Jan 15, 2015

A New Addition

Over the holidays we added another member to our family...We got another cat! That makes 3. Meet Sophia - aka Sophie.

She's got some amazing gold eyes
We adopted Sophie as a Barn cat. After Cameron tilled a bunch of the land around the house this past fall, we began to see an increase in mice in the garage. Luckily, they were dead when we saw them, since Cameron had put out some poison previously for a live mouse that scared the living daylights out of me one morning. Let's just say I don't handle jump-out-and-surprise you situations well.

On top of the dead mice in the garage, the gophers Cameron had worked so hard to get out of the front yard all summer have begun to migrate back. He can only do so much with the smoke bombs.

Just after we moved into the house back in October 2013, I read about Barn cat adoption programs. These are cats that would eventually be euthanized if expected to be adopted out as house cats as they don't necessarily present their best side when behind bars and have an appreciation for the outdoors. Some can be quite feral. Barn cats have been documented to help keep down pest populations as well. Did you know Disneyland employs barn cats to keep mice and rats out of the parks? All barn cats have been spayed or neutered as well as vaccinated so the outdoor cat population doesn't continue to grow having them loose outside.

After the mice increase and gopher encroachment, we decided to look into the possibility. I found that the Yolo County SPCA offered such a program. After discussing our needs and land with the director, she recommended Sophie, a friendly-enough cat who had been picked up off the streets in Woodland. In less than a week, Sophie was set up in a large cage, similar to a cage you would house a parrot in. We have the cage set up in a metal shed on our property that houses our tractor and provides shelter from the wind and rain for Sophie, while also allowing her a nice view of the property.

She's set up with water, food, a litter box, a bed, some blankets and towels, and now a cat condo scratching post. The poor thing is going stir crazy after all most 3 weeks of being caged up for the majority of her time out there, but it is recommended she be confined this long to get to know us, our habits and our property so that she knows that it's home.

We go out and check on her twice daily. We had a cold snap come through, so I put a blanket over the top of the cage to keep the chill out. We put the blanket up in the morning and then take it back down at night, thus waking her up and putting her to bed everyday. But don't worry. Between the shelter and her thick winter coat, not to mention the towel and fleece blanket my parents got her, or the cat condo, this girl is pampered and not freezing. She's actually taken to the cat condo and most cold mornings when I wake her up, she comes out of it stretching.

When we can go out to see her in the afternoons or weekends, we usually let her out so she can walk around, stretch, scratch and eat grass. The girls love her. London named her Sophia, which quickly morphed into Sophie or Soph. Sydney asks almost daily to go see her. And both get quite disappointed when they don't get to see her.

Sohpie is the reason for the other project we have going on outside right now. With her time dwindling down in the cage, Cameron has constructed her a table in the corner of the metal shed, that also acts as a scratching post for her. Before we release her, he's going to build her a little cat house to go on top of the table that we can put her bed and blanket in so she has a place to bundle up and stay warm on cold or rainy days. We will also house her food and water her. Sophie is quite food motivated, so we're hoping she decides to stay on our property once she is released. We've been giving her treats on the table as a way to condition her that this will be where her food & water can be found later.

Sophie is a sweet cat - she definitely isn't feral and keeps somewhat close to us when she is out exploring. She let's the girls pet her, even kiss her, before she romps off for a stretch. And hopefully, she'll be a good hunter for us. One day when she was out, she was very interested in the birds nearby in a tree. 

Of course, now that her time for release is nearing, Cameron and I are growing concerned. We're already attached and realize that life as a barn cat can be short. We have coyotes nearby and can hear them howling at night occasionally. Plus, we have a busy road in front of our house that could be Sophie's downfall as well. Hopefully, she's smart and steers clear of the roads.  I figure when it is time for release, we will do it on a weekend and when we are planning on being outside for a while just so she has us to hang around with for a while. We'll definitely be crossing our fingers we see her often once she is released.

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