Kittens in the yard – Where did they come from?
Last Sunday, when I closed a window due to rain, I saw a mother cat and kittens near the cat house. I was very surprised as we have not been feeding any outdoor cats since we took in Violet and her kittens almost two years ago.
We left the cat house in the yard knowing that a cat or another animal may want to use it for shelter.
After the rain had stopped, I took out some food and water. At first, I only saw the three kittens in the picture above. When I checked on them a bit later, there were four kittens. I did not get any pictures of all four of them.
The mom cat appears to be the same cat that was hanging out in my yard the week of Valentine's day. Apparently, she became pregnant around that time as the kittens look to be about 5 or 6 weeks old.
Checking with the neighborhood
We had not seen the mom cat on a regular basis since February. So, I decided to ask around in my neighborhood to find out if anyone was feeding her.
The eighth person I asked is feeding her and several other cats! This person's house is about a block away from my house. Three of the first seven people I asked see this cat on a regular basis. She has a regular pattern, but none of them was sure where she went or who was feeding her.
The neighbor who is feeding her named her Chloe, and she is a regular at his yard. I was happy to learn that Chloe has regular access to food. He also has a live trap to use to be able to get her fixed when the timing works out.
How involved should I be?
I love cats and helping cats. However, we are not looking to encourage cats to come into our yard since our indoor cats (especially Buster) gets quite upset when outdoor cats are spotted. Buster was diagnosed with cystitis recently. We are doing all that we can to minimize his stress levels since the cause of the cystitis is unknown, but stress can be a factor.
If the kittens keep coming around, we will feed them and help socialize them. The neighborhood man stated that Chloe had kittens before and brought them to his yard. For now, she may be keeping them a secret while she is feeding them.
I saw two kittens on Monday morning. I put out wet food for them, but they did not eat it. Late in the day, the food was consumed, but I suspect it was another outdoor cat. While walking my neighborhood, I confirmed the orange/white cat that visits does have an owner and is fixed.
During the night, the bowls left out for the kittens were moved. The movement was more than a kitten or cat would normally do. We may invest in a trail camera to find out what is going on in the yard!
We are not planning to take in any of the kittens. If we can get them socialized, we can work with the Humane Society to find homes for them. If not, the Humane Society also has a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program.
If the kittens stop coming to my yard, the outcome may depend on the neighbor and how involved he is.
After I posted this post, I saw the Chloe (the mom cat) with the kittens. I suspect the kittens are living under the deck. And there are 5 kittens!
I watched them for about 10 minutes. After she was done feeding them, I was able to site in that green chair and talk to her. The kittens decided to hide. It's going to take time to make friends with them.
What would you do?