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Discussion Starter #1
My story:

I don't like cats.

2 cats that have lived in our building for years decided I could make a good provider, and even if I never liked cats nor had any inclination to feed that pest, I found myself being a strays' mommy. I wouldn't disappoint anyone, even a cat, so shaking the responsibility they gave me was out of question. All I did was toss a half-sausage that I didn't like on the cement floor - 3 months ago. As I write, one of them is strolling in the sun, the other is on its own storey, downstairs where no one ever goes, on her own couch which the Super put there for them, on my father's velvety cushion covered with a brand-new, never-used-before fleece blanket I had reserved for some eventual special use, eating a can of cat gourmet seafood delicacy and hesitating whether to go back outside in the sun or take a nap on her couch first. The poor stray... :wink

And I don't like cats.

Last night she kept me awake till 2 pm going downstairs every hour to try and convince her to come into her bedroom because it's cool outside the building on the roofs. She totally refused, so after the 5th time I said "I don't like cats anyway", and left her on the roofs. I even didn't leave her any warm milk for the night in case of sleepnessness. That's how pissed I was that she'd make me worry all night whether she was too cold outside and had regretted not coming in. Last night I was tough. And I don't like cats.

The Super asked me to take care of a cat colony that we have downstairs in the garden. I said "no way, I don't like cats". Which is how last night, after 2 months of feeding, watering, naming, playing, TNR attempts of the few un-neutered ones, attention lavishing for hours each day, using my food money to buy their food, carrying bags of food and bottles of water to and fro, hours of petting on my lap, roll-calling each day and looking out for the ones I haven't seen in over 2 feedings, I find myself the mommy of 25 strays, who decided that even if I don't like cats, I would do.

I don't care about cats.

So I decided to quit. Which is why last night I neglected them and for their weekly delicatessen feast I bought them no chicken, brought no milk or delicatessen, just mixed 2 cans of wet food (rabbit flavor) with a can of tuna fish, sliced in some leftover hotdogs and spoon-fed each of them individually(otherwise the dominant ones get all the food). And this morning when I came to wish them a good day, I brought no food whatsoever, no treats, not even a bit of milk, thinking their stomachs must get a rest from last night's feast.

I don't know the first thing about being a cat colony manager. How do I prevent the doves eating their food? How do I prevent the (neutered) territorial ones scaring off the timid, hungry sweethearts who don't deserve it? How do I get the friendliest one to let me caress his paw, which he totally refuses to let me do? How do I get the pregnant one to sit on the soft pink blanket I brought her rather than on the hard, cold concrete? I feel depressed and a failure at the task I've been entrusted with.

Any advice will be more than appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Typos:

2 pm should be 2 am
sleepnessness should be sleeplessness

Too late to edit.
 

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I think you're doing wonderfully. You are providing resources and you care. I truly believe the cats do sense that in people. As you gain more of their trust through reliability and patience, you'll be rewarded with their trust for you by allowing you closer and closer, until you're touching them.

We have several adult feral-to-housecats and they are fabulous cats. My most challenging f-t-h spent most of this holiday camped on our adult nephew's lap, soaking up the shoulder massages and asking him for more when he stopped.

As far as feeding the cats and not feeding anything else, if you place only what they will eat so there is no leftovers, the birds will stop eating the resources. Several feeding stations placed far apart should allow all cats an opportunity to eat. TNRing the more aggressive ones should help with that, too. Their hormones demand they carve out a territory and defend it to preserve their food/shelter/mating resources. Once the hormonal influence has been removed, generally, if there is plenty of food/shelter then there is no reason to defend or guard the resources. They should learn to eventually get along with everyone else in the colony once they adjust to the changes of their environment and physiology.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for the support and advice! I was really depressed but yesterday we had a better day. When they scare each other off, it breaks my heart. It's very puzzling to me that with plenty of food, some are territorial, and it's regardless of whether they're neutered or not!! Maybe they fight for my attention more than for the food.

