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Cats, Kittens and a Kit – Animal Apartment Dwellers - Midsummer in beautiful Texas

Updated on July 7, 2012

Dawn at the Gulf Coast, South Texas

Another beautiful sunrise in midsummer on the Gulf Coast of Texas
Another beautiful sunrise in midsummer on the Gulf Coast of Texas | Source

Midsummer in Texas as my days here draw to a close

Birds busy at dawn
Birds busy at dawn | Source
Full moon at the break of day
Full moon at the break of day | Source
Little Patches is growing up
Little Patches is growing up | Source
Mamacita exhausted from the heat, the attention of Catman and meeting the demands of her two kittens
Mamacita exhausted from the heat, the attention of Catman and meeting the demands of her two kittens | Source
Catman waiting to catch Mamacita offguard.  Rocket, one of Mama's kittens is resting from the heat.
Catman waiting to catch Mamacita offguard. Rocket, one of Mama's kittens is resting from the heat. | Source

Cat Behavior

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It’s the height of summer and there are heat waves and fires in many of the United States which just add to the discomfort. Here, on the Gulf Coast in Corpus Christi, it is both hot and humid and not only the humans are feeling it. The apartment cats have been panting and wanting to come in to my cooler apartment, and I dare not let them. Responsible pet ownership includes regular shots and visits to the vet, as well as a hefty pet deposit. Apart from this, my own cat, Mr. Hobbes, which I took in some years ago after he was abandoned, does not welcome intruders.

I have been following the welfare of a handful of cats in this apartment complex for some time now. All the shelters in this city are overflowing. If you take a peek at some of my previous hubs, you will meet Tom-Tom, Peaches, Zorro (who I have not seen for a month or three now), and the newest Tom on the block: Oscar. I think I am going to rename Oscar to Catman! That “O” on his side looks like an emblem of Catman beamed up into the dark night sky. Here is a video that will show you what I mean!

My neighbor believes that Queens (female cats) cannot get pregnant while they are still nursing. Our resident Mama cat, which I call Mamacita, has had a number of litters over the last few years. I have since learned that lactation (milk production) does not suppress fertility in female cats, and they can, and do, go into heat only two weeks after having a litter of kittens. This makes life tough for the Mama. Not only is she concerned about the welfare and feeding of her offspring, but she also has to deal with the wanted and unwanted attention of a bunch of males.

I recently discovered the term “superfetation” which means that the queen can be carrying fetuses of different ages and from different “heat cycles.” I have watched various Toms (male cats) following Mamacita around. They laze languidly in this heat, nearby her and waiting. Catman, in particular, keeps close and is even patient with Mama’s two kittens (one male, one female) which are growing rapidly and are happy. I had named the male “Smudge” due to a similar marking on his nose as his mother’s. He looks like he has some Siamese heritage. A friend suggested I call him Rocket, as he is quite a speedy little chap. I like the name, so Rocket he will be. The female I named Patches, but I welcome more suggestions as this does not seem to be the most fitting name for her.

Not only can the queen have heat cycles while feeding her kittens, but she also has them while carrying a litter. The term “superfecundation” means that the kittens she is carrying come from different fathers. Watching Catman, Tom-Tom (the oldest and quietest male here) and Peaches (the white ragdoll looking cat with peachy splatters), I see that Mamacita is indeed the Queen of the complex, but she is tired. I know that she has had at least four litters over the last two years or so, and my plan is to try and get her in a carrier to have her spayed next week. I intend to take her two kittens also. Wish me luck!

For more about Mamacita and her kittens:http://suelynn.hubpages.com/hub/Its-kitten-season-does-someone-want-us

Cat Hierarchy

Smudge has been renamed Rocket.
Smudge has been renamed Rocket. | Source
A new collar and tags for Precious
A new collar and tags for Precious | Source
Precious wearing her beautiful new collar and lucky tags.
Precious wearing her beautiful new collar and lucky tags. | Source
Two orphaned kittens lay low in the corner of the yard.
Two orphaned kittens lay low in the corner of the yard. | Source
The orphans are not running away when they see me now - they are becoming less frightened.
The orphans are not running away when they see me now - they are becoming less frightened. | Source
Silver
Silver | Source

Feeling the heat...

