3-18-10 – Questions, answered.

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I must ask why on earth do you allow Maxi and Newt to ‘free-roam’. All I have ever heard is that free-roamers have shortened lives with all the horrible things that could happen to them. You evidently have a large property and you equip your other cats with electronic collars so why not these two?

Maxi and Newt came with the property, and when we put them in the bedroom with Maxi’s kittens (before the kittens were adopted out, and before we got Maxi and Newt spayed and neutered), they lost their minds – dug at the windows incessantly to get out, and stopped eating. Back then, we didn’t have a fenced back yard, so there wasn’t a way to contain them while still allowing them to be outside. At this point, they’re okay with coming inside and staying here overnight if the weather is bad (or they just want to), but they move pretty regularly between our house to the house two doors down, and probably spend almost as much time in and around their house as they do ours.

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I wonder if they have the same mom as the Wonka’s did – same spot makes me think maybe.

Bob – the guy who spotted both sets of kittens – also spotted the mother cat both times, briefly, and was pretty sure she was the same cat.

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Regarding name suggestions: Like I said, Fred’s in charge of naming these guys. I passed your suggestions along to him, but he’s going to take his time deciding on names. I can tell you that they won’t be named after the Three Stooges (and Shemp), because those names have been used for shelter cats in the past. John, Paul, and Ringo hadn’t been used (I was actually pretty surprised by that!), but George has.

I didn’t even suggest to him that he use Irish names, because he thinks my whole Irish naming scheme is goofy. Hmph. And he’s unimpressed with the Organs suggestion. He’s no fun, basically. (I did save all your Irish name suggestions, though I was already pretty sure that if there’s at least one boy, he’s going to be Fergus, most likely.)

A future litter of kittens (when it’s MY turn to name them!): Dither, Ponder, Discuss, and Swagger. I’ll call them The Verbs!

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I googled cat gestation: 63-65 days. 9 weeks. so by your estimation, she’s got a couple more weeks to go yet?

That’s my guess – but again, I’m no expert when it comes to pregnant cats, so I could be way off base. She actually climbed into my lap yesterday and laid there for a long time, her belly against my leg, and I concentrated as hard as I could, but still felt no movement against my leg. She seems to be getting bigger, though – I swear, it seems like I can almost watch her grow. I read that her appetite will decrease in the few days before giving birth, and right now she’s getting half a (3 oz) can of kitten food in the morning, and the other half at night. She’s got a bowl of kitten kibble available to her at all times, and of course fresh, clean water. She’s not eating a lot of the kitten kibble, but she’s loving the canned food.

All of this is to say, basically, I dunno. If she gives birth tomorrow, I won’t be surprised, and if she gives birth in three weeks, I won’t be surprised (though I might be VERY impatient!).

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Are the kittens staying in a separate room from Maura?

Yes. Maura is upstairs in the foster bedroom. The new kittens are downstairs in the guest bedroom. I had promised Fred that we wouldn’t have two batches of kittens again, but I guess promises are made to be broken? I don’t particularly like to have kittens in the guest bedroom, because there’s no carpet for them to warm their feet, and I don’t know – it just seems like an uninviting room to me as far as kittens go. The new guys seem to like it just fine, though. One of them expressed his approval yesterday morning by peeing on the floor under the bed, little brat.

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oooh, i LOVE mckittens! is mcmao pronounced “mc-mayo”? cause that’s HILARIOUS!

That IS funny, but no – the Mao part of McMao rhymes with cow. At least, that’s how I’m pronouncing it – I’m hoping that’s how you meant it, MsDarkstar!

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I notice your cats have large collar attachments. Are these for an underground fence or a cat door?

The collars are for an underground fence – only Sugarbutt, Tommy, Joe Bob, Jake, and Elwood wear the collars. Aside from Maxi and Newt, the other cats who go outside – Miz Poo, Spanky, and Kara – have never attempted to go over the fence, so we feel safe in leaving them collarless. When she first started going outside, Kara wore a collar, but like I said, she’s never attempted to go over the fence.

It’s actually a little silly for us to put a collar on Elwood, since he doesn’t go outside (we’ve taken him out into the back yard once or twice, but he’s scared and immediately runs right back inside). I’m sure he’ll figure it out sooner or later, and it’s best to be prepared.

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What are you going to do about the momma cat, will you still try and trap her so she can be spayed?

