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Project – Cat

Project – Cat

I hesitate to talk about this because stray cats can be so heartbreaking. We adopted one in the past and had a great two years with her before she disappeared without a trace. We had to capture her and her three kittens, take them all in and get them fixed, etc. It was…beyond challenging.

Lately there’s been another mom cat scurrying through our yard. We started the long process of trying to feed her because it was pretty obvious she wasn’t getting enough food. Within a week, her kitten completely disappeared. It’s a dangerous world out there for feral cats trying to survive on the leftover scraps of other pets. At any rate, we continued to feed the mom and have gotten her used to stopping in the yard to look for food. We’ve even gotten the three days worth of dewormer down her…a bit off schedule, but you don’t really get to schedule regular cats, never mind feral strays that may or may not pass through.

Here’s a picture–not a very good one. We’ve gotten closer to her than this picture. She came over near the garden to see what I was doing one morning and she sat and watched me for about an hour. She runs only about 3 yards away now when we come out with food–unless something spooks her. So we’ll see how the process goes. She may disappear without a trace. I know that trapping her is going to be very difficult. Cats are quite smart and they don’t like entering the trap. We never would have caught the other cat except her kittens went in the trap. We then used them to get her. She was mad at us for weeks over that trick…

Scamp the Cat

Posted: July 16, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat Update 8/25/08

Time for an update on Project Cat. Scamp is doing quite well. She’s been dewormed via secretly inserting dewormer into a tuna treat. She is now appearing on a regular basis for food and is even taking her meals on the porch.

She scampers off at the least perceived threat which still includes any movement by the humans, a loud noise from the neighbor’s yard, too many things happening at once or just for the hell of it. She will allow the humans to sit quietly on the porch, but does scamper off now and then to test the humans to see if they will give chase. She will pretend to approach the humans, sit just a few feet out of reach and then scamper off even though no threat is posed. She still does not spend significant time in the yard. A very busy cat, she runs off to do errands right after she eats.

On at least two occasions now, she picked my cantaloupe for me and rolled them around the garden. You would think they were too big to be toys to such a small cat, but apparently she finds it great fun. I haven’t seen that she is the actual perpetrator of these crimes, but there are tiny claw marks on the evidence in question and even a rather healthy gouge that could be teeth marks or claws that got stuck while playing.

The goal is to catch her and have her fixed and then release her again. Once she has been fixed and defleaed, the problems are minimized. Of course, we’re quite a long ways from catching her, I think.

Posted: August 25, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat — Update 9/18/08

Initially, Scamp had a setback this month. She disappeared for a few days. We knew one of the neighbors had spotted her and he told us she was living in his yard. We let him know we were trying to take care of her…but obviously Scamp was disturbed at being spotted.

She did show back up, but her timing was different, making it hard to feed her. We can’t leave food out in the daytime because the birds eat it. At night…there are things in the night like opossums and raccoons.

After over a week, she finally started settling down, but always ate and ran. I knew she had kittens, but my husband said I was guessing. Yeah, well.

Over the last two days, when Scamp was eating, she was easily distracted, running over to the fence or otherwise stopping and running off to check something.

Last night, she showed up at dusk as usual. Lo and behold, there was a tiny shadow. We didn’t get to see what color it was because it was too dark. And small. Very small.

This morning, Scamp brought out her little one in the daylight (well barely, it was pretty early.) We were worried the little one wouldn’t be able to get to the bowl of food, so we disturbed them and put out some soft food. After running off, eventually they both came back. They both ate the soft food and then the went back to the dry food. The little one couldn’t reach into the bowl, but silly us. It just climbed on into the bowl and ate!

 

 

Posted: September 18, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat – King of the?

King of the trees? The little kitten played very hard all over the yard the other day. He comes and goes under the fence via a bit of dug out area. Mom follows him, pounces on him, directs him in the fine art of lizard catching, scolds him when he runs too far and generally shows him the ropes. We’re pretty sure the kitten is male, but probably won’t know 100 percent until we catch him. If we catch him. Boy he moves around an awful lot. He blends in perfectly with fallen leaves. He scoots back and forth under the fence. His favorite game appears to be “catch mom’s tail.”

