The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

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Friday, January 28, 2011

June 3, 2006 by s.z.

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.

15 Responses to “Why Welfare Doesn’t Work”

I think its awesome that you’re so proactive about the animals in your neighborhood. Most people would just cast nasty glances the cat lady’s way, sigh, and leave it at that. Here’s wishing you lots of energy and patience in the next couple days because you will certainly need it with those kittens.
Well, as I said earlier, if nothing else this whole experience has given you a unique perspective. You finally get to see how it feels to be a supervillain who has just discovered that your prisoner (we’ll call her Agent Mandi) has somehow escaped from your impregnable lair.
“She escaped? How could she have escaped?! FIND her, you idiots!”
At this point, it would really be helpful to have an underling you could shoot, or death-ray, or feed to pirhanas as an example to the others.
Still, you have to be feeling a bit of that reluctant supervillainish respect for a do-gooder who has foiled your plans. “Well played, Agent Mandi. You are truly a foeman worthy of my steel.”
Except, in this case you’re the do-gooder, since you took the little tramp in, and now she’s skipped and left you holding the litter. So it’s kind of like if James Bond were a sullen and delinquent teen mother, and Dr. No ran a Catholic Home for Wayward Girls.
I had a cat mother die when the kittens were 6 days old. i had to do the feeding every 2 hours and the butt wiping thing. that was a damn long 6 weeks.
anyway, we used canned milk mixed with one egg and some karo syrup. you then mix it 50% water. the kittens and the cats love it.
i still give it to petey and he’s 13 now. but , i don’t still wipe his butt.
I don’t know what else to say, but…you are a saint of cats.
A litter may have as many fathers as it does kittens. Just some science to start off with.
Our other lesson is from the field of ethics. If you give a cat a fish it will eat for a day. If, however, you put that fish in the freezer, then break off a resulting icicle and use that to stab the Crazy Cat Woman the murder weapon will melt and you’ll have committed the perfect crime.
She needs to be stopped, with the intervention of animal control, or the police, or whomever. Life for a feral cat is indeed nasty and short; what’s more, they decrease the quality of life for pets and pet owners around them.
SZ, you are doing a good thing. Too bad that ingrate Mandi couldn’t appreciate it.
I had a kitten I had to do some faux-mother work with, although she was older when I got her. Luckily, the other cat I had recently adopted had recently weaned a litter, and once she got over being indignant that there was another cat in the house (well, OK, she never TOTALLY got over that) she volunteered as a wet nurse. Her milk came right in. She proceeded to occasionally breastfeed the kitten for the next four years. When they both got over 15 pounds, that was quite a sight to behold, I’ll tell you that.
Going all By Any Means Necessary on Crazy Cat Lady sounds like a fine idea.
Errrrr, not for nothing, but this is all starting to have a “Natalee Holloway” air about it…
Odd her maternal instinct made her kidnap her sister’s kittens but it wasn’t enough to keep her from running away from her own kittens.
You are indeed a saint. I’ve got the two, and as far as both of them are concerned it’s one too many.
We left for the weekend to watch my partner’s father marry his sheep-farmin’ babe, and I was seriously considering leaving the cats with no food in the hopes they would kill and eat the remaining housemate. (They didn’t kill the other one; she moved out.)
But they’re finicky eaters, and one of them has food allergies, so ultimately I decided not to go that route.
We’re home now, and they’ve each picked a human and are sitting conspicuously nearby with their backs to us, letting us know that a handful of tuna-flavored treats and a new catnip toy apiece is not going to buy their love back.
I have no idea how we’d cope with more than just these two.
You realize, of course, when all is said and done that you’re going to have… what, seven cats? Or is it more? So, once animal welfare busts the crazy cat lady, YOU are going to take her place in the neighborhood lore as the NEW cat lady (though, hopefully not “crazy”). Be sure to “tutor” all of them, or you’ll wind up with ahundred inbred kitties!
My theory is that S.Z. is going to give them little shriner hats and teach them to fly.
I feel your pain, I spend a good portion of my valuable time feeding and trying to reason with young female cats gone wild, about the joy of spaying. Of course they doubt my sanity, and continue their wayward ways. I have delivered to the no kill humane society{with a healthy bribe} kittens who are adorable, but right now we have 6 stray cats and 2 stray dogs{my husband is a saint!} AND I DON”T KNOW WHAT TO DO! nORMA lAMPSON
Having bottle fed two of dumpster kittens, I know the wonder of a happy, sated, kitten resting in the palm of your hand. I always thought that was payment in full for the service. They both grew to be excellent companions too.
Yes! Finally the final piece I needed. Thankyou!
sz, although I dearly love your political lambastings of wingnuts, I also love your updates on the furry inhabitants of your neighborhood and home.
Since an unwed teenage mother cat left her four babies in the backyard under my deck four years ago, I have checked there everyday to make sure no more have appeared needing foster care. Bottle-feeding kittens every two hours can take a lot out of you. You are the best!

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