I’ll tell you all up front that this is not a story with a happy ending. I know some of you read this site with your kids, so you may want to skip down to the pictures.

When Fred got to work yesterday morning, he went over to check the trap. There was a medium-haired tuxedo cat inside the trap, and he loaded the trap into the car and called me. It was too early to call the vet’s office, so I told him to put the trap in a corner of his office, put a towel over it, and try to keep his office quiet. He said she was pretty wild when he approached the trap, and that she didn’t look well.

When the vet’s office opened, I called and talked to one of the women who works there. She told me to go ahead and bring the cat in, so I drove to Fred’s office, he loaded the trap (cat and all) into my car, and I got my first look at the girl who’d given us Mike, Gus, Violet, Veruca, and this new litter. Fred was right, she didn’t look well at all. There was blood around her nose – both dried and fresh – her coat was ratty, her eyes were clouded.

The shape she was in blew me away. I didn’t – still don’t – know how on earth her kittens could be in such stunningly good shape (well fed, immaculately clean) when she was in that condition.

I was worried that we’d gotten the wrong cat, so Fred held up the trap a little bit so I could try to see if she was clearly a nursing mother. I wasn’t really able to see anything, so off I went to the vet’s office.

Once there, I talked further to the women who worked there, told them her story, and that I feared she was likely positive for FIV. Given that the Wonkas had tested positive initially, I was pretty sure she had to be positive as well. They got her out of the back of my car and took her to the back. They needed to sedate her before they could take the blood to do the test, so the nurse gave her a dose of sedative.

Fifteen minutes later, they reported that she was still bright-eyed. They waited another ten minutes, then gave her a second dose of the sedative. Fifteen minutes later, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They decided that they’d try to get the blood from her, since surely the sedative must have had SOME effect, but (I didn’t witness this, they told me afterward), she was as full of energy as any cat they’d seen. They said she actually bounced so high she just about hit the ceiling – so needless to say, they weren’t able to get blood from her yet.

They gave her a dose of a different sedative, and waited for it to work. This time it did, and they were able to draw blood.

Ten minutes later, the vet came to give me the news – she was FIV positive. I had hoped that by some fluke she might test negative, but wasn’t surprised at the news.

Please know that I didn’t make this decision lightly: I asked them to euthanize her.

Had she been negative, I would have had her spayed and her ear tipped, treated her for whatever made her look so ill, and released her. But releasing her, knowing that she was positive, would have been irresponsible on my part. Though FIV doesn’t spread as easily as FeLV, it is still transmissible to other cats, and I couldn’t put an FIV+ cat out there to potentially infect other cats.

They asked if I wanted to sit with her while they euthanized her, and I said no. At the time, I was thinking that since she was so feral and scared, having another person there would just serve to scare her more. I paid and left.

On the way home, I realized that she was probably so sedated that she wouldn’t have been very aware of my presence, and I regret that I didn’t stay. I wish I had. She didn’t deserve to die alone.

I can – and will – honor her memory by taking the best possible care of her kittens until they’re older, and then they’ll be adopted into homes where they’ll be cherished.


2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



3-18-10 – Questions, answered. — 40 Comments

  1. God Bless you for loving all his creatures, you did what was best poor thing now she is at peace and as I think cats do have a place in heaven she will be purring on a saints lap and looking down on her babies.

  2. Aww Poor Mum – The little guys though look so cute and cuddly its untrue.

    Like you I’m surprised at how good looking the kittens are seeing that Mum was so bedraggled and ill.

    Will these guys be positive as well or does it not transfer to kittens?

  3. Oh how sad. 🙁 Oh this is so sad.

    I’m so, so sorry. What an awful decision for you but you did the best thing possible for her. She was obviously suffering.

    But her kitties are there in honour of her! Bless you all for looking after them and good luck and big furry hugs. I’m getting all teary eyed now.

    Take care

  4. Martin, I expect that what happened with the Wonkas (they tested positive initially because they still had the antibodies in their blood from their mother, but when they were retested almost three months later, they came up negative) to happen with these guys.

  5. Oh, I am so sorry. How awful for you to have to make that decision.
    Her kittens are so very precious. You are a gift to the kitties in your area!

  6. I’m sorry you had to make the hard decision, but I also agree it was the right one. Those kittens are very lucky for finding their way to you and Fred.

