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A Series of Unfortunate Events

July 12th, 2010

Last Saturday morning found Mr Chiots and I standing in our local veterinary hospital with a small black kitten with a nasty wound on it’s neck. We weren’t sure what news we’d hear after a series of unfortunate events that started the previous Saturday morning. We’d had “the talk” the night before, and had decided on the monetary limit for this visit. We love cats and are always willing to help any out when find their way to Chiot’s Run, but setting a limit is necessary when dealing with animals, especially outdoor ones that don’t have a long life expectancy because of the environment they live in.

It all started a month ago, when mama moved four tiny kittens into our garage. We were happy to have them and were planning on fixing them and finding them homes if they survived. A few days after moving in, we got up one Saturday morning to discover the mama and the kittens gone. There was long orange fur all over the garage and male cat urine everywhere! Since male cats often kill kittens that aren’t their own, we figured a big orange male cat we’d seen roaming around occasionally was after these little furries. We didn’t find any dead kittens, but we weren’t sure if they’d survived. After this happened I did some research and found out that feral mama cats move their kittens around often to keep them safe, especially from male cats. (this is another good reason to neuter your male outdoor cats, they’re less aggressive)

Mama kept coming around so we knew eventually she’d bring them back if they had survived. Sure enough, a week and a half later, last Wednesday morning, we spotted her and three little furries on our back porch. She brought her babies back and proudly called them out of the garage every time we went outside to show them to us. We were happy to have them back, and sad that one of the little gray ones hadn’t made it, most likely it perished in the male cat attack a week and a half earlier. The kittens spent their days entertaining us playing around in the driveway and running in and out of the garage. We made sure to check under the cars every time we went somewhere so we didn’t accidentally find a kitty pancake upon our return.

Last Saturday morning, I was headed to the farmer’s market and went out and checked under the car as usual. We’d seen the kittens playing around outside earlier that morning, so we knew they were still around. On my way home from the market, a mile or two from home, I noticed a dead kitten in the road that looked just like one ours. At first I didn’t think anything of it, here in rural Ohio it’s a common sight. Later that afternoon, I realized I hadn’t seen the kittens since that morning. I knew then that the one I had seen was ours. We looked and looked and sadly couldn’t find any kittens in the garage. We figured the kittens had crawled up into the car and had all perished. Of course this was on Saturday afternoon and we were headed to a Fourth of July celebration, only we were no longer in any kind of mood for celebrating. This is the very reason I had never gotten a garage cat. I knew that their life expectancy was short and the risk of coming to a sad end by car was very likely. I love cats, so I prefer to keep mine indoors where there are no cars, dogs, foxes, coyotes and other dangers.

After shedding of a few tears and a few days of sadness, I was feeling better. I was glad that mama was still around, following me around the gardens and rubbing on my legs trying to get some attention whenever she could. I made plans to take her to get her fixed since there were no longer any nursing kittens. I was glad that she had a healthy fear of things like cars and the garage door and seemed to be a very smart outdoor cat.

Late Tuesday evening, around eleven thirty, I was looking out our back door and noticed a tiny black streak running across our porch. At first it didn’t register. Then it hit me – it was one of our kittens. Amazingly it had survived the ride under the car, the fall or jump out of the car, the car itself, a three and a half day journey, and had somehow found it’s way back home. This is quite an amazing feat considering that the kitten is only about 7 weeks old, was still nursing when it disappeared, and had to travel through woods and very busy roads to get back here (and it was 4th of July weekend which is especially busy here in our lake community). We went outside to find it so we could reunite it with it’s mama. At first we couldn’t locate it, little black kittens can hide very well in the dark, but finally Lucy sniffed it out for us. We called mama cat (she is now sleeping in our garage at night) and she came. As soon as the kitten heard her meow, it started crying and came running out of the bushes to her. It rubbed back and forth on it’s mama, clearly very happy to see her. The entire next day the little black kitten did not leave mama’s side. Wherever she went, it was right behind her. By the second day it started feeling more comfortable and would spend time alone sleeping in the garage.

I noticed the kitten had a small wound on it’s neck, but I could never get close enough to see it. The kitten is still very wary of humans. On Friday I took my camera out to get a photo of the wound, I figured that would be my best option to get a good look. It wasn’t pretty, so Mr Chiots and I decided it was time to catch the the kitten to put some Neem Protect Spray on it. (we love this brand of neem spray, it works wonderfully for any pet skin problem we’ve had and helps keep fleas away naturally, I’d highly recommend this product!). Upon inspection, the wound looked pretty bad, so I ran inside to call the vet. We’d hoped to get in yet that evening, but early the next morning would have to do. We placed the kitten in a pet carrier with some food and water. This way we wouldn’t have to catch it the next morning, since it had taken us a few tries and quite a while to catch it that afternoon.

