Monday With Marg’s Pets – Living With Feral Cats
I had known Marg of the popular blog, Marg’s Pets, in the background of my mind though the many cat blogs I was beginning to visit on a regular basis. Though each blog I frequented was unique, any comments by Marg had one common theme – she was a humble and kind-hearted soul looking out for the welfare of animals, feral cats in particular. Everyone has a warm word for Marg and I soon began to develop a friendship with this humanitarian.
Recently, I have become involved with educating people about the misconceptions about feral cats through informative blog posts and videos. This happens to be an area that Marg is an expert in and I thought it would be interesting to learn more about these cats from her perspective, as she actually has feral cats living on her property. She and I passionately feel that the more we can educate people with real success stories, the better off these cats will be.
Deb: You clearly have a huge and devoted following on your blog. When and why did “Marg’s Pets” begin?
Marg: I started Marg’s pets in 2009 because I had a friend who had made a web site for me so I could advertise some pet supplies and make some money. They suggested a blog and I thought that was a good idea. The web site was not a success since there are so darn many pet sites out there. It is hard to sell things as an affiliate. But I discovered blogging was tons of fun and have met some really wonderful and kind people. The bloggers are the best and now my blog is used to try to get the word out about animals that desperately need homes and feral cats.
Deb: I know you love all kinds of animals and have lots of land – how many different animals live on your property in South Carolina with you?
Marg: I have 19 cats, 2 dogs and 2 miniature donkeys. I have 5 acres of land because when I moved here, I had a bunch of ponies that I had raised but they have all gone to the bridge.
Deb: You and I both share a passion about educating people about feral cats. Can you please introduce me to the ferals that live on your property?
Marg: Oh gosh, there are a lot of them. Momma Kitty who shares time at a neighbor’s house is the mother of Orange Boyzo, Gertrude, and Splitters (looks just like her Momma). I was able to catch these three kittens when they were very young and brought them to the house where they promptly disappeared behind my bookcase for several weeks.
Then there was Chole and Daniel. I tried to give those two away which was really dumb on my part. Daniel disappeared after several days because the person wasn’t patient enough to keep them in. Luckily a friend found Chole and still has her. This is one reason feral cats cannot be relocated.
Then there was Ohs, Tees and Bees. Momma Kitty is their mother too. I did not capture these kittens early enough. Every time I would find the kittens, Momma Kitty would move them. Tees almost starved to death because Momma Kitty abandoned them while she was looking for a husband. But after many days of going over to the neighbors and trying to get Tees to come to my house and eat, he finally did.
Then there is Mewmew who arrived here as a tiny little long haired wild kitten. I finally got her to the place where I can pat her but that is about it. It is very hard to treat her for any kind of illness but we manage.
Then there is Girl Kitty who was already here when I moved in ten years ago. She is still very suspicious of all people, but will let me pat her. I did manage to trap her and get her spayed. Staying in the house really helps these cats to become a little more trustful too.
Then there are Khaki, Black, Spitters, and Tabatha who were found in the hood of a car at a neighbor of mine and I think they were abandoned by the Mom too. They are fairly tame and the neighbor is very nice and is still bringing me food for them after two years.
Then there is Maggie and Mahoney. I found Mahoney at an abandoned house around the corner from me. This is a long story. To make it shorter, I was able to trap Maggie (Magnolia) and get her spayed. Unknown to me she had kittens which I found 2 days later. Two of those kittens were killed by dogs and I was able to capture Mahoney when she was young and she is fairly tame now.
Then there is Mister who I captured when I lived in Charlton and he moved up here with me and he is very tame.
Then there is Little Bit. Little Bit was found in a feral colony after she was hit by a car. She had to have a FHO which involves removing her hip bone and was living in a cage at the vet’s office. I offered to take her as a foster and discovered that she was very feral and just knew in my heart that she would not be a good candidate for adoption because people would get frustrated with her and take her back to some shelter. So she is here too.
Deb: Whew… that is a lot of cats and responsibility! What is a typical day like for you caring for feral cats?
