On National Feral Cat Day Cat Corner would like to raise some awareness about feral cats and feral colonies. Many people may have dealt with feral cats or seen cats wandering their community but might not be sure how or if they can help. Through our own experience and education from Alley Cats Allies here are some FAQ regarding feral cats, how they come to be and what you can do to help!
What is a feral cat?
Helping a feral cat does not contribute to the problem! Maintaining a community of spayed/neutered feral cats helps prevent future feral kittens!
It is always good to have an emergency plan in place for both you and your pets in case you are left without power, or need to evacuate your home. It is hurricane season for Hampton VA right now and we at The Cat Corner want to help you make sure your furry family members stay safe! Here are some tips to help you plan ahead:
Feral Colonies or Strays- If you are worried about your local cats, or manage a feral colony here are some suggestions for keeping those animals safe.
PLAN AHEAD- If you plan ahead of time you won't be scrambling to get kitty in a carrier while gathering their things. DO NOT leave your pet behind. If conditions are not safe for you, they aren't safe for your pet. Commit to taking them with you. While we focus mostly on cats, we want all pets to be safe. There are many online resources to help you create your emergency preparedness plan.
We are so excited to announce that The Cat Corner has been awarded a Petco grant! This is going to make a huge difference in our efforts to save lives and to also make our shelter cats lives easier. Please read the Press Release below:
Cat Corner friends, do you remember Cheese, the beautiful calico we posed about a few months ago? She has been adopted! Now named Cali, she is settling in so well and even had time to write us a little update. These are all her words, however any human names have been removed.
I want to bring you up to date on my new home. My new owners love my affectionate nature (or so they tell me) and I like it very much in their house. I can tell they’re used to having cats around so I feel comfortable.
Chablis is a perfect gentleman but is a bit shy and standoffish so far. I don’t think he’s over missing his former housecat. Oh that reminds me, my new name is Cali (they just shortened it from my color) and I need to remind them to call PetMaxx on the change. I don’t mind because, as you know, I am allergic to all kind of cheese (You didn’t know?) and I am more comfortable not hearing “Cheese” day and night without a photographer taking my picture! I miss the French fries from my former owner, but they say they aren’t good for my waistline.
I have a shiny new collar with my tag around my neck. I hear that’s to keep me in the house, but with the fun I’m having, why try to leave? My favorite place to relax is the windows/ screened in porch. There they have a big “cat tree” which I find a good place to watch the birds and smell all the interesting smells and I since can’t go outside it’s fun to scratch the wooden legs and snooze a while in the afternoon sun.
They have all kinds of new toys: a funny red dot they swing around what they call their family room and I love trying to catch it. Haven’t made it yet - one of these days. There’s also a funny feather toy that goes around and around fast and I try to catch up
with it. Well I think it’s good exercise anyway. They have lots of little puff balls which Chablis carries all around the house, and I find them in the strangest places!
My favorite habit at nighttime is to jump up on the cabinet in the living room to watch myself in the big mirror on the wall. Hmmm, one of these days I’m going to need a trim!
That’s about all, give my best to all my friends and tell them one day soon they’ll have new homes too but in the meantime they’re lucky to get such good care from all of you.
All the best,
I received a call late at night in April from our foster coordinator. 3 young kittens were in immediate need of an experienced foster. They were in very poor condition. Skinny, emaciated, weak to the point of being unable to hold themselves up. They would need around the clock care if they were going to make it through the night. The volunteer who currently had them had to work overnight and she recognized the urgency of the situation and had prompted our foster coordinator to reach out. I was planning to take a little break from fostering, my husband and I were preparing for a move and we both had busy work schedules. But how could I say no to these little lives? As luck would have it, I was off work the next few days so I agreed to take them in.
My husband and I picked the names Lock, Stock and Barrel. The kittens were estimated to be 5-6 weeks old and they all weighed under 1 pound. At that age, a healthy kitten should be over 1 pound and closer to 2. Barrel was the smallest and was so weak he couldn't stand up on his own. He had no muscle mass and was all bones. Because he was so small he was unable to keep himself warm or feed himself. Staying warm is integral to a young kittens survival. If they aren't warm enough they will refuse to eat and can go downhill very quickly. I had to figure out how to raise his body temperature, and the best way was to share my body heat. So I fashioned my own "kitten wearing" strap, by swaddling him in a blanket and sticking him in my sports bra! Now he was warm and cozy and I could work on other things like making kitten formula feeding the other 2. Barrel slept with me that night and I was up every hour to offer him food. That first night was the scariest. I was worried I was going to lose him, but eventually he came around and became more eager to eat. Barrel would surely have died that night if it wasn't for the quick action of our foster volunteers.