This morning, I witnessed Catman (Oscar) lying quietly but intently close by. He allows Mama and kittens to eat first, then he plays a waiting game and even plays with Mamacita’s kittens. Mama was passed out under the birdbath. She is feeling the heat, the attention her kittens demand and their occasional suckling. The last thing she wants is more mating right now. Catman is learning. He has become a magnificent cat. He slunk around to get into a better position to pounce. He has tried this before and Mamacita has fended him off fairly well. This time, he could not be stopped.

He attacked her and I ran to get the water hose nearby. I thought I could get him to literally cool off with a spray of water. He chased Mama down the stairs to the garage, with kittens surprised and following after. I sprayed all the way downstairs (good angle from the top of the stairway) and Mama got herself under a car – which is a pretty good strategy to avoid the attention of crazed males which get a whiff of a cat-in-heat! Tom-Tom had been lurking nearby and has learned to keep a low profile and knows when to back off to avoid a confrontation. Wise cat! Did you know that cats were worshipped by ancient Egyptians as a symbol of fertility? These domestic animals are certainly the most prolific.

This brings me to an update for Y’all about Precious. She is a young female which had the most adorable kitten (Snowball), that was taken in by one of the tenants here. Precious is one of the lucky cats. I had her fixed and she had her shots. I also bought her a collar to which I fixed her tag showing what shots she had, and a name tag saying: Precious – Fixed. At the back I put the names of the apartment complex and the city. Precious has recovered quite well, but I was extremely surprised to see her attack both of the orphan kittens that have found their way to the yard of a corner apartment downstairs. I first spotted the black kitten skulking around the dumpsters a couple of weeks ago. It was during the wee hours, and dark and I couldn’t sleep, so all I saw were two black ears sticking up as the kitten tried to hide from me. I knew it was not a rodent, as I have come to appreciate cats greatly and I know their shape well.

As I put food down for Precious and her friend Silver, the black kitten and its little black and white sibling, found their way to the food source and now hang out in the corner of that yard. There are enough hiding places for them to run to when they feel threatened. When I went downstairs to feed Precious and the orphans, to my surprise, she charged them and bullied them into complete submission. So did Silver, the other resident cat that was lucky enough to have been fixed. It seems that both of these cats have become the bullies on the block, but are probably marking their territory and showing that they are at the top of the pecking order.

The orphans have been frightened and miserable, but their lives are improving gradually. I had hoped that Precious would take the kittens under her wing, particularly since her own kitten had found a home, but that may be naïve in light of the fact that she was spayed and had no more hormones circulating that made her motherly. Clearly, she sees the orphans as intruders and possibly as prey! As the kittens get bigger and stronger and less afraid, Precious and Silver may begin to accept their presence more.

Read more about Precious and the other cats that live here by visiting:http://suelynn.hubpages.com/hub/Precious-and-her-precious-Kitten

Catman keeps his eyes on Mamacita - the drama heats up

Mamacita and Catman

Mamacita is being held hostage by Catman and Tom-Tom is waiting nearby for a shot at the prize. There is no stopping Catman and I feel bad for Mamacita as the safest place for her seems to be under a car. She tried to make a break for it and Catman was on her immediately. The kittens don't know what is going on. I wanted to get the trio fixed this week but the spay unit was not operating. Hopefully I can get them sorted out during this coming week. I know I am not going to be popular with Catman - or Tom-Tom either for that matter. Getting either of them into a carrier is a whole other story!

