It's kitten season - we are so cute!
A kitten's playground? Trying to beat the heat...
Garden of Eden – Survival of the Fittest
Outside my front door you will find both a Pomegranate tree and a fig tree. If you look some more, you will find residents of these apartments, which fight daily for their survival and often, merely eke out an existence.
This is Mamacita. I have written about her before. She has had a number of litters at these apartments. You may recall that about two years ago, she had a litter of five adorable black and white kittens which were taken from her and left in a box awaiting animal control, when I rescued the kittens which a friendly nearby veterinarian took in. Mama was left behind, searching for her kittens and calling plaintively for some weeks. She is a model Mama but was much wilder then and would not let me come near. When a tenant complains about the cats and kittens that do not have a home, management sends maintenance folk or calls animal control to catch and remove them.
If people would only adopt an animal, even if not taking it into their apartment, and give it love and food and get it fixed and let that animal get its shots, these lovely creatures would be given a better chance at survival, and in return, would keep pests away. Mamacita now has two of three kittens that survived this time. She has been pushed from pillar to post and has decided to camp outside my apartment as she has a steady supply of food and water for herself and kittens and it is a fairly quiet spot. Often she has found me and called me plaintively to find her kittens which are now at an adventurous stage and keep Mama busy looking out for them. She tries her hardest to get me to understand and has a long conversation which I do my best to respond to.
Struggle to Survive
A Precious Nursery
Downstairs is a very young Mama which I called Precious. Barely out of kitten-hood herself, she was chased mercilessly by three of the Tom cats that reside in these grounds: Oscar, Peaches and Tom-Tom. Tom-Tom, the ginger male and oldest of the three, has been around for quite a long time. He has learned to be unobtrusive, quiet and reticent. His tail was broken by some of the children that lived here I was told. He used to bolt when he saw me, but at this point, he watches me warily as long as I keep my distance. He knows that I supply food for my feline friends and I try to remain unobtrusive and non-threatening.
Precious had a litter of kittens, but I have only seen one and I’m not sure whether she had others. This kitty is still quite young and is at the “aren’t I the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?” stage. Precious is friendly to me as she knows me and sees that I am a friend and protector. Today, she allowed me to pet her precious bundle but still kept a close watch. Precious is lucky. One of the tenants in that part of these apartments looks out for her every day. She can’t take the cat in because of the pet deposit required. Neither can she get the animal fixed or take it for shots, as she can’t afford to (like so many of us!)
Over there, in the part of the complex which I call “the nursery,” there are swarms of mosquitoes and many ants which are attracted by food which is not consumed. I am not the only person who feeds the cats there, but I seem to be the only one picking up used bowls and empty cat food cans. I don’t mind, I feel as though in some small way, I am giving back. I feel so bad for these animals – they have to work so hard to survive and eke out an existence without the care of people that feed them. While I was overseas, attending my Dad’s funeral, a tenant got annoyed by something the cats had done (probably their mere existence) and complained. Animal control was summoned. I heard about their attempt at rounding up the animals and carting them off. The only cat that I have not seen around since my return is a shy, quiet black-and-white male I called Zorro. He used to be Mamacita’s constant paramour.
These cats generally never know who to trust or not. They have pretty much figured out that I am trustworthy, but are nevertheless still cautious. They allow me to come near and especially to their offspring, on their own terms. I don't blame them. They try so hard to survive and have to put up with so much difficulty. If anyone is able to help, please would you let me know?
Precious and her sweet little bundle
Peaches-n-Cream and her beautiful babies
Two years ago, a stray female slipped into my apartment one day. My own cat, Mr. Hobbes, had been abandoned by tenants about seven years ago. I took him in. He will not tolerate any other cats in his territory. I was busy preparing for my Physics registry and for final exams at the end of a long period of study. My Mom had fallen and broken her hip and was in hospital in South Africa. I was extremely distracted and worried. My Mom had hip surgery and did not survive it in the end. I could not go to her funeral as I was about to write my final exams. This was the point at which this female slipped in and made her way to my bedroom for sanctuary. She was quite skinny and I had planned to get her to a vet for shots, and was hoping to find her a home. Little did I know that she was ready to give birth – and she did. While I was on the phone, listening to the service of my Mom’s funeral, this cat, which I named Peaches-n-Cream on account of her pretty coloring, crawled under my bed and had a litter of 5 kittens: one male and four females.
I have no doors to rooms downstairs and basically I had to keep Peaches-n-Cream hidden away in a big cardboard box in my closet, yet give her access to food, water and the sand tray, without upsetting Mr. Hobbes. I was constantly keeping my bedroom door open, then closed, so that Mr. Hobbes did not attack Mama or her babies. When Mr. Hobbes would come into my room, I kept the closet door closed and the kittens remained quiet. Mr. Hobbes sniffed around and knew something was not right with his world. It was a continual juggling act. In between all the drama, I sat and passed my Physics registry, and completed my final exams, earning my Associate in Applied Science for Adult Echocardiography.
By the time some weeks had elapsed, the kittens were becoming adventurous and running rampant in my bedroom, getting up to all sorts of mischief. I appealed to Peewee’s no-kill animal shelter, and the owner there agreed to have the kittens spend a day on the weekend at Petsmart to see if they could be adopted. To cut a long story short, the kittens were exhausted upon their return, to a rather frantic Mom who called for them. The first kitten to be adopted was Leo, the only male. I was told that a young man had proudly carried Leo out on his shoulder. I found a home for the first kitten that was born, which I named for my mother. I had put notices downstairs and a tenant wanted the kitten for her sister. That kitten is now a happy adult cat with a loving home.
A cuddle of cats
Appeal for help
I advertised the other kittens and Mom on Craig’s List. I was not happy doing so, as I worried about the people who would call. The last three kittens found homes on the same weekend. There were two ginger ones and a cream kitty. I was happy with two of the families that came, but the last one left me feeling a little disturbed and had driven off with the kitten before I could change my mind. Peaches-n-Cream called for her babies and looked for them for quite a while. It is always upsetting to me. I was advised to allow Peaches-n-Cream to settle down before I took her to a specified vet who spayed her and Peewee’s was kind enough to take her in. Eventually, all the scents and sounds of other cats in the apartment dissipated over time, and Mr. Hobbes was relieved to have the run of his home again.
Downstairs, in the “nursery” I have seen the precious little bundle stand his ground against some of the Tom cats that prowl around there. He does not back off and his fur stands on end. His Mama, Precious, is ready to defend her baby at the drop of a hat. A few days back, I went down to put food out and throw trash away, and saw little ears sticking up – a small kitty was hiding behind the dumpster. I tried to encourage it to come out and it would not, so I left some food there. This morning, I saw that kitten in the nursery, but it ran away when it saw me coming. It does not seem to have a Mama and I keep wondering what happened to that little family. At least there is a supply of food in the nursery, and I wonder whether Precious may be suckling the new little one. I will keep my eyes open.
What I’ve discovered in writing this is that cat families were sent to me to help me in overcoming the grief of losing my parents, partly by distraction and partly by taking care of other creatures, instead of curling into a ball of grief and not being able to get out of bed. It may also be the other way around, feeling grief-stricken and vulnerable, I sought out the animals to connect with and love. It makes me feel better. I hope that in the writing of this hub, I will find someone who is able to take these cats in. They need to be fixed, they need shots, and above all, they need loving homes. Is there anyone out there that can help?