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Holiday Furries: it started with two...
Just about a year ago, a local farmer had two cats in his barn. When he died recently, these busy little kitties had multiplied to the tune of 14+, including one currently pregnant female. While the farmer and the barn obviously provided ample food for all these cats, they would have been better served by being spayed and neutered early on. Since the farmer had no family, the neighbors were left with the job of dealing with the “flurry” of furries.
The neighbors have reached out to the community and, in the holiday spirit, the response has been great. Cat Tales has taken the five kittens, provided medical care and neutering and put them up for adoption. One has already found his snuggly new home and the others are waiting in the wings. Donations to Cat Tales were requested in lieu of flowers at the farmer’s funeral and in his obituary.
The older cats will be harder to place but, fortunately, can remain in the barn while the estate is being settled. Numerous individuals, including many from Cat Tales, have generously sponsored a cat and provided checks to cover the cost of spay/neutering for the 10 to 15 juveniles and adults. Hopefully, additional donations will allow neighbors to continue to provide food and medical care as needed while homes are sought.
In a way, these cats were “lucky” to have been discovered during the holiday season as generosity abounds at this time of year. We hope that some of your holiday thoughts will include these kitties. Donations for their care and for the care of other cats hoping to be adopted can be made to: Cat Tales Inc., PO Box 165, Warminster, PA 18974 or on-line through the donation portal on the web page. But just as important is to make sure that your cats, and any that you take care of, are spayed/neutered so that YOUR what “started with two…” is not our next featured story.
Ask Dr. Sally
Q What’s the difference between a “feral cat” and my pet cat? Can’t feral cats be trained to be good pets?
A People use the word “feral” in many different ways. Sometimes they mean any cat that is living outside without an owner to take care of it. A veterinarian would reserve the word “feral” to mean cats that have not been socialized to be comfortable around human beings.
Socialization can only occur when a kitten is three through about eight weeks old. If it is not exposed to and handled by people during this critical period, the kitten will never “imprint” on people, and will not develop the social skills that will make it a good companion. From eight to twelve weeks of age, it becomes much harder to socialize a kitten. A young cat first exposed to people after about twelve weeks may come to trust people enough to come when fed or even tolerate a brief touch, but will probably never become an affectionate pet. (Puppies do not go through this same kind of social growth, and can be more flexible about first accepting human companionship at an older age.)
Sometimes an adult cat living on its own is caught and becomes friendly towards humans giving the impression that it was trained to like humans at an older age. It is almost certain that such a cat was once a pet when it was younger and, due to neglect or a tragic accident, became separated from its home.
Cats that have not been socialized as young kittens will be uncomfortable in settings that force them to interact with human beings. They may show their distress by urine marking and clawing to mark their territory. These cats will always remain fearful of people who approach them and may hiss and bat with their paws to make people keep their distance. Ironically, these cats may still make friends with socialized pets in the household, since they regard other cats as part of their social circle even when they avoid their human owners.
This fear of humans can make it difficult to make sure feral cats get regular veterinary care. Feral cats often suffer from diseases such as FIV and FeLV and are a reservoir of these diseases. Unvaccinated pet cats allowed outside may interact with feral cats and be exposed to these and other potentially fatal diseases.
Although cats that have never imprinted on humans are feral, they are still considered to be domestic animals because their ancestors were once pets. They still require the same basic shelter and food that a pet cat needs and can catch all the same illnesses that a house cat can. While there is no perfect answer to the question of how to help these animals, a good trap/spay-neuter/vaccinate/release program goes a long way in helping to keep these cats in good health and preventing future generations of kittens from suffering the same fate as their parents.
Submit your questions for Dr. Sally to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cat Tales success story — Pongo
“I just wanted to let you know that Pongo (now named Chase) has made himself very comfortable. He is a sweet and lovable addition to our home. He is going to [the veterinarian’s office] tomorrow for his booster shots and to get acquainted with the vet. Thank you so much for helping us find him.”
Pongo and his brother and sister were truly fortunate. Their mother appeared to be a pet dumped at a colony in southern Bucks County. She had her kittens in an empty rabbit hutch and was in the process of moving them when she was discovered. Mom and the kittens were taken in by a trapper and mom was diagnosed with a respiratory problem. Rather than return these beautiful kittens to the colony, Cat Tales was contacted and they were taken in.
They were given a few weeks of romping, playing and warm beds with time for assaults on a few unfortunate house plants and snowstorm simulations with a couple rolls of toilet paper before being placed in the adoption center at PETCO.
How to Gift Wrap a Cat
Every holiday season, Cat Tales raises money for our kitties by wrapping books and other gifts at Barnes and Noble in Montgomeryville (309 and Knapp Rd). We will be at the store to wrap your purchases everyday until Christmas from 10 am to 10 pm. and we hope you’ll stop by to visit us.
We have wrapped every sized gift imaginable, but we’ve never wrapped a cat. If you would like to attempt this on your own, please check out the following video for wrapping tips: How To Wrap A Cat.
Support us at the holidays!
At the end of the year, Cat Tales volunteers get involved in some fund raising events in the area.
Issue 5 — december, ’10
Come see the cats!
We have cats and kittens at our adoption centers at PetSMART and PETCO in Warminster and at Main Street Animal Hospital in Doylestown.
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Cat Tales store
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“Did you hear what he said we can have?”
A note from your cat:
“Far better than riches to receive a cat’s kisses.” — Adele Hackenson, Framingham, MA.