Cali and her kittens wasted little time adapting to their expanded territory. My wife saw them early every morning gathered around the back door waiting for breakfast, then during the day they either roamed the back yard, or napped in the thicket. Cali was very attentive and watched the youngins like a hawk. And speaking of hawks, that was a concern since large red tail hawks patrolled the area, and in the back yard the kittens were much more exposed. But fortunately they stayed safe.
Unfortunately, there was the major issue, what to do with the feline newcomers? The kittens were wary of people, and kept their distance though over the course of a couple of weeks they let us get to within a couple of feet before scurrying off. Cali also didn't lose her hunting instincts, despite a steady source of food on the back porch. I still found piles of feathers scattered throughout the yard, and you know she was starting to teach the babies how to hunt.
One other problem, is other critters were finding the food we left out tempting. Raccoons were the worst. I often looked out late at night and saw one or more cleaning out the food bowls. At least they never bothered the kittens or Cali. The babies especially enjoyed the yard and made it their playground. But they couldn't stay forever, and being feral, they would in a few months be old enough to reproduce on their own. And that would create a nightmare.
So the question of what to do with them had to be resolved, and soon. I called Tomball Abandoned Animal Rescue (AAR), a no kill shelter in town, for advice. They said they might be able to lend a trap or two, but they were full and even if the feline brood could be caught, they didn't have room. So my wife and I decided to try and trap them by some means, then keep them in a spare room and foster them for adoption.
That left one little problem... trapping a wary mom and four rambunctious kittens. AAR came through with some even better advice. I was told to get a large dog crate, place it on the porch, then cover it with towels and blankets so it wouldn't look so menacing, then finally bait it with tuna.
Great theory... but the reality... well, it actually worked. I waited until night when all of them were frolicking around, then set the trap. Fortunately, they made a beeline to the saucers of tuna. All except for one, who crouched down a few feet away unsure of what to do. So the choice was to wait and hope the straggler would go in before the others finished and wandered out, trap the four already inside and hope the last one wasn't so panicked on seeing her mom and siblings trapped she took off and was never seen again, or hope another night would work out. Well, the last kitten finally dashed in. I dashed myself to the crate, slammed the door shut and latched it, and waited while everyone inside completely freaked out. They were literally running around like hamsters on a wheel around the sides and top of the crate. But finally they settled down, and I called my wife to help me move the crate inside.
The great Texas Cat Wrangle was over.
But then came once again... now what? The crate was too large to fit around the corner to the exercise room where we originally wanted to keep everyone, so the guest room was sacrificed for the common good. We removed all the furniture except for the bed, which was covered in a thick shower curtain and an old comforter. A litter box was set up along with food and water. Then I opened the door to the crate, and left to let them adjust. All were crouched down quietly in the crate, no doubt wondering what had happened.
At least they were safely indoors. But the question remained... what to do with them?
To be continued...