Saturday morning found us up early and off to the vet, wondering what news we’d hear about this little kitten and what kind of a decision we’d have to make. Luckily, the wound wasn’t life-threatening (although it had a huge fly larvae in it, gross, but nature’s way of cleaning up wounds). We came home with a kitten in a crate and of smiles on our faces. The kitten will be spending the next couple days in the crate, we want to keep it contained to make it easy to administer it’s twice daily antibiotic treatment. I think this will work in our favor as it’s taming the kitten quite nicely. She even purred and rubbed on my finger later on Saturday. She’s getting more active and her appetite is coming back, and she’s really enjoying her diet of raw organic whole milk mixed with egg yolks and fermented cod liver oil.

I may still take mama in this week to get her fixed, and we talked to the vet already about when we could get this little kitten fixed as well. We’ll also be trying to trap the orange male, we don’t see him very often so that may prove difficult. If all continues to go well for this little softie, it looks like after all these unfortunate events, we’ll still have two garage cats here at Chiot’s Run. I think this little black kitten has already used up a few of her nine lives.

Have you ever had to deal with the harsh realities of outdoor animals?

32 Comments to “A Series of Unfortunate Events”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: A Series of Unfortunate Events #pets #feralcats […]

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  2. megan on July 12, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I’m so glad to hear that it wasn’t too serious! We have four dogs and a cat–all little orphans who we love but have had their fair share of expenses. It was worse when we lived a few miles further out, with someone dumping a litter every few weeks. It’s so sad to have to have those limits, but you’d otherwise spend your life savings on other people’s irresponsible mistakes.

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  3. anita on July 12, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I’m glad, too, that she’s coming along . . . we have eight cats, all of whom go in and out (we have a tiny house—basically four rooms and a bathroom—and I have allergies). We *had* thirteen at one time, but a couple have aged out and died, two just left, the way cats do sometimes, and one (my beloved baby, whom I’d had since he was a month old and would fit in my hand) was killed by the neighbor’s [unleashed and running loose, illegally] dogs. We’ve never looked for any cats; they’ve always found us, and we’ve taken them in (and had them ‘fixed’). Some stayed, some stayed for a while and went on, and sometimes they just eat here—so we enjoy them while they’re here and take the best care of them we can.

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  4. Dave on July 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

    I’m glad to hear that your kitten is going to be alright. It’s a rough road for outdoor cats. We adopted one outdoor kitty who became an indoor kitty many years ago. There was one outdoor cat that visited us often last year but he doesn’t seem to be around anymore.

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  5. kristin @ going country on July 12, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I think you know the answer to this question in my case. Nature is a harsh thing, ain’t no doubt. Disney movies notwithstanding.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on July 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

      So true, we often think of nature and a gentle beautiful thing, not wanting to look at the harsh realities of predators/prey. We’re all so far removed from the harshness of nature and the reality that death is the natural order of things.

      Mr Chiots and I were talking about this the other day as we watched a PBS nature special. They never showed a predator killing prey, they briefly talked about it, but didn’t show any of it. When I was younger, all nature shows seemed to have a section that showed this; lions killing antelopes, wolves catching rabbits, eagles catching rodents.

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  6. Amy on July 12, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I’m not sure this is the answer your looking for but: A couple of years ago something got into my chickens at night and literally tried to pull them through the fencing. I had read an article a couple weeks previous that had mentioned raccoons displaying this kind of behavior. Where I lived I was surrounded by old time farmers. I mentioned my beliefs that a raccoon was responsible for the kills. They thought I was loony……They had not heard of coons doing such damage…….That night my dog once again woke me up about 4:00 in the morning barking(she had barked the night before…..and grumpily I had yelled at her to be quite)……..She had “treed” the thing upon the transformer. It had come back to finish up a job left undone. I went inside got my shotgun and a chair….waited for it to come down….it did…..and I shot it and killed it…..It was a lot more dramatic than what I have written….but you don’t need to know nor want to read all the theatrics:)….Suffice it to say it was huge weighing in at over 30 pounds……The old farmers had to eat crow:)….And I have never felt the same way about those “cute” little bandit creatures ever again..

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    • Susy on July 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

      Yes, raccoons can be quite destructive creatures and they’re a big problem both in cities and in the country. My parents live in town and have trouble with them fishing in the koi pond.

