A Tale of Two Kitties – Part One

When a Daddy Cat and a Mummy Cat love each other very much and they haven’t been sterilized there will usually be a population explosion.

This is what has happened in our hamlet and now we have two litters of kittens with no place to go.

At first, there was a female cat who, last summer,  deposited two pretty kittens in our log pile that we have up against the front of the house.  She carried them back and forth for a while and I never saw them again.  My neighbour who is renovating his house (spasmodically) started to feed the mother and said he was going to have her sterilized and keep her as a pet with me feeding her when he is away on one of his frequent visits to Paris.

That was the plan.  However, he left it too late and this was the result

DSC_0026

I did put out a plea for new owners but, by this time they were 5 months old and not so easy to tame even though they allowed us to stroke them while they were eating.  I said that, if we got them sterilized, I would feed them while my neighbour was away and they could live a semi feral, semi domestic life in his barn.  I established that only one was a female and was worried that, post operation, we wouldn’t be able to care for her properly or give her antibiotics.  Apparently, with feral cats, they use soluble stitches and don’t bother with the antibiotics afterward so we decided to try to catch them and get it done.

Semi Feral Kittens

These were the three that had their day at the vets.  The tabby you can see in the background was spooked by seeing his siblings being caught and took off so we’ve yet to get him ‘done’  From left, Bilou, Nero and Gipi – can you tell my French neighbour named them?  Gipi is the female so was the most important to get to the vets as, at 5 months, she could soon have become pregnant herself.  After a week, with a bit of help from me giving what remained of the dressing a bit of a tug,  she recovered very well from her op and is a lovely, lively girl.  Nero is a hero and I’ll tell you why in a minute.  Bilou has become a little less friendly since being nabbed and put in a cat basket but who can blame him – I’m sure he’ll come round eventually.

Meanwhile, the mother appeared to be ‘with kitten’ again. After a while, it was obvious she had given birth somewhere and I was determined not to get stuck with yet more kittens and told the neighbour we must catch the mother and the new litter and take them to the refuge.  I should just say here that I already have four cats of my own and three dogs so am already halfway to being a crazy cat lady as it is.

On Sunday, the neighbour was away visiting parents by the coast and Mlle. Tialys the younger went down to put some food out for the big kits.  She heard plaintive mewing and we had to break into next door’s barn in order to investigate.  Up on a concrete shelf we could see a teeny kitten making a racket and hear another, quieter mewling.  We left them there because the mother had obviously taken them up there and would be back for them.

Two days later, the neighbour returned and we told him that his favourite black and white kit had not been seen for two days.  When he went to search for him later that evening, he found him beside a section of wall in his barn and heard a mewling behind it.

He broke open the wall and this is what he found

Yuki (3)

Guess where this little chap is now.  In my spare bedroom being fed on formula milk.  I am going to draw the line at the usual mother cat method of getting them to go to the loo and compromise somehow or other.

Yuki (1)

We think this new litter is about 5 weeks old and, apparently if you want to tame feral cats, that’s the right time for them to be taken from the mother.  We wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for the fact that this one was trapped behind a wall but now I think we should probably try to get the others from the litter – however many there are – and keep them together.  At least we then might have a chance of getting them adopted eventually because they will be socialized.  I hope so anyway because I think four cats is quite enough for one household.

In the meantime, the reason Nero is a hero is because he refused to leave the section of the wall where his half brother was trapped until we found him.

Nero the Hero

and, hopefully, this little one won’t have to remain in a bed on his own – with just a microwaveable soft toy for company – before we catch the rest of them.

Yuki (2)

As an aside – I nipped down the shop quickly to buy kitty litter  today with formula milk stains all down my front.  Aah, memories….

Have you ever had any experience of raising feral kittens.  Any advice would be gratefully received – there is lots of useful but sometimes conflicting information on the internet.

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  1. #1 by Dartmoor Yarns on October 28, 2015 - 16:21

    What a shame the mum hasn’t been spayed. Must be so draining on her as well as a nightmare to home all the kittens. My friend had a half feral kitten from being very young. It wasn’t very friendly and used to lay in wait under the settee then ambush bare feet with it’s claws. She did have a very young son to, so maybe part of it was because it was helped to learn to play rough. So I guess, just lots of love and cuddles is my thought? Good luck!

    • #2 by tialys on October 28, 2015 - 17:12

      I know – I don’t know whether she was somebody’s pet and never spayed or whether she was always feral. My neighbour was told just to collect them all up and dump them in another commune – move the problem as it were – so maybe that’s where she came from originally. I think we may have caught this second litter in time. I’ve just had to practically surgically remove the little one from under my t-shirt to put it in its bed.

  2. #3 by Nicki Rochead on October 28, 2015 - 16:57

    I have no advice but wish you the best of luck. At least the problem is cute!

    • #4 by tialys on October 28, 2015 - 17:09

      Thank you. It is four times as cute now – the other three have been found.

  3. #5 by katechiconi on October 28, 2015 - 19:49

    So did you eventually catch the mother and get her seen to? I’m sorry I’m too far to offer a home…:-(
    We have a bad feral cat problem in parts of Australia, they absolutely decimate some fairly vulnerable small wildlife that doesn’t have other predators of that size. I wish sterilisation was mandatory as soon as the cat is old enough… with a large fine for failure to comply.

    • #6 by tialys on October 28, 2015 - 20:05

      Well, the mother is being fed by my neighbour (and me) so we should be able to nab her but I have all four kittens in my spare bedroom now – photos to follow! – and so she is free of them but we need to find out how soon she can be sterilized. She is obviously a bit of a tart so the sooner the better😉
      This is a very rural area and a lot of people still have the ‘sterilization is not natural’ mindset or they just can’t afford it. Personally, I wouldn’t want an unsterilized male cat around – they stink for a start. In the U.K. they have a couple of organisations that exist for the unemployed or people on benefits to take their animals for reduced veterinary costs but, unfortunately, I don’t think such a thing exists in France.