It’s pretty amazing to watch the little guy climb a tree. He’s so small, he doesn’t seem strong enough, but he hops right up like he’s sauntering in the park.

I’ll try to get some better pictures, but the little guy is still pretty wary. Even talking to him through the open window causes him to scamper off or climb higher in a tree. He’s a bouncing ball of fur, looking a lot like a fuzzy chick.

We know better than to get too attached–it’s a dangerous world out there for kittens this age and this particular kitten seems to know no fear! Mom is keeping a good eye on him, but there are other critters around that could cause him some problems. We’ll keep them fed and try to get them to trust us so that they can get some shots and get fixed. I’m not looking forward to that particular phase of project cat.

Posted: September 20, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat – Kitten

Well, we are making a little progress, but it is slow. Scamp would like to spend more time in the yard near the food, but Junior is still very skittish–and energetic. Yesterday, we watched mom nudge him into the yard three times. Junior took one look around and promptly scurried back under the fence. We’re not sure if Junior is afraid or if he finds the game delightful. Given that he spends most of his time running, jumping and cavorting, I suspect the latter.

As for eating, he is showing up at the bowl at least once a day now, usually after dark. He was round this morning though. As you can see, (click on photos for larger image) he has finally figured out that if he puts one or two feet in the bowl, it works. When he climbs in the bowl entirely, he can’t get to the food and ends up knocking either himself over, the bowl or both!

He is also very interested in the birds at the feeder. He has not started jumping at them (trust me, he doesn’t stand a chance) but when he sits still long enough, he notices them and is quite fascinated.

Posted: September 25, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Cat Project – Kitty Collage

The kitties were here all day yesterday (click on pictures to see full view). Sadly, most of the pictures were through the window, so some of the best shots…didn’t make it. They sat right outside the big window and played “catch mom’s tail” but unfortunately, that window has a dark screen on it. At any rate, Junior has made some good progress. He doesn’t run when he sees us in the window. He doesn’t like it when the windows are open and we talk to him. If we open the door, he’s off like a shot, while mom stays back and gives us the evil eye. She even hisses at us if Junior is too close by when we take the food out. That’s still progress–at least she’s talking to us!

We’re thinking about buying a used cat tree to put outside under the porch to give them a bit more shelter. Mom and Junior are going to need some protection if it ever rains here again. Our porch covering is about 20 inches–not enough for a cat to be protected. If they can climb up under the eaves, they might feel protected. We’ve tried dog igloos before, but cats aren’t partial to dens that have only one exit. The noise of the rain on the plastic might bother them too, who knows. All I know is that they have not used anything similar that we’ve offered in the past. If anyone has any ideas on this, let us know. We have always wished the house had a nice covered back porch, but we aren’t going to start building one now!

Posted: September 30, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat – Castles

The orginal plan was to get a cat tree and put it out under the eaves. Have you seen what cat trees cost??? We are still considering making our own. I’ve seen several plans that I like. The trouble? Well, who is to say that Scamp and Junior will give one whit about a cat tree? They live outdoors. They have a lot of trees to choose from.

The idea is to give them a shelter than they will use so that they stay in the yard longer, get used to us and so on. I’m still looking for a cheap cat tree on craigslist or at a garage sale, but in the meantime, we built them a temporary castle. Junior likes to play around the side of the house in the cinder blocks that are holding up my rain barrels. I decided to put the extra cinder blocks to use.

So far, he seems to like the idea. I’ve seen him shoot in there like a little bullet when I come out with the food. The other night, an opossum showed up to steal his food. I turned on the porch light (hoping to scare the opossum–no such luck. Damn thing didn’t even look up.) Junior was peering out from one of the concrete block tunnels, watching the affair unfold. He was no help at all in chasing off the rat with a tail.

I’ve seen Scamp chase little Junior into the castle when they were playing.  She also sent him there one time when I came out with food (she hisses and distracts me while he makes a break for it.  — Never mind he has to cross right in front of me to get to the castle; cats aren’t very good with minor details.)

