Staying home during the pandemic hasn't been much of a hardship for us at the sanctuary, not when we have so many cute kitties here who need us! Because Flower Feline Sanctuary has limited space for permanent residents, we've tried to make a greater impact by fostering cats who can go on to be adopted. Perhaps no population of felines is as marginalized as ferals, or"community cats." By trapping feral cats, having them altered, vaccinated, and ear tipped, they can go back to their outdoor homes and live their lives with much less stress and strife. Most folks appreciate them for their ability to keep rodent populations down, and they can certainly do a better job when they aren't fighting for territory, mating, and producing kittens. Any kittens small enough to be socialized to humans can go on to live as domestic cats.
In the early spring, I trapped around 15 ferals on private property and had them all sterilized. The caretakers wanted the feral cats back but were overwhelmed trying to take care of such a large number of unaltered cats. They surrendered an additional 8 teenaged kittens to be placed via Homeward Pet. One gorgeous, declawed calico had been dumped a few years earlier and they were caring for her, but she needed a strictly indoor home since she had flea allergies. They released her to be adopted out by Whole Cat & Kaboodle, after a mini makeover. Looking back, it was miraculous timing since the pandemic hit shortly after that, closing down the low cost or free spay/neuter clinics. During the fall break from "lock downs," the caretakers called to say a new cat had shown up with two kittens. Other rescue folks have been working on getting cats altered in nearby sites, so I was aware that more cats were in the area. This mother cat was young and not fully integrated into the feeding site; she hung back separately from the existing ferals so I was able to trap her was quickly. I trusted the caretakers estimate that the kittens were around 6 wks old - this is the perfect age to trap and socialize because they are eating on their own at that age but still young enough to tame. After two days though, without the mother at the site and no sign of the kittens, I was starting to worry. I went back that morning with snacks and hunkered down in my vehicle, determined to wait for them. Immediately I saw the little kitties come out from the blackberry bushes - they were alive and safe!! I moved the traps a few times and within two hours they both went into one trap - a highly unusual event. I reunited them with their mom in a large kennel for several days. The mom's spay surgery was a ways out because it was challenging getting an appointment. After 3 days I decided it was time to start kitten charm school, meaning the kittens (Holly and Ben) would need to be separated from mama.
Socializing is a gradual process; yet some days you will see marked progress. This is what makes it such a high for cat people! First the kittens are confined to a roomy cage with something comfy to hide in. Very spicy kittens need to touched with a wooden spoon until they accept human hands on them. Baby food on a plastic spoon is magical. Mostly, kittens will try to stay tucked into their hiding spot but they need to be pushed just a little to interact. The kittens are graduated to roomier lodging as their social skills expand.
Joey was another kitten we socialized, although his life up until being trapped will always be a mystery. My theory is that he was dumped after starting life in an accidental litter, so he was handled a lot but then once outside his life depended upon his basic survival skills. He was trapped with a large, intact Tom cat, who was definitely feral. I think he shadowed this big kitty because big kitty knew how to find food, plus he was safer next to an adult cat able and ready to fight. That guy went onto to a barn home since the site had no caretaker (they had been eating garbage). Joey was adopted with another kitten about his age to play with.
Angelina and her babies, Tessa, Bart, Gabriella and Peanut were a rare treat because they were all completely social. Two other kittens only a week older, Johnny and Jake, tamed very quickly and were integrated into Angelina'a family after monitoring their health. Motherless Johnny was a little insecure and ended up becoming obsessed with Angelina. They were adopted together of course. There were also a liter of 7 older kittens who needed socialization. A few of them remained exceptionally shy but were still adopted by folks with other cats for them to bond with (a cat for their cat basically).
Jean Pierre was a kitty who had lived out on the streets for 2 years and had once been hit by a car. Neighbors reported seeing him dragging his back legs yet Jean Pierre's will to live was so strong that he never gave up. Fast forward and he is now quite spoiled in a warm and cozy, indoor home. His new mom doesn't mind at all that he is FIV positive. Holly and Ben have gone onto be adopted into a forever home together. Plans are in process for several kitties in CA to make their way to us for help as well. These are cats who would face "euthanasia" unless a rescue group steps up to guarantee them transport out. We will keep on working around the pandemic difficulties.
Flower Feline Sanctuary is small but we hope we are making a difference one kitty at a time. We treat each cat as we would our very own while helping them regain their physical and emotional health. It's a labor of love but we always need help. Whether you can help with tech expertise, building skills, socializing kitties, fund raising or donating, we appreciate your support and affirmation that these kitties matter!