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By Susan Howell
Today marks the end of a chapter in almost a year long journey I previously wrote about called Hardcore and the Three Butters.
The story began about a stray pregnant Calico cat I named Hardcore and the eventual birth of her three feral kittens that I refer to as the Butters.
When I began feeding this ragtag bunch, my goal was to trap, spay and neuter and maybe, just maybe domesticate them in the process. This morning Butterscotch, affectionately called Baby Boy was carted off to the vet to receive his vaccinations and to be neutered. He was the final spoke in the wheel of this crazy cat drama that has been at times both nerve racking and challenging.
If you feed them they will come, which of course I did, close to the house in a large wire cage that would eventually lead to their capture. Now Hardcore certainly lacked people skills, motherhood on the other hand she excelled at, keeping a close eye on her kittens while educating them in the art of feral life. I had my work cut out for me.
On a cold winter’s morning I decided this was the day I would capture the Butters. Setting up this clandestine mission you would think I was out to capture a Grizzly bear. Adrenaline on overdrive I captured all three of them and quickly moved them into the cat room. High hopes of taming these tiny wildcats were diminishing fast. Like their mother, the Butters were not looking for domestic bliss. Over the next few days when the kittens weren’t hissing and spiting at me they managed to tear the cat room apart, freaking me and my old cats out. Stressed to the max and getting nowhere fast, I did the unthinkable, I kicked them out. Releasing them back outdoors I fully expected them to head for the hills, surprisingly they stayed and from that day on we made significant progress.
Daily the Butters depended less on Hardcore, so I trapped her and had her spayed. I turned my attention now to the two female kittens who were closing in on six months of age the witching hour in the cat world.
Still groggy from the anesthesia provided me the opportunity to handle Buttercup the first of the females to visit the vet. She bonded with me the moment I laid my hands on her and has become an extremely loveable kitten. The second female is definitely her mother’s daughter; she has been spayed but still keeps her distance. Baby Boy is easily bribed with cat treats and tolerates me handling him.
These days Hardcore and the Butters call my place home. Turning their backs on the feral life, they now live along side my older cats in the comfort of the cat room, fed, safe and I think happy.
FYI: The cat room I refer to is a Florida room that has been designed to meet the needs of my cats. A cat door has been installed which gives them access to the outdoors. At night they are all brought in and the door is locked.