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    • Paula on July 13, 2010 at 12:47 am

      Good for you, Amy! I HATE raccoons, and go after them with anything I have in my hands at the time. I wish you could come shoot the two that use my back fence for a path! I don’t want them anywhere near my place, and I don’t have my chickens yet!

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  7. mitch on July 12, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Gosh reading about the kittens brought back memories of our own farm kittens and their total lack of fear of cars :(
    I sadly ran over one of mine so know how awful it feels…
    So glad one of garage kittens has survived the trauma.

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  8. Chris on July 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

    This is a little off topic, but I have to ask….What about all those little seedlings in the photo that are still in their starting tray?? :) As far as the harsh reality of outdoor animals goes, I too used to think raccoons were cute until I owned chickens. Some people say that one of the things that separates humans from wild creatures is that humans are the only species that will kill needlessly and wild creatures will only kill what they need to eat or to protect themselves. SOOO not true! Raccoons seem to go into some kind of frenzy and will leave an entire henhouse littered with bodies everywhere if given the chance! Not a pretty sight, I can tell you from experience.

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    • Susy on July 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

      That’s all my basil seedling, which I planted yesterday. I often start seeds in waves since I don’t have a ton of trays. I wait & start my basil until I plant all my tomatoes and have some tray space. I’m growing 4 different kinds of basil this year: Genovese, Lime, Sweet, and Spicy Globe.

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  9. Mary W on July 12, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I help manage a feral colony and the most difficult thing I think we’ve had to deal with is the lack of understanding and superstitious fear that people have about the cats. A nearby business set up traps–and then what were they planning to do with them? Luckily, the neighbors have been cool and let us set up the shelter in the corner of their yard, so they’re safe for the time being. They really just want to be fed and left alone.

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    • Joshua on July 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      They really just want to be fed and left alone.

      LOL! Don’t we all!

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    • Chris on July 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

      I do hope that by “manage” the feral colony you mean spay and neuter them. If they are left to reproduce indescriminently then I really don’t blame the nearby business for trapping them. Their numbers can reach a staggering amount in a very short period of time. Many Humane Societies offer a “catch and release” program to allow the cats to remain living in their feral colony minus the reproducing.

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  10. Susan on July 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I adopted a ‘feral barn cat’, as it was described to me. She now spends all day sleeping inside on the couch and is on the prowl all night. I’m not in favor of outdoor cats, usually, but she and I will reach an agreement, I’m sure – once winter comes, that inside is best. We have lots of foxes and coyotes, so she is in danger when she’s out. Glad the kitten was easily (and not expensively) fixed. I figure I’ve spayed/neutered about 25+ cats in my life. Most were dropped off by the farm.

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  11. the inadvertent farmer on July 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    What an amazing story…animals are so resilience! I’m off to find a tissue now…Kim

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    • Susy on July 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      They truly are – I was absolutely amazed on Tues evening when that little kitten showed up. I wonder where it ended up and how it found it’s way home, quite remarkable for such a little thing!

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  12. Joshua on July 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Our first cat was given to us by our friends, who also sold us the house the cat lived in. She was well-established as an indoor/outdoor cat, and thus we didn’t feel any desire to change her habits. Since then we’ve gotten a kitten that’s also an indoor/outdoor cat. I know that there are coyotes and such that could be a danger to an outdoor cat, but they usually have the sense to stay in at night, or at least stay up on the porch. At the end of the day, it seems so much better to me for a cat to have the wide world to romp around in, even if it does mean that they might meet an earlier end. If a cat wanted to stay in, I wouldn’t kick it out, and I don’t have anything bad to say about people who feel differently than me, but all my cats will have the option of the outdoors if they want it.

    I do neuter and spay every cat or dog under my care, as soon as possible.

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  13. Hanna Fushihara on July 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Your post is so timely for me. This week has been awful for cats near us. First, our neighbor’s young cat was hit by a car and my husband and I decided to go with a shovel to get him out of the road. We put him in a box with a blanket and flowers and delivered him to our neighbor so he wouldn’t have to see how mangled the cat had gotten. It was an all black cat, like the one in your post, but slightly older. My husband had been seeing him crossing the road where there is a hill and a turn and it is hard to see anything coming up, he had mentioned to me earlier in the month that he was worried. Then I passed a black and white kitten that got hit on my way to work on a busy road and today a tiny black kitten exactly like the one from your garage was hit on the road between our property and the next. I had never seen it before but it broke my heart and I’ve had a headache ever since. I had my husband move the body when he got home from work as no one came to “claim” him, which made me even more sad. Did anyone know him/her? Did anyone care?