Maybe I'm wrong, as I never heard anyone commenting on giving attention to strays, but they seem to be more starved for individualized attention than food. Some neighbors throw them goodies now and then, but no neighbor spends a few seconds telling them how beautiful and loved they are. I never thought it mattered to cats, but I've seen how they walk a lot more confidently AFTER I've greeted them and welcomed them. (I always tell each of them separately as they first appear: "Hi my love, so glad you came! How are you today?"). One who is a real nuisance (neutered) always walking around when he's not hungry and scaring the others away, yesterday I sat and talked to it nicely for several minutes, he listened intently the whole time with these huge, sweet eyes, I told him how his fur looks like the first shadows of evening spreading on the last dark-gold rays of sunset (which is true) and how beautiful and special that is, then for the first time, he left everyone alone. Again, maybe I'm imagining things, but in this luxury neighborhood, they seem more starved for attention than food. I feed them lots of attention because my duty is to feed them whatever they need to survive...but I still wonder if it's all in my head.
 

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I think cats need attention. At least mine does. If I ignore MowMow when he wants to cuddle the more desperate he gets. He gets jealous as well. When my SO is here and we're cuddling, MowMow is always trying to get in between us.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
LOL that's a sweet third wheel!

Oh yes, they do seem very jealous too. One was on my lap when I started talking nicely to another, and he turned around and hissed at her! Then he chased another cat that I had briefly stroked a moment before. And he took my hand between his big teeth (didn't bite, though, or I'd have half a hand now).

He also taught me with screeches and head bumps exactly how and where he likes / doesn't like to be petted - paws, lower back and tail are forbidden, however much I've asked. :?
 

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...maybe I'm imagining things, but in this luxury neighborhood, they seem more starved for attention than food. I feed them lots of attention because my duty is to feed them whatever they need to survive...but I still wonder if it's all in my head.
Hmmm. I'm thinking what's in your head is an uncannily accurate insight into the heart/minds of kittehs.
 

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Thank you Heidi. I'm just back from 2 hours of sitting with them. Three of them don't want to let me go. It breaks my heart to leave them in the cold and come back to my house full of blankets, fleece and hot tea. The urban area is so cruel to stray cats, they clean the little park every few days and remove absolutely anything I might put to shelter them a tiny bit. I rack my brain what to put there. One of them sleeps on a rotten piece of paper that flew there with the wind from a nearby message board. An hour ago I put a piece of an old sweatshirt for her, but I know it'll be gone in a few days. She hasn't moved from the piece of rag since I put it down. Could be the first soft thing she's ever had - I rubbed my body with it before, as I've read it helps make them at ease, at first she attacked it wildly, then she lay on it and won't move from there. I envy people who own their homes and can bring in cats. I'd bring her into the building, but cats don't follow you...

I've just had an idea...I could call my landlord and complain that we have mice in the apt (not true) and demand a cat! :p
 

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You mentioned how frustrating it is to provide a soft pink blanket for the pregnant one only to have her lie on the cold concrete. Just tonight I made sure my two had clean, soft and dry bedding but after lying on it for awhile they left and it's very cold tonight. I worry about them sleeping on the cold, wet ground but I guess they will do what they will do. You are so wonderful for caring as you do. It makes me feel good to think of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I've followed your advice re the pigeons and the separate feeding spots, and it's worked wonders! Thank you!

zcb, today I put it behind the bushes and she used it immediately. I think she didn't like the location before - wasn't safe to her. And when another cat seemed to be going to lie on it today, she chased him away with a screech. She's taken to that piece of softness with her all. She won't move from there. Breaks my heart. She used to lie on a piece of paper hardened by the rain and the sun. I start crying when I remember that. I think this is a message from above, because I knew the cleaner would remove it at some point, and by absolute coincidence I arrived at the scene the very instant he grabbed it to throw it away. I begged him never to remove it, and he promised. I had prayed last night to God: "please help me help them!"

The wonderful news is that, also by the Grace of God I think, the 2 cats that I'd love to take up to the building followed me upstairs today!!! Of course the resident Milady chased them off her territory (and she's neutered!) but (again, thanks to God) I had a can of Le Kat wet food in my bag and gave it to her to distract her long enough that the 2 others would have time to start feeling the place and would remember it, so they can try it again another time, and little by little I hope to have all 3 cats living on the building low roofs, coming inside to their bedroom on cold nights and whenever they want.

I've now counted 28, omg! 8O
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you, Heidi, for your advice and support!
 
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