May: Feral Wonders

Last month, the big news was the kittens being born. Ms. Squeaks never trotted them out for me to see, so I had to steal glances when I could. I knew where they were, but I wasn’t going to let on, because I didn’t want her to move them again. At least, not because of me. At one point, I had to cut the grass, but I made sure I left a large enough space of tall grass (and weeds) so they’d still have a hiding spot.

About six weeks went by. I saw the kittens fairly regularly by that time. They would be running around and playing in the tall grass. The “helper” cat was usually around them. Ms. Squeaks would be doing her thing, lounging on the patio.

Before I go on, I should say a few things about Ms. Squeaks. When she first came around the property, she was a horribly skinny thing. She always glared at me from a distance. She also seemed to have a hard time eating the dry cat food: taking a few bites, looking like it was difficult to chew, and then leaving it alone.

So, I, being the soft hearted guy I am, started feeding her one can of wet food a day. This bridged the gap between us. She started to enjoy getting her head scratched. And, unfortunately, she would start scratching at her in a big way. The kind of way where she would growl as she really dug in there.

This worried me, and I always wished I could get a vet to do a house call. I would have tried to get her in a carrier, but I didn’t want to stress her out, as feral cats tend to be when confined. So I let it go, and felt bad.

During this time, she developed a kind of relationship with Nazboo, the indoor cat. I would open the front door and she would stare inside, until she saw him. Then she’d get close to the door and the two would boop noses together. And then they would both turn around and that would be that. Later, the nose booping would turn to her giving him affectionate looking head butts. She went from never entering the house (except once, when she took a tour of the entire place), to coming inside long enough to rub against Nazboo. Who would then look at me, like had no idea of what was going on.

So, these cats aren’t strays, as they tend to stay on my property or my noisy next door neighbor’s property. But they aren’t house cats so, to my mind, that makes them feral. Especially since it takes a lot of time and effort to work up a trust. As an example, the helper cat still does not like to get close to me, even though he now shares wet food with Ms. Squeaks. But, I also think it’s not its job to be friendly. It’s there to make sure the kittens are safe when Squeaks is otherwise engaged.

Helper Cat, not looking friendly

One morning, then, when I was leaving to go grocery shopping, I was surprised to see Squeaks, the helper cat, and a tiny kitten on the porch. I looked at the kitten, and it looked like it’s eyes were stuck shut. I didn’t think that was normal, since the others had big, wide eyes, that stared at me from beyond the grass line.

Afflicted Kitten

So, again, me being me, I start calling veterinarians. I started with the closest ones and was told there was no availability, but I could make an appointment for one to two weeks out. I didn’t think that would cut it. One suggested I bring it to an animal shelter. I didn’t that would be good, either. Finally, I found a place about an hour away. I explained the situation to them and they said, “Hey, bring it in. I’ll give the doctors a heads up.”

Relieved, I went and got the carrier and brought it outside. I opened the front door and went to grab the kitten. She was a feisty one, but not being able to see gave me a slight advantage. She would still wriggle a lot and get loose. Being afraid of hurting her, I held her low to the ground and didn’t grip to hard, so that wasn’t getting me anywhere. I opened the top of the carrier, reasoning that I could let her drop into it and she’d be okay, since, well, she was a cat, but I also had padding in there. So I scooped her up, let her wriggle her way out of my hands and right into the carrier. I closed the top and started to close the front, when Ms. Squeaks walked right on in to the carrier. She nudged the kitten a bit, then laid down next to her.

I was surprised, but not surprised enough to look a gift horse in the mouth. I closed the front of the carrier and carried it to the car. Surprisingly, Ms. Squeaks didn’t panic. She seemed interested in the ride, and would nuzzle the kitten when she started getting squirmy.

Even at the vet’s, she didn’t seem at all disturbed. She just laid there, taking it all in. I was told it would be about two hours and they brought the carrier into the back. I didn’t see the sense in leaving, since it would be an hour going home, anyway. So I hung around.

In the end, it took four hours. I don’t blame the clinic, though. I saw it go from nothing going on, to all kind of emergencies happening at once. I know they were busy at times. The end result was, everyone was impressed with Ms. Squeaks behavior. And she got a clean bill of health, aside from some ear mites. There’s nothing wrong with her teeth or jaws, so it just might be that she doesn’t like dry food.

The kitten was a bit more dire. A bad eye infection. They sent me home with eye drops and antibiotics. I hope to God I did the eye drops correctly.

Anyway, I got them home and Squeaks took off to tend to her other kids, while I took the kitten inside. I didn’t really know what to do with her. I couldn’t let her run loose because her eye infection could have been transferred. I couldn’t keep her in the carrier all night. In the end, I took a spare room and put some cat toys in there and cleaned it up of the more dangerous things. I went to the store and got a small litter box and some kitten sized bowls and set them all up for her.

Her medicine required me seeing her at least every eight hours, but I tried to drop in more than that. Not that it mattered. The girl would wedge herself behind a box and not come out. To give her the meds, I had to move a giant box and pick her up. Then I put it back so she’d have a place to feel safe.

A Safe Space

I also felt that it would be nice if Ms. Squeaks would visit. That way, they would both know that the other was still around. Getting Ms. Squeaks inside wasn’t that difficult. I opened the door, she strolled in and started calling for her kitten. I led her to the door of the room and opened it and the two met, somewhat happily, I think. Maybe too happily, because momma tried to walk out with her kitten.

Mom and Daughter breakfast

Eventually we all got the hang of it, until I made the mistake of feeding Ms. Squeaks her canned food in the kitten room. I thought it was also a good idea, because it would show the kitten what could be eaten, which included the canned food and the kitten dry food I had gotten, because Ms. Squeaks is a voracious eater. What started with having the two cats have their head in the same bowl, eating the same food, turned into momma cat eating the food and the kitten trying to nurse on Squeaks.

Besides, that, though, the kitten opened up. She would start coming out of hiding when I opened the door. She’d play with me as I tossed various toys around. By the end of the week, I had become a human playground for her to crawl all over and bite.

At one point, I bought a new bed for her and Nazboo. Same bed, slightly different colors. I’m happy to say that they both use their new beds. It’s always satisfying when that happens.

Nazboo and Angel (the kitten) don’t interact. Most of it is because I keep them apart, on account of the eye infection. There was one time, though, early in the week, Angel ended up underneath the futon in the living room. I was trying to get her out, when Nazboo showed up behind me. Angel, I guess on seeing another cat, ran out from under the futon and right at Nazboo, who was surprised by this little missile. He jumped and hissed. And this started the falling apart of Ms. Squeaks and Nazboo’s relationship. They no longer have a friendly thing going.

In other news, as of yesterday, the kitten has been bolting out of her room when I open the door. She gets out of the room, and walks around for a little bit. This morning, she saw Nazboo and walked towards him. Nazboo… ran away. Angel took a few hesitant steps toward him again, but he hissed at her and tried to run into his ‘jungle gym’. This frightened Angel enough to send her running to her room. Poor thing. She hasn’t tried to leave it, except for maybe a foot outside the door, since then.

In a few days, Angel goes back to the clinic. Hopefully, we’ll find out if she’s still contagious or not. I’m also hoping that something can still be done about her right eye, which hasn’t healed as well as the left. Then, I have to decide what to do with her.


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