Feral mom and kid/s in hiding?
I've decided to tell you all the full story in detail, in hopes of getting some direction or advice or comments, or even just emotional support...
I manage a TNR colony of 26 strays downstairs in the little public garden by the condo where I live.
About 4 months ago I discovered 3 kittens, seemed a few weeks old, in the parking lot a few meters from my feeding station. There was a cat around them whom I didn't know, which was weird because I know all the cats in my area.
I wanted to feed the mother (?) good-quality food while she was breast-feeding, but when I came back down, this other stray of mine, who is pregnant, was sitting on the grass with the kittens lying on her. This stray, actually, was the one who had led me to the place, each time rubbing against me and running, till one day I realized she wanted me to follow her. The mother (?) had disappeared.
This went on for a couple days. Then one day a man approached me in the street and asked me if I had seen a few kittens. I was defensive (like a momma cat) and said I didn't know where they were. He said he was just wondering because he knew a cat had given birth around his building, he had been feeding her once in a while, not regularly, and 2 of the 5 kittens had died. He had seen one of the kittens fall off the window where they were all nesting and the mother had followed that kitten and thus discovered my feeding station (with regular meals), moved her kittens nearer my station and never gone back to that place near his apt.
The next day there was a huge storm, and though I looked for the kittens that day and the next few days, I never found them again.
The one I had thought was the mother showed up at my feeding station one day, some time after, and has been permanent since. Lately I noticed that she seemed OBSESSED with what I call "treats" (which is actually any meat, as opposed to the cheap kibble I feed the strays). She'd hang around the station all day hoping for any scraps (I feed meat very rarely because of the cost).
Yesterday she showed up in the company of a kitten, about 4 months old I would say. The kitten, to my relief, was able to eat the kibble and raw chicken, even though it's still feeding from the mother as well.
I gave the mother a huge bowl of raw chicken, and noticed she was acting strange. Instead of eating it, she'd grab a piece in her mouth each time and run off, leaving her kitten alone, scared and crying. She'd come back after about 10 minutes each time, for another piece, and go off again.
I followed her and discovered she was running about half a block, hiding under a bush fence, then crossing the parking lot (this is NOT the straight, direct route), climbing up the outside wall of a building and disappearing inside an ajar window on the first floor (some kind of warehouse of the condo, not an apt.). i thought she was so afraid of the other cats that she wouldn't dare eat near them.
Today she did the same thing and I followed her again, with her bowl of meat this time. Her kitten wasn't with her at the station. I saw the kitten at the ajar window, greeting his mother. I put the bowl on a lower wall, highest I can reach under the window, and she'd come down and grab a piece and climb back up each time. Sometimes she'd eat a bit herself, sometimes she'd only chew on the piece and climb back up.
She seemed DESPERATE and very afraid of other cats. She'd stand at the window the whole time, frantically watching for other cats. A couple other of my strays came near, one climbed to the window, and I shooed him away, as he's not neutered and he can be aggressive. But I knew he wasn't after her meat, because I had given him plenty in his bowl before and he wasn't hungry, he'd eaten half-heartedly because I'd given him breakfast too. I think he may be the father, as he and she are the only ones not yet spayed in the area of my feeding station. He, by the way, is the only other stray I've seen run off with meat in his mouth like she does (in the same direction) but this was months ago and the kittens were probably still breast-feeding only.
There was a lot of meat in her bowl and I kept adding to it to give her a feeling of plenty to calm her down. In the end, belly full and no cats daring approach, she calmed down and sat sleepily at the window. All the time I was right under the window, in the parking lot. I kept cooing her to eat more and take more food inside, but at some point she just disappeared inside the place and I left, to take care of my other strays and Prince.
In a couple hours, when it's light again, I'll bring her organ meat, chicken breast and lots of liver, which I bought yesterday for her.
The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.