Olive fields by Noreen

Olive fields by Noreen
Mysterious, primordial world

Friday, 13 May 2016

If the cat had kittens.........

If the cat had kittens.......well she did!  and yes it's my fault!
We have fed stray cats over the years since we first came here.  The first one was a very friendly tabby which we called Leo.  He was very thin and miserable but soon built up and filled out.  Our neighbours in the house behind us said he was a good cat, very strong and would keep snakes away! They don't really like cats so they would not feed him but informed us that Leo came to our door often when we were back in Ireland for the winter. We had him neutered so he would not be aggressive with the other street cats. He was here for about 3 years and one summer when we returned,  he was nowhere to be seen. Many cats and dogs were being poisoned and we think that this may be how he met his demise.
After Leo I only put food out by the bins for the cats. We were not here full time until 2009. Our neighbours next door who are here for the summer months love cats and they always feed them.  We continue to feed these cats as long as we are here when our neighbours have returned to Istanbul.  The neighbour in the other house behind us hates cats and is very cross with me for "encouraging" them!
But what should I do?   a thin, hungry and miserable creature comes to the door,  rubs of my feet and mi-awws!  I try to resist,  I really do,  but I can't let any creature be in agony with hunger.  I am compelled to help them on their way.  I do the best I can while I am here when they present themselves at my door. Here are two that were here around 2014 being fed by our neighbours and then by us.

Last summer our neighbours from Istanbul were feeding "Pirtik" a long-haired tortoiseshell cat from the street up behind us.  They knew her name!  She was also thin but was already spayed and had a collar.  When they returned home after the summer,  she came to my door most days and I fed her.  Sometimes we were away cat-sitting for friends,  when we would come back she would not be here but a week or so later she would come around again.  She is quite fussy and often turns her nose up at dried food preferring instead to have some cooked chicken!  Food being left outside does not last long,  cats seem to tell others that there is a food source here.  About a month ago a new young female cat came by.   Pirtik, who is a very quite and gentle cat, accepted this "not at all good-looking cat"!   "Oh, you can have my leftovers but the humans are mine and mine alone!!
 I noticed that while the cat was very thin,  she seemed to have a big tummy and I wondered whether she might be pregnant.  She was always very hungry and readily eat the dry cat food that the other cats would not eat. 
One morning I noticed her with no tummy!  She was hungry so I fed her as usual and wondered where her kittens were. She had given birth somewhere but I didn't know where until later that morning I heard her hissing and spitting at the bottom of the garden.  There she was with what looked like a bunch of kittens lying uncomfortably across a wild rose shrub which was stretching itself along the gravel and mother cats and kittens were on top of this trying to shelter under the foliage.  I hushed away the male cat and immediately set about cutting back the rose stems and made them more comfortable by placing a fleece blanket under them.  One kitten looked dead,  it was lying on its own under a big leaf away from the other four.  I checked the little creature and it was warm and just about breathing.  I put it to the mother cat where it immediately started suckling and I counted 5 kittens in all.
They were born on 2nd May. We happened to be house/cat minding for a friend who lives nearby so I had a busy week between our two sets of animals.  I made a little house for them and covered it with a few layers of plastic to keep the rain and sun out. I put some foliage at each of the sides to camouflage it from possible predictors.  We have a garden gate,  dogs will not be able to come into our garden so at least she will be safe from dogs.  I'm just worried about the male cats.  She has a few cuts on her head and neck,  possibly from fighting off cats during the night.
The kittens are now 11 days old and doing really well.  They are starting to fill out and gain weight.  They are very beautiful and their eyes are now open.  One of the tabbies has an eye infection but I am keeping it clean and have got cream which seems to be working.
Mummy cat who I have now called "Audrey" is very affectionate towards me.  She seems to know I am helping and looking out for her and the kittens.  She often stops eating and rubs her head off me as if to say "thank you" and then continues to scoff down her food before heading back into her bed with the little ones.
  We hadn't planned to have any cats here because we want to travel.  Mr. D was very cross with me for feeding Audrey and as he put it "you have landed us with 6 cats".  We even had an argument while I drove our scooter.   It was quite stressful for me,  I was being pulled both ways.  My gut reaction was to look after this mother cat and her kittens and let the future take care of itself but in doing this I have now tied us down, but really there was no choice.  I had to look after them.   I'm taking it day by day.  Who knows in six or eight weeks there may be people wanting to adopt the kittens.  I'll get Audrey spayed in 7 weeks time and at least she will not be having kittens every six months. The kittens will have a good start in life.  I will socialize them so they will make good pets and hopefully they will all get good homes.  Wish me luck!