In spring and summer, those of my barn cats who haven’t yet been neutered have their kittens. I try to catch all the mama cats before they give birth to bring them in the house. Because kittens are safer there, and they become more friendly. And I prefer barn cats who are friendly. Feral barn kittens are impossible to rehome, and even kittens who are caught after 3 or 4 weeks of living wild are seldom as affectionate as the ones born in the house.
Spring kittens are fun. But in the hot days of summer tending mama cats and kittens gets to be a chore I can’t easily handle.
Three weeks ago, barn cat Charybdis came in the house and had 6 kittens. All are still thriving. A couple days ago, barn cat Consubstantial 1 had 5 kittens on the porch and I moved her and the kits in.
But Consubstantial 1 decided to move into the kitten box belonging to Charybdis, even if it meant abandoning her own kittens and raising Char’s instead. So I had to move her litter into the desired kitten box and persuade Char to accept a different one.
To add to the joy, we have another barn cat, Consubstantial 2, who is pregnant enough to look like a furry basketball with legs. She doesn’t want to come in the house because of all the competition so she keeps escaping. And because she knows if she has a big litter like Connie 1 and Char did, she will join them at that top of the to-be-neutered list.
Big-city animal rightsers are appalled by this post I know. But it’s still common in rural areas for people to have colonies of barn cats, and few have nothing but neutered barn cats. After all, we barn cat lovers often find abandoned cats on our properties. People figure because we live in the country and they see several cats in our yard it is OK to just drop off cats and kittens they don’t want, and they never bother to get them neutered first.
If people would come up to my door and ask, I would probably say yes to taking in a few unwanted cats. But when you just dump off cats, especially cats who have never lived outdoors, bad things can happen. I once found an abandoned mother cat and her kitten in my driveway— just when I’d gotten 100% of my barn cats neutered, by the way.
My neighbor said he’d seen the cats around his place before they wandered over to me, and he said there were at least 2 other kittens. But we never caught the other kittens and it’s likely they either starved or were killed by coyotes, foxes or other local predators.
This cat and her kitten ruined my 100% neutered-cat thing because I kept them in the house and didn’t realized that the sweet little boy kitten was getting old enough to break Commandments with his mama.
Lately I don’t even want to go for the 100% goal. I’m fine with one or two mother cats and a tomcat, chosen from the healthiest ones and the females least likely to have large litters— I have a mama cat now whose line tends toward single-kitten litters. After all, farm-raised kittens are quite easy to rehome in a rural area, and I actually need to keep a few kittens each year to make up for the outdoor cats who die or run off or just become too old to hunt any mice for me.
Anyway, that’s my ramble about my barn cat colony. And now, for some cat pictures.
Ozymandias, three-legged cat recently donated to me by the mail lady who found him wandering in the road, half-starved. Probable kitten daddy of the litter pictured above. Since he’s unrelated to the rest of the cat tribe, he’s low down on the to-be-neutered list.
Angry comments from animal rights folks that include cursing and threats will be disposed of appropriately.