For the Love of Five Feral Cats
All summer, I kept catching glimpses of this little black cat around our house. I didn’t think anything of it at first but I started to realize it was a stray. Having lived so many years in NYC, I didn’t come across feral cats often. I’m sure the city has their share of them, but living in the heart of Manhattan on the 17th floor, it wasn’t likely that one would cross my front door or hang out on my balcony.
When the weather started getting cold, I became worried about this little cat. Becca, from our vet, Lincolndale Veterinary Center pointed me in the right direction on how to build an outside shelter for feral cats. So armed with directions, I told Jim we were making a cat shelter when he came home from work.
He looked at me and said, “Have you named the cat?”
He knows me so well. He knows once I name it, I’ve adopted it in my heart. And no, I have not named her. I didn’t want to get attached without knowing the situation.
The shelter is basically two plastic storage bins, the smaller one inside the bigger one, with styrofoam insulating the bottom, sides and top, and a hole cut out for the cat. If you’ve ever cut styrofoam, you know it makes a mess. It started off fine.
But by the time we cut the 4th panel, there was styrofoam everywhere.
I’m still finding styrofoam in the strangest places. Like in my coffee. But the end result is an insulated outside shelter lined in straw for feral cats (with bits of styrofoam clinging to it).
I started putting food out for the black cat, with the shelter near by. And the cat did come and eat the food.
And I eventually moved the food inside the shelter and the cat went in. She was using the shelter, but I noticed that she never stayed long, and always ran to my neighbor’s back yard.
I finally called my neighbor Suzy and asked if she’d seen the black cat. And she told me, yes, she has been feeding her, as well as her 4 kittens. They even come inside her foyer to eat.
Wait. What?! I thought I was feeding and sheltering just one little black cat. I had no idea she had a whole family living in Suzy’s back yard!
There are 2 black and white ones, a white one, and a gray.
I took the shelter we made over to Suzy’s since the cats have been living there since they were born in the summer. The kittens checked it out.
And then went in, led by the white one.
Suzy had said the white and gray ones are the shyest, but the white kitten seems curious by me and always comes close to check me out (that’s mama cat in the background).
What beautiful kittens.
I was originally going to try to capture the black cat myself once I had gained her trust and get her spayed, but when I found out there were actually 5 feral cats, I knew I needed help. Someone told me about Community Cats, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to cat rescue and specializes in trap-neuter-return of feral cats.
I met with the founder Penny, and she showed me how to use the Have a Heart cat trap with the goal of trying to trap the mama cat first and getting her spayed. Suzy and her family have fallen in love with this cat family of 5 and will keep taking care of them so once we have trapped and neutered all 5, they will be returned there.
And yours truly, who is highly allergic to cats and has always been a dog person (only because I don’t know much about cats and have never been around them much) has found herself thinking way too much about these 5 and visiting them daily.
I’m nervous about the trapping of the mama cat (and eventually all 4 kittens) but know it is for the best to get them all neutered and spayed and vaccinated, not only to control the feral cat population, but also for these cats to live healthier and happier lives.
The plan is to try to catch mama cat on Monday night and bring her to the clinic first thing Tuesday morning. Wish us luck!
I have to say, I never thought I would be on a mission to trap-neuter-return and care for 5 feral cats but somehow, they have grabbed a hold of my heart. If Pinot and Lokie didn’t go crazy every time they saw a cat and chase the poor thing, we might have had 5 additions to our family. Jim, you can thank Pinot and Lokie that we won’t.