Saturday, January 15, 2011

Garden Cats


Robb was at the pet store the other day, when he noticed a flyer for a local no-kill animal shelter. This shelter has a program called "Garden Cats" which pairs extremely shy skittish cats with tenderhearted folks who will provide these cats with a home. These kitties are the ones too afraid of humans to make a very good impression at the animal shelter, the ones unlikely to find the courage to cuddle up on a lap. Because of their fear of humans, they are poor candidates for adoption.

We read up on this program, and realized that we had been hosting Garden Cats, ever since we bought our little house.

Here's what the shelter's website says:

Island Cat Resources and Adoption has rescued a number of cats that, despite our volunteers’ concerted efforts, are not comfortable enough with people to become house cats. Although these cats are called ferals, they are not wild or aggressive, just extremely shy. They need safe outdoor spaces in which to live out their natural lives. Some of these cats, in time, will allow petting from a trusted caregiver; others will keep a safe distance but enjoy playing or sleeping in the garden while you are nearby. Most are curious about people, and will interact with you (to a greater or lesser degree) at feeding time.

We’d love to relocate one or more of these cats to your garden where they can live in safety under your caring and watchful eye. Your main job would be to provide daily food and water, and some shelter from the winter weather. We will guide you through the process of acclimating the cat/s to their new home, and support you if you encounter problems.

What Garden Cats are looking for:

  • A safe yard, free of pesticides and free of other pets that may not want them in their area.
  • Shelter from the rain with warm bedding – a cat or dog house, a porch or even a child’s play house
  • A regular feeder. It is best to feed daily and not leave too much food out that will attract unwanted critters (wildlife) – which means if you are heading out of town for a few days, best to have a petsitter or a neighbor take over the feeding.
  • Places to hide - under decks, behind established bushes or logs
  • A bowl of fresh water - best to change out the water every couple of days to keep the mosquitoes away
  • A home that will love them like pets and treat them like pets and take the cats with them when/if they move or find another safe yard to move them to. (We have great advice on how to do either.)
Garden cat caretakers attest to the wonder and enjoyment of having these beautiful animals in their lives.

This pretty much sums up our relationship with the two shy kitties who live in our yard. We care for them, providing food and shelter and a safe place to live. Our mild climate means that cats can live outside, all year 'round. The boys are neutered, so they're not adding to the stray cat population.

And despite the fact that we cannot refrain from posting undignified kitty photos on the internet, we have come a long way in gaining their trust.


Anonymous said...

I think that you are setting a great example of having Garden Cats!

It so obvious that you really care for these cats, without intruding on their need for having some distance toward people. I have really enjoyed the way that you have blogged about your growing aquaintance with Uncle Sleeve and Uncle Cardigan, and how well they have responded to that:)

JGH said...

What a great program, and good for you for providing for the garden cats in your yard! I've been dealing with a stray cat issue - and I have a dog and chickens so it's a little complicated. I've been putting food out for her, and it's always gone, but I'm not 100% sure that she's the one eating it! I may try to trap her again so that I can get her spayed.

Anonymous said...

That last picture shows a mighty happy kitty!


Christine said...

I feel torn on this issue... While I understand why you have your adorable garden cats (they came with the house!), I don't know if it's a good idea to introduce more stray cats to the landscape that will undoubtedly include birds. It's a dilemma- save the cats or save the birds? Hmmm....

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Christine -- I'm right there with you! All outside cats get neutered/spayed, so they don't expand their bird-killing numbers.

If at all possible, outdoor cats move inside.

Sadly, this won't work at our house. The two boys are Rotten Little Pissers and besides, Sleeves is just too afraid of being inside with Scary Humans.

bigevilgrape said...

Our shelter has a barn cat program that is very similar, except that you are supposed to have a garage or barn for them to hang out in too. I had a cat once that was relocated though one of those programs because he was not a good house cat.


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