Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cat House Update - Big Love Mama

You have heard of her here, and here. She's a sweet cat that used to hang around the garbage bin up at the corner, with her friends. Her friends are all gold and white. VB once witnessed a clusterbutt sniffing circle as she passed at least a half dozen of them near the bin area. The gold and whites are a tight knit group, but not what you'd call exclusive. From a great book VB found, cat vs. cat, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, who not only writes about domestic cats, but also feral behavior:

"Before rubbing, a cat usually raises her tail as she approaches. If there's another familiar cat approaching her and she also raises her tail, it's possibly a signal that both cats intend to engage in allorubbing.

Cats most often use their incredibly keen sense of smell to recognize one another. Cats living together may rub one another to create a familiar colony scent. This is a survival instinct because it helps to more quickly identify whether a cat entering the territory is familiar to the intruder. Allogrooming (mutual grooming) is part of the social structure. It's generally restricted to cats who are friendly and who will normally share napping and resting areas."
Most books VB has seen usually focus on how to catch ferals, so you can neuter them, and not so much on behavior, or they will focus just on the domestic cat, with no real reference to ferals, at all. While this book does center on domestic cats, the author does a nice job, comparing them to feral colonies too.

Here's the Mama of Big Love. She was Blue and Green Eyed Cat's best friend, as you can see below.

Here's another one of her good friends, who has not been seen lately.

The cat with the black nose was another very close friend. She can be bitchy, but for the most part she's very kind. Both her and Big Love Mama take the young females under their wing. They allow them to eat out of the same bowl, they rub and nudge each other, and they seem to be the mentors for the young female ferals. Here she is keeping warm with three kittens, none of which are hers. Another interesting quote from cat vs. cat:
"Some females in a colony may form communal nests and nurse one another's kittens...Females commonly move their kittens often if they fear attacks from males or outside predators...."
In the summer, Big Love Mama had three kittens, as seen below.

Kitten #1:

Kitten #2:

Kitten #3:

All three kittens were here at the apartment when VB left in October to return to the States. VB left feedings up to a few people close to her, who she semi-trusted. She probably could not find anyone totally reliable, so she did the best she could. Upon her return, mid-January , only one of the three was left. Disappointing as it was, the one left seemed to revel in trying to annoy Doggie. They sometimes conduct staring contests through the screened window.

Here's a more recent pic of him. Big Love Mama sleeps with him and lets him eat out of her bowl - still. They are very tight, and he seems to have picked up a healthy, loving attitude from his mom. She is still protective of him, even as he has gotten older. One cat was sniffing his tail, and had a "I don't like the way your butt smells" look on his face. Big Love Mama turned around, screeched, and nearly clawed his eye out. We believe she just had another litter, and await to see the new kittens. Another piece of wisdom from cat vs. cat, which VB has tried is:
"When greeting an unfamiliar cat, extend your index finger and let her approach for a sniff. This is similar to nose-to-nose sniffing that cats do. Don't reach to pet the cat, just leave your finger extended. After the cat does a scent investigation, she may the rub the side of her mouth along your finger or even rub her head or side of her body. This is her way of letting you know that she is at ease with you. At that point you can offer to pet her. Don't pet her until she has finished her scent investigation, and don't pet her if she backs up and stares at you."
VB has extended her index finger to this one, and he is responsive, but we have not gotten to the petting part yet. Just the fact that he has not run away immediately is a good sign.

Undoubtedly the little ones will be brought here for sustenance. Unfortunately VB leaves (or is getting shoved off) early this year, and may not be back until December. She would like to, at least see the kittens before she departs, but these girls tend to keep their little ones hidden away until they're about three months old.


  1. What happened to the blue and green eyed friend?

  2. He disappeared sometime last September, when I was back in the US. When I returned they told me he had been sickly looking, left, and never came back. He was a very sweet cat.