Monday, July 10, 2006
Yesterday, a quick twenty minutes nabbed the kittens up the road. We put out a paper plate of wet food, making sure it was close enough to the side porch for the kittens to see and smell, but far enough away that there wouldn't be any obstacles when I netted them.
I forgot to send myself the photo of them eating, so I'll add that later.
We gave the momcat some wet food on another porch to keep her occupied. Once all three kittens found the food, I went over and crouched near them with the net. These guys were used to people being around, so did not run away. Usually the kittens will run away, but if you sit quietly with the net hovering over the plate (yes, your arm does get tired) they will creep back. Then once all three are eating, you bring the net down flat over all three. And you get a moment of panic until they all calm down.
Whenever possible, you want to net all of the kittens at once. If you nab them one at a time, the last ones often won't come out until they are really hungry. The last thing you want is one little terrified holdout hiding somewhere where you can't get them. The shy ones will sometimes only eat if they see their buddies eating. If you catch the brave buddies, then the shy ones won't come out at all. So be patient until everyone is at the plate.
Bring the net down flat from above and hold it down hard. Do not swoosh the net from the side, or lift it at all after bringing it down. They will dart out from under it, and you won't be catching them again anytime soon with a net.
NEVER let anyone help you get the kittens out of the net. Do it all yourself, so if any bites occur, you are the only one at risk. I would recommend thin flexible gloves, such as deerskin or police gloves. Big heavy gloves will be too difficult to work with.
The kittens can then be transferred from the net to the crate by setting the crate on end. I use a basic cheap Kmart fishing net. The mesh is nylon, so it's pretty thick and doesn't cut into the kitten. But it's big enough that they get a little tangled and you don't lose them. It's not so big that they can get their head through it (this kind of net is bad with medium sized birds, who can get heads and wings through the mesh.).
The first time you do this, if possible, carry the kittens in the net to an enclosed area (building vestibule, screened porch, in your truck, etc.) before transferring them to a crate, so if a kitten gets loose, he or she is confined.
Smaller kittens often don't use their teeth as their first defense, but if these kittens were much larger, they would have learned, so be careful! Your health department will not be happy if you or a "helper" gets bitten.
It looks traumatic, but they survive the experience and are safely crated. I put the plate of food in the crate, and they were eating again within two minutes.
Thank you to everyone for your donations. There was $90 in my tip jar when this started, and there is $280 there now. Sarah left $50 at my vet office, and Alice gave a check for $75 when I stopped by with her paperwork for her two adopted kittens. So we have enough to get these kittens and their mom fixed. I promise not to beg on this blog too much, but at this time I'm pretty much cash-and-carry. If I don't have the cash, I can't get the cats.
It's pretty unusual for us to have this many kittens in the system at one time (sixteen) that are all going to need vetting around the same time. Not to mention the adults who come through the pipeline as well.
The major reason I won't beg too much is because fellow not-particularly-rich cat caretakers always give money! I asked them not to give when I posted my appeal, but of course they did (and of course, I didn't say no). I know you can't really afford it either.
Thank you to you all! Congratulations. Via Internet, you just saved four cats from life as a feral. Hopefully soon they will all be curled up on someone's couch somewhere for the next 17 years.