Thursday, July 31, 2008

Squatters!

Okay, so when we moved in to a house with a yard, I was quite looking forward to seeing what sorts of plants we could grow and critters we could attract. And then, of course, reality set in. The previous occupants FED the SQUIRRELS. (sigh) They provided homes for them, higher in trees than our ladder will reach. The little monsters are bold, bold, bold.

But the squirrels have started to catch on to the new regime. They no longer stride up before our feet expecting handouts, and they're not perched in our faces at the windows.

The previous occupants also apparently had a dog which, near as we can tell, they NEVER cleaned up after. We owe our friend Susan for the rest of our lives, as she tackled doody duty while we were schlepping our belongings on moving day. Two large lawn bags worth. As the DM observed, "Even the dog would have been grossed out by it."

You would think that all that dog-and-squirrel activity would have made this place unattractive to neighborhood cats. You would be mistaken. There have been a couple we've chased out of the yard on a regular basis, and one we were fairly certain was making camp under the back deck.

But then the month-long roof replacement ordeal began and we ceased to see stray cats in the yard. Of course, the fact that we couldn't even GET in the back yard for more than a week probably skewed our data set.

The roofers finally cleaned up and got everything out of here on Saturday.

On Sunday, we discovered THIS:


Yes, indeed! Somehow during all the construction noise and dirt and chaos, this stray cat managed to birth kittens under the deck (three of them, in complete mockery of my previous post) and to raise them to the roaming- about- the- yard stage.

I am not opposed to cats, although I am quite allergic to them. I am, however, opposed to cats roaming about in the big, wide world making trouble for themselves and other critters. This little cadre is, of COURSE, encamped as far back under the deck as it is possible to get... and so far every time we step in to the yard they make a beeline for their squatters' base.

I called the local animal control office and was told, "We don't do cats." (WHAT!?!?) So I guess the next step will be to call the animal shelter and see if they have suggestions for enticing wily feral cats into transportation units.

The kittens are, of course, ridiculously cute.... and everyone looks healthy and happy. We just have to find them a place to be happy and healthy other than under the deck. Anybody want a kitten?

3 comments:

Beverly said...

Too funny...I've the exact same thing going on in my yard!!! And the same thing happened when I moved into my cabin in the woods seven years ago. grrrrrrrr I like cats too; but NOT wild cats or cats which spend time outdoors. (there outta be a law).

Anyway...I've discovered you can rent traps! The local TruValue has rental equipment...including such traps (live-traps). I caught Momma cat and her son (who I re-named Uncle Daddy) and managed to get them fixed. The others... well, lets just say they are no longer a problem to the local wildlife.

Looks like I'm going to have to rent a trap again...and soon. I've seen this mama leaving my yard several times since I discovered her nest and she moved...and regularly with a bird in her mouth!!! She's using my yard as a dining room and teaching all five (5) kittens to do the same. [sigh]

Sherrie Y said...

Thanks for the tip, Beverly.... I found out that the local Division of Wildlife office will loan live traps for free! The trick now is that the kittens aren't yet weaned, so we can't figure out how to time it. Today we bought a couple of cans of soft food... with an idea that if we can convince them not to bolt every time they see us, they'll be easier to catch.

I know, I know. Snowball's chance in ......

Beverly said...

When I had to trap Moma Cat and Uncle Daddy...and their 3 kittens; the kits were already 12 weeks old. The vet was very surprised to see Moma was still quite full of milk (which makes spaying a bit more difficult). Generally by that time, he said...most have weened the babies.

You might just rent the trap and catch them one after the other; you're never going to get them ALL in the trap together.

Oh...and I think I'd put the trap out only during the daytime. I bet you have skunks and racoons at night, too. LOL

Also know a wild kitten is NOT a fun thing to deal with...even when quite small. I'd start now; the smaller the better. I made a lovely (indoor) pet of a wild kitten I rescued from a dumpster; but it took forever and she never learned to enjoy other people.

Good Luck!