This morning there was a real crowd when I came out to feed the yard cats!
I’ve taken to leaving kibble on the ground for the babies that like to hide under the cat house. Counting these four, I spotted 27 cats this morning! There were more adults than usual, but certainly not all of them.
Sadly, as I was putting food out, I checked inside the cat house, as I always do, and spotted a little black and white kitten.
It was lying alone, in the middle of the floor, looking like it was asleep. Except, it wasn’t.
Now, I know the cat house was empty when I checked it last night. My best guess is that the bitties were hiding under it, then made their way inside during the night. Or just one of them did. There was no sign of the dark one.
I buried it with Keith.
Definitely a sad way to start the day.
Today being a warmer and sunnier day, I started working on cleaning out and winterizing the sun room. In the process, I found the buckets of old seeds my mother saved over the years. Some had vague information on the packets like “yellow flower”. Others had nothing.
I ended up dumping all but the tree seeds into a shoebox sized bin. Found some squash seeds of some kind in the process, and what look like dried currants. The packages said only “shrub” on them.
I decided to just fling them out somewhere. These are old seeds that have been through temperature extremes in the sun room, so germination rates would be very low, but who knows?
I decided to fling them somewhere in the outer yard, closer to the secondary gate. As I was leaving the inner yard, though, I changed my mind.
Out by those willows, things got very wet with the spring flooding we had this year. I figured in a more average spring, it would be a better place for the seeds, as it would at least have more moisture.
That arrow is not where I flung the seeds.
As I took the mowed path towards one of the Korean pines, I suddenly started hearing tiny mews.
That arrow is going to where I found a pair of bitty kitties! The second black and white one, and the grey and white tabby. They were at the base of a tree, and there was no sign of a mama. There were broken branches all over, hidden in the grass, but I got to them and picked them up. They were mewing like crazy, so I quickly (and carefully!) made my way to the south end of the trees, flung the seeds, then put the kittens in the bin to carry them home.
As soon as I got inside, I turned them over to the girls, then went back to look for the dark grey little spitfire. While I did that, I sent a message to the cat lady.
It turns out we have a much better data signal in the outer yard than in the house!
After a few messages, the cat lady called me and we talked about the bitties. She is going to be in the area tomorrow morning, so she will make coming here her first stop. She just ran out of kitten milk with the babies she’s already taking care of, but will pick up more. We will giver her the formula we have now, too.
Then I kept looking for the last kitten in the tall grass. Unfortunately, many other kittens came out to follow me, so any time I stopped to listen for meowing, I was hearing bigger kittens rustling through the tall grass.
I kept looking, using the flashlight on my phone, until my daughter came out to get me. She had seen an owl swooping around, so we needed to get the kittens back to the house. I moved ahead so they would keep following me, while my daughter kept watch. Once by the house, I rattled kibble bowls and topped up the water bowls to get their attention, and they eventually all came over.
Meanwhile, my other daughter was with the babies in my bedrooms/office. They had set up a nest in a laundry basket, but the kittens climbed right out, found the kibble bowls for the other cats, and started eating. Amazingly, Leyendecker was following them around, trying to lick them. Including butt licking. Which is good. Butt licking is very important for such young kittens, and I’d rather he did it, than have to try and simulate it with a damp cloth! While two of us were there to play interference, my daughter opened a can of wet cat food and divided it up, setting bowls in different places for Nosencrantz and Butterscotch (who wanted nothing to do with the bitties!), and the smallest bowl for the bitties.
They dove right in. The only problem was, they kept trying to bite the sides of the bowl, too!
As encouraging a sight that was, dehydration was another concern. After a while, we broke out the kitchen scale to weigh them, so we could calculate how much formula powder to mix with water. My daughter ended up having to bring a mixing bowl to put on the scale, zero it out, then put a kitten in the bowl. The grey and white tabby was 430 grams/15 oz, and the black and white was only 310 grams/11 oz.
My daughters took care of getting a bottle and formula ready while I tried to comfort the babies. They just wouldn’t stop mewing. The grey and white one really runs around a lot! The black and white will sit quietly for a while, but then wants to be with its sibling and starts trying to find it.
We tried to feed them with a bottle, but it just did not work. They didn’t want to take it, and when they did, the formula didn’t want to flow, even though we snipped the nipple as the instructions described. Finally, we tried pouring some into a tiny bowl to see how that worked.
The bowl was too tiny for both of them, as the voraciously went after the milk! One of my daughters ran to get a small rectangular bowl, and that worked much better. After giving them a chance to have some, we transferred them, and the bowl, into the cat carrier we’d set up so we could safely tuck them away as needed.
Once they were done, they started crying at the door, so I let them out. They were both absolutely wet with formula, and seemed to be quite happy with nice, full bellies!
As I type this, the black and white is curled up against my shoulder. The grey and white tabby had settled on my thigh, but is now on my wrist, wondering what my fingers are doing on the keyboard!
I’m not going to get much sleep tonight.
My only concern right now is for the kitten we never found. I can only hope that it is safe with the mama somewhere.
What a day!