Fast forward a few days and all three of the kittens are gaining weight and getting stronger. I still had to keep a close eye on them to ensure they didn't overeat (which could cause them to aspirate, which means get fluid in their lungs), and to make sure they stayed warm and hydrated. Slowly but surely these kittens started to thrive. As they grew their personalities started to show. Stock, the only female, was the first to start playing and trying to wrestle with the others. It took the boys a little longer but soon all 3 were running around like crazy, getting into anything and everything they could. Watching them play, knowing how far they had come, was the most rewarding feeling ever!
We had few problems with babies as they got older. Soon they were vaccinated and scheduled to be spayed and neutered. As mentioned in our previous foster update, The Cat Corner waits until kittens are 12 weeks old and 3 pounds before putting them under for surgery. This prevents complications that can happen with younger, smaller kittens. Sometimes there are other factors that prevent a kitten from getting surgery. The veterinarian informed us that Lock and Stock had mild heart murmurs and could not be spayed and neutered the day of their appointment. It could be dangerous to put them under anesthesia as the murmur could prevent consistent blood flow and may cause complications. Many kittens grow out of these types of heart murmurs, so Lock and Stock will be given a check up in a month and hopefully spayed and neutered then. Barrel healed quickly from his neuter and was put up for adoption a few days later.
Kittens are resilient little creatures, and Lock, Stock and Barrel made a huge turn around in a few short weeks. Fostering is extremely rewarding if done correctly. I am lucky to work with a group of experienced, compassionate volunteers. If you are interested in helping us save more lives please consider volunteering your time, or donating. I couldn't do what I do without
The Cat Corner at my back, and I hope we continue to make a difference in cats and kittens lives for years to come!
Well my fellow cat Corner-ians,
It is the time I dread....time to say goodbye. The Cat Corner is an awesome organization and instead of keeping kittens to just 8 weeks (VA law says kittens have to be 7 weeks before being adopted and fixed) as most organizations I've fostered for; Cat Corner doesn't allow kittens up for adoption until around 12 weeks. The extra time is really good to make sure the kittens are a little heavier when being fixed which diminishes adverse effects of anesthesia. Also, the extra time is helpful to allow the kittens to fully become independent away from their Mother and siblings. There are key development traits that occur in 8-12 weeks especially with socialization and keeping the kittens with buddies and siblings is a great idea to make sure they realize biting during play hurts and they shouldn't do it to others, as well as what is appropriate play and sleep times. That is not to say that kittens adopted out at 8 weeks do not learn those things, but its up to the adopter to focus on those things not the organization helping them. With siblings and a Mom or a Foster Momma, there is a ton less work because they learn through play and it is much easier than with a single kitten (another reason adopting kittens in pairs is a great idea aka less work).
At 8 weeks old the kittens development isn't done and they aren't quite ready to be fixed. They did get their first round of vaccinations and were Angels at the clinic. As a Foster Momma my time has ended with Cat Corner (for now)....I personally am moving and while I may end up back in the VA area (If I do hopefully Cat Corner will have me back) for now I will be a few states away. Due to this one of the other fabulous Cat Corner Foster Mom's is going to take over for the last 4 weeks of kitten time. Actually the same person who is training Easter to be the purfect barn kitty. The kittens will not go back to Easter due to the bad habits we finally got rid of, but it's nice for me to know they will maybe smell her and be comforted.
Over the past 8 weeks each kitten has developed so much not just physically but their personalities have blossomed as well. We've had our share of heartache loosing a kitten and had growing pains with illnesses but they are on their way to being fine pets and family members. So I thought for my last post I would introduce the kittens personalities to you along with a before and after picture of our time together.
Peep (Little Girl)
Peep is the shyest of the girls. When she was little she was the loudest which is why she was named Peep. She certainly still sings for her supper but it's a little less earth shattering. She is getting less and less shy with time away from Easter, she loves soft blankets, but even more she loves to run. This little lady should be a track star. Give her a ball toy and she will chase it for hours! After running out of steam though a few belly rubs and a blanket and she is out...so out she even snores a bit.
