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Something weird is going on.....

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Like Renae's scare with Nathan, I hope this is just a scare. But Gary up into the woods to fill the feeder.... and there wasn't much food gone. ???????

(For those who don't know, we live in an RV Park in a farming community. You're not allowed to have pets here, but we trapped and had spayed/neutered all the feral cats around here... they were going to put poison out to kill them last year. They may or may not know we have the four (now five) cats inside as pets, but they don't say anything. But they do know we're managing the colony here, and they see us ferrying back and forth to the vet with the crates, and we are able to make arrangements for a neighbor to feed and put water out for the cats when we're away - it's a gated community with the office at the gate, so there's no way to sneak people and/or cats in and out).

Anyway... we've seen Funny Face and Attila today, but that's it. We don't see all of them every day - in fact, we don't see quite a few of them that often (part of the reason we have the feeder up in the woods as opposed to out in the open). But the food does disappear. But we only have to fill the feeder every 5 - 6 days (we like to keep it clean, anyway) for what we believe are the 11 cats that have made this area their home.

We haven't seen any new cats this year, no kittens (although we are aware of a woman who's socialized one male we didn't trap last year and has a pregnant female inside with her now - but this is in the Mobile Home Park that's about a half a mile up the road from the entrance to the park... which is about a mile from here).

But we're worried. This is NOT a cat-friendy area...and what if "our" cats have been living up at a neighbors - which through the woods (for a cat, not a person) is pretty close... we can see the home and barn in the fall when the trees are bare. What if these people put poison out? How do we find out? "Our" cats probably do eat elsewhere - there's lots of other sources of food around here. I know it's a little early to be letting our imaginations run wild...

Any thoughts on what we should do while we wait to see how long it takes for this food to disappear? Like Renae - like all of you in situations with ferals - we don't want to just sit here and do nothing. But we don't know what to do!!!!!

Gary's thinking of borrowing someone's VHS recorder and making a lucite box for it to record activity at the feeder....setting a timer for dawn and dusk.... (we can get an extension cord up there so we don't have to worry about batteries....)

????????? Should we do this? Anything else you can think of?

post #2 of 13
Laurie, I truly hope nothing bad has happened. My first instinct when I read this was maybe the heat has driven them to a shady place. I know my inside cats don't eat as much when it's so hot outside (even though we have the AC on constantly). Maybe since they're so hot, they aren't eating as much.

I'm sorry I'm not much help. I do think the video camera thing is a good idea. At least you'll be able to see who is coming to the feeder and who isn't.

I'm sure Hissy will pipe in her..since she's the Feral Queen!
Hope everything is ok and please keep us all posted on what you find out.
post #3 of 13
Oh My God. I can't believe people would put poison out to kill cats. It is so beyond my comprehension. They are not insects -- isn't it illegal to poison and kill cats???

I am praying that nothing has happened to the cats you have been caring for. Maybe Shell is right about the heat factor.

Please keep us posted!!
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Shell, I so hope it's something like this. The problem is that it's not that hot here these days. We had several weeks of 90 degree weather 2 - 3 weeks ago, and although food consumption was down, it wasn't anything like this. It's been lovely, breezy and in the 70s here recently.

We're not sure who to borrow a recorder from, but we've started asking around. We couldn't sit out last night because this (and next) week (each January, April, July and October) is our busiest time at work. But we did get up early and grabbed camping chairs this morning. We figured our presence would inhibit some of the kitties but not all of them. The only one we saw come by was Funny Face.

The thing that's freaking us out is - what if they did put poison out? What if it's STILL out? ...BUT we have a kind of offsetting question... wouldn't cats not eat it?
post #5 of 13
Hopefully they just went for a walk. Lilly was mia for over a week and she came back yesterday. I think with the nice weather the kitties are just out and about. Hopefully anyway. Goodluck!!
post #6 of 13
I know it's hard, but do try to calm down a little. There isn't any hard evidence that poison was placed out. I hope that there wasn't. *crosses fingers*

Try to be patient and wait. It is possible that they have a found new temporary food location or have gone for a wander. Both possible situations. Don't think the worst. I do understand about living in a cat-unfriendly place and it does make it easy to jump to conclusions when you're worried. I'm the first to do that. I do hope they come back soon to ease your worrying.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Well, we spoke to the owners of the RV park anyway. We discussed our management of the feral colony here (again). We expressed our concern about the neighbor's attitudes towards the cats, and pointed out that since we've been managing the colony there have been no problems with the cats around here. Most people don't even see them anymore, and they certainly don't raid the garbage cans, etc. anymore. We confirmed that the only "new" kittens around here are the pregnant female that's with the woman in the Mobile Home Park, so it looks like we did trap them all last summer/fall. (With the very sad exception of one grey female that was pregnant early spring that we knew we hadn't managed to trap. She must not have survived to have the kittens. ).