  7. We can’t save them all. You do an AMAZING job of rescuing, fostering and adopting out kitties.

    I feel better that she is not still agonizing over the disapperance of her kittens and I feel better that she won’t be out there anymore struggling and scavenging to feed herself and them.

    I feel bad for you having to go through that, but I’m sure it was harder for you than her. She is at peace now and I’m sure the folks at the clinic petted and soothed her as they did what needed to be done.

    We will enjoy watching those kittens thrive under your awsome care!!


  8. Robyn,
    I am so sorry for you and mama cat, but thankful at the same time that she met you and Fred when she did. It has been amazing what she has managed to achieve for her babies, but it also seemed like she would have a difficult struggle of continuing and might have a long slow painful path to the end…

    Would it be possible to neuter and spay the kitties still in the vicinity? She would have gotten pregnant from some male who is likely spreading the risk around.

    PS: Am so glad for her kittens that they are safe.

  9. I love your blog. You and Fred are heroes in my book. I hate it that the momma cat was so sick, and I know it broke your heart to make that decision, but it truly was the kindest thing to do. Were you ever able to determine that she was more than likely the momma, and not some other stray? Just so strange that those gorgeous kits had such a sick momma.

  10. Calsifer: I’ve told Fred (and Bob) to keep an eye out for more cats, but they’ve told me that it’s rare for them to see cats in the area. It’s a large office complex, and there are no apartments or homes nearby, so I’m not sure where this mama cat came from. If they do see cats, I’m entirely willing to trap and neuter/ spay them. I’d certainly like to help cut down on unwanted kittens, god knows!

  11. Natasha: I’m almost certain she was the right cat – they could tell that she’d been nursing, at least.

  12. You have her babies, they were the most important thing in her life. From the sound of things, I don’t think she would have lived much longer in the wild and being ill you could not release her. Cuddle her babies and tell them about their brave mommy who gave her all so they could have a bright and happy future.

  13. You do amazing work! I often say when reading about your fosters that I couldn’t do it! Making a tough decision about the mama is so difficult! I think you definitely did the right thing, for her, and for other kitties in the area!!

  14. Robyn, I am sure it was an agonizing decision, but it sounds as if it was the right one. Her babies are lucky to be with you and Fred.

  15. Oh. Oh. Oh. I’m sure that you made the best decision possible – and I KNOW it was hard for you. Bless your heart that you had to make it.

    Her babies are beautiful and lucky to have you and Fred. They are gorgeous beautiful fuzzy creatures!!!

  16. May their little momma rest in peace. Poor little lady. She sure took care of her babies though and they are beautiful. She’s at peace now, no longer suffering and she won’t have to worry about having babies or finding food or being sick. You’ve saved other cats from getting her disease and more kittens from being born.

  17. I am amazed at how healthy those kittens look. It’s clear that mama cat was taking care of them at the expense of her own health.

    You save so many kittens/cats and find them so many good homes. It really was the most compassionate decision for mama, and I’m glad you had the strength to make it. I’m sure the vet staff took care of her as she went and she didn’t go alone.

  18. It’s so hard to do the right thing sometimes. You and Fred are brave angels — for caring and homing the dear kittens, and for doing the right thing for momma. I hope you feel affirmed by your fan club here in the comments. Thank you for sharing with all of us. Love to you, Fred and the whole menagerie!!

  19. We had to make a very similar choice with a ferral cat who was living in our garage during the winter months. It was very hard to have to do, but he was an intact, ferral male who was FIV postive, and it was worse thinking that he could be infecting other cats. We good heartly called him Lost. It was as hard as having to euthanize one of my own cats.

    I applaud you for your work and the hard choice you made. You have saved the lives of her kittens, possibly two litters, and that is more then enough. You do a great thing with your fostering.

    Is there any chance there’s a postive male cat around where she was, that’s spreading FIV around? Has Bob seen any other cats around?

  20. (((Robyn))) What a tough call to have to make. Please don’t second guess yourself, honey. You made two hard, but caring and logical decisions. Momma cat didn’t die alone – I am sure your vet is a kind and compassionate person who stroked and held her at the end.

    You gave momma cat the best gift possible – wonderful care of not one, but two of her litters. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Fred. And a special one going up asking all my gang who are at the Bridge to meet momma there and keep her company until we’re all together.

