A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 18, 2009

We Have Kittens!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , — alpacalady @ 6:10 am

Grey Cat now a proud mother of four kittens

Grey Cat now a proud mother of four kittens

 

Born Wednesday evening to our grey barn cat, four little furry bundles of joy! 

 

Last year our grey cat only had one kitten and she decided to have him in our chiminea.  Unfortunately the kitten did not survive, we think he was killed by one of the visiting tomcats.

 

This year grey cat continued her tradition of having her kittens in odd places by choosing an empty feed sack that was on top of our pile of unopened feed sacks.

 

The first indication we got that labor was imminent was when the usually reticent gray cat pushed past me as I was preparing the evening feed, crawled into the empty feed sack and then stuck her head out of the sack to hiss at me.  Well, that told me that in the grey cat’s opinion I needed to leave and I suspected that the kittens were on their way.  While the grey cat is quite wild she is not usually prone to hissing at us and so her behavior was a sign that something was happening.

 

I left the feed barn as soon as I could to give the grey cat some peace and quiet to have her kittens.  That night I dreamt that she had four kittens and it turned out she did, so either I am getting good at judging how many kittens are in a very full pregnant cat tummy or I am starting to have dream premonitions!

 

The next morning I checked on the grey cat and for a moment thought she was dead.  She lay heavily inside the feed sack, her eyes open but glazed over and she did not move when I called her.  Fearing the worst I started to open the sack to check on the exact condition of the cat when she sprung to life hissing at me.  Well that answered that question; she was definitely alive and had apparently been contentedly nursing her kittens.

 

Grey cat stayed in the feed sack with the kittens for most of Thursday making us wonder how we were going to get to a new bag of feed when we needed it.  Fortunately Ric was down in the area of the feed barn when he saw the grey cat leave the feed barn and was able to gently maneuver a feed sack out from under the one containing the kittens.

 

As far was we can tell there is one black kitten, one orange kitten, one gray kitten and one black and white kitten.  Hopefully this year they will survive, but with tomcats in the area the kittens are vulnerable.  We are trying to think of what we could do to allow the mother cat access to her kittens while preventing the neighborhood tomcats from also accessing them. 

 

We have always had barn cats at the farm, the alpacas get on well with cats and we like the cats as they keep the rodents and snakes down.   At the moment the only two adult cats we have are the mother grey cat and Kit Cat our part Siamese male cat who was dropped off here several years ago.  As both of those cats are aging it would be good to have a new generation to take over the mousing and snaking duties on the farm.

 

I suspect grey cat will move her kittens soon, she usually does, but in the meantime we will enjoy sneaking a peak at them in the feed sack while she is busy eating outside.

 

Rosemary

November 2, 2008

The Cats Are Slacking!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 6:34 am

Smoky Cat Takes A Break
Smoky Cat Takes A Break

 

 

 

 

When we purchased our property the previous owner asked us if we wanted a few barn cats.  We agreed to a few, but it turned out that our idea of “few” and his were extremely different.  We thought maybe two or three cats; the previous owner left us about twenty cats!

Over the years our cat herd has reduced, illness, coyotes and owls have all played a part in lowering the cat population and eventually we got down to three cats.  One female gray cat who is one of the original group that was left here, one of the gray cats sons or daughters (we’ve never been able to get close enough to check if that cat is a he or a she) and Kit Cat, a Siamese cross who was dumped out here shortly after we moved in.  We were content to have the three cats, but then as often happens when you live in the country all of a sudden a couple more cats appeared, a beautiful smoky grey tom cat and a fluffy black and white cat who likes to talk to you all the time.   

 

 The snake wasn’t bothering anything, it was sitting basking in the sunshine, but it was pointed in the direction of the girls pasture.   It was about two foot long and had a definite rattle on the end of its tail.  If it had been a bull snake or other harmless snake I would have moved it to another area of the property, but to have a rattlesnake headed toward the girls pasture was not a good prospect, the snake would have to go.

 Alpacas tend not to do very well in snake bite situations, with several small cria running around the chances were too great that one of them would stick his or her nose on the snake out of curiosity should the snake make it into the pasture.

 Fortunately one of the neighbors was home and was able to come and kill the snake for me.  I wasn’t sure that my aim would have been accurate enough to kill the snake with one hit and the last thing I wanted was a hurt angry snake to deal with.

Here's grey cat also taking a break - theses cats need to get to work!

Here's Grey Cat also taking a break - these cats need to get to work!

 While waiting for my neighbor to arrive, one of the cats actually passed the snake, sniffed the snakes tail and then walked on again without even giving a second thought to taking the snake on.  I guess the snake was too inactive to keep the cats attention, but it would have been nice for the cat to at least try and do her job! 

Hopefully that will be the last snake I see for a while, although with the lovely warm fall days we have been having there is a chance than another snake or two might make and appearance.  Let’s hope that if that is the case the cats decide to do their job and keep the snakes at bay!

