Our yard has recently become the home of a small colony of feral cats. It started with one mostly-white calico female and then of course she had babies… We have always had indoor cats of our own. The residents for many years now are Garbo and Valentino, two grey fur persons whom we love. We adopted them many years ago from a road stop at Donner Pass where they had been abandoned as kittens. Now, dealing with this small furry invasion to our yard has caused a crisis of sorts. The little cat poops on the lawn, cats digging in my flower pots, cat fur on our porch chairs, the white flashes of fur scrambling to get away as I round the corner are all new and unwelcome additions to daily life.
We first called the local San Jose Animal Services and at their recommendation we rented a humane trap. The idea was to catch the kittens so that they could be put up for adoption. We also hoped to catch Mama Cat so that she could be spayed and vaccinated and returned to defend her territory. We have learned a great deal since then!
It turns out that the Guadalupe River may have water in it but it is really a river of cats moving around San Jose. Also, this is kitten season. Also, the animal agencies and societies run out of money at this time of year and there is a 2 week waiting period to fix ferals. (Who ever heard of holding onto a feral cat for 2 weeks to wait for an appointment?) The reality is that if you take kittens in to an agency at this time of year, they almost certainly get killed. There are just too many tame and healthy cats available to adopt.
We have talked with (or tried to contact) many organizations: Pets in Need, Fix Our Ferals, Silicon Valley Friends of Ferals, the Peninsula Humane Society, and Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue, among others. The most helpful was Itty Bitty Orphan Kitty Rescue and Silicon Valley Friends of Ferals. Some offered good timely advice. Many don’t respond to email or voice mail. We have trapped 5 kittens and 1 adult (not the mother) and taken them in. Yesterday, we drove about 80 miles round trip before work to the only organization we could find that would take feral cats in right away. Most of the kittens were sick and underweight and the adult was too sick to spay – they said she would not survive anesthesia. Probably all are dead now. It is sad and very discouraging.
We still hope to be able to have one or two healthy-and-unfertile feral cats as permanent residents on our bank of the river but this is harder to arrange than we thought.