Monday, November 9, 2015

Meet the Ferals

So, this happened this weekend. Meet Will Feral (aka Sprocket) and Feral Williams (aka Smudge), the newest additions to the barn.

Silas had been starting to seem a little lonely, and he was going totally soft on the rodents in the barn. He never catches the chipmunks, which are so bold I've had several run right over my feet. And then the other night during snuggle time, a mouse hopped into Silas's food bowl while we were both sitting mere inches away, and he didn't even hop down to investigate. Total softie!

Good reasons for more kitties, yes, but if I'm super honest, it really started with FW's sweet face.

About a month ago, my bestie found a mama cat and three kittens under her shed. She texted me photos after she managed to capture them, and I was instantly drawn to FW. I kept telling myself I didn't need another cat, but I couldn't stop thinking about him for some reason. You can see where this is going.

After I claimed FW, another friend claimed the third kitty, a cute little female that looks like a mini version of our late Cleo. It was looking like maybe WF was headed for the Humane Society, so bestie asked if maybe I would take him too?

We started reading up on ferals as barn cats, and I guess they are best introduced in at least pairs, especially if there's already a resident cat (or colony). I guess one new cat is a threat, but 2 to 3 new cats is a posse that offers protection. And the ideal number of barn cats for maximum rodent control is 3 or 4.

We also read that it's best to keep the newbies in a large crate in or near the main source of action in the barn for at least 2 weeks. This lets them get used to the sights and sounds and rhythms of the barn in a safe environment. It also lets the other critters get used to their sights and smells and sounds from a distance.

So the ferals have a deluxe little condo, complete with straw and slings and a large fluffy bed (the box below was upgraded after I took these photos), litterbox, food, water, and toys. I also draped thick towels along the back and one side to protect from the coming cold. When winter fully arrives, they'll get straw bales stacked outside for extra insulation too, as I plan to put them back into their condo each night, even after their isolation period is over.
Silas was nowhere near as upset about the newbies as I feared he'd be. He hissed at them once, but only after WF hissed at him first. He's very, very curious, and will happily eat his food next to the condo or play with the same toy or piece of straw.
Time will tell if these guys are the excellent hunters their mama was, as the chippies are now in hibernation. But I haven't seen a mouse or shrew or other small rodent since the day before the kittens' arrival! I'm going to take that as a positive sign for now.

I haven't had a kitten in about 17 years, and I forgot how much energy they have! I'm having a blast watching them play and snuggle with each other.

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