... we here at Kitty Chair are going on a crash course in TNR. (That's "Trap, Neuter, Release", for anyone unfamiliar with the initials.) See, we just discovered that we have kittens. Three of them, to be exact. And one rather youngish mama kitty.
Ever since we moved in last August, we've been aware that our back yard - along with the backyard of the abandoned house right behind ours - is a favorite spot for neighborhood kitties. Kitty poops in the gravel behind the garage, flashes of cats traveling hither and thither, lots of little kitty pawprints in the snow over the winter...that kind of thing. No big deal, although we did see one particular white and tabby-point cat on a somewhat regular basis. She never hung around long enough for us to get a really good look at her, and she'd take off it either of us tried to approach. A couple of months ago, though, I saw her out the window and noticed that she was looking pretty bedraggled. We started putting some kibble out on the patio, but it didn't always disappear and it was starting to attract mice, so we stopped.
This morning I looked out the window into the garden and there was the cat, along with three kittens that looked just like her. (Pooping in one of my garden beds, but that's beside the point.) In one corner of the backyard, right up against the fence, is about a six-foot piece of cottonwood trunk, completely covered with Virginia Creeper vines. Based on some of the regular pawprints I saw over the winter, I think that's where Mama's been raising her kittens. Sigh.
We saw them out in the backyard this evening, romping around and having a wonderful kittenish time. However, we're guessing they're somewhere in the 12+ week old range, and probably too old to be socialized. So, we've decided that trapping them, getting them spayed/neutered and then returning them to the backyard is probably for the best. And I think we need to get it done soon, before they get old enough to start 1) striking out on their own and/or 2) breeding.
So ... luckily we have RMACA as a resource, and hopefully we can manage to get Mama and all three babies caught and taken for their surgeries in short order. We've never done this before - although I came close once before with a sweet kitty who had taken up residence in my office's parking garage. Since it's a mama and kittens, I do want to get some advice before going and putting out the traps ... should we try to get them all at once, or can we bring them in one at a time? I worry that doing it one at a time might spook the others and make them trap shy, but on the other hand, getting some of them is better than getting none of them. Right?
And yes, they are just cute as the dickens, and we did discuss the possibility of adopting them. But 8 kitties is way, way, WAY too many, even for us. And since some unpleasant territorial behavior from our two youngest gentlemen (Ahem, I'm looking specifically at YOU, Little Grey Kitteh!) has cropped up over the past few weeks, we do believe that going the TNR route is the best way to deal with the situation. We're happy to put up a little weather shelter and feeding station in the backyard to help them out.
(But "cute" really just doesn't begin to cover it. I'll try really hard to get photos!)