Found a family of cats at a service station next to busy highway
January 5, 2013 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Found a family of cats (4 kittens, 2 adults) at a gas station next to a busy freeway... What is best thing to do?

So I just pulled over at a gas station (it's 12:50am) to send a text message, magically I saw a kitten appear out of the bushes! There are a bunch of bushes, and from what I can Count there seem to be two slightly adult cats, and about 4 kittens probably about 16 weeks old at a rough guess.

There is a plastic container, that they have gone to a few times, so i assume it has or had food in it. Now, these bushes they are in are probably about 10 metres (if not less) from a really busy freeway. In fact, I see dead animals (rabbits, foxes, kangaroos, cats) on it every day.

Should i try to lure these cats to me and into my car, then take them home and take them to the animal shelter on Monday? I think I should because surely it can't be safe for them there... But I would hate to take them, and miss one and leave a poor kitten on its own there, as I don't actually know how many there are. And not sure if maybe they were recently abandoned here... or maybe the cat gave birth there, and theyve been there for a while? And if i take them to an animal shelter, chances are they will end up getting put down anyway.

Should I just leave them and drive off? Or is the best thing to do to catch them?
posted by anawesomeguy to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
Ask the people at the gas station if they know anything? If they don't know, call the animal shelter on Monday and ask what they advise. The cats will probably survive until Monday, if they've been surviving before.
posted by quodlibet at 6:04 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would do what you can to get them to a shelter. Shelters tend to be emptier at this time of year because a lot lot lot of adoptions happen around Christmas, so even if they don't go to a no-kill shelter, they have a good shot. Also kittens are more likely to be adopted than adults, so at least 4 of the 6 will have a really good chance at getting rescued. Where they're living now, they're pretty much fated to die young.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:14 AM on January 5, 2013

Is there animal control where you are? call them up (make sure they capture and take them to a No-kill shelter)
posted by pyro979 at 6:23 AM on January 5, 2013

Lady at the gas station reckons they've lived around the area around the gas station for years.
posted by anawesomeguy at 6:24 AM on January 5, 2013

My personal best practice would be a shelter for the kittens and trap-neuter-release for the adults.... But that's sidestepping the problems of resources such as time and monetary funds.
posted by anaelith at 6:33 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lady at the gas station reckons they've lived around the area around the gas station for years.

Which is probably why you see so many dead cats on the highway (not necessarily this gas station's cats, but cats in this circumstance). I just want to reiterate, getting them to a shelter is the best thing you can do for them. I'm pro-outdoor cat where possible, but these cats are strays living next to a highway. They're the exact kind of cat that makes the indoor/outdoor lifespan such a large gap.

As far as how to... I guess the easiest way to do it is animal control.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:50 AM on January 5, 2013

Kangaroos put you in Australia.

The best people to contact are the Cat Protection Society ... Seriously ... my family have dealt with them for over 25 years.

If you aren't in NSW they will recommend someone local to you.

Far and away these are the best people to call for advice
posted by jannw at 7:00 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Leave them and drive off. They're cats, otherwise known as resourceful small predators.
posted by scruss at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2013

Should i try to lure these cats to me and into my car, then take them home and take them to the animal shelter on Monday?

If they've been living in the wild for years, don't do this. Feral cats are utterly ferocious and could be dangerous if you try to catch them.
posted by afx237vi at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

If they've lived there for years, and have food, then someone is feeding them, no?
posted by acidic at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Find an animal rescue who knows how to catch them. The kittens are already too old to be adopted -- up to 8 weeks, socialization is easy, 8-15 weeks it's possible but very difficult.

You could neuter the lot and let them go, but if this in Australia cats are hell on the local wildlife. I would have them put down. (I like cats, I'm fostering one right now, but these are not adoptable and Australia is nowhere to let cats roam wild).
posted by jb at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've worked and lived with all manner of farm animals, and encountered plenty of angry or excitable dogs. The absolute worst injury I have ever, ever received was from an eight-week-old feral kitten I picked up too hastily. If you do decide to personally try to rescue the cats, wear long thick leather gloves. Be aware of their back legs, which will eviscerate your arms or whatever else they are struggling against. Kittens move shockingly fast. If you don't have your safety mechanism already in place, you won't have time to get it in place when you realize the kitten is not going quietly.
posted by tllaya at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Find a cat rescue organization that does trap-neuter-return. Ask them for advice. If they're good they'll help you with trapping them, fixing them for free, and returning those that can't be adopted out. If the kitties aren't human-friendly you'll want protective equipment and someone with experience helping you with trapping them. Seriously, cat bites and scratches aren't to be messed with.

The kittens are already too old to be adopted -- up to 8 weeks, socialization is easy, 8-15 weeks it's possible but very difficult.

It's true that it's difficult, but for a persistent caretaker it can be done. Again, something to talk to a rescue organization about. I rescued some too-old kittens from my backyard and their foster homes have been taming them pretty well. Meanwhile, I trapped, spayed, and returned the mom, and after continuing to feed her she's now happily tamed and indoors half the time. Shy, and she'll likely never enjoy being held, but she's hyper-affectionate with people and cats once she's used to you.
posted by schroedinger at 6:09 PM on January 5, 2013

Following up tllaya's comment - welding suit. I once brought a kitten home from the shelter, was stupid about how I treated him (tried to wash the kennel cough off him). That guy dug in and clawed his way up my arm.

The next time I washed him (he had some poo issues) I used a welding suit. He was able to take out his aggression without hurting me. Dude wore himself out.
posted by BenevolentActor at 6:05 AM on January 6, 2013

Our furballs are former ferals that were TNR'd at 6 months (well, TN'd) -- and took to the colony caretaker and are now very happy (if occasionally somewhat nervous) housecats.

But the whole process needs people that are used to working with ferals. Remember, not only are those unsocialized kittens, but they're unsocialized kittens with an angry mom around. And don't be surprised if the local people used to working with ferals are the ones taking care of that colony!
posted by mendel at 2:50 PM on January 6, 2013

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