Russ (Little Boy)
Russ is the most outgoing kitten. He started at one of the smallest kittens; but quickly grew to be the chubbiest one. He loves to climb and isn't very fond of being held. He will certainly come on your lap and kiss your hands, but it has to be his idea. Anytime you pick him up or interrupt play time he yips. Also, unlike his siblings he hates wet food he prefers to eat kibble and drink from a fountain. His favorite toys are mice that he pounces. For some reason this silly boy rejects soft things though, he'd rather sleep where he crashes instead of seeking soft warm beds.
Cadbury (Little Boy)
Cadbury started as out chubbiest kitten; however, he took a quick left when he opened his eyes. He was in a fair amount of pain will 3 open ulcers in his eye; a herpes infection and missing the top layer of his cornea. We got to an eye specialist STAT and were able to save the eye!!! It seems that Cadbury can see a fair amount out of the eye but probably wouldn't be able to read with it. Good things cats don't need to read the classics. Also from the amount of medicine he got we are assuming a fair amount of hearing loss. None of this stops him though, out of the kittens he is the one who will ask to be in your lap and bring you toys. He loves loves loves people and won't sleep on his own unless he can climb in bed with you. Whenever you see him though usually Paas is by his side. They aren't truly bonded because they do fine apart, but adore each others company. I can even ask Cadbury "where is your buddy?" and he runs to Paas.
PAAS (Little Girl)
Paas is the one that hurts to leave the most. Ever since learning to crawl/walk the second she hears my voice or see's me she comes over. She is the epitome of a Momma's girl. She loves to be held and cuddled. Shows her belly for rubs constantly. Unlike her siblings she doesn't play as much; enjoying exploring more. In terms of toys she finds them interesting, but prefers to climb on an in things. We have a cat tree and cardboard box tunnel that she prefers compared to all the toys. This little one also loves other kitties taking the roll of lead groomer to her siblings and my own cats. She would do great in a home with Cadbury. While they aren't bonded she adores him and tends to lead him around. We know he see's but she is his second sight! She loves to snuggle in bed with you too so get ready to share.
Best of luck and wishes to these peanuts! After 8 weeks they are truly amazing young ladies and gentlemen and will be amazing additions to any home! I know the next foster is going to love on them but when I count all the fosters I have had in the past 3-4 years I have had 60 counting these guys and I remember each one, each circumstance, each fluffy face, each heart break and each triumph. I know they will be fine but a tiny piece of my heart leaves with each!
Good luck Easter Candy Kids!
It's that time again loyal Cat Corner-ians
Time for your weekly family update! Week 7 has brought a lot of change to the kittens and for Momma Easter. The kittens are closing the gap on 2lbs and Momma Easter went to the another home.
Whenever you have kittens with a Mother Cat the Mom really takes the reigns in terms of rearing the kittens. Often humans don't need to intervene unless illness or injury comes to play. We get to play casual observers to nature; however, human need to get involved when health and potential futures are at stake.
Easter being a semi-feral cat let nature do what it did best for the first six weeks of the kitten's lives. She nursed them, cleaned them, encouraged them to try food, encouraged them to walk and rough house. Usually though at around 5-6 weeks Mommy Cats also trying to push their little kittens to be more independent in the wild leaving the kittens for a few hours to hunt. In the home typically not laying within nursing reach and going of somewhere high to let the kittens explore and really let them try new things. Easter was an odd case though because at around 5 weeks she no longer encouraged all the kittens to keep eating different foods, instead content to let them nurse and nurse. At six weeks she was teaching them to pee on walls and would often move the kittens into a corner and lay in front to "protect" them. This was very counter productive to having well mannered adoptable kittens. They were not exploring, they weren't building any confidence and relaying on Mom for way too much! They are past the toddler stage and need to start sticking up for themselves and learn especially with humans.
Since Easter was really hindering the kittens developing into proper "pet" kittens a hard choice had to be made. If the kittens continued to learn from Mom and not from a human they would learn like Mom, that people are scary and not to be trusted. The hope of myself and knowledge that young kittens can learn to be excellent pets knew that this learning would be very counterproductive.
Cat Corner knew once establishing Easter was a semi-feral cat she couldn't go into a home as a "pet" would. The decision was made that Easter would be available as a barn cat. That way she can do what she does best HUNT!!! She can be a pest control asset to any barn and live outdoors as she is used to. In order to facilitate the transition she is currently at barn cat training camp with another foster. This foster has a large home with safe indoor facilities leading to outdoor as well as some farm animals so Easter can get used to the sights, sounds and smells. Also, free mouse catcher while she learns! This meant that it was time for our little family to split up.