All sorts of critters and other growing things in Texas

Way down yonder is where bananas grow.  Plantains.
Way down yonder is where bananas grow. Plantains. | Source
My squirrel neighbor pops in
My squirrel neighbor pops in | Source
Keep the raccoon kit warm and secure and they prefer the dark.  Do not feed it cow's milk.
Keep the raccoon kit warm and secure and they prefer the dark. Do not feed it cow's milk. | Source
This kit is about 3 weeks old, has no teeth and just wants its Mama.
This kit is about 3 weeks old, has no teeth and just wants its Mama. | Source
Bonny flags wave at Nueces County Courthouse:  USA and the Lone Star State - TEXAS
Bonny flags wave at Nueces County Courthouse: USA and the Lone Star State - TEXAS | Source

Way down yonder where bananas grow...

While I am on the subject of intruders, a tenant who lives over there told me that she had seen a raccoon during the night. I have never before seen raccoons with my own eyes. It is as though nature is presenting me with gifts before I depart sweltering Texas for the cold climes of Canada. The very next day, one of the maintenance men (we’ll call him Bob), who is kind to animals just as I am, presented a baby raccoon to me. It had been heard scrabbling behind a wall near the swimming pool and the wall had to be cut into to free the trapped animal.

Bob had called the Texas State Aquarium to find a wildlife rehabilitator that might care for the baby. He got hold of someone who told him she would be there “later.” He rescued the baby at 9 a.m. and I saw him still waiting for the rehabilitator at 6 p.m. In the meantime, I Googled information because we were concerned that the kit (that’s what the baby raccoon is called), was likely dehydrated. I discovered that one must never feed the raccoon baby human food or cow’s milk, but that milk for kittens is okay and so is Pedialyte (which restores electrolytes). In addition, one needs to use a syringe and not a baby bottle, and to do so slowly to prevent the animal dying from aspiration (sucking food into the airway).

I dashed over to the corner pharmacy and procured both. By 8 p.m. the rehabilitator still had not arrived and Bob was very agitated as he would have found another solution instead of waiting around all day and after his work shift, when he just wanted to go home. He did not want to abandon the kit. A nearby neighbor came to assist and got hold of a friend of his who had rehabilitated a number of wild animals. His friend got there within ten minutes and took the kit with him. Bravo, gentle-men three!

I felt sad for the Mama raccoon which I knew was living somewhere close by. I was also sad for the kit as it was such a little one and I hate babies being removed from their Moms but there didn’t seem to be another solution. At least we did something, and certainly not out of ignorance. On the internet, I found warnings about handling the animal with gloves so as not to pick up a “zoonotic” disease. Here is a definition: “A disease that can be transmitted from animals to people or, more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but that can infect humans.”

Here are two helpful websites about what to do if you ever find a baby raccoon: http://www.wildlife-education.com/found-baby-raccoons.php and http://www.animalconnectiontx.org/raccoons.htm I also found out that wildlife rehabilitators are in demand. This may be an excellent way to keep kids occupied during a summer holiday and allow them to develop a love of nature and some informal education in addition through such a wonderful experience. It’s one way of giving back.

My time in Texas is drawing to a close and nature is delivering...

Remember to Scoop the Poop

Dog poop can contain 23 million bacteria which are known to cause diarrhea, cramps and kidney disorders in humans. Dog poop is also known to carry heartworms, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, parvo, giardiasis and salmonellosis amongst other nasty diseases. These diseases can affect your pet and your family (or those around you) as well as contaminate waterways. For more information, here is a helpful website: http://www.doodycalls.com/resources_toxic_dog_waste.asp


Finally, some suggestions for being a thoughtful neighbor.

  • Supervise your children and teach them to respect the property of others.
  • Cut down on the unwanted animal population and have your animals fixed.
  • Most of all, for people who walk their dogs, please remember to pick up after your pet.

Comments

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    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Rahul0324: Good to "see" you! :) Thank you for your very kind comments - I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub. This is an issue very close to my heart. Blessings to you, my friend. :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Useful information here and loads of it with interesting pics and catchy detailing

      Brilliant hub

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Aviannovice: Thank you so much for saying! I do seem to have been sucked in this last few weeks. I am happy to report that both Mamacita's kittens have been fixed and given shots. They have all been reunited. I don't know how I am going to catch Mamacita - she is very wary of me now! She is the one who needs spaying the most. I do want to get back to your lovely hubs, so please be patient with me, Deb!

