So, we have organized a cat food drive to benefit the Homeless Cat Management Team. It is a pretty straightforward plan – we have 2 drop-off spots (Northside and Natrona Heights), as well as a crowdfund and an Amazon wish list.
As you may know, we got involved with some Northside feral cats in late 2017. They showed up in our backyard and we started feeding them regularly. We assigned them names, we tracked their actvities, and we grew attached. So we sought some help from folks who knew all the the things about feral cats – enter HCMT.
We started out with dry cat food and water. A handful of cats strolled by during the day and evening. We put out more food and more dishes. We bought hay and stuffed our old dog house full to create a warm shelter.
Three of the cats resembled our cat Precious so we began referring to them as Little Precious, Big Precious, and Mr. Precious. We established a routine. Two of the cats crept up on our back stoop pretty often and made eye contact with us through our kitchen door window. We began discussing trapping and what would happen afterwards. We realized that the little gray cat was pregnant so we began referring to her as Mama which I sooned turned into Mamma Mia.
The crew was Mamma Mia, her little bonded female companion now known as Maylee, the apparent father we called Lothario, with Mr. Precious hanging around and a few occasional other cats.
I had surgery in January so our trapping plans were delayed, then the pregnancy delayed us further. Mamma brought the kittens with her (oh the cute!) One of the kittens was ill; Mamma brought him to us and left him on our deck, watching the window until we came running out to get him. We rushed him to PVSEC in our pajamas, but he had to be euthanized.
The next day, we began trapping in earnest. We had adult traps and kitten traps, lots of sardines, newspapers, kitten mewing sounds. We caught Mamma Mia one evening and put her in our second bedroom in the trap. When we woke up the next morning to take her to the TNR clinic, I saw Maylee lurking around and I was able to catch her. So off I went with both ladies to the clinic. They both barely weighed 5 lbs, but tested negative for any discernible problems. They were spayed, vaccinated, etc.
Mamma has to be released to her kittens who were not yet weaned. Maylee moved into our second bedroom. About a day after we released Mamma, we learned that a neighbor was taking in the kittens but that neighbors feral cat person was not communicating with our feral cat person so we never knew. I was quite upset to think she had been unnecessarily released when we wanted her.
She returned for food soon. And less than 6 weeks later, I trapped her again. This time, she went into the second bedroom where she climbed the walls and hid on top of the furniture. We put a nanny cam in the room and it was soon apparent that the girls were reunited and feeling so good.
Lots of other stuff happened that I’ll share another time.
Fast forward to February 2019. They are still confined to the second bedroom and making strides toward letting us handle them. They are adorable on the nanny cam. They have a giant cat tree next to a window so they both spend the morning sun hours stretched out and asleep. They eat very well, but have some unexpected finicky tastes.
The outside crew broke up after the girls came inside and the kittens were rescued. But this fall, we saw the band getting back together. A new-to-us cat with a tipped ear began hanging out on our porch so I put out food and water. I named him Mr. Pajamas. A few days later two other cats showed up. Then the cat we had previously identified as Lothario showed up yesterday. So we have a feeding station, two winterized cat shelters, water, even an outdoor cat bed to enjoy on the porch. In the sun.
So we are trying to figure out what to do now with these guys.
And we are back to buying very large bags of Purina cat food and Meow Mix as well as putting out our salmon and poultry scraps.
So that brings us to this cat food drive. We want to do something to help other folks doing this work. The cost of cat food is a perpetual challenge. Many cat colony caretakers have limited budgets. And these expenses add up – even with help from groups like HCMT. We’ve purchased a trap (about to buy a second one), gloves, medical supplements, a cat tree, a nanny cam and monthly video fees, plus the euthenasia bill. Plus, food and the clinic co-pays. It really adds up, fast.
So I asked HCMT how we could help and we came up with the long-term goal of matching community partners with specific caretakers to donate monthly food. If Mr. Jones knows he’ll be receiving 2 large bags of Purina Cat Chow via Amazon each month, that’s going to be a big help. And for those among us who want to help, but can’t take on a colony ourselves, it is a good way to give back.
So we are starting with a simple food drive. We have drop-off locations, a shopping list, etc. If you can chip in $5 or $50, it will help. And all of it will go directly to food for the caretakers.
Joining us with the drive are our friends and sister cat ladies, Ehrrin Keenan and Candace Dunhoff. They both take care of feral colonies and have added former ferals to their families. Their cats, Bruce and Turtle, will be sharing their stories, too.
I hope you will join us in this adventure. Stay tuned …