I got a call from my husband yesterday while I was at work. That usually means something requires immediate discussion — failure of a major appliance, gutters falling off the house, that sort of thing.
Luckily, this wasn’t quite so drastic. Even so, it needed to be discussed.
He told me he had heard a scratching sound coming from outside the living room window, and looked outside to investigate. Long story short, the cat that’s been frequenting our property decided to have her kittens in the bed of pachysandra just outside the window. They’re big kittens, though, so she probably had them a couple months ago. Surprising that it’s taken us this long to notice.
The mama cat and her kittens, according to Aaron, are skittish and won’t approach him. That means they’re not considered strays — they’re feral. Wild. “Community” cats. That also means we can’t take them to most shelters or volunteer operations that would adopt them out, like Planned Pethood or the Humane Society.
So, the responsible thing to do would be to round up the mama cat and her three kittens and take the whole lot of them to be spayed and/or neutered (and eartipped to mark them as neutered ferals), then release them back into our yard where we found them. It’s called Trap-Neuter-Release, or TNR, and it’s apparently a common practice nationwide to control feral cat populations.
There’s only one spay/neuter clinic I know of in the area that does this. They rent humane traps for a returnable $60 fee, and charge $25 per spay/neuter. There’s a time commitment involved, though — going out to borrow the trap(s), setting the trap(s), bringing the trapped kitties into the garage for the night, driving them out to the clinic first thing the next morning, and going out to pick them up first thing the next day after their surgery.
I don’t have that kind of time.
It doesn’t seem like much of a time commitment, I know, but working full-time plus solo-parenting in the mornings — plus already having used up my paid time off on things like pediatric visits and the salon and oil changes and buying a new fridge — means I don’t have any time left to take feral kitties to and from the clinic.
The spot they found is actually quite sheltered — there’s a concave sort of corner of the house there that blocks the elements, plus the pachysandra is evergreen — and they all look well-fed, so either Mama Cat is a good huntress (birds and chipmunks abound on our property), or someone’s feeding them. Apart from making sure they can’t keep making more kitties, I’m not particularly worried about them.
But I still feel just a little negligent for standing by and doing nothing.