Anyway, they are thankful (though they still hate cats!) for all we've done, and they did say they'd speak to the neighbors about what we're doing here. We printed out some info on TNR and made several copies so they can give it to the several farms that border the property here, and we've provided our phone number. Maybe we'll spend this summer trapping cats on other farms. We're going to leave the same info with the Vet to pass out to people they think should have it. We'll see what happens. I wish we'd thought of this last year. I feel like an idiot.
post #8 of 13

Three of my ferals are always in my yard. No matter when I come in or out, they are there. But the other three are more sporadic. They will be here for several weeks, then they will disappear for a month, then they will be back again for a while. Although this happens much less once they are neutered, there are some who are still wanderers. So, perhaps your crew are all out exploring a new place. Perhaps someone else is putting out even yummier food than yours and they are hanging out there now. I wouldn't panic yet, because it is likely just a normal cycle of exploring elsewhere.

Do you think you could drop by the neighbor's house to see what kind of place it is (look for bait food left out, etc) or to ask them about barn cats they've seen around?

Not to scare you, but I have to ask about predators. Here in Kentucky, we have coyotes that sometimes kill cats and small dogs. Do you have anything like that up there? I remember a couple of years ago Lisa (Houseofcats) had a problem with coyotes in the park preying on her ferals. I hope that you are too far north for coyotes and that this isn't a possibility.

I am sending all of my come home thoughts to your colony, and my stay calm thoughts to you and Gary.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yummier food! It IS a possibility, though knowing all of the anti-cat sentiment around here, we naturally jumped to fears the other way.... It was just so weird, because the food consumption has been pretty consistent for so long.... (although it could well have been a bunch of raccoons or something we were supporting in addition to the cats, and now they're not around anymore or something).

The main "large" mammals living up in our woods here are black bears, a REAL problem for people around here, foxes, possums, skunks, raccoons, LOTS of groundhogs, and deer. A lot of deer.

Although there is a wolf reintroduction program going on not too far from here. Not that I don't love wolves, but there just isn't enough (IMO) unoccupied land around here. The great wisdom of the people of the State of New Jersey here is that the wolves should be reintroduced into the habitat because they once roamed this mighty land... and they can help control the out-of-control deer population.

Personally, I think the wolves will probably prey on easier game... like garbage, and become a problem for people and potentially their children. I haven't seen any sign of wolves around here yet though... I feel like this is a dumb question, but would they prey on cats?
post #10 of 13
Laurie, did you see any of the other ferals last night?

I can't imagine that the wolves would come so close to where your home is...even though you are out a ways, there are enough humans around I would think they would stay away. But, I do think that wolves would be a big risk for cats, though I still don't think they would come so close to civilization.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
My concern with the wolf reintroduction program is that yes, we are in the area considered "The Delaware Water Gap" up here.... but there is still little area without civilization. A little further north things are a bit more sparse, but I don't know anything about the specific reintro plans, how many, where, etc. It's something to look into when this corporate earnings reporting season ends (next week).

Anyway, we have been out - not every morning, but a lot of them. So far we can add Moocher, Trasher and Shadow to the list of those still around!!!!

Also, got GREAT news from the Park owners. They did speak with the neighbor whose property ajoins this one out back of us, and they don't have a problem with stray cats. *Phew* BUT - they will call us if they see any not ear-tipped!
post #12 of 13
Good news about the neighbors. It must be a relief to know that stray cats aren't a bother to these people. And...if they are going to keep an eye out for cats you haven't yet neutered, that is all the better!

I'm glad some more of your crew have shown up. Whew!
post #13 of 13
My feral colony has been dwindling down since early May. I suspect one of two things, or a combination of both. I'm going thru an FeLV positive period in my house. 2 feral kittens that I brought in 8 months ago turned sick (very quickly) and infected another indoor cat. We are working the indoor situation out but that's another story. The litter mate of the 2 saved kittens is obviously sick, as well as the 4 kittens born later from the same mom. I know that FeLV is running thru my ferals right now and I'm certain that many of them may have wandered off to die. The mom cat, as well as 2 of the torties disappeared while we were on vacation in June.

To add to this problem, our neighbor's took in their daughter's 2 dogs when their house burned down. I have seen them carrying dead raccoons around the yard with them, and our cats are disappearing. We had a litter on our front porch on earth-day, and 10 days later, the mom disappeared. We found a large smear of cat feces on the walls and floor of the front porch, as if she was attacked, killed fast and lost control as she died. We never found the cat. The neighbor has patched a few holes in the fence between our properties but hasn't said a word about to us about finding dead cats in his yard. Add to that the fact that our dog passed away in January (from a stroke) and we have nothing left to protect our property from roving dogs. Our dog used to run off stray dogs.

If the cats are already weakened from being sick, they do become more vulnerable to attacks from dogs or wild animals. FeLV can wreck a feral colony pretty quickly.

I hope that the neighbors aren't poisoning yours - I don't know what I'd do if I caught someone doing that to my cats!
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