  21. Robyn, you did the best thing for the mama cat…I’m so sorry, that must have been so difficult. 🙁 I’m going to go home on my lunch and give my kitties big kisses.

  22. That was a very difficult decision but in the end I think you made the right decision. It sounds like she was putting what energy she has into those babies. And she wasn’t alone when she died, she had a vet tech with her so you can take comfort in that.

    On another note – those baby pictures are making me melt, and they all have M’s on their foreheads! And we know that you will take wonderful care of these boys.

  23. 🙁 but for the best. i rescued a feral kitten/cat (with my bare hands omg) and took her in, only to be put down. she was very sick, and probably why i was able to catch her. at least her suffering was ended quickly.

    since she was so sick, and these guys are so healthy, maybe you should put the trap out again to see if there’s another cat out there?

  24. I am so very sorry to know that you had to do that. You are a brave and wonderful person.

  25. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said. How fortunate are the little ones that find you.

  26. There’s nothing left to say but agree with the others that you made the right decision, and you’re doing a wonderful thing with those little kitties. And might I say those are simply BEAUTIFUL little ones! I love the fact the first one in those pictures looks like he’s wearing fingerless gloves. 😀

  27. Robyn, I have followed this blog for a while, via tIBKC, and what you do for the kittens is amazing. Your decision to put down momma cat, while difficult, is above reproach. I am sorry you had to make that decision, but it was the right one.

    And to end this post on a positive note, yay kittens!!!

  28. I have to admit, I started to cry while reading this post. And I’m one of those people others sometimes accuse of being a robot… entirely unfounded, I assure you, but I am not generally emotional person.

    I know it was a hard decision, and I can’t really say anything better than anyone else has said it, but the story reminds me of something I ran across the other day: http://cats.about.com/cs/tabbycats/a/beloved_of_bast.htm

    Of course, in this case, Mother cat isn’t a brown tabby, but the babies sure do have Ms on their foreheads. I thought others might like to read it, as well. And maybe cry a little, too 🙂

  29. Wonderful people like you and your husband make this world a better place. I am sorry that you had to make such a heartbreaking decision but I am also thankful that you had the courage to do the right thing. Bless you and your husband! I will be making a donation through the “donate” button on your site. I wish there were more people like you in this world!

  30. Robyn,
    Thanks. It’s so kind and wonderful of you, Fred and Bob to be on the lookout for cats in the vicinity. But may I suggest leaving out a trap in a likely hidey-nook or two anyway? The feral and shy ones do have such a knack for invisibility, as I’m sure you know.

    Ok, I should shut up and go get ready to post on our own blog again. Kitties always seem to be in need of help, even the grown up ones, and we have 2 on hand now.

  31. Oh my goodness… What an incredibly tough decision to make. I’m so so so very sorry that you had to go through that. It sounds like you were strong, and you certainly made the best decision in the long run. Who knows what may have happened to her if you didn’t make that call.
    Like others have said, you make the world a better place already by all the things you do for these animals. I, for one, appreciate all the hard work you do (I seriously can’t tell you that enough). Her kittens are in the best hands possible, and they are very lucky to have you and Fred.

  32. You absolutely made the best possible decision, for the cat and the community of cats. Never doubt that. She would have died a slow painful death in the wild. You do a wonderful service to our animal friends.
    BTW my dads name is Fred and he is a total softy for kittens too.

  33. You did such a kind thing for mama cat. You most certainly did not leave her to die alone. You gave her kindness and peace in her final hours, and that is something that too few cats are allowed. By looking after her babies the way that you do, you’re protecting her legacy, and I am sure that she is looking down from the Bridge finally feeling at peace.

  34. oh my GOODNESS those babies are CUTE!!!

    p.s. thank you for everything you do 🙂

  35. Robyn, you and Fred are such wonderful people. It makes the world a better place knowing there are humans that care so much about those animals that have no one looking after them. You are their voice. The kittens are truly so lucky to be in such a loving home!

    Warm thoughts, Catherine

  36. Thanks for taking care of the itty bitty’s and doing the hard, but right thing for their momma.

    It bruises the heart, but you are helping her kittens end up in a much better situation.

  37. Purrs for the momma cat, now watching her babies from the Rainbow Bridge. We’re sad for her, that her life was so hard.

    Charlemagne and Tamar