Of Kittens and Workshops

I am cleaning my workshop (I know, shocking).  I’ve removed half the contents and am carefully cleaning everything before I put it back.  There is a bit of reorganization and a bunch of stuff is going straight into the trash.

It’s been a long time coming, but I am on the job now.  You can expect a lot of shop storage projects being posted on “Wednesday Woodworking.”

You see it all started about 8 years ago when we bought these tiki torches and a gallon plastic bottle of citronella oil torch fuel.  We lit them once, didn’t really like them and the bottle of fuel ended up in my shop – a place where failed tools, projects and ideas go to die long silent deaths in a dusty maze of forgetfulness.

The next item in the chain of events was this cat having kittens in our front yard.  It was early May when one of the contractor’s told me that he’d seen a bunch of kittens in my yard.  I went to investigate and sure enough there was a momma cat and a litter of kittens.  I told the contractor that I expected that now that we had discovered the group that the momma cat would move the kittens away.

As predicted the cats were gone the next morning and I didn’t see them for about three weeks. One day after work I came home to discover kittens playing in the front yard.  Great I thought, just what I need.  A few days later, Heather came home from her trip to England and I told her about the little critters.  We thought momma would move on again and did nothing.

After a couple of days we discovered that the momma cat was gone – apparently abandoning the kittens.  It was possible she was killed, or died, or simply didn’t have enough food and walked away.  Well, we couldn’t just let the cute little guys starve, so we decided to start feeding them and trap them.

We then did our research; found out where the animal shelter was; what kind of food to feed them, and so on.  While we were doing our little rescue thing, who shows back up?  Momma cat.  Great, we’re halfway to getting the little guys caught and momma comes back.  She was a good momma though, she let the kittens eat first, watched over them while they ate and only ate last.  By this time we had counted five kittens.

“Well,” we thought, “At least we have to get them all their shots and be spade/neutered.”

This is when we discovered that in the last twenty years (the last time I had to deal with feral cats) that the whole procedure has changed and these days the city practices, “TNR”, trap-neuter-return.  At first I was unsure about the program.  It seems a little harsh, but it does make sense.  Around the beginning of July, Heather went down and got the trap.

We managed to catch all six – momma and five kittens over the course of a few days.  We had some hope that the kittens would be young enough to be sent to a rescue agency to be tamed and put up for adoption, but they told us that the first bunch we brought in were too big.  Apparently they need to be less than three pounds – maybe we shouldn’t have fed them so much.

Well, three days later the first batch of kittens were back at our house and soon momma cat reappeared.  They’d all been fixed, given their shots and were now on our door step looking for food.  In time four of the kittens were returned – we’re hoping that number five, who we called Baby, has been sent for adoption.

Momma cat’s behavior towards the kittens changed – she starting eating first, hissing at the little ones and bating the away from the food.  We’re not sure what caused that, but clearly it wasn’t good.  We were reasonably certain that momma hadn’t taught the kittens how to hunt or scavenge for food and now it looked like they won’t get the training from momma.  We were forced to chase momma cat off so the kittens could eat (momma still shows up from time to time, well feed so she’s doing alright somewhere).

We then made the fateful choice to again trap the little guys and try to tame them ourselves.  We’re hoping at least some can be tamed enough for adoption or at the least be outdoor cats we can control enough to get them to a vet if needed.

Yeah, it might be difficult and maybe not all will make it but if one or two do, it will be worth the effort.

Setting to the task, we bought food, litter (lots of litter) and some good cages.  Then we started to trap them earlier this week.

Bella, a sweet gray kitty, was the first to get captured on Tuesday.  She fell into the old, “Look here’s a treat way back in this cage,” trick.

I’ve had most of the week off and was working to do some clean up after all the remodeling.  We’d been smelling kitty poops in front of the house.  Wednesday morning I discovered some of it in my outside workshop (a fenced in area of the carport) and I ended up moving most of my tools, wood, junk, scraps, dust and other valuable objects out to clean up after our dear darlings.

At some point during the day, I had left the door open to my inside shop and I chased two kitties out at one point.  After the evening feeding we’d accounted for three kittens: Bella caught, Boots and Spot still at large, but sighted eating dinner.  Socks was missing.

Thursday morning Heather goes out to feed Bella, hears a loud meowing, looked up and sees Socks sitting in the window of my inside shop crying.  Heather let Socks out, but Socks didn’t go too far and by the end of the day Socks too was in our evil clutches  (at least that’s Sock’s opinion of the whole thing based on the complaining she’s doing).  Boots too was trapped by Heather in a cat carrier.

When Heather open the door of the inside shop she was nearly overcome by fumes while Socks made her escape. Heather discovered that Socks had somehow knocked over the gallon of citronella oil with the entire contents now spread over various boxes, tool boxes, tools, floor, floor mats, dust, trash, shop coat and other assorted objects.  The resulting aroma guarantees I’ll never get mosquitoes in the shop – or possibly another living creature, including humans.

and we did find kitty poop in bottom of a tool box – our good tool box, the expensive, well-built red Kennedy one – the one with all my ‘good’ hand tools.

We spent much of Thursday and Friday dealing with the aftermath.  I hauled out everything that had been hit by the oil or had been pooped on, threw kitty litter over the oil spill (we’ve got close to 60 pounds of the stuff right now) and Heather cleaned the tool box and floor with soap and water – I lost count how many times she had to wash everything down.

We did learn that it takes two washing to get citronella oil out of my shop coat and then you still need to clean the washing machine.  Although part of me now thinks I should have bought a new washing machine or maybe just have bought a new coat…

So thanks Socks, you have now properly motivated me to clean up my shop – inside and out.

Till next week,

And here are some pictures of the little guys.

Instead of kids we now have cats in the guest room.

Instead of kids we now have cats in the guest room.

Bella and her toy bird.

Bella and her toy bird.

Socks didn't like her picture being taken.

Socks didn’t like her picture being taken.

Boots is starting to like this living in a cage with room service and daily cage cleaning.

Boots is starting to like this living in a cage with room service and daily cage cleaning.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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1 Response to Of Kittens and Workshops

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Woodworking – Shop projects | Andrew's View of the Week

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