Sometimes events happen that make you think Fate planned them that way. One day I noticed a scraggly cat, in reality little more than a kitten, wandering along the back wall. Jayne saw it a day later, and chased it out, but it kept returning. So being kind hearted, we started leaving food and water on the back porch. The cat was living in a thicket in the empty field next to the house, but soon became a regular visitor, and while wary of us, was never aggressive.
Then a few weeks later I was out back and spotted four kittens, probably no more than 6 - 8 weeks old. They scattered when I got near then dove under the fence and into the thicket. I thought the cat, whom we had named Cali, was way too young to be the mother, but then I looked into the thicket later and saw her nursing the kittens. So we started leaving more food out, and Cali would call to the kittens who enjoyed the feast. A few weeks passed and Cali started becoming very friendly. We think she was someone's pet, who dumped her in the thicket after she became pregnant. That just confirmed my view that some people should never be allowed to own any type of pet. At least the thicket was an ideal habitat, as it was difficult to get into for larger animals, plus there is a shelter made of piled brush left behind by landscapers in the neighborhood that provides protection from wind and rain. Prey was pretty scarce, which is why Cali was severely underweight when she first appeared.
Still there are plenty of predators, namely hawks and great horned owls, plus raccoons that would clean out the foods bowls on the porch at night, so it was remarkable Cali and the kittens were surviving.
So we decided to take them inside, providing we could catch them. We set up a spare room so they would be isolated from the other cats, bought a tiered kitty condo for exercise, then bought a large folding dog crate. I baited the crate with tuna, and after a couple of false starts, finally enticed the entire group into the crate. We hauled the crate inside, then gave everyone a few days to settle down. After a week, we moved Cali to another room since as long as she was nursing, (the kittens were weaned but still nursed for comfort food), she couldn't be spayed. A week later the milk dried up, and she was spayed. After she recovered, she was introduced to the rest of the household. She's fit in very well, though she is far more active than the others.
The kittens, (three males and one female), are still isolated. Since they had no human contact, it took time and patience to get them socialized, and now three of them are very friendly. One is still wary and keeps his distance, but he is not aggressive in the least. We're getting them vaccinated and when old enough they will be spayed and neutered. They are very active. Some mornings I'm sure I'll find a smoking crater where the guest room was. We've made attempts to adopt them out, but a sad effect of this distressed economy is there aren't nearly enough people willing to adopt pets. So we are making contingency plans to keep them. We feel the house is large enough so all the cats can co-exist without feeling stressed from overcrowding. One thing we're very thankful of was insisting on hardwood and tile floors throughout the house as carpeting would never survive the cats.
Two organizations who have been terrific with advice and providing low cost spaying, neutering and vaccinations are Tomball Save Our Strays, and Tomball Abandoned Animal Rescue.
Here's some photos.