While the transition is needed it is not without its tears. Literally! Due to Easter's strong protective nature the kittens see her as the star of their world and in her absence there was lots lots of crying and yelping. The first night was rough! I had to take a heated Cat bed and put it in my own with the kittens in it to settle. They wouldn't sleep at all just yelp calling for her. Around 11 at night they finally slept, but my hand had to be in the bed so they could all snuggle together and with my hand for comfort. Around 2:30 am though the crying began again as someone woke up and their little pampered butt had to walk to the potty themselves not be carried by Momma Easter (they are sooo spoiled).
The second night was not without its charms, the kittens cried less and were more apt to explore. As long as they are allowed in my room. Unfortunately exploring my bed while I'm trying to sleep was not conducive for a restful night. The kittens settled a little earlier around 10 but at 3am the bed Olympics began, where every kitten was wrestling with my ponytail, my blankets, and each other. So it seems tears are off the menu, but rowdiness is in!
We will see what tonight holds...I hope for sleep for everyone, but I know that may be an unrealistic expectation.
I have noticed very dramatic changes very quickly in the kittens though. Their self confidence is through the roof in just two days without Mom! Exploring, climbing, running everywhere not just familiar areas. They also didn't need to be reminded to eat they pranced right up to the dish when wet food appeared without prompting. All of the kittens even seem more social trying to interact with my two boy cats and wanting to include them in their games. While my kitties are tired from all the babysitting it is really great for the kittens to see what pet cats are like. They are even mimicking behavior my boys demonstrate. Easter being semi-feral wouldn't purr and never really had an occasion too....the kittens have NEVER purred. I don't think they learned how and when they should. Russ the biggest kitten climbed up on the couch not 10 min ago saw my cat getting pet and purring, pushed his way in demanded pets and let a silly purr go and wide eyes shocked himself at the noise he made! I'm hoping in the coming days all the kittens will let me hear their purrs instead of the little squeaks for Momma.
"More pets for more purrs! Deal?" - Russ
Well Monday marked the six week mark in the lives of our little family! I'm happy to report a relatively uneventful week for the kittens.
At six weeks old they are all really starting to develop and show off their personalities. They also have hit a mark where they have all of their teeth. Once kittens have all their teeth they are more inclined to have dry food. They can certainly have it before six weeks but they may find it takes a long time to chew and not be as interested. Now since they have all their teeth it is easier to chew and more satisfying.
They also are more into toys and wrestling. They love to wrestle anywhere anytime! They are super playful little ones and love me to join in their games as a jungle gym apparatus. Climbing is a favorite too, but once they get up they are hesitant to get down, I think with time they'll get braver.
We have noticed though especially the girls the older they get they more similar they look. I can still tell them apart without issue, but as we get closer to them being adoptable applications may come in and we potential adopters need to tell them apart. The easiest thing to do is to put a collar on but with them being still small the collar would be kind of heavy. I have explored various options because the hair ties are too small and could be dangerous, the collar would be too heavy so I ordered whelping collars online we'll see how those work (generally those are Velcro and light weight as well as adjustable).
Updated Kitten Pictures
In terms of Mom, Easter is getting a little warmer. Stress on the little!!! She certainly doesn't want to be touched or anything, but instead of hiding in one corner all the time she does go to different places in the foster room. I don't see her do it but I know she moves cause any time I pop in she's camped in a different hide hole so she is finally moving about more!
We did have a hiccup this week with her. She ate some food that seemed to have something wrong with it and got sick till it was out of her system. Than I walked in the foster room after work one day to see blood on the wall, I didn't know if it was her incision, if it was a UTI or something else. After a long night at the ER vet we found her ear tip from being spayed was reopening and had a hematoma in it that will for lack of any better word "spurt" blood. We got her all fixed up and back home, this is not common at all during ear tipping so no one even the ER vet even thought about it. Hematoma's are a buildup of blood similar to a blister except it is blood filled, they can be dangerous because they can indicate internal bleeding. In Easter's case it was just a small vessel in the ear that caused it so nothing life threatening, but uncomfortable.
Easter and I are still not best friends, but darn have we been through it all! Looking forward to more growth this week!! My hope is by week 8 every kitten is 2lbs which is the average for that age and it seems everyone is right on track.
