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A moral conundrum of the feline kind.

Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2009, at 10:37 AM

I am not sure that conundrum is the best choice of words for my quandary, but I like both conundrum and quandary, so I figured I would use them.

At issue is what to do about the remaining "drop-off" cats down by the road. While we have light rains, there is water in a small stream behind them, but now the next 5 days should be dry. Even if the rain comes, it is getting colder at night and any water will freeze.

With food and water, the cats could probably continue to survive through our winter, but eventually the coyotes are going to get a few and maybe the road as well. So, their future does not look good, unless they are adopted.

I can now catch them, but what do I do then? When I look into their eyes, I can not help but ask myself what I would want a greater power to do for me. Allow me to give my life a fighting chance or have me put to sleep. With those choices, my decision would be clear. I would want the chance to live.

We could feed six more cats, but I after just having two strays "fixed" a month ago, it would not be fiscally responsible to our family budget to get six more operated on, plus shots and maybe flea treatments. But can I put a dollar value on their lives?

I don't think I have ever had an ulcer, but I could certainly develop one now. What to do? What to do?

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Hang in there. The low cost spay/neuter clinic of Bedford County is about to open.

-- Posted by cherylrichardson on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:19 AM

Is that good for cats too?

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:20 AM

Steve, you sound as bad as my wife and I. I wish you all the luck in this decision. It's certainly a very tough call. We would try to adopt them out as mousers but we're such saps that we would end up with a ton of cats at our place if we did that.

-- Posted by Thom on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:49 AM

Yes the clinic will be for cats too. Also Anderson vet. in Christiana is already low cost and Beasley Clinic in M'boro I know six would still cost alot. Maybe you can get a sponsor for each cat someone to pay for the cost of spaying one cat and maybe someone else to sponsor a shot.Then maybe they would be easier to find a home for. Also sometimes Ike Farrar in Flat Creek will take some at his milk barn but spaying first would be good so this doesn't keep happening. The milk barns or horsebarns take them to keep rats down lots of times, they wouldn't have flea meds. but would have a warm dry place and food and water. There are a lot of good people still out there and they may not can give a lot but if each one gives a little it can add up. I would be able to sponsor a rabies shot. Start asking your readers.

-- Posted by Thatsmystory on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 1:46 PM

maybe you could do like i did for some dumped off: i put up a dog house for them for winter and put a flap on the door.

I pray you can adopt them out, i would hate to think they would get euthanized.

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 6:47 PM

I put a plastic container wrapped in a black plastic bag to make it look like trash and faced it downhill so water would not flow back into it. Then I placed a cotton slipcover in the bottom, but they don't use it much. That tree has more drawing power.

The tree may be more hollow than I think and I am sure it is stronger to protect them from coyotes, but sooner or later we are going to need to bring water there and it will freeze.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 7:55 AM

Well, we must have spoiled the little ones. Since we are going through cat food twice as fast, Debbi decided to get something a little less expensive.

The first time I mixed a little in with the original, but this morning I tried and experiment and separated the two types. You guessed it, they left the cheap stuff alone.

This evening I mixed more of it with the good stuff and they just walked away, except for the male cat. He picked between the pieces and got what he wanted.

I know, I should have said tough luck and left it anyway, but instead I scooped up the old and brought it home for our dogs to eat and yes, we replaced it with the original. As we drove away, they were all back at the dishes. Picky, picky, picky.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 5:05 PM

The water will freeze but if you go by daily and put it out it will take it a while most days aren't that cold and they most likely will drink when they come to eat when water is not frozen. We have some we feed and water that are wild at a business and they have made it ok so far. We did put out a dog house for shelter and faced it where they can get in but facing the building so dog would have hard time unless he was as small as a cat.

-- Posted by Thatsmystory on Fri, Nov 6, 2009, at 11:29 AM

Try putting foam "peanuts" in the bottom of a big box,(like a Rubbermaid tote) putting a smaller box inside,filling up the area between the boxes with more of the packing material and making an entry on one of the long sides (toward a short end).

A piece of foamboard can keep the loose materials from pouring out any openings.

Straw bedding in the floor of the smaller house will stay warmer and dryer than cloth.

You can add a cat flap or some sort of "vestibule" to thwart harsh winds,rain and predators.

If you have two or more of these houses,food and water could be put within a house and the body heat from the cats could help prevent its freezing.

A few,tiny drainage holes on the bottom could remove dampness without letting in too much of the cold.

Yeah,three boxes connected could be the solution.

One could have its door on the left.

The third could have its door on the right facing in the opposite direction.

The center unit would hold food and water in those automatic dispensers.

That would give the residents of each unit a common "lounge"/dining hall,a sheltered entry and an exit in case of an emergency (such as an intruder).

By the way,"Brand X" pet food gets rave reviews from our birds,bugs,voles,opossums and field mice.

Apparently,cheap by-products fit with what they'd get living off scavenged people food and road kill.

They may be too prudent to go near our critters for the good stuff or,maybe,the "junk food" doesn't give these wild animals allergies,dietary deficiencies,organ failure,etc. the way it does anyone who expects to live out their potential life span in optimal condition.


Would painting a few jugs with dark paint and using them for drinking and heat storage help?

If they were paired with a "mini-greenhouse" using a salvaged window and/or earth-bermed,they might stay warm at night and on cloudy days without getting too hot during warm,sunny times.

(The Do It Yourself experts could install ductwork,vents or old computer fans to deal with excess heat or move the warmth to where it's most needed.)

I've seen such passive solar ideas implemented using soda cans,corrugated metal panels,five gallon drums and the aforementioned milk-type jugs.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 6:03 AM

Whew! Thanks QC. That took a lot of thought and effort. I will take a closer look at some of them.

Is this from the new computer?

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 7:13 AM

No,that came from my husband's machine.

(Two of my step cats were asleep on my laptop.)

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 10:55 AM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.