Buckle in and get ready. This story is long, filled with complicated family trees (see bottom of blog), lots of vet visits, and above all, adorable kittens.
Last year, there was an 8,000-acre wildfire near our house. As a result, all the stray cats that lived in the mountains moved down towards our house. Since I’m such a pushover for cute animals, we put out food and created a little bed for them. Soon, our backyard was full. We even insulated a 3 story (7 foot tall) outdoor rabbit hutch and filled it with cat beds and blankets for our furry friends to stay warm during the winter.
First there came Shadow. She’s given birth to three litters overall, and all of our cats (other than the dads) came from Shadow. Her first litter of 5 was discovered when the kitties were already a few months old. Her babies Luna and Midnight warmed up to us, so we got them spayed/neutered and now they come in and out of our house as they please. Boots was not so friendly so she ended up getting preggo and recently gave birth to one of the litters. There were also two other cats in that litter, Kat and Baby Shadow, which have disappeared....aka coyote food. :(
Shadow’s second litter of 5 were all pretty scared of us. Again, we didn't see these kittens until they were already a few months old. Three of them got pregnant before we could catch them. They were only about 6 months old when they got knocked up so we have a few teen mom situations going on. Cinderella, Twilight, and Fiona are all the current moms in our home. There were also two other cats from that litter that we lost track of, and haven’t come back.
When Shadow had her third litter we found them in the rabbit hutch the day they were born. We took her babies inside and eventually lured her into the house. This is where my cat Nilla came from! Yes, I made her an instagram! I got Shadow and all her babies spayed/neutered and found them all loving homes! That litter was easy. In the moment we thought it was chaotic, but looking back with 27 cats currently in our house, I can’t believe how easy we had it. Shadow is super calm and nice and loves being a mom, but the other moms aren’t as compliant in letting us take care of her kittens.
The second litter we raised came from Boots. She had five kittens; four striped and one black. Thankfully most of Boots litter was problem-free as well. They’re rambunctious and I can’t brush my teeth without three trying to scale my leg, but they’re happy and healthy.
There was a fairly large gap in between Nilla’s litter and Boots’ litter, but the next three litters came within a period of a week. First, we found Cinderella’s litter with five kittens. A few days later my friend saw a kitten being attacked by a vulture, and she rescued it and brought it to us. He had a pretty bad scratch on his back and was malnourished, but Cinderella took him in and now he’s the most active one in her litter.
A week later, we captured a cat from Shadows 2nd litter (who we think was the vulture babies mom), Twilight. She was pregnant two weeks prior, but didn’t look pregnant anymore and wasn’t taking care of any kittens. Assuming they all had died, we took her into the vet to get spayed and planned on releasing her back into our backyard the next day.
That night, we found eight kittens in a bush, being cared for by Fiona (that’s another cat from Shadow’s second litter if you’re finding it hard to keep track of the giant kitten family tree). Four of them were her newborns, and four of them were Twilight’s. She looked exhausted, and after a long night of trying to catch her, we finally got her in the house and settled in with the kittens.
These last three litters have been a handful. First it was finding a place for them and their moms, then it was realizing they were covered in fleas. It was only a matter of time before one of the 27 stray cats in our backyard brought in fleas, and once one cat got them they all did. We spent four hours de-fleaing Cinderella’s litter, trying to contain it, but we know we have many more hours of de-fleaing them before they’re old enough to take flea medicine and get rid of the pests once and for all. As I am writing this one of the moms (Twilight) tore a hole in the screen and escaped through the window. So my day will now revolve around catching her. I would like to say that this is the first time something like that happened. But honestly I spend way more time than I would like chasing down the mamas who seem to be escape artists.
The kittens have been a lot of work. Between cleaning their litter boxes, feeding them, and making sure they’re healthy, I probably see more cats in my day than I do humans. I also was allergic to cats! The first few weeks I had to take allergy medicine everyday or else I felt like death, but weirdly I think I built up a tolerance because my allergies have almost vanished. In the end, it’s all worth it to see them grow up and go to loving homes.
All Kittens have been adopted!
** All kittens and mamas were spayed and given their shots. Remember that spaying and neutering stray cats is the BEST thing you can do to help!
Prince Eric: Black/White Boy available around 7/28
Prince Charming: Brown/White Boy available around 7/28
Prince Harry: Available around 7/28
Prince Williams: Available around 7/28
Ziggy: (Vulture Baby) Boy Available around 7/21
Prince Philip: Boy Available around 7/21
Prince Aladdin: Boy Available around 7/21
Prince Henry: Boy Available around 7/21
Prince George: Boy Available around 7/21
Duke : Boy Available around 7/21
Shadow: Female 2yrs old
Fiona: Less than a year old