Late last summer I saw a feral cat and her 2 kittens on my 6 acre
property where I am slowly building my house (I do not live onsite).
I began putting out kitten chow, then picked up a Havahart trap to get
them used to it, and in hopes of keeping at least the neighbor's large
dogs out. One evening I heard a noise outside and found a neighbor's
overweight, large-breed dog, with her whole front end in the trap.
Amazingly, she didn't get stuck. I scolded her, and she slunk away,
but when the ground was muddy, or later when snow dusted the ground, I
could see she had made her rounds every day. I believe raccoons got
into the food on at least one occasion, and who knows what else. I
finally got a wildlife cam to put out so I could see what was eating
the food and when, and if the cats were getting any, but by then it
was too cold to operate it. In the meantime, an unhealthy-looking
tomcat (possibly the father of the kittens?) showed up, as well as a
friendly stray who had already been neutered. I could tell the stray
had been outside for quite a while. Every time I went out to my
property, he was right there waiting for me, so after a while I moved
him inside the house to patrol for mice. I gave him some canned food
every day in case there were no mice to catch. It began to get too
cold, plus I couldn't get any work done on the house because
GabbyTabby wanted to be held, and to play. I finally brought him back
to my apartment, and after testing and quarantine (he had round worms,
tape worms, and ear mites, but no viruses), he was introduced to my
other 5. He loves other cats, and wanted to be friends right away.
The others didn't quite see it that way! They warmed up to Gabby at
different rates, and now the only one who won't be his friend is
Angelina, who I found 3.5 years ago, sleeping in the dumpster with
tomato sauce smeared on her face.
In the cold snap we had in late December, I still saw some cat tracks
on my property, and set out a Dogloo with a bed of hay in it. But the
following week, the cold snap had ended, and I saw no more cat tracks.
No sign at all. Just one single set of dog tracks as the neighbor
dog made her rounds. After several weeks of feeding the neighbor's
dog, and attracting the attention of someone who drove a truck up my
driveway and looked in the trap and Dogloo, I had to accept that the
cats were gone and put the food and equipment away.
Gabby is living the cushy indoor life with his new family. He waits
patiently for Angelina to have some sort of ephipany that they could
be friends (I'm not holding my breath). The house will look different
inside when it is finished, but I think Gabby will remember it, and
maybe show his friends around as he tells them how he used to live there.