We’ll see how it goes. I’d like to figure out a solution before it gets cold. Yes, I realize this is for my own peace of mind. The cats don’t actually care. I’d also like to get the both of them to the vet…yesterday, but they really don’t care for that idea.

Posted: October 9, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat – Sneak

Little Junior is getting brave. We sat outside while they were eating. It’s the first time they’ve let us go out and sit without running away. Junior wandered over our way. He’d sit and watch and watch. Then he’d SNiiiiff as hard as he could trying to smell us. I thought he was going to collapse a rib, he was sniffing so hard. He finally came under the chair next to me and peeked around the leg. I dangled my fingers (good way to get them clawed, I know). He didn’t run, but he didn’t try to get me either.

We played this “bravery” game for a little while before he decided he had risked enough for one day. He went back to mom. She was calm through the whole episode, just lying on a rock, watching. She pretends nonchalance, but we know we are being watched. 

We’re really hoping that once Junior gets used to us, mom will too.  But she’s a Scamp.  It could take a while.

 

Posted: October 15, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Project Cat – Play

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Well, I know I’ve been waiting. Junior finally engaged with us–he played for a good half hour. We were forced to go buy a new cat toy–the one we had is from a previous stray and was pretty worn out. After BMHusband played with Junior, I played with him a little later. He forgets to be wary. We were both able to grab his tail and shake it a bit. I patted him on the butt–he turned right around to try and figure that out!!!! After a great and successful day as this, the cats disappeared for two days. Mom came by briefly, ate a few quick bites and left immediately during the two days. We wondered if Junior was okay, but we just can’t know those things.

Finally this morning, they showed back up on their more regular schedule. Junior played again, but it was pretty half-heartedly. I grabbed his tail and shook it a few times. We left the back door open. He did come in and out, testing things. He doesn’t roam far, but he did check out a hiding place under a chair (not safe if we were to sit down) and behind the couch.

This means that we’re going to have to nab him and get him some flea drops delivered. Luckily, I think we’re close to that point, at least with the little guy. Mom, well, she took a very half-hearted swing at the toy once or twice. She still keeps her distance and her guard up. We’ve a lot more work to do there.

I’d like to say I’m encouraged, but I fret a LOT about whether they have worms, whether we can get a vet to fix them on the cat’s schedule (meaning, will they take them with a last minute call when we have the cats in hand–most vets want to examine the cat, give them shots AND THEN spay/neuter them on a different visit. With strays, we’ll be lucky to catch them once. ) So I’m working on a lot of angles. I did order some flea stuff that will also deworm them. We thought we had mom dewormed, but it’s been a while now so it would be great make sure that is under control!

Posted: October 21, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat

Grumble

Someday I’ll look back on this and laugh…

The cat trap was all ready to go this morning (never mind that there were no actual cats around.) We had it in the garage, tested the electronic gizmo that BMHusband installed on the door. The way it would work, in theory, is that a door is held open with a peg. Someone pushes a button, the peg slides back, the door slams/slides down. It worked great. Right up until the motor in the brand-spankin’ new part fried.

Why did it fry you ask? Well, it sure as hell wasn’t overuse. We’d only gotten to test the door about three times. BMHusband says it’s because it isn’t meant to be left on–it’s supposed to be a short-acting draw of power. Yeah, well, I think it was part quality–lack there-of. It had been “left on” less than a minute while I walked from the living room to the garage.

Grump.

We have a backup part coming in today. We didn’t know we’d need it, but BMHusband and I both tend to overcompensate when inventing and planning. We design things…okay, overdesign things, with at least two options, sometimes more. So. Maybe tomorrow.

My backup plan is to contact the Street Cat Rescue and borrow a different kind of trap from them (one where the whole trap comes down, instead of the doors.) The lady there claims the trap works great–and if this one fails for some reason or another–we’re going to need to change the environment to trick the cats again.

No stress or anything.

Would someone tell the cats to just hop in the cage, shut the door and we’ll just get this show on the road????

Posted: November 4, 2008
Filed in Project - Cat
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