 

Rosemary

Kit Cat – also taking a break

Kit Cat - also taking a break

The cats are supposed to keep the mice and snakes down, when we had a larger cat population we had very few mice and snakes but as the population dwindled we noticed evidence of mice in the feed area and mice of course will attract snakes.On Thursday afternoon I headed out early to start on chores.  It was a beautiful afternoon with temperatures in the high seventies.  As I passed the feed barn on the way to the hay area I saw something lying on the ground and initially didn’t think too much of it, but something made me stop and take a better look – it was a rattlesnake!

November 6, 2007

An Invalid of A Different Kind

Snuggler Enjoying the Sunshine  On any farm you usually find an assortment of various animals, some are production animals, some are companions, and others have a different function around the farm.  Here at Windrush Alpacas in addition to our alpaca herd we have two horses (usually described as our lawn ornament horses as they have an easy life and have little to worry about all day), four dogs, one fish, one inside cat and our herd of barn cats.

I say our “herd” of barn cats as when we first purchased our property that is indeed what they were.  The previous owner of the property had asked us if we wanted a few barn cats left behind and we, in our naivety, thought he meant two or three.  He actually meant 20 and the balance of the cat “herd” he moved with him, but only to a house across the road.  So in our initial years here there was a steady traffic of cats between our house and the property across the road.

Over the years our barn cat population has dwindled, some of the older cats passed away, some became ill and died and others were lost to an attack by our neighbor’s dog.   Our barn cat population was thereby reduced to six regulars and one visiting tomcat.

It is really interesting to watch a cat group and see the dynamics and interaction between them.  A couple of the cats would actually seek out our attention, but for the most parts the cats have no interest in us except for when the cat food is put out twice a day.

One of the friendlier cats is Snuggler.  We have had Snuggler from a kitten and he always has been content to hang out with the humans.  He is a great mouser and snake hunter, but also a very gentle cat who loves some attention and has a ready purr to share with anyone who strokes him.

Yesterday morning when Ric went down to feed the barn cats he found Snuggle in bad shape.  Poor Snuggler was covered in blood and had some pretty deep puncture wounds; he had lost some claws and also could not put any weight on his left front leg that was completely floppy.   There has been a large black and white tomcat hanging around our property for a while now and we know that he fights with Snuggler on a pretty regular basis.  On finding Snuggler in such poor shape we assumed that he had been fighting with the tomcat.

We brought Snuggler into the house and allowed him to curl up in the bed of our house cat Six Toes (who really does have six toes on every paw).  We put a nice soft piece of plush fabric in the bed for Snuggler to lie on and then set to washing off some of the blood.  You would think as sore as he was feeling Snuggler would have not been thrilled at our attention, but instead he started purring as I washed away the blood.

Fortunately we were able to get Snuggler in to see our small animal vet, she kept him for a few hours, cleaned him up some more, x-rayed him and started him on antibiotics.  Amazingly there are no breaks in any of Snugglers bones, but because of the swelling our vet cannot tell if there is any nerve damage to Snugglers front left leg.  His right rear leg has some loosening of the patella, and while he cannot put his full weight on that leg either our vet is hopeful that he will regain full use of that leg over time.  The front leg too may recover, but it is going to take longer to heal and it will be a time before we will be able to tell if it will ever return to a normal condition.

Our vet feels that because of the depth of the puncture wounds and the way that Snuggler lost some claws during the fight that the attacker was most likely a dog.  Snuggler must have put up a tremendous fight for his survival.

Cats can be incredibly resilient and hopefully Snuggler will make a full recovery, however there is one thing that may affect his progress and that is Snuggler has tested positive for Feline Leukemia.  It is a little bit puzzling to us how Snuggler can be positive for Feline Leukemia, as we are sure he tested negative as a kitten when we had his initial vaccinations done and we have kept his vaccinations current.  The Feline Leukemia will affect his immune system and that may hinder his recovery.  Over time he will most likely succumb to the leukemia or rather to some form of infection that his weakened immune system cannot battle, but our vet has seen cats with Feline Leukemia live good lives for several years and so we will hope that he has several happy years ahead of him.

For now Snuggler is content to sleep as cats often do when they are healing.  He only wakes every couple of hours or so, sometimes choosing to eat or drink a little, other times just checking his surroundings and then curling back up again.  He still purrs as we stroke him and we are hopeful that our gentle loving touch will help keep his spirits up and help him battle his pain.

We cannot be sure of what happened to Snuggler, we have reinforced our perimeter fences and gates since the previous set of dogs attacked our cats, but it is always possible that one crafty dog is still making it’s way onto the property.  Our outside dogs and the guard llamas have however been silent at night and they usually will alert us to dogs on our property.  Maybe Snuggler was injured on a neighbor’s property and managed to somehow drag himself home, or maybe the big tomcat is the culprit, I suspect we will never know the full details of how Snuggler received his injuries.

All we can do is take the best care that we can of this tiny black and white cat who has a big heart and a heap of courage, and hope that he will make a full recovery with time.

Rosemary                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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