Okay, the Teen Mother Detention Camp isn’t going so well, as the mother managed to escape, leaving me to feed and care for her babies. I blame the welfare state for encouraging this kind of behavior!
Anyway, here’s the background:
As you may recall, circa December my sister managed to catch two of the semi-feral kittens that were hanging around her neighborhood, and she gave them to me. Today Zigra and Tibby are wonderful cats (if still a bit shy with strangers), and respected members of the community.
My sister Michelle managed to catch one more of their litter names (Buddy), and she was spayed, thanks to the local vet, who is also bothered by the feral cat population in the neighborhood. (A problem due largely to the efforts of the local crazy cat lady, who collects cats that she doesn’t fix, barely feeds, and keeps” in the fields behind her house, thus dooming them to a life that is short, brutish, and nasty).
Michelle has been doing a soup kitchen for deserving, needy cats for some time now, and usually attracts at least half a dozen indigent felines at supper time. And from time to time, some of the cats take a little trip to the vet’s to get tutored. But despite Michelle’s best efforts, she could never trap Z & T’s two remaining sisters, who have remained terrified of humans. So, they never got that all-important surgery. Which inevitably lead to . . . kittens.
Sister #1 (whom, for the purposes of our expose, will be called by her stripper name, Candi) gave birth to five kittens (two tabbies, one black-and-white, one black, and one with Siamese-like markings) on Mother’s Day. For her delivery room, she chose the lawn mower bagging-attachment resting underneath Michelle’s deck. Although this kind of put a crimp in the lawn mowing, it was okay, and Michelle did want the kittens to be safe from the roaming toms, so she made the new family welcome.
And then Sister #2 (whom we’ll call Mandi) showed up in the family way. We suspect that Bandit, a handsome but roguish Siamese-esque tom, had fathered Candi’s kittens, but was seeing Mandi on the side. (Yes, it’s just like a made-for-TV movie.)
Then, on Tuesday (and in a move worthy of a Lifetime movie), Mandi kidnapped her sister’s kittens. She took them to an exposed area next to the fence, and tried to raise them as her own, but since her milk hadn’t come in yet, they weren’t happy with their new psycho mother, and yowled their little heads off. Candi was also upset, and applied for a restraining order against her sister, but before the court could rule, Mandi went into labor. At this point she seemed to welcome human assistance, so Michelle was able to get her into a cat carrier, and to return the hungry kittens to their rightful mother.
Mandi soon gave birth to four healthy kittens (two tabby, one black-and-white, and a white one that will have Siamese-like markings).
To avoid future sisterly rivalry, I volunteered to let the new mother and her homeless children stay in my unfinished basement until the kittens were old enough to be adopted (and mother could be spayed and then either adopted or returned to her usual haunts). I figured I could socialize the kits when they were old enough, and make them into fine, upstanding cat citizens who would be credits to their species, and thus rescue them from their white-trash family heritage, and end the cycle of indiscriminate breeding.
This turned out to be a bad move. Although Mandi would take food from my hand, and seemed to enjoy being petted, she would still react with fear each time I entered the basement. And although I thought she would soon adjust to being confined to a spacious (if unstylish) basement for the good of her children, she has been plotting her escape ever since she arrived.
After Michelle and I got her out of the furnace air duct on Thursday night, I sealed it up (or so I thought) and also booby trapped it with a pan lid that would clang to the ground if any cat tried to get into the duct. The alarm went off three times during the night (meaning that I had to reset it and calm down a very scared cat), but Mandi didn’t get back into the duct — instead she found a small opening to a space under my stairs that is inaccessible to humans, and took one of her kittens there.
To make a long story short, by taking off a piece of sheet rock, I managed to get the box with the remaining kittens close enough to their mother that she would join them and feed them, and then return to her spot under the stairs, and to the lonely, cold kitten she had left there. Then, last night, she returned that kitten to the nest, settled in with them, and let me pet her for about an hour.
So, I thought she was settling in, and the worst was over.
I was wrong.
This morning, I awoke at 7:00 because a dog was indicating that he needed to go outside. After taking care of that business, I took a bowl of cat food downstairs (part of our bed-breakfast-and-detention plan), only to find that the four kittens were on their own, and the covering over the furnace duct had been disturbed. And what I didn’t find was Mandi. I deduced that she was back in the duct, left her some tuna fish, and called her every hour or so. Eventually, I figured out that something was wrong. I rigged a mirror to look into the duct, and could see clear to the end — and there was no cat anywhere. And worse, the screen nailed to the end of the duct (which was there to keep mice and such from getting into the basement) was bent enough to allow a small, desperate cat to escape into my back yard. And unfortunately, even though my yard is now fenced and my cats (and dogs) have found no methods of egress, they apparently haven’t tried as hard as Mandi, since she was no where to be found.
I drove around the neighborhood looking for her (realizing that it would be pointless, since she doesn’t come when called, and would be hiding, since she is afraid of everything). I also left my garage door open, in case she finds her way back to the house but can’t get back through the fence — but I doubt she will return, since this never became home to her. I am hoping that she will show up at Michelle’s house (which is about a mile from here) later today, a sadder but wiser teenage mother.
But until then, I am hand raising kittens. The first feeding didn’t go that well (although they can’t see or hear year, the kittens know darned well that I am not their mother, and that formula I bought at PetSmart isn’t what they’re used to drinking), but eventually everyone stopped mewling, so I guess they got enough to eat.
I’ll try again in a couple of hours.
And I still want my faith-based funding from whatever government agency is giving out grants for this kind of thing.
And after the kittens are in bed, we’ll look at Bill O’Reilly’s latest column, and see what it can teach us about raising orphan kittens. We’ll also learn about CIA orgies, and investigate John Stossel’s claim that he “isn’t afraid to tell the truth.” So, it should be a fun evening for everyone.
Posted by s.z. on Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 at 9:04 pm.