Our farm has the required smattering of farm cats that come and go. Most of them are strictly outside cats (I won’t go into the two obese feline lap-robes who live in the house) and hold down the rodent and small vermin population with zeal. Finding the disemboweled parts of unfortunate small critters lovingly displayed on our welcome mat is a common treat (eww) that ensures us the cats are happy with their humans.
Recently, a petite little tabby showed up on our deck. She was a little skittish, but friendly. We welcomed her to our farm, as we had recently lost three good cats to various farm and country life hazards. Our daughter Kate named her Ava. She fit right in and we hoped she would have kittens with our sweet polydactyl tom cat, Logan. (Polydactyl cats have a genetic mutation in which they have additional toes on their feet.)
Sure enough, Ava soon began to show signs of impending motherhood! We watched her daily, hoping she would choose to have her litter somewhere we could find the kittens. If not, the kittens would be wild, and we would not be able to handle them.
So last Saturday when I came home and heard little meowing cries, I was excited! Ava had her babies! But where? I could hear them, but didn’t see Ava or kittens anywhere. Our Anatolian Shepherd, Silas, walked toward where some of the noise was coming from and gently nosed a small black kitten from under a bush next to the house. Great. Now where were the others? I could still hear them, but could not see Momma or kittens anywhere!
Then, I looked up. And there they were. On the roof. Seriously. Ava had chosen to birth her first litter high up in a valley of the roof of our farmhouse. The black kitten Silas had found, which was now snugly against my chest, had tumbled down the steep pitch of the roof and landed ungracefully on the ground. Thankfully, it wasn’t injured. But now what to do about the rest? I could see at least one was precariously close to the edge of the roof.
Still clutching the miniature feline paratrooper, I rushed inside and wrangled the hubby. He and Kate came outside and we surveyed the situation. After fetching a tall ladder, Doug climbed up and began carefully handing squirming kittens down. Two had rolled into the gutter. Two more were still close to Momma Ava. Doug gathered those two and put them in his shirt pocket so he had two free hands to deal with Ava.
Ava was pretty certain she had chosen the ideal spot to introduce her children into the world, and so she was less than enthusiastic about abandoning her post. Doug wrestled with her a bit, then with trepidation, a few choice words and a bloody arm, passed the writhing cat to me. Perched on the tall ladder, I tried to reassure Ava we weren’t planning to assassinate her or her babies, but she apparently already had her mind made up to the contrary. She wriggled and slashed at the air while I climbed down the ladder, holding her as far away from my body as possible. Kate stood below holding the first three kittens, and Doug climbed down the ladder after me with more kittens in his pocket.
We installed the family in a large empty feed tub on the porch.
Ava seems sufficiently satisfied with the new accommodations and has not offered to relocate her family. So our cat population will once again be enhanced. Kate will soon commence the “cat breaking” as we call it … handling and desensitizing the little beasts until they are completely at ease with just about any treatment thrown their way. This makes vaccinations and worming much simpler. The local rodents and vermin should be quaking in their dens. New hunters soon to be released!