Sunday, 21 September 2008

Four-cat household

Yes, I have taken another step down the path to crazy-old-cat-womanhood. Although the lastest addition to my household may only be temporary. It depends on my will-power.

Anyway, the story goes something like this... In the village where my mum has a holiday home, there's a small black and white cat, that I have, over the last couple of years, been befriending. She has no permanent home but lived, I presume, in the outbuildings of a small-holding on the edge of the village - at least she always disappeard in that direction after I'd petted and fed her. She must've been given scraps of food, although no-one is ever there in the winter and hunting for food must've been difficult for her then.

I'd seen her pregnant several times, but never with kittens. It's a very sad fact that in rural Asturias controlling the feline population means drowning the offspring at birth. However, she must have realised I was a trustworthy, kind sort because this June she appeared with three kits in tow in the barn opposite my mum's house and has been there ever since.

This has posed me a great dilemma. What to do? I can't not feed them, the kittens are too young to hunt for survival and the mum too weary from looking after them. But then again, I don't want to have an ever-expanding population of cats on the doorstep, clamouring to be fed. On top of this, two of the little ones have come down with a bad cold. One, of them, who's completely ginger, is a suspicious fellow who won't let me near him. Helping him, beyond providing food, is currently impossible even though I'm desperate to take him to the vet's and get him well since he's in a really bad way and I'm dreadfully worried for him. I keep going up there to see if there's any chance of catching him, but no luck so far. His brother, however, a very cheeky ginger and white tom who'd previously enjoyed nibbling my hand and getting strokes, is much friendlier and I brought him back here instead of watching him go the way of his ginger sibling. (The third, one, a very pretty, mostly ginger female seems perfectly healthy at the moment.) He's currently in a spare bedroom with food aplenty and a comfy bed to sleep on and can't believe his luck. Beeps, Mahou and Elbi are aware that something's up but I'm keeping them separated until this little one is better.

There are organisations here who will help you neuter stray cats and look for adoptive homes. Once I've nursed as many as I can back to full health I'm going to see what I can do along those lines for the three kits. The mum is going to be spayed too, she's so tiny, the ginger kitten is almost as big as her already. She's too small to keep on having kits and I'm incapable of not being responsible and doing my part in keeping the unwanted cat population down. So, once that's done, do I let her stay where she is, where she's happy enough, although life is difficult at times, or, do I bring her back here? I watch my three on the terrace, rolling in the sun, content, and know that in the winter they'll enjoy snuggling in front of the fire and the answer seems a simple one. However, introducing an adult female cat to a household where there are alreay three adult females is going to be difficult, and I wonder if she'll be happier here or not for that reason. I can envisage power struggles with Mahou already. Do any cat lovers out there want to help me figure this one out?

One last thing, I'd include pictures if I could, the three little ones are adorable and I've caught them in some poses that would've made you go 'awwww'. However, my camera is still refusing to function so you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that they're damn cute.