The Poor Cats of St Just

I’ve paused in my planning (it’s almost lunch time) to say a Thank You to Mr FD for his help.

I have mentioned The Poor Cats before – they are a colony of feral cats that I, and a couple of other ladies, feed. Marie-Odile is much more involved than I am, and it is she that tries (and sometimes succeeds) to catch them in order to have them neutered. She puts a lot of her own money into it. She is also softer than I am (is that possible?!) and worries more about them.

Anyway,over the years Marie Odile has set up some shelters for them, and last winter I made some houses from boxes and insulating tiles and plastic bags, all in an effort to keep them warm.(You’ll need to scroll down, but I show them here) But there is a shed which has been firmly locked, which we have been wanting to open for a while – while simultaneously not wanting to open, in case it was full of dead cats who got in, and couldn’t get out again!

A couple of weeks back, Marie-Odile discovered who owned the shed, and got permission to open it (no key, so we borrowed a crowbar) We arranged to meet to open it together, but she got delayed. Finally I decided to just get on with it – I opened the shed, and found lots of old crates, full of rather manky cloths, and an old kennel, together with some very rusty tins of cat food….Obviously in the past it had been used by someone to feed and try to keep cats warm. There was also a dead cat, as feared, but it had died many moons ago, and was just like a cardboard cut-out of a cat. I couldn’t get sad about it, so I popped it in a binbag and got on with brushing the cabin out. By the time Marie Odile arrived it wasn’t looking bad.

We threw some of the cloths away, but others M-O took home to wash. It is now set up with various crates, with straw, old clothes, towels etc.

We hope this will help keep them warmer during the winter, with an extra layer of protection. I’m going to make a couple more cat-houses too, to put in the shed for them.

Here is their “home”

(sorry, it was getting a bit murky by the time I took the photo, and I didn’t want to use the flash in case I frightened them)

Despite valiant efforts on M-O’s part, there were two young females, born last year, that she had not been able to catch. They had litters early in the year, one litter was found and with the kits being very young, M-O steeled herself to take them to the vets to be put down. We have a Very Nice Vet, who does these things at a reduced rate, though M-O pays for a lot of it herself. The other litter is now growing up – named Chapeau (from distinctive head markings) and Smudge. Then the two young ones became pregnant again. We couldn’t find the litters, until one group was too big to be easily caught, so those three have been named Spot, Cloud and Patches. The other litter has not been found, although the mother is now coming back for food. We don’t know if they have died, or if she’s still feeding them in a hidden place.

One of these young mothers has been caught and neutered now, but the other one resists all efforts to be caught…And now there are several new cats that urgently need to be caught and neutered before next year!

This is Patches, the bravest of the smallest kittens – needs neutering!

But not only do we have the feral cats, but we have discovered that we have abandoned-ish cats. An old gentleman came round while we were cleaning the shed, and admitted that WhitePaws – a tabby male, with – yes, you guessed it – white paws – was his, but he couldn’t keep it in his appartment as the neighbours complained about the noise and smell (unneutered male), so he brought it here and left it, because he knew it would get fed!!! M-O got quite cross with him, and they ended up having a bit of a barney (of words), especially as Old Gentleman couldn’t see why WhitePaws should be neutered. In the end he got very angry and accused us of “making decisions for the cats”! M-O pointed out that there was noone else to make decisions for them and that the colony needed to be cared for, but also controlled. He stomped off furiously and  WhitePaws is still there – and scoffing quite a lot of the food!

Here’s WhitePaws,at the bowl by himself, plus Binkie (not yet neutered), Bonnie (who only has one eye and cat flu), Cuthbert (a female), Red (unneutered ginger-and-white Tom) and Gobbolino (all black) You can see some of the shelters that have been provided for them.

Mr FD played his part by fitting a hasp and padlock on the shed door –

It’s still quite a poor fit though so I will probably buy a bolt to fit as well. The cats can creep under the door and jump over a plank that we put up to stop draughts, or jump down from a space under the eaves. It’s not perfect, but it will help keep them just a little bit warmer in wintertime.

So, thank you Mr FD for humouring me, and helping to keep the cats safe and protected. And for letting me spend some of our housekeeping on feeding 15 or so other cats besides our four maniacs!



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