It seems that so far I’ve posted about a wide variety of different things – unusual, bizarre, interesting, cool, current, pretty, colourful, diverse… but nothing that I would necessarily classify as cute. This post is to rectify that oversight.
This weekend my middlest sister was at my parents’ for a few days. She’ll be moving to Ottawa this coming weekend, and I wanted to visit with her before she takes off for the far reaches of the province (actually, it could be worse, she could be moving to Thunder Bay). Also, I wanted to visit with the cute bundles of fur currently in her care.
This is Momcat. She’s a stray who has adopted my parents. She’s been living there for about five years now. She first arrived in the area, we think, by means of some thoughtful person who dumped her and her young litter in a box at the side of the road not far from my parents’ place. There seems to be some underground network among the animal community directing the lost, the sick, and the homeless to my parents’ – good people live here. Momcat isn’t the first stray to arrive at their doorstep, and she’s unlikely to be the last, although with my parents’ moving this summer they’ll have to establish a new network.
My mom rescued a couple of Momcat’s kittens from that first litter, but Momcat herself has remained elusive. I’ve never known a more wary, nor a more wiley, stray. Most strays that arrive remain stout outdoors cats (my parents keep their own cats indoors all the time, but strays are allowed to come and go – that’s the life they know, and they’d be unhappy trapped indoors), but they pay for their lifestyle choice – most disappear after about two years, probably to cars or coyotes. The fact that Momcat has resolutely remained outdoors, and is still around five years later attests to her wileyness.
Momcat has had a litter of kittens every year since she arrived. So far she’s evaded all attempts to catch her to have her spayed, unfortunately. Over the years she’s become more comfortable around us, though she knows precisely how long our arms are and stays just out of reach. This summer I’ve spent some time trying to tame her down and win her trust enough to be able to bring her in for that (sadly, just to break that trust again, but it’s for the best). There’s hope yet.
This spring Momcat chose to have her litter in the hayloft of the barn. The hayloft hasn’t been used in a long time, it just being too cumbersome to get the hay up there, and then bring it down again. Now the hay’s stored in a shed that sides the barn. The hayloft, however, retains a nice bed of old, loose hay and straw, and is cozy, protected from the elements and predators. Since no one’s ever up there, it’s a nice quiet place for a family.
In the past, when Momcat has started bringing her kittens around to the house for food (she gets fed regular meals like the indoor cats get, but with the hopes that it will not only sustain her, but perhaps cut down on the amount of hunting she does on her own time), an attempt would be made to catch as many of the kittens (who’re slower and less wiley than their mother) as possible and distribute them to indoor homes. My parents have kept a few of Momcat’s babies, but most now live with many different friends of my sisters.
This year, because we knew the location of her kittens before she moved them, and because the location was a contained space, we were able to go in just when they reached the age of starting to feed themselves and catch them all. It was a bit of a kitten-wrangling session, not helped by the fact that the hayloft isn’t large enough for adults to stand up in so my sister and I were trying to scurry as we chased the poor frightened creatures from one end to the other. But in the end we did get them all, and brought them in to a cage we had set up.
They’ve adjusted well in the couple weeks since they’ve been in, and while Momcat still seems a bit lonely from time to time, the kittens are having a grand ol’ time with each other, and have become very friendly with people. They all have new homes lined up that they’ll be going to in the next little while. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch Momcat this summer, because we’re just about out of cat-less friends to take the kittens!
While my sister’s been visiting this weekend, the kittens have been kept on the screened-in porch where they can be separate from the other cats but still have lots of room to run around and play and make a mess (with flowerpots and the like, of course – one of the great things about kittens is that they come litter-trained). Below are some photos of the furry balls of cute.
Fun with toys
Fun with bags (carefully supervised, of course, but nothing crinkles as intriguingly as a plastic bag)
Fun with knives (following dinner; fortunately a very dull butter-knife)
Fun with toes
Fun with kittens