Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Shed Cat Problem

I like having cats around. I like seeing them, I enjoy their presence, and I know they take care of a lot of annoying pests that I'd really rather not have to deal with. They are also stinky, messy, and damage my garden... so I'm not a complete cat fan. I just generally fall on the "like" side more than the "dislike".

Sleeping Shed Cats

This spring, while preparing my garden area, the cats became the temporary enemy because they left cat seeds in my garden plot. They also annoyed me recently by using my grafted plum tree as a scratching post. But I have finally started to see their feline faces and take pictures of them in action.

Shed Cats Apart

Once you've taken pictures of a creature repeatedly, and dubbed it with a name (even one as boring as "Shed Cat One"), you take a sort of ownership of it. Not a real ownership, just an investment in the life of the creature. And I'm afraid that's started to happen to me.

Shed Cat Two Sleeps

I've started to put out water for them. I draw the line at food. I will not feed them at all; they aren't mine and I couldn't afford it if I wanted to. But water in the temperatures we tend to get around here? Another reason to put out water is to keep them from using the soaker hoses as their water source, thus hopefully keeping them out of the garden plot. So water, yes. Food, no.

Sleep in the Lens Flare

I'd gotten used to the two main shed cats that I've seen around. The Black and White (Shed Cat One) and the Golden (Shed Cat Two). I was beginning to get a little concerned about the cats, because I noticed they are extremely skittish. While SC1 is getting used to me, I can't get within five feet of it without it dashing off. I've surprised SC2 twice by getting close while it was asleep, and it really doesn't like me because of it. I am not sure these cats have owners, which would mean I'm dealing with feral cats. And I have massive issues with feral cats... namely the fact that they tend to make more feral cats...

This morning, my worst fears were proven as probably true. I went out to turn on the watering, and spotted SC1... or at least I thought I did. Then I spotted SC1 again, running in exactly the same spot. I turned in shock, and a moment later, with SC1 still sitting near the shed, the second SC1 came out the other side of the shed. The second SC1 had more black than white, and slightly stubby legs and a shorter tail. I went in to tell hubby-Eric, then watched out the back window... and saw this.

Shed Kittens

Three Shed Kittens. We have Shed Kittens. And they are darling. They are so cute I want to just eat 'em up. It was all I could do to not go out and try to capture one to snorgle. Shed Cat One was watching over them carefully, monitoring them as they played. And they dove in and out of the space beneath the shed so often it was clear that was almost like home to them.

SC1 and Kitten

I want them to live a comfortable life. I don't know if they actually belong to anyone. The fact that this is the first time I've been certain I've seen two of the kittens makes me wonder if they have another home. I don't particularly object to them living in my yard part of the time, but I would really like to know if they are being properly cared for, and if they are properly neutered to keep them from making more kitties (I somehow doubt it).


They are so cute. My heart just about stops when I see them frolicking. I want to go out and join them. And yet they are clearly very skittish and not fond of humans.

You scared me bro!

I'm not sure what to do. I suppose the first step is to find out if they have owners, which would mean going around to all the houses in the neighborhood and asking if they own these cats. For an Aspie like me, you might as well ask me to jump off a cliff. I called the Humane Society, although I'm not fond of them, to ask for advice. They said they would check them out for $8 each. And if I needed to capture them, they would rent me a trap for $8 a day, with a $50 deposit. Yeah. Right. I haven't got that kind of money now, and while I'd like to make sure the cats are neutered I just cannot afford it.


So, I've got two problems with the shed cats. One: I don't know if they belong to anyone in the neighborhood, and I'm too terrified to go around and ask. Two: If they do turn out to be feral, I can't afford the costs of trapping them and getting them neutered.

Any thoughts? Suggestions?


Jonathan L. Miller said...

Hi Laura. I've sent a link to this post to a friend who does work with ferals in MA to see if she has any ideas. (Of course, she sometimes takes forever to respond to links/e-mails, so I can't promise anything!

Amanda said...

Hi Laura! This is Jonathan's sometimes-very-long-in-responding friend from MA. Speaking as someone who has had feral cats outside for YEARS, take my advice and get them spayed/neutered NOW. It is far less expensive to get them fixed now than when you have 25 of them. It is the kindest thing you can do for them. Feral cats who have been "fixed" are healthier, happier and live longer. Try seeking help from resources like Alley Cat Allies (they have a hotline where you can speak to an expert) or your local shelter. Keep looking until you find an organization that will help you trap, neuter and release them back to where they are most comfortable - your shed :) From the pictures, it is already too late to try and tame the kittens. I had an outdoor colony of 8-10 at one point and thought I would be overrun until I started volunteering at a local shelter. They had a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program that helped thousands of feral cats. I got all mine trapped, fixed and released. The boys stopped fighting and spraying. The femals stopped producing copious amounts of kittens. Now I don't feel so heart broken when I look outside. There are good resources out there that can help - even if you don't have the money. Some organizations would love to help in return for donating some of your time to them.