Archive for January 4th, 2022

Sweet Babboo

Sweet Babboo

Sweet Babboo

A lot of feral cats have shown up at our place over the years. Some appear for only a short time and then move on. I fear that some have fallen prey to the several known predators in these woods.

Some seem to make the areas around our place their home and eventually fade away, probably passing away from illness. That was the case with The Boys, two unlikely chums that have featured here in the past.

But several of these feral cats have made their way into our home, including the two currently there, ZsaZsa and Lucy-Furr, and my studio cat, Hobie. They are all wonderful, loving cats but are not friendly to outsiders nor to each other. Probably comes from being on their own and relatively unsocialized at early ages.

Last winter two cats began showing up at our house. They were both gray tigers though one had a subtle bit of brown mixed in, which was the only way to distinguish them at first. We began feeding them and they were somewhat friendly though they never let us touch them at all. Any move, even putting out a hand, made them run or sometimes, in the case of the brown one, bring a swat and a hiss.

They stayed around most of the winter living in the crawl space under our house during the heavy snows that fell last year. They would go away for short periods of time  when the weather allowed. They ate well and all seemed fine. We began saying that if they were to stay around we would have to trap them and find them home or at the very least, get them spayed or neutered.

Unfortunately, that discussion did not come soon enough.

One day in late spring, I watched the brown cat come up through our yard from down around our pond. She was bopping right along when I noticed she had a small shadow that seemed out of place. As she neared, it became apparent that her shadow was a small black kitten.

Kittens. Oh, no…

Within the next week or so, several more began coming back and forth from wherever the brown cat, now called Mom, had them stashed. There were four. There was a yellow tiger, a gray tiger, and two black kittens that could only be distinguished by their differing eye colors, green and amber.

They were adorable and quickly became comfortable around our place, eating well and using every tree and step like a jungle gym. Two, the yellow and gray ones, were even friendly enough to let us pet them. Their purrs were loud and intense. And even though Mom still hissed and growled at us whenever we put down food for them, she was a very affectionate mother to the kittens.

And Dad, who still came to eat with the whole group.

We began trying to find a place where we could take these kittens so that they might find a real home. We searched for months all across our region and well beyond, calling animal sanctuaries, SPCA’s and other rescue organizations. The sad news was that this past year has been a record year for cat rescues and surrenders.

There was no space anywhere. Anywhere.

We decided at that point that our only recourse was to capture these kittens as they got older and spay or neuter them and let them live outside, in and around the sheds and garages here. We would continue to feed them and care for them as much as they would allow us.

However, Mom wasn’t agreeing to waiting for that time to come. Before the kittens were two months old, we could tell she was already again pregnant. Sometime in late September she disappeared for a period of time, leaving the kittens on their own. They stayed close to our house.

After a time, she reappeared with only one kitten. A gray tiger, very young and small. Most likely, if there were other kittens from this second litter, they had not survived. The two of them took up residence under our garden tractor, with the kitten laying on the dried grass atop the mower deck once it became strong enough to climb upon it. It was small and lonely and it seemed like it had something wrong with its left eye, not being able to open it. For a while we feared it was missing its eye.

They weren’t in the most secure of spots and one day, after a night where the bears had came through and knocked down our bird feeders, Mom and kitten disappeared. Mom came back within a day or so to eat but the baby was nowhere to be seen. We feared the worst.

Then one day as we returned home, there was Mom walking up our driveway. And once again, she had a shadow– the kitten was trailing her. It struggled to keep up, stumbling and falling time after time as we watched from the car. Finally, the kitten just dropped and laid still. Cheri jumped out of the car and went to it and picked it up as Mom ran away.

It was tiny and barely responsive. Mom had most likely marched her across a small creek  that was not too far away as the kitten was soaking wet and very cold. Taking it inside, Cheri dried it with towels and warmed it up. Later, we put it in a box with towels then mixed some wet cat food mixed with warm water and fed it which it lapped at. The left eye was barely open and seemed to be infected. We cleaned it as best we could.

We kept it inside overnight to warm it then attempted to reunite it with Mom the next day. Mom would have nothing to do with the kitten, hissing and swatting at it.

At that point, we knew we had another cat. At first, the thought was that I would try to get it integrated with Hobie in the studio, which made me anxious. Hobie is extremely territorial and at an age where she doesn’t take any crap. But after some time, as the kitten, a female, grew — she was only about 14 ounces at her first vet visit–and became more and more playful and loving, it was determined that we would keep her at the house, as crowded as they might be.

We also treated her eye infection which cleared up nicely.

We began calling her Sweet Babboo, which is what Sally would call Linus in the Peanuts comics. She is incredibly affectionate though she is sometimes a bit too playful for our other two cats. But they seem to be coming around, as well. It’s been fun and she is thriving, eating like a monster and using every inch of our home like her personal playground.

I called her a lucky lottery winner on the day we decided to keep her. I think she knows that she’s pretty lucky.

I only share this because today is the day I have to trap two of her siblings so that they can be spayed or neutered tomorrow. It is part of a catch-and-release program with our local SPCA that spays or neuters feral cat and gives them rabies and other needed vaccines. The ears of the cats are notched and their bellies are tattooed with an ID number so that they can be identified if captured again in the future. The cats are held here for day or two before being released.

The lists for this program were pretty full and this was the first available date. And there was only space for two cats. I was hoping to first catch Mom and Greenie, the green eyed black cat, as they are the females from this group. Unfortunately, both have not been around much in recent days and I fear the worst, that one or both might be pregnant.

But I have been feeding the other cats in the traps and am pretty sure I can catch two. Fortunately, Buttercup, the yellow one who was named before we noticed that he had testes, and Gary, the gray one who I named after tiring of calling him Gray Boy, are both extremely sweet and affectionate, allowing me to pet them at length. In fact, they demand to be petted, purring as loud as can be when rubbed. They will no doubt be the first to go.

I hope they understand. I am hoping to integrate them into the studio sometime in the near future. They should be as lucky as their sister, the Sweet Babboo. Their path might be longer but this is the first step.

Now, I am just putting off going out there to set the traps. But it must be done and it will be best for all concerned.

Wish me and them luck…

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