Our cat population soared this spring with both Momma Cat and Grandma Cat delivering on or near the same day, but survival rate around here is hampered by a booming coyote population.
We have lost all but one of the four that we imported to the farm a year and a half ago leaving Crazy Uncle Boaz to be the one survivor of that group. Remaining out of the six kittens from this spring from Momma and Grandma babies are Frick (male), Frack (male), Fuzzy Zeller (female) and Peg Leg Pete (female). We lost Momma Cat sometime during the long, hot summer. She would take off for days at a time on hunting expeditions and one time she did not return, she was our best mouser.
Then Grandma Cat kicked it up a notch and delivered a new batch of kittens about 5 weeks ago. I had only heard one or two on occasion, Grandma had them stowed away deep into the hay stack. Today I finally got a glimpse of a new addition, make that two additions, I saw a little striped kitten with white around his eyes and ears and an all black kitten taking some of their first forays into the main part of the barn.
They are very skittish and I could not get close to them. This gives me a good reason to spend more time in the barn than usual.
Momma Cat, Grandma Cat and Crazy Uncle Boaz have all been taking care of the 6 kittens that were born this spring. They take turns babysitting the rambunctious young-uns and make forays away from the barn on occasion. Continue reading
The kittens are seemingly always hungry and when new kibble gets set out for the barn cats, the kittens are right int the middle of the feeding frenzy.
Boaz the large spotted cat, seems unconcerned about the amount of activity going on around him because he got his mouthfuls downed before the black Grandma cat and the kittens joined him for dinner.
Grandma cat has a little trouble eating because every time she sticks her head into the chow-bowl a kitten has fully climbed inside to for easy munching.
The larger cats have been hunting the fence line and have been bringing the kittens rodents and birds to snack on between meals along with both Mama Cat and Grandma cat nursing. All in all the kittens are content and well fed.
The kittens are growing quickly. They are learning new things each day.
This little guy figured out how to climb the wood fence and sit more than a foot off the ground on the 1 inch ledge at the junction of post and board.
The little kitten fits in the small space perfectly while he awaits one of his siblings to come along and knock him off his comfy perch. The six kittens are constantly playing and it was a surprise to see this little one taking a break from the wild action going on with the rest of the juveniles.
The mother cats had their litters behind the big hay stack in the barn. I had gotten a glimpse or two the other day, shortly after seeing a few of them, the mothers moved them from the barn to the boards stacked up under the tin roof of the shop.
Daily, we see the mother cats allowing the kittens to travel farther and farther from the safety of the stack. It is hard to get a good count but it looks like there are about 6 kittens all shades of black with one being a dark colored calico with one white back paw.
It is a communal arrangement with both mother cats coming and going for nursing and bathing duties.
With double the milk supply available, the kittens are growing rapidly at this stage and soon will be outside most of the time. We try to touch and talk to the little ones every day so they are not totally feral. We need them to trust us so we can use them at the barns to control mice and rats.
On April 22 Grandma Cat, the black one, had her batch of kittens. On April 23 Momma Cat, the calico one, had her batch.
The mothers have come out of seclusion back to their nearly original weights.
It is unclear just how many kittens have arrived. Both cats had tunneled through the stack of remaining hay bales and delivered their kittens in a communal nest. In about 6 weeks, we will see the kittens as they emerge from their protected nursery.
It will be hard to tell just which kitten belongs to which mother since it appears that both cats are taking turns taking care of the bunch as one family.
All this activity has banned the adult boy cats away from the barn. We see them out hunting along the fence line every once and a while and they don’t seem to be going hungry. The mother cats are definitely in charge of the barn.
Both Momma Cat (the calico) and Grandma Cat (jet-black) are pregnant.
The four boy kittens we imported last year did the trick. Cats only carry their kittens for 67 days so we are watching closely as it seems that Valentines Day was very eventful for the two females.
Momma Cat was the only one I could capture with a picture since Grandma is a little skittish especially when I have the camera pointed her direction.
Two litters will help the barn cat population with the mice and rats that like to use the hay as a refuge. Both Momma and Grandma are good hunters and they train their offspring to find prey both inside the barn and out along the brushy fence line.