OWelcome Back Cat Corner-ians,
It is week five and everyone is at least a pound now!!! These chubby fluff balls loves to run and prance and jump and play and wrestle and love love love to pull the cuffs of my pants. Any time I come into the foster room all the kittens run around my feet and pull at the cuffs of my pants with their teeth until I sit or lay on the floor so they can play with their favorite toy...the ME jungle gym.
In terms of weaning it's going really well!! At first they just wanted to make messes. They didn't have much interest in food beyond playing. Then I realized hmm maybe they didn't like the taste as much so we switched flavors and BAM kittens eating! Even though on paper they may have had a "rough" beginning I keep forgetting that these babies are SPOILED!!! They were born in a shelter so a safe warm place, they've never known cold or hunger like many others animals we unfortunately encounter at the shelter. They even have had a healthy mom every day from their beginning so when it came to moving from the milk bar to wet food it better be darn yummy or it's not worth their time! After the flavor switch slowly like dominoes one by one they became interested.
That isn't to say they are completely off the milk bar though...UGH!! On Monday night of this week the Milk Bar (Momma Cat Easter) was rudely taken away by me to go to Cat Corner for the night to be Spayed the next day. The babies should be moving on from the milk bar and do not NEED it anymore and Easter really does NEED to have a reduction in hormone surges. So Tuesday was the magic spay day.
If you are familiar with our little foster family you know Easter isn't the friendliest, so getting her in a crate for the spay date was fun. She is the tinkle queen when she gets nervous and there was pee pee everywhere! Once we got to cat corner though she settled.
Post Spay Image (Drugs Still In System)
One of the Cat Corner board members went to pick up Easter after her Spay while I was at work and she was still very loopy and apparently when she gets a little loopy she's very affectionate! So even though I still haven't gotten to touch her at least someone has accomplished the white whale tasked and pet and loved on Easter besides her babies! Rumor has it she's super soft.
As for the babies they were less than pleased with Mom's absence she was gone for less than 24 hours approx 20 hours to be exact but they through a huge fit! They love Mom dearly and it was life altering that she was away so we did our best to push through.
The night I brought Easter to Cat Corner (Monday) prior to the Spay the babies had to be without her for a night. The always sleep with her at night, be it for warmth or comfort. In preparation for her being away I took an old cat bed opened it and put a heating pad inside. I figured that would be enough...I was wrong. All of us slept on the couch with the bed on my lap, the kittens didn't just want the warm they wanted a bigger creature I had to substitute. You'll see they eventually fell asleep but I had an awful neck pain from the odd sleep. Remember told you they are spoiled!
The next day I put the bed int he foster room with them to play. Usually during the day they are the least needy in terms of Mom or me. They run and play and sleep wherever they plop down. I have even walked in after work and found a kitten with a paw in the food dish head on the carpet. Wherever they drop is where they stay during the day. It was clear though they missed Momma though because I walked in after work and found Cadbury all by himself on the bed snuggled up as he does with Mom.
I picked up Easter and she was very groggy and for her safety I put her in the crate with the door closed Tuesday night. The kittens would be able to see Mom but no touching. I know even though they don't NEED the milk bar anymore they often will still nurse. On a freshly cut open tummy that's not what Mom needed, so I made sure Easter had all the essentials and the kittens would leave her be. She was very groggy but by the time I got her home an in her place she was back to her hissing way so no snuggles for me...I missed my window.
That night I was woken at around 2:30 AM by a terrible screeching cry. Worried Easter pulled a stitch or something terrible had happened to a kitten I bolted out of bed to run into the room. Paas had attempted to break in to the crate to see Mom and climbed on top of the crate to do so...she fell and got stuck between the wall and the crate. She may have been there for a while before she called for help. She looked so pathetic, but I explained to her NO MILK BAR!!! I freed her and got her snuggled for bed. The next morning I found her crying at the door again.
After 24 hours of post surgery recovery I finally let the kittens see Mom. From my observations it seemed that they missed her a lot more than she missed them, but they are a lot of work so she probably welcomed the break even if it meant taking out her bits. As soon as I opened the door all the kittens ran in and began to groom her and snuggled against her and napped. They have been very affectionate with her and she has been grooming them a lot too.
As for any changes there was a brief hope that maybe Easter without surging hormones would be easier to work with and possibly easier to determine if she is Semi feral or has just been a stray for a long time. She shows characteristics of each of those titles so it's so hard to say. It's only been a few days but her growling has significantly decreased! I'm cautiously optimistic that's a good sign, but also since it's only been a few days that could be recovery not permanent change. See you next week!
Post 24 hour Recovery Mom Snuggles