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A Series of Unfortunate Events

July 12th, 2010

Last Saturday morning found Mr Chiots and I standing in our local veterinary hospital with a small black kitten with a nasty wound on it’s neck. We weren’t sure what news we’d hear after a series of unfortunate events that started the previous Saturday morning. We’d had “the talk” the night before, and had decided on the monetary limit for this visit. We love cats and are always willing to help any out when find their way to Chiot’s Run, but setting a limit is necessary when dealing with animals, especially outdoor ones that don’t have a long life expectancy because of the environment they live in.

It all started a month ago, when mama moved four tiny kittens into our garage. We were happy to have them and were planning on fixing them and finding them homes if they survived. A few days after moving in, we got up one Saturday morning to discover the mama and the kittens gone. There was long orange fur all over the garage and male cat urine everywhere! Since male cats often kill kittens that aren’t their own, we figured a big orange male cat we’d seen roaming around occasionally was after these little furries. We didn’t find any dead kittens, but we weren’t sure if they’d survived. After this happened I did some research and found out that feral mama cats move their kittens around often to keep them safe, especially from male cats. (this is another good reason to neuter your male outdoor cats, they’re less aggressive)

Mama kept coming around so we knew eventually she’d bring them back if they had survived. Sure enough, a week and a half later, last Wednesday morning, we spotted her and three little furries on our back porch. She brought her babies back and proudly called them out of the garage every time we went outside to show them to us. We were happy to have them back, and sad that one of the little gray ones hadn’t made it, most likely it perished in the male cat attack a week and a half earlier. The kittens spent their days entertaining us playing around in the driveway and running in and out of the garage. We made sure to check under the cars every time we went somewhere so we didn’t accidentally find a kitty pancake upon our return.

Last Saturday morning, I was headed to the farmer’s market and went out and checked under the car as usual. We’d seen the kittens playing around outside earlier that morning, so we knew they were still around. On my way home from the market, a mile or two from home, I noticed a dead kitten in the road that looked just like one ours. At first I didn’t think anything of it, here in rural Ohio it’s a common sight. Later that afternoon, I realized I hadn’t seen the kittens since that morning. I knew then that the one I had seen was ours. We looked and looked and sadly couldn’t find any kittens in the garage. We figured the kittens had crawled up into the car and had all perished. Of course this was on Saturday afternoon and we were headed to a Fourth of July celebration, only we were no longer in any kind of mood for celebrating. This is the very reason I had never gotten a garage cat. I knew that their life expectancy was short and the risk of coming to a sad end by car was very likely. I love cats, so I prefer to keep mine indoors where there are no cars, dogs, foxes, coyotes and other dangers.

After shedding of a few tears and a few days of sadness, I was feeling better. I was glad that mama was still around, following me around the gardens and rubbing on my legs trying to get some attention whenever she could. I made plans to take her to get her fixed since there were no longer any nursing kittens. I was glad that she had a healthy fear of things like cars and the garage door and seemed to be a very smart outdoor cat.

Late Tuesday evening, around eleven thirty, I was looking out our back door and noticed a tiny black streak running across our porch. At first it didn’t register. Then it hit me – it was one of our kittens. Amazingly it had survived the ride under the car, the fall or jump out of the car, the car itself, a three and a half day journey, and had somehow found it’s way back home. This is quite an amazing feat considering that the kitten is only about 7 weeks old, was still nursing when it disappeared, and had to travel through woods and very busy roads to get back here (and it was 4th of July weekend which is especially busy here in our lake community). We went outside to find it so we could reunite it with it’s mama. At first we couldn’t locate it, little black kittens can hide very well in the dark, but finally Lucy sniffed it out for us. We called mama cat (she is now sleeping in our garage at night) and she came. As soon as the kitten heard her meow, it started crying and came running out of the bushes to her. It rubbed back and forth on it’s mama, clearly very happy to see her. The entire next day the little black kitten did not leave mama’s side. Wherever she went, it was right behind her. By the second day it started feeling more comfortable and would spend time alone sleeping in the garage.

I noticed the kitten had a small wound on it’s neck, but I could never get close enough to see it. The kitten is still very wary of humans. On Friday I took my camera out to get a photo of the wound, I figured that would be my best option to get a good look. It wasn’t pretty, so Mr Chiots and I decided it was time to catch the the kitten to put some Neem Protect Spray on it. (we love this brand of neem spray, it works wonderfully for any pet skin problem we’ve had and helps keep fleas away naturally, I’d highly recommend this product!). Upon inspection, the wound looked pretty bad, so I ran inside to call the vet. We’d hoped to get in yet that evening, but early the next morning would have to do. We placed the kitten in a pet carrier with some food and water. This way we wouldn’t have to catch it the next morning, since it had taken us a few tries and quite a while to catch it that afternoon.