  4. #7 by http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com on October 28, 2015 - 20:26

    I wish I could have one of these little beauties, but Jock put his foot down after our last was run over two fields from the house. If the kittens are semi-feral, don’t have them in a bedroom or room with upholstered furniture – they have a habit of peeing on duvets and settees.

    • #8 by tialys on October 29, 2015 - 12:44

      They are in my spare bedroom actually. It’s on the ground floor – the only room down there (apart from the wine cellar – we’re good to our guests!!) – so well away from the other cats and the dogs. They have actually taken to the litter with very little encouragement so I’m hopeful.

  5. #9 by Frivolous Monsters on October 28, 2015 - 21:34

    Yes… we have about eleven cats. I really have lost count now. It’s too much. No feral, but one three-legged adopted stray who turned up in the garden. Good luck with it all.

    • #10 by tialys on October 29, 2015 - 12:48

      I can see the day not too far off when eleven is a possibility here too. We do have the space but, if they are to be allowed inside the house, I would want them to be treated for fleas, ticks, etc. – there are loads of ticks around here – and it already costs around 50 euros a month to treat the existing pets. The semi feral ones I feel we have given a better chance to by sterilizing them and giving them a regular source of food but think we’ll have to draw the line at vaccinations, worming, flea treatments etc. Otherwise, I’m going to have to set myself up as a charity!

  6. #11 by Carol on October 29, 2015 - 13:55

    Hi, we now have six ‘House’ cats and one who lives outside. We drew the line at seven in the house plus a Dog. We didn’t plan on any animals but agreed to take three kittens – 1 boy and 2 girls, born to a neighbours cat and when they moved in with us, Mother decided to come to. Then another male cat arrived in the garden about eight months later, so that was five and then a poor little chap arrived last December so he is number Six. We had all of them done as soon as they were old enough and it certainly changes the male personality. Our first boy – Buster was the most awful juvenile delinquent, but turned into a real softie after his op…… My husband asked for a price reduction at the Vets and got it, on the grounds that we are keeping the Cat population under control in our little hamlet, so worth asking. They can only say no. We inherited our Dog in May, having walked him for the last eight years, plus a few other neighbours dogs, so sadly when his owner passed away suddenly we were asked to take him by the relatives. He is great with cats and loves everyone so it was an easy Yes. With love and patience the Cats do come round, it just takes time, but with all your animals you know that anyway…. Best of luck from a couple of other “softies!”

    • #12 by tialys on October 30, 2015 - 12:08

      Thank you! Our nearest vet does the sterilizations for the local cat rescue so we went to him and asked for a discount which he gave us. It sounds like you have a house and garden full too – word seems to get around once you show a weakness😉

  7. #13 by sewchet on October 29, 2015 - 18:45

    What a heart warming story and what a true hero Nero is – well, so are you:)

    • #14 by tialys on October 30, 2015 - 12:02

      It’s partly selfish on my part because, if we get overrun with un-neutered feral cats up here, they will get into fights with my cats and I’ll be at the vets all the time paying for the results to be dealt with😦

  8. #15 by sew2pro on October 31, 2015 - 00:36

    They are all very beautiful and Bilou looks unlike any feral cat I’ve seen.

    I have no advice but personal experience as my grandmother and I took in a feral kitten (in Croatia) who was ‘raised’ in an apartment and lived to be 16, without sterilization. He was a brute! But my grandmother and her husband treated him like a lord (crossed with a pet tiger) feeding him steak etc Not recommended!! Towards the end of his life, they’d take him on outings in the countryside… Another friend also ‘picked up’ a feral kitten which has never lost its permanently petrified demeanour around strangers.

    Good luck!

    • #16 by tialys on October 31, 2015 - 10:20

      I think we might have caught these little ones in time. I feel a bit bad because the mother is wandering around not knowing what to do with her milk but, if we want them to have a better chance of being adopted, it was the only way. The first litter, apart from Nero the Hero, will always be a little wary I think because they didn’t get the human contact early enough.

  9. #17 by jendavismiller on November 5, 2015 - 20:52

    Oh I do hope you’ve caught them in time! They are adorable. My resistance is nil when it comes to animals – we very nearly just became the “parents” of a female bull mastiff (?) who would have probably had our two kitties for lunch! We escaped, as someone else stepped forward to take her.But I have a feeling about that little guy in your shirt….. As to Tina the Tart, is she still on the loose?

    • #18 by tialys on November 6, 2015 - 11:02

      The Tart (I’d better not call her ‘Tina’ as that’s the name of my neighbour on the other side of us ;)) is now joining her first four kits for the feeding sessions in front of my other neighbour’s barn. So now there are five big ‘outside’ ones. Anyway, I’m going to nab the neighbour today and get him to take her to the vets asap because one of the 6 month olds from her first litter is still not castrated (we couldn’t catch him the first time) so all sorts of shenanigans could soon be going on if we’re not careful. My neighbour is a nice enough guy but seems to need a kick up the butt to get anything done at all – hence we are still looking at the scaffolding against the wall of his house 3 months after it was supposed to be gone. But that’s another story.

      • #19 by jendavismiller on November 6, 2015 - 21:24

        Well yes, that certainly would be in poor taste. Shall have to come up with something – do you know a Talulah? Your neighbor must be a very “laid-back” individual…would love to hear the rest of that story!😉

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