Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Monitoring Mama

Because these real-life events unfold faster than I can write them down, I'm afraid I can't post here in real time. Blogger won't let me eliminate its time stamps, so I kinda have to post-date ...

The following took place at 2 a.m. Monday:

I'm eating a bowl of cereal, watching Mama on the Bumbly Barn-Cam.
Out in the barn she lies in her bed, perhaps on the verge of birthing another litter. She looks ready to burst. If she continues to elude my traps, I just hope she has her kittens in the barn. There she has a heated bed, heated water dish, bales of hay, and other amenities not typically afforded to feral cats.

But she wanders around a lot, and she hides out behind my neighbor's shed, as well.
Outside it's 33 degrees with freezing drizzle.

I feel like we're both grappling with our decisions:
Me to trap her and have her pregnancy terminated (a kitty abortion, if you will), and her whether to take the bait. She looks at the food, sniffs at the food, yet continues to resist it.

Meanwhile, I had to leave Billy and Buddy alone last night, and just like the squirrel two weeks ago, those little monsters ransacked my house. Now I've got them cordoned off in their own room, complete with all the amenities. I'll keep them there till I catch Mama.

If I catch Mama.

Meanwhile, they could be getting a whole lotta new siblings any day now.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Big Brother is watching

Sunday afternoon.

Steve and I can get the damned web-cam to work indoors, but every time we take it out to the barn, the signal goes dead within 10 minutes. I even bought a big ol' antenna, but that didn't work either. (Good thing because it would've looked fucking ridiculous sticking out the roof of the barn.)

Yesterday, I took the web-cam back to the store, swapped it for a different model, and voila!
Or, as Steve likes to say, viola!

It fucking works!

Now I can see what Mama is up to without disturbing her.

I've got one trap set up in the barn, where she's most comfortable, and another set up elsewhere in the yard, where I often see her hanging out.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kittens indoors, but web-cam fails again

After much hassle yesterday, I finally coaxed both kittens, Buddy and Billy, indoors.
Now they can't pester Mama in the barn or eat her food or, most importantly, get caught in the trap.

This might be my last (and best) chance to trap their very pregnant mother.

It's a race against time.

Late last night, I baited the trap for Mama with broiled chicken.
Twice, I woke up in the middle of the night to check it.

Alas, it remained empty.

I decided early this morning that I'd sweeten the pot.

I ambled outside (I'm an avid ambler) to add some sardines to the mix, when who else but ol' Mama scampers out from the shed.

I decided early this morning that I'd sweeten the pot.
I ambled outside to add some sardines to the mix. Mama came scampered out from the barn, so pregnant now she's practically waddling.

She might very well have been sitting in there all night next to the chicken, but somehow she managed to resist it. (My buddy Steve and I have been trying desperately to set up a web-cam in the barn so I can monitor it from my laptop. But time and time again, we've failed.)

Now with an hour to go until All About Animals' 10 a.m. deadline, I wait with baited trap and bated breath, hoping today's the day.

Looking out my kitchen window, I think Mama's back in the shed.
But with no webcam, I can't say for sure.

I sit here dejected, my clothes and slippers drizzled in sardine oil.

Mama Just Won't Take the Bait

My mission to trap Mama has gone on for weeks. On multiple occasions, I've set up a live trap to catch her — usually at the most opportune time for me and, if possible, during regular vet clinic hours. My efforts to spay this cat have now taken on a new urgency ... a few weeks ago, I got a good look at Mama in the barn and thought she looked ... bigger.

Shit, I thought ... Is Mama pregnant again?

Soon afterward, Mama curtailed her regular appearances in my yard, and, like an overprotective father, I began yearning to know where she was — and when. If I was able to trap Mama, I didn't want her stuck in the cage for hours while I wasn't home.

My friend Steve, an IT expert, tried in vain to help me set up a web-cam in the barn so that I could monitor things from a distance without spooking Mama or the kitties.

But Mama simply refuses to enter any trap I set up, no matter how tempting the treats I set inside. She's seen both of her kittens trapped (twice apiece; they apparently forgot what happened the first time they took the bait), and I'm beginning to think this bitch is on to me.

Mama will nibble on sardines right out of my hand, but she just won't set foot in the trap — not even if I camouflage the damned thing.

At this point, I'm resigned to her having another litter.

November through February

In the midst of a long, harsh winter, Mama and her two surviving kittens (now about 7 months old), have spent much of their time in an old shed in my yard I've transformed into a veritable cathouse. I call it the Bumble Barn.

I'm very lucky the shed barn is wired for electricity. The cats can warm up in there in a little heated bed. They also have a heated water dish so their water won't freeze over.

The barn also houses several bales of hay, a kitty play tower, a half dozen catnip play toys, and, thanks to my man, Al, two cat doors for easy entry and exit.

Throughout the autumn and winter, Mama and the kittens (Little Buddy Bumbly and Little Billy Bumbly) gradually went from fearing my every move to somewhat anticipating my arrival in the barn (I typically arrive bearing food, of course).

After much trial and tribulation, I've been able to trap both Buddy and Billy (nearly two months apart) and have them both neutered (thanks to All About Animals Rescue in Warren, Michigan).

In fact, I wasn't sure they were boys until after their surgery. For several weeks, I thought that Billy, with his distinctive pink-and-white nose, was perhaps a girl. He was smaller in stature than his brother and not nearly as brave. (Plus I never got a good look at their junk.)

But Billy's a boy, alright.
And just like the 1919 World Series, he's fixed.

That's two down; one to go.
Now only Mama needs a trappin' and a fixin'.

Earning Mama's Trust

There's a lot of back story to tell, but to bring you up to speed ...

First, there was "Bumbalina" (a.k.a. "Mama") .

I discovered Bumbalina hiding in my bushes one day late last summer. Even though I'm a bonafide lover of cats, she was entirely unaware of this. I figured she must've belonged to somebody, but as the weeks went by, I came to realize that this blue-eyed beauty was indeed feral.

Come September, I'd discovered she wasn't alone ...

Bumbalina had babies.
And they were living in my back yard.

Here's one of my first close encounters with Mama in early September:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

History of the Bumble Cats

I should've started this blog months ago. But back in September, I had no idea that one feral cat roaming my neighborhood would so drastically change my life.

This is the story of Mama, Buddy, and Billy Bumbly ... the Bumble Cats.