The Katie Bunch
How did we get here?
Zoya Arrives in August 2019
How did the Katie Bunch begin? Well, in the summer of 2019 we were chosen by a feral cat who we named Zoya (Russian for Life) as her new home. Zoya gave birth in the stable to one beautiful little calico girl, Zoie (Greek for Life). But Zoya was fearful of humans and kept moving her kitten. Through much of the fall and winter, Zoya and Zoie would visit us in the stables but they mainly hung out in the old barn snuggled in the warm hay bales.
Zoie Is Born
We'd watch for them coming and going. And we enjoyed the idea that these ladies chose our farm as their home base. The outside cameras caught a lot of the action. We even captured a Dad-cat visit or two on camera.
As responsible caretakers, we did our best to set a trap for Zoya, but she was too clever to fall for it.
Zoya and Zoie continued to make appearances throughout the winter. Occasionally, we'd set the live trap to catch Zoya so we could get her to the vet. But she was smarter than the Road Runner. She knew exactly how to step over the trigger to reach the delicious treats.
March - Quarantine Begins
In March we hunkered down on the farm to ride out this virus. Little did we know that we'd still be here in December! But our cats had another surprise for us coming in April.
April - Surprise!
Zoya stayed one step ahead of us, refusing to be trapped. And so she gifted us with a new little litter of 4 in April.
Zoya & Her Kittens
Zoya's litter was made up of one little boy and three girls. Only the boy was born with a tail! The girls take after their dad, a wandering tailless white Manx. How do we know? He shows up on our outside cameras occasionally.
These babies needed names if they were going to stick around. And so our LIFE theme continues...
Leben (boy) - German
Vida (girl) - Spanish
Liv (girl) - Swedish
Ola (girl) - Hawaiian
May - Time To Get Serious
One morning in May, Zoya decided that her babies should stay as feral as mom. So she started moving them to a new hiding spot. But this time, we mere humans were on the ball. We captured the kittens and used them as bait for mom in the large live trap. It took 13 hours but we persevered and won!
June - Growing Kittens & Vet Appointment
After 5 weeks, the kittens were ready to wean from mom and our vet had an appointment opening for Zoya. She would finally get her TNR date (that's Trap, Neuter, Release in feral colony lingo).
We made the decision to "socialize" the kittens so once they were back living in the barn, they would like us.
July - Getting To Know You
And so our 4 babies moved into the apartment with Katie. Meanwhile, Zoya quickly recovered from her spay and returned to the "wild" of the barn with Zoie.
It was time to get to know the kittens. Their home for a little while was a deluxe outfitted dog kennel complete with bedroom living quarters upstairs. To say we spoiled them would be an understatement. But they were so cute!
August - Exploring Carefully
By this point, we were still working on the idea that the kittens would be released back to the barn. So we built an outdoor play area to get them used to the wild. Nope. Not spoiled at all.
They had finally reached the right weight and age for their vet appointments. Yes, we did get a bulk-rate discount! All four were spayed/neutered, ear-tipped, and microchipped. All healthy and obviously, happy.
September - Zoie's Turn
Sweet little Zoie finally got caught in the trap. We had set it to catch a possum that was visiting the barn every night and got into a fight with Zoie. It was now her turn to visit the vet. In the course of 4 months, we had 6 cats spayed/neutered and ear-tipped. Despite the COVID thing, we were keeping our vet in business!
Zoie didn't love being in the trap but it gave us a chance to see her up close. Since her birth, she had been extremely wary of humans. She's a beautiful little thing who is coming around to liking us.
October - Blessed
The little kittens have grown into big cats. They have visited the barn in an attempt to get familiar with the sights and sounds. Maybe reconnect with Mom. And continue to let the humans think maybe they still can be released into the barn. (Ha!)
And on October 4th, they traveled to St. Anne Church for the annual animal blessing in honor of our patron saint, St. Francis.
November - Here We Are
We surrender. Leben, Vida, Ola, and Liv are indoor/outdoor cats now. They spend their days enjoying Katie's apartment and adventuring outdoors when allowed. The humans have given up the hope of social barn cats. They have been loved too much. Is this possible?