It was time to round up the kitties.
On the advice of local humane society folks, we started to feed the stray mom and kittens a few days ago. THIS was deemed an immediate success. All three kittens came out from under the deck and the mom cat decided I was her best friend. Poor thing, I don't think she's been stray for long. As a matter of fact, I begin to suspect she was left behind by the previous house occupants.... but I digress.
Upon application of food to hungry tummies (the mom cat was skin and bones... and FUR!), socialization began. They ate in our presence... mom was happy to accept scratches and rubs (and to give me immediate hives)... and by yesterday I achieved the touching and picking up of kittens. (Food is a great distraction.) We borrowed a carrier from friends who are owned by a cat, punched holes in some cardboard boxes, and this morning sat on the deck to stalk the lot of them.
Food dishes down. Waiting begins.
Kitten #1. No problem. Into the box in under 10 minutes.
Kitten #2 (The Orange One). Came out quickly, but didn't go into the box without leaving its mark. (Minor scratches to the rounder-upper... who would be me.)
And now the decision. Mom cat is out and visible and happily glomming food. Kitten #3 is under the deck. Huh.
Mom cat let me pick her up and put her in the carrier with very little resistance. So in she went.
Kitten #3. After the problems with adding #2 to the box with #1, we got out another box. #3 remained under the deck. And under the deck. And under the deck. Right at the edge, mind you. Just out of reach. We were starting to worry that the entire mission would have to be aborted. Long minutes went by.
The DM suggested we put the mom cat in her carrier out where the kitten could see her. Eureka! Cautious #3 finally made it to the food bowl, chomped a few bites, and was promptly scooped into another box.
Cat and caboodle are now safely delivered to the kind folks at Mountain Shadows Animal Hospital. We're optimistic that since the mom cat seems so desperate to be a house cat and the kittens are still young, all will find homes without too much trouble. If you'd like them to come live with you... give Mountain Shadows a call!
And now it's time to starting packing up ME. I gotta get my act together!
Mom cat at my feet, happy to hang out.