      Crazybeanrider: Bless your heart! Perhaps you could advocate for what sounds like a beautiful cat and find her a good home? I get SO angry and switched off by the cruelty of people who set their dogs on other animals! Grrrr! I feel your pain and frustration, believe me. You are doing good too and yesterday, I decided that I need to focus on the people who do good with animals rather than those who don't. BRAVO, crazybeanrider. :) Thank you much for tweeting (I don't know how to tweet!) LOL.

      Hi Moonlake: You know, I just don't feel like "Rocket" fits that little Siamese and will revert to Smudge! :) I am happy to say that both Smudge and Calico Kate (I think that's prettier than Patches), have now had their shots and been fixed. The vet also tipped an ear to show that they have been fixed. They were SO glad to see Mama, and she them. I wonder whether I will catch her tonight? She so badly needs spaying. I am interested to hear that superfetation applies to dogs also (and why wouldn't it?) Your son must have learned a great deal by raising that raccoon. Back to the wild they will go. Thank you for your votes and shares - they are so greatly appreciated. :)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Oh my goodness I love Smudge I would take him in if I could catch him and if I were there. I can't believe there are so many strays. I love Smudge's name but don't like Rocket. I have heard of superfetation before but in dogs. My Dad always said litter of puppies can have different fathers.

      Baby raccoons are so cute. My son had one he had found all alone. They took care of him until he grew up and than one day he was gone. Enjoyed your very nice hub. Voted up and shared.

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 5 years ago from Washington MI

      You are doing such a humane thing saving these precious strays. I feel so bad for Mama. It makes me cry, I will be so glad when she is spayed, so she can have some relief from those that prey on here. I only have one female that visits me. her ear is tipped, so i believe she has been spayed. No males stalk her. The neighbors chase her with their dogs, and when i say anything they threaten me. So it isn't a great place I live. people can be so cruel. I can't take her in as i have two cats and cant afford to pay the rent for another cat or I would try to coax her in. She is the most beautiful cat, big bright eyes and friendly. I have to find a name for her, because I think she is here to stay.I have posted pix of her at my twitter (crazybeanrider). You do great work and I admire you greatly. Tweeted this awesome hub!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I see that you're getting quite a bit of animal experience in TX. When you get to Canada, you could well be doing the same. If nothing else, you have interesting animal families, and you have done them all a great service.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Lesley: Thank you so much for saying! :) I am learning about cat hierarchy but honestly, those two little orphans are having a tough time, especially the little black one. My hands are full with juggling Mamacita and her two kittens. I want to get them fixed this week and I'm trying to figure out how to go about it. Thanks so much for your kind words (as always), and your vote is greatly appreciated. xx

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      A wonderful update! I loved up your photos, the sunrise is spectacular!

      I do hope Precious and Silver are going to accept the kittens - Silver, what a perfect name for this cat!

      Lots of useful information too - a great write thank you and voted up

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thanks so much for commenting, Terrye! :)))) I was right, Mama and kittens and old Tom-Tom are outside my kitchen door... it is 1:30 a.m.and cooler than the searing daytime heat. I am somewhat relieved. I appreciate your feedback muchly!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great write, Suelynn! You mix facts with a great story. Love it! :) VUM!

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Annerivendell: You made my day! Thank you so much for educating me... those poor kittens are miserable. Now I have Mamacita being set upon by three Toms here. It is very hot today so I just found her one kitten looking a little lost downstairs and need to find Mama and the other kitten. I am sure they will turn up this evening... I greatly appreciate your interest, your comments and your votes. :)

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      The cat that is chasing the orphan kittens is not really a bully, she is just establishing her (and the kittens') place in the hierarchy. All animals do that, whether wild or domesticated. And even humans too.

      Your hub is interesting and fun to read. Voted up.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Sunshine625: I see that your name fits you well and I thank you for your lovely comments. Kindness really is part of your being. :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This hub is loaded with useful info for animal lovers. You have such a kind heart and it's obvious why your feline friends attract to you. Well done:)