That's what we spent a portion of our morning doing today, quite literally. I told you about our oh so very cute, but not so welcomed backyard guests in my previous post. Our original strategy regarding the kitties was kind of an "ignore them and they'll go away" approach. The girls were allowed to watch them all they wanted, but not touch, ooh and ahh over them, but not feed. See, I heard from several neighbors that this particular momma cat had had several litters of kittens in our backyard and that typically she carries them over the wall when they're big enough and off they go. And let me just remind you in case you're thinking how could you possibly not care for an adorable litter of kittens, these are not fluffy, clean, pretty American kittens. These are mangy, wild, Jordanian dumpster cats.
So anyway, earlier this week I realized that our ignoring approach was not going to work so well. Unfortunately, momma cat disappeared. Who knows if she abandoned them or if something actually happened to her, but she was gone. That, and the fact that the wall around our back yard is too big for them to climb, made me realize that a different approach would be necessary. We already had one kitten die in the yard and I didn't want 4 more to meet the same fate. Plus, I found out from a friend that there is a Humane Society in Jordan and they take in abandoned animals and care for them. And they actually continue to care for them- they aren't euthanized if not adopted... Anyway, for all those reasons, we changed our approach to "feed the kittens for a few days until we can find time to drive them to the Humane Society".
Really a better approach in so many ways... Happy girls because they get to feed the kittens, happy mommy because the kittens will go far, far away from the yard where they know they can come and get food, and happy everyone because we all know that the kittens will be well taken care of and not meet the fate of the typical Jordan dumpster cats.
Our back yard is a small enclosed space. Within the small enclosed space is a screened in porch. The goal was to get the kittens into the screened porch so that we could get them into the cardboard box that we prepared to take them to the Humane Society. We knew that part would be easy. They had come to expect the opening of the back door to mean food and therefore they were always ready right by the door. What I hadn't anticipated was how difficult, and somewhat comical, it would be to get them actually into the box. Herding cats, people...
The players involved: me, Jason, Jeremy (Jason's brother who is here visiting), Naomi, Maddie and Abbey, and 4 kittens, who, yes, have names: Bandit, Mila, S'mores and Ash. Naomi had a very specific plan about who was going to get to pick up which cat and deposit them in the box. Easy right? Not!! As friendly as these kittens appeared when we opened the door and showed up with milk, they had never actually been touched by human hands and I did not anticipate that it would go that smoothly. Like I said, though, Naomi had a very specific plan. We had a cardboard box with small holes poked in the top, lined with newspaper and big chunks of bread at the bottom to lure them in.
Part 1 of the plan went flawlessly. We opened the screen door and for the first time let them onto the porch. One of them actually jumped into the box and explored a minute but pretty quickly jumped back out.
First problem- we forgot to close the screen door back so they couldn't get back out and retreat to behind the storage shed- essentially the only place in the backyard where they could hide. Second problem- Naomi's plan was not working. If you know Naomi, you may know that this was not a good thing. Someone got Ash into the box (but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the person Naomi assigned to Ash) and in the midst of that, Bandit escaped off the porch and S'mores started climbing the screen. Ash then got out of the box which led to Jason lunging for her (and missing), which led to Naomi wailing about one of the cats getting hurt or mistreated (not happening, I promise), or she may have been wailing at that point that she wasn't getting to pick up the cat she wanted. At some point I looked at her and asked how in the world she was planning on picking up one of the streaks of fur that was flying around our balcony- she didn't know, I assure you. It was about this point that Abbey left and went inside. She was stressed that a cat was going to be harmed in the midst of our shenanigans.
So we re-grouped. At this point we had one empty cardboard box, 2 kittens trapped on the porch, and 2 kittens who had escaped into the yard and retreated behind the shed. Thankfully, they were just curious enough to only retreat for a few seconds. Jason hushed Naomi's wailing and told her that she was not picking up any cats- they would scratch, they would bite, and there was no way she would catch them... (background wailing continues for next few minutes as Jason, Jeremy and I took over the cat catching process while the girls watch). Jason was able to fairly quickly grab 2 of the kittens by the scruff on the back of the neck and deposit them in the box where Jeremy held the lid down. (I was busy re-assuring the girls that that was indeed a proper way to carry a cat, that the kittens mother would carry them like that and that Daddy was not hurting them in any way). In the midst of getting the first 2 secured in the cardboard box, the other 2 escaped (again) into the yard.
This time I got reassigned to hold the lid closed while Jeremy and Jason attempted together to catch the remaining 2 kittens. There was a bit of hesitancy on their part as there had been no shortage of claws and teeth flashing around during the first few minutes of the craziness. The goal was to herd them back into the porch where they could be grabbed quickly and deposited into the box. I'm wondering how in the world we're going to get the lid off the box and the remaining kittens in without losing the first 2... Anyway, within a few minutes, Jason and Jeremy had them headed back into the porch. There was a minor incident in which Jeremy (who was trying to avoid touching the kittens) scooped one up in a bucket which then got away from him resulting in kitten and bucket flying through the air. Let me assure you that resulted in many more wails coming from the general direction of Maddie and Naomi who had retreated to a corner of the porch to watch. (oh, and I forgot to mention that we closed Anabelle in the house during the excitement knowing that her presence would not help. Don't worry though, she was standing at the window yelling "knock, knock, come in!" just so that there would be one more high pitched female voice joining in the excitement). So, where was I? Yes, kitten and bucket flying through air...
So finally they got the remaining 2 kittens on the patio, while the first 2 were miraculously still in the box that I was holding shut. Jason was having a hard time getting his hands on #3, so Jeremy suggested wrapping his hands in a towel that had been left on the porch and grabbing it with that. It worked and somehow they got it into the box without letting the other 2 out. He then got #4 who was half way up the porch screen (resulting in again more wails from Naomi as he again held her by the back of the neck) and miraculously got her in the box (the kitten, not Naomi) as well. WHEWWW!
Thankfully, the trip to the Humane Society was uneventful. As much as I had hoped that dropping off the kittens at their new home would be the end of the story, it is not quite done. In my efforts to reassure the girls that despite the trauma of actually catching the kittens, they would be very happy and well cared for in their new home, I sort of promised them that they would be able to see them in their new environment. Unfortunately, the closed box was whisked off when we arrived to bathe the kittens and let the vet check them over. The lady assured us, though, that we could come back in the next few days and see the kittens in their new home. So that, my friends, will be the end of the kitten drama.
Well, that is, until momma cat decides to have another litter in our backyard. Here's hoping that doesn't happen anytime soon...