Marg: I usually get up at 5:30 in the morning and feed the cats that stay inside the house. There are 4 or 5 in the house all the time and there are times when more are in the house. Then I feed the kitties on the front porch, usually around six of them. Then I feed Mewmew on the back porch. When it gets to be daylight, I go and feed the cats that stay in the barns outside. They are usually waiting for me. Girl Kitty has to eat on the fence between my house and the neighbor because the cats at this house have chased her off. Poor thing. I usually feed the outside ones at least four times a day. If you keep the feral cats well fed, they don’t wander as much. And of course the inside kitties eat at least every 30 seconds! It is very time consuming taking care of the feral kitties because I try to put my hands on them many times a day.
Deb: What do you feel are the greatest misconceptions about these cats?
Marg: The greatest misconception is that they are mean and also kill all the wildlife. First of all they are far from mean. If they see a person, they are off and running. Even the ones that I have here run when a stranger comes around. They do kill a bird every now and then, but they certainly don’t diminish the wildlife by any means. And after all, wildlife kills wildlife too. Look at the coyotes.
Deb: I know that besides educating people about ferals you also try to find them homes if you can. Is it hard to find them homes?
Marg: It is almost impossible to find the feral cats homes. That is why there are so many here. It is just hard to find the right person who can be patient with the cat and know how scared that cat is. I live in a community that doesn’t believe in feeding cats. They think they can just live on whatever they can catch which is NOT true. Momma Kitty that I referred to still lives with my neighbor at times and had kittens over there. The neighbor told me the news, so I started to go over there to fed her, and in a couple of weeks I was getting the kittens to eat. That is how I started to tame them. I scooped that group up and brought them home. But they are still very scared of other people and loud noises. They really do like to be outside. I think any kittens born to a feral Mom learns this behavior from Mom right from the day they are born. I also think these kittens that I have raised probably could have been socialized if I had had a no-kill shelter in the town where I live, but there isn’t anywhere to take them.
Deb: What is the most joyful aspect of what you do – is there a particular adoption story that really touched your heart?
Marg: Well they all touch my heart in their own little way. It is such a rewarding experience to get that feral cat to trust you. It takes months and months to do and even then they are not a lap cat, but they are your best friend and I mean truly your best friend.
The one that touched my heart the very most was a cat I called BB. She was here for ten years. She and her brother arrived here at about nine months of age. It took me many months of feeding them to get them to let me touch them. Then gradually, they got more and more friendly. The three of us had a ritual where I would sit on a trunk in the barn and they would sit beside me, one on each side, and we would have long conversations. But then BB’s brother disappeared and never came back. Very sad. BB never did get over that. She loved her brother. She clung on to me a lot. Some years later she disappeared but miracles do happen, and she came back after being gone 3 months. She was very thin and I took her to the vet and her little heart was in terrible shape. So we put her on Lasix to keep the fluid out of her heart and she lived another year. I just put her down a month ago because she developed stomatitis and needed to have all her teeth pulled and that couldn’t be done because of her heart. Crying too hard to write any more right now.
Deb: I’m sorry if I upset you with that one Marg. It is very clear how much you love these cats and all cats. Besides adopting a cat from a shelter, what are other ways people can help rescue pets?
Marg: The best thing to do is to volunteer at the shelters. It is so important to go see the animals and give them all a pat or two and get them a little bit socialized so that it will be easier for them to find a great home. If they sit in the back of a cage, they sure are not going to find a home.
Deb: Thank you so much for your time Marg – is there anything in closing you would like to share with readers?
Marg: Just to try to get the word out about how wonderful the feral cats are and that the TNR does work. There is a place in Fairfax Virginia that posted how their shelters are nowhere near as full as they were two years ago and that is simply because of the TNR. By getting the cats neutered and spayed, they don’t have a population explosion. And the feral cats are NOT a danger to wildlife. They have a good life living outside with someone feeding them.
Marg takes care of these cats out of the goodness of her heart on a limited income. If you would like to help her out, please consider a donation – every little bit helps…