Saturday morning found us up early and off to the vet, wondering what news we’d hear about this little kitten and what kind of a decision we’d have to make. Luckily, the wound wasn’t life-threatening (although it had a huge fly larvae in it, gross, but nature’s way of cleaning up wounds). We came home with a kitten in a crate and of smiles on our faces. The kitten will be spending the next couple days in the crate, we want to keep it contained to make it easy to administer it’s twice daily antibiotic treatment. I think this will work in our favor as it’s taming the kitten quite nicely. She even purred and rubbed on my finger later on Saturday. She’s getting more active and her appetite is coming back, and she’s really enjoying her diet of raw organic whole milk mixed with egg yolks and fermented cod liver oil.

I may still take mama in this week to get her fixed, and we talked to the vet already about when we could get this little kitten fixed as well. We’ll also be trying to trap the orange male, we don’t see him very often so that may prove difficult. If all continues to go well for this little softie, it looks like after all these unfortunate events, we’ll still have two garage cats here at Chiot’s Run. I think this little black kitten has already used up a few of her nine lives.

Have you ever had to deal with the harsh realities of outdoor animals?

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fur

June 11th, 2010

Yesterday morning Mr Chiots and I went kitten hunting in our garage. We wanted to figure out how many we were dealing with and to make sure we had anything off the ground they might get caught up in or injured on. We made up a box as a house for them, although we’re thinking it needs to be smaller and more nest like, so another will be made this week. We managed to catch 4 kittens, 2 gray ones and 2 blackish ones. They’re skittish around people since they’re feral. Two of them were a little calmer, so I held them for a few minutes. We’ll be trying to socialize them with people as often as we can.

The mom is coming around as well. I’ve been trying to stick around when I feed her and she’s now letting me pet her a bit. Yesterday she even rubbed on my legs once. This means she’s feeling much more comfortable around us and hopefully she’ll teach her kittens that we’re OK. This should make her much easier to catch her when it’s time to take her in for spaying.

I called the vet yesterday and they recommended not bringing in mom until the kittens are weaned, which we think will be in 2-3 weeks. We’re guessing the kittens are 5-6 weeks old because of their size and they still have their baby blue eyes (which usually change around 7 wks). By then the kittens will be ready for their first round of shots as well. I’ll talk to the vet since some offices will spay/neuter at 8 weeks and others wait until 4-6 months.

For a while we’re going to have a few more furry friends at Chiot’s Run and we’ll be doing our part by spaying & neutering all of these cats and hopefully finding good homes for a few of them. If these cats hadn’t moves into our garage they would continue to breed at an alarming rate. A female cat can have up to 3 litters of kittens each year giving birth to 2-9 kittens each time. Any female kittens can start having litters as early as 6 months. You can imagine that it doesn’t take long for things to get out of hand. Please take this as a reminder to spay and neuter your pet.

Have you ever had to spay/neuter a stray animal?

The Word is Out

June 10th, 2010

I guess the word around the neighborhood is that Chiot’s Run is a feline friendly establishment. Remember when I mentioned that we had a feral cat show up last winter? The cat lived somewhere across the road because I would see it heading over there all the time.

We were going to trap it and take it to the vet, but that proved to be difficult. We rarely saw it and it was very scared of us and would run whenever it saw us. This spring we noticed it coming around again and it looked a little chubby. I wondered if it was pregnant. Pretty soon one day it was skinnier than usual, so I figured it had kittens. We decided to wait 6 weeks or so until the kittens would be older then try to trap her to get her fixed. I tried following her a few times looking for her kittens so we could get them fixed as well, but I never was able to find them. I checked all the neighbor sheds and under their porches. Yesterday I came home from the post office and noticed the cat running out of the garage. Then I heard a tiny meow in the garage. I looked around and saw a tiny kitten in our garage. She decided that Chiot’s Run would be a great place for her babies, so she moved them into our garage yesterday. They look to be about 6 weeks old.

We saw them a little later outside with mom as she was taking them for a stroll. I managed to get a few photos from inside. We think there are 3 kittens but we’re not for sure. We’re going to make up a small house in a box for them and hopefully this will make them easier to take them to the vet, which hopefully will happen early next week if we can catch them.

Looks like we’re going to have a few garden/garage cats to help with the chipmunk/mice/mole population around here.

Any new and exciting pets at your place?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.