeks old. So, he must have been correct.

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In any case, when last I left off the story, I had caught one of the kittens before it was weaned, had released it back into the wild, and was trying to figure out how to catch the kittens and what to do with them.

I settled on the idea of borrowing a trap from Animal Control, catching them that way, and then putting them up on my porch in a cage I had used to crate train Patton.

Unfortunately, catching the kittens in the trap didn’t work out too well. For one thing, there were a number of adult feral cats in the area and since they were bigger, faster, and more active than the kittens, they were the ones more interested in the food in the trap. They weren’t the only ones either. After setting the trap, here’s what I found in it the morning after,

Possum

That’s about the funniest looking kitty-cat I ever did see. But, he was so unusual, I just had to keep him. His name is Cletus and he doesn’t get along with Patton yet, but I’ve almost trained him to sleep at the foot of the bed…just kidding. For you city folk who may actually not recognize that, it’s a Possum — and my neighbors were appalled that I didn’t off it. But, I haven’t had a problem with them around the house and they run from Patton, so I just took him to the woods and let him go.

Long story short, after 10 days, I still hadn’t caught a single kitten in the trap and even the adult cats were scared of the trap by then. So, since it was a bust, I took the trap back to Animal Control.

At that point, I was a bit worried about whether I was going to catch these kittens. They stayed hidden most of the time and when they did come out, there were already way too fast to run down. I thought about actually setting up a small tent, feeding them in it every night, and then trying to trap them there, but the neighbors poo poo’d that idea, so I decided to go old school and bought a fishing net.

Several days ago, I came across a couple of the kittens sleeping and I managed to net one of them.

Feral Kitten

Behavior wise, when I tried to pick him up, he hissed and took a single swipe at me with paw, but then just sat there as I handled him. That lasted for about 2 days. Now, he’s already at the point where I can handle him without gloves and he purrs when I rub his tummy — although he will still non-chalantly walk away and try to hide under things if I set him down.

After a few days, I was starting to wonder if I’d have any luck catching the others — and then things started to happen fast.

I went out, right after midnight on Thursday, and found one of the cats literally sleeping on top of the net. I got him — but, his eyes? Wow. He looked like Rocky at the end of his fight with Apollo Creed in the 2nd movie.

I took him and the first cat to the vet yesterday to get them checked out. It turns out the cat with the terrible eyes has conjunctivitis and an upper respiratory infection. I am treating both and am going to take him back to the vet on Monday. Don’t want to bore you with the details, but whether he’s going to make it or have to be put down isn’t known yet — although on the upside, he doesn’t have feline AIDS. It’s not a cheap test, so I didn’t have the other one tested — but the vet told me that if one parent has it, the whole litter will also have the disease. However, complicating matters is the fact that apparently, and I didn’t know this, kittens from the same litter can have more than one father. Can you imagine if that were true for people? The Jerry Springer show could run through 2025 just doing those shows alone.

Later last night, after I had gone to the vet, my neighbor managed to net both of the other kittens while they were eating ham she put out for them. After catching them, she brought both of them over to me (Yes, I thought there were only 3, but there were actually 4).

kittens

On the upside, all of the kittens somehow already know to use the litter box. On the other hand, they also like to sleep in it, which is pretty gross.

Feral kitten in the litterbox

Additionally, three of them look so much alike that I haven’t figured out how to distinguish between them yet except by behavior.

The one I have had for a few days loves to be rubbed and is completely comfortable being picked up. Of the two I acquired last night, one desperately tries to run away from my touch and the other one tries to claw me. We’ll see how they do after being handled for a few days. My guess is they’ll be much better.

Kittens

While the neighbor was bringing the captured kittens over, we had a talk about her feeding these feral cats. She made the point that it’s hard not to feed the cats when they’re hanging around her door looking hungry. I noted that was undoubtedly true, but the reason they’re all hanging around her door is because she feeds them.

In an ideal world, we could trap all these cats, get them neutered somewhere, and release them back into the wild. Unfortunately, all the local “we want to help animals” organizations I’ve called so far have been zero help. With the economy down, they have no empty space, no money, and seemingly not much sympathy for anyone who wants to help these animals.

My dream would be to get all these kittens fixed and to get all of them their shots before I start giving them away, but unless I can find someone in Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, or somewhere in between who can do it for nearly nothing, that’s probably not going to happen.

As is, I intend to spend another couple of weeks socializing these animals and seeing whether the white one (that’s the sick one) will live, and then I’m going to start working on giving them away.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, or if you just want one of the kittehs, speak up in the comment section.

Also see,

Operation Save Teh Kittehs!
Operation Save Teh Kittehs Part 2!

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