This day was better than yesterday, but I'm still wondering if I'm doing the right thing for the feral cats. Of course in my heart and mind, humanely trapping them and having them spayed and neutered is the correct thing to do.
I caught mama cat in the humane trap tonight. This is the third time she's been captured. I had to release her the other times because she was nursing kittens. I'd been trying to catch her older kitten from last fall's litter when MomCat wandered into the trap herself. I took her to the vet and learned she was nursing so I had to let her go. I was so worried I had caused her to lose the kittens because they were without her for about six hours. I didn't know she had delivered and couldn't tell she had been nursing. The kittens survived that ordeal and I was relieved, but the flip side of that was the neighborhood would soon be dealing with more feral kittens, and more, and more.
MomCat is now in a small holding cage, safe and sound, but very upset, which is to be expected. She'll have to be inside for about two weeks or until we're sure she has no milk left. The vet won't spay her until then. I was not able to catch her two remaining kittens. I didn't see them at all today. MomCat and her older kitten were at their regular feeding station this afternoon and evening. I don't know where the kittens were hiding when the two cats were eating. I followed them to the wooded area at the end of the road, hoping to find the kittens, but MomCat immediately vanished. The older kitten watched me for a few minutes as I tramped around in the wet grass, then he also disappeared. I set the trap at the feeding station and came home. When I checked the trap tonight, MomCat was inside it.
I know for sure the younger kittens are eating solid food and I tell myself it's now safe to keep MomCat inside until she's spayed. She'll be released a couple days after surgery. Feral kittens are generally able to fend for themselves sooner than hand-raised kittens, but I'm still worried about them. The longer I wait to get their mama spayed, greater is the chance she'll become pregnant again - if she's not already. I don't know if I'll get another chance to catch her.
Her kittens look to be at least six weeks old, maybe older, so I'm hoping and praying they will continue to go to the neighbor who feeds them. They have their older sibling with them and I think he'll continue to stay with them and lead them to food and water. I hope he will. I wish I knew for sure this is the right thing to do. She has to be spayed and this cycle of feral cats in my neighborhood has to come to an end, as does the heartache it causes when I can't save them. I'm praying for the best ending for all of us - the cats, the kittens, and me.