    We have 4 outdoor only cats that are not feral but that came with the property and have lived here longer than we have. They are all fixed and go to see the vet and eat rather fancily. If we hadn’t moved with our own indoor only cats, they would be welcome inside and I regret that I can’t, although they might prefer the outdoors anyway. My other problem with having the outdoor cats is that I cannot urge my neighbors to keep their cats indoors when I myself have outdoor cats that they can see when they drive past. We have just been lucky that our cats seem to be car savvy…..

    Anyway, your post made me have hope that at least one black kitten has a good chance to make it so it has lifted my spirits a bit. Please whisper to her that Hanna in NY said that she is lucky and strong and that I hope that she has a happy future ahead of her.

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    • Susy on July 12, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks Hannah, it is truly sad every time I see a kitty on the road, sadly that’s all too often here in rural NE Ohio.

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  14. Brittany Noel on July 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    What a sweet little kitty. I’m so glad she and her momma are still hanging out in your garage. I hope you do catch that male cat, he needs some fixing.

    The koi in my mom’s pond are occasionally eaten by herons… The goldfish we don’t mind, but when a heron gets a koi, we get pretty sad. There are still lots of koi that my grandparents put in the pond, so they’re at least 15 years old.

    Also, something got two of my mom’s baby chickens last year :( Since then, none of them have been harmed by nature, though and are running around clucking, happy as could be :)

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  15. Paula on July 13, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I loved that last picture! What a cute little face.

    I have two neighbors, with outdoor toms, and one or both of them pees on my house and I can smell cat urine in my bedroom and it drives me nuts! The Cat Stop doesn’t work.

    That all said, when we were first married (after dating about six months) I mentioned something about camping (I love camping!) to my husband, and he said, matter-of-factly, “I’m an indoor cat.” And that, as they say, was that.

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    • Susy on July 13, 2010 at 7:21 am

      Oh yes, we have two males that are fighting over our front porch as their property, always spraying (which is driving one of our indoor males crazy), it’s quite annoying!

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  16. MAYBELLINE on July 13, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Yes – my garden kitty, Pumpkin was found when she was probably a week or 2 in a tree by my daughter. We believe her mother was moving her kittens when she was struck down and killed by a dog. My daughter climbed up to get her and we nursed her to be our own. I call her my puppy kitty because she follows me around like a little dog.

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  17. lee on July 13, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I’m so sorry Susy… hugs.

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  18. nic @ nipitinthebud on July 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    oh the hazards of being an outdoor adventurer. Like you I can sleep easy at night knowing my cats are tucked up indoors. Hope the little fella pulls through.

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  19. Diane on July 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    So nice of you to help stray cats. I worked in an animal hopsital for about 17 years and was all to aware of all the dangers of cats living outdoors. I too have cats and they all stay indoors. In the long run the cats live much longer lives and are much less expensive to keep.

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  20. Lucy on August 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Hi, I really enjoy your blog and am so glad to find other cat lovers. My adopted kitty came from the SPCA. She was a feral kitten, had been adopted previous to me and was returned due to her shy nature. Being feral and not handled as a kitten, she is fearful and shy with everyone but me.

    Our relationship has not gone well at times. She has what is called Redirected Aggression. When frightened by window reflections or outside animals, whether she sees them or smells them, her instinct kicks in and she gets ready to fight. The problems is that she will fight anything that moves, and since I am the only target, I get violently attacked. This is common with feral cats that were outside in early life with no human contact.

    This is all the more reason to spay and neuter. I deal with this issue, but many would not be able to, especially if kids are around. She is not adoptable and the only option is to live with it or put her down, which I simply could not do. Keeping strays to a minimum is so necessary and we all need to keep this in mind.

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  21. In Case You Were Wondering | Chiot's Run on August 21, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] a little ways away from the garage. Soon enough she’ll be out hunting as well, although after her adventure she hasn’t been as brave as she used to be. It’s been fun watching her and mama play and run […]

    Reply to In Case You Were Wondering | Chiot’s Run's comment

  22. Friday Favorite: the Feline Edition | Chiot's Run on November 5, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] edges. This summer she moved her kittens into our garage and was coined “Miss Mama”. After a series of unfortunate events, only one survived. She was coined “Little Softie” and has been a great addition to the […]

    Reply to Friday Favorite: the Feline Edition | Chiot’s Run's comment

  23. A Sad Day at Chiot’s Run | Chiot's Run on April 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

    […] have one garage cat left. If you remember, Miss Mama moved her kittens into our garage last summer. One kitten survived, she’s known as “Little Softie” or “The Sweets”. She’s a burgundy black cat now, full […]

    Reply to A Sad Day at Chiot’s Run | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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