The Forgotten Feline Colony was first brought to Crooked Leg Ranch attention in the autumn of 2013. Abandoned cats had bred to form a large population that received no regular care. These cats scavenged for food and drank wherever possible. Too often the food and water was tainted or poisonous. Beyond that, active machinery threatened feline safety.
Since October 2013, 34 cats have been trapped, neutered, tended medically and relocated. All of the cats required vaccinations, fixing and treatment for parasites. As well, defleaing and delousing were common needs.
So where are they now? Three kittens were the first to venture into the trap, drawn by the delicious food provided there. Gypsy, Vala and Grey were treated and then fostered, but not for long. All were quickly adopted.
November was a busy month for the team as 15 more cats and kittens made their way from constant risk to safe homes. Bo was a grey and white handsome boy but due to medical reasons, he was deemed unadoptable. Knowing that his life would be short, the girls found a long term foster home where he settled in well. Silver Lady, about two years old, spent time in the feral holding facility until she was placed in a barn of her own. Black, a fellow with broken teeth, was also fortunate to find a delightful barn and loves his freedom. Chin Chin, about six-months-old, found a home where he can freely be in or out.
The feral holding facility is a private residence with a large dedicated room that has been fitted with five three-tier cages. Cats are housed here for a couple of weeks during the assessment phase. The bottom of the cage can be left open so cats can access the whole room whenever they want. They love lounging on the chairs and scratching on the post. As things progress, there will eventually be a port to an external fenced-in area. Right now, a small opening to an enclosure that is attached to the outside wall allows some fresh air.
Brown tabby and Crazy Lady are keeping barns mouse free. Gingie and another tabby have their own families. Blackie, the cat that began the rescue endeavour, had so many litters that her internal organs were damaged. After a lengthy recovery, she found a place with one of the rescuers and now has a ‘catio’ of her own where she can enjoy being safely outside.
Lucy was about six when she was rescued and being an older cat, the team wondered if she would be adoptable. It turned out that Lucy was well used to being with people and was quickly adopted. Soon after, a kitten not considered to be part of the colony was trapped. Sadly, the ladies figured that she had been just recently abandoned. After all of the care, she was absorbed into a volunteer’s home and is thriving.
Spit was about two years old when he decided to be rescued. He first spent time in the feral holding facility where he gradually accepted human interaction. When his personality shone through, the caretaker claimed Spit for himself so now this cat has a home and the privilege of visiting other ferals whenever he wants.
Hansel, Gretel and Skritch are the seniors of this group. Skritch, Tenish and Hansel, about four years, both had broken, infected and missing teeth. Gretel had a hernia that was treated during her procedures. Deemed unadoptable, all three mature cats have found a safe haven in a volunteer’s basement. Though not social, they are being loved and well cared for.
Miss tabby and Maddy found respite in December and both were adopted locally. Maddy now lives with Chin Chin. After that, the cold of January urged nine more cats to enter the traps. Pearl, Ruby, Jada, Tuxedo, Wheezy, Siamese, Maggie May, Blossom and McQueen have stories of their own. Pearl stole hearts, Ruby became a Valentine adoptee, Maggie May found a family and Siamese is part of the Feral Holding family. Tuxedo is with Silver Lady in a cozy barn while Blossom, Jada and McQueen are still in foster but might be making failures of their foster mothers. That is good news because the cats are wiggling their way into loving families. Wheezy was like Bo; a cat with many medical problems. The goal was just to provide comfort until his end.
The team, powered by Crooked Leg Ranch and the Pet Safe Coalition, are relatively certain that the colony is cat free of the original inhabitants. They have trail cams to aide with monitoring the sites. But, they have found that some people still drop off unwanted animals so that an orange tabby male and four kittens have recently joined the club. Today, there is only one cat left in the feral holding facility and he will soon be integrated into the Ashcroft Feral community.
This endeavour cost Crooked Leg Ranch over $4,500 in veterinary costs. It required six months of 12-hour, seven day weeks for volunteers. In addition, fuel, transportation, food and litter costs are constantly incurred. When asked if they would do it again? Their answer was a resounding yes. Animals deserve a life without hunger and danger. If you have unwanted cats, please surrender them to the SPCA or a shelter. Adoptable cats can be seen at Total Pet or at Bosley’s. Cats and kittens are not disposable.
If you would like to become a foster home or if you are willing to adopt, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liz-Anne Eyford is a volunteer with Crooked Leg Ranch.