I've spent the last few evenings feeding the kitties. They have slowly started to come closer and tonight they even seemed to be waiting for us. I've identified 14 cats, but the neighbors' estimates originally ranged from 12-20.
Update: 9 of the 14 have been trapped
7 have been fixed, vaccinated and released
Left to right: Pinecone, Fern, and Clover
I call these babies the Three Amigos. They are the first to be seen and are usually together. I'd guess they are 6 months old and siblings. Pinecone and Fern are female and Clover is a male. Fern is the most outgoing. She's the first one brave enough to eat with me there but once she proved it was safe, the other two were close behind.
Update: All three have been caught, spayed and neutered, vaccinated, and released
Another update: Fern and Clover are still very outgoing, despite the trapping trauma. They are still the ones that I'm most likely to see up there and will actually come quite close to me to eat. Clover acts like our wing man now in the trapping. He will go right up to the set traps and almost lead other cats in. I'm sure this isn't what he's meaning to do, but it has helped us!
Ash is hopefully just one cat. I can't be positive there isn't more than one black cat but I've only ever seen one at a time, so I'm hoping it's just Ash. He hangs close to the 3 Amigos but not too close. He's always around watching but keeps his distance. He could be another Amigo sibling but he could also be a bit older than them. I would guess closer to 8 months, but it's hard to tell as he keeps his distance.
Update: There are at least 7 black cats. Ash is the youngest and has been trapped.
Elm is another all black cat. He (a guess) is pretty big and the only time I'm sure I saw him he was a bit of a bully to Hickory. Now that I've trapped a couple of black cats and they have their ear tips it should be easier to tell who Elm is and if he's only one cat!
Ivy is another all black cat, but has long hair. The neighbors asked me about him weeks ago but I hadn't seen him on the camera until recently.
Update: Ivy has been trapped!
A pretty black cat with amber eyes and a small tuft of white on her chest. She has been caught, spayed, vaccinated and released. Very hissy, but beautiful.
A very pretty male who is all black with green eyes. Caught at the same time as Hickory which made for a pretty intense trapping experience. He's a good sized cat with a big square face. I wouldn't want to be up against him in a fight. Has been neutered and vaccinated and released.
Tulip and Peanut
These two are the newest to be identified. Peanut looks very young, maybe 2-3 months old. By how close they were, I would guess Tulip is his mom, but I don't know for sure.
Our pretty lynx-point! Honey is a striking gentleman. He's fully grown and pretty aloof. He doesn't seem bothered by or even that interested in me.
Update: Has been trapped, neutered and vaccinated, and released. He had a cut under his eye when I caught him and TCAP estimated he was about 2 years old. That makes him the oldest of the ones who have been caught. They cleaned his cut up and he's doing great!
Juniper is the resident monster. He's pretty big and he looks identical to my parents' newly adopted kitty, Gizmo, who wandered up out of the woods a few months ago... So I'm assuming Juniper is Gizmo's father. I'm also assuming there's some Maine Coon in there because he is huge. He's pretty feral. I usually only see him when he's running away.
Our lady Sunflower is very pregnant. Just when I thought it was going so well and they all looked very healthy and happy, giant belly Sunflower turned up. I've only seen her in person once and she's very wary. Understandably, I assume there's an instinctual wariness in a cat as pregnant as she is. I would think she has a little nest all ready because it looks like she might have those kittens any minute.
Update: Sunflower has been trapped and had 5 healthy kittens in the safety of a foster home!
Sunflower is in essence the reason why I'm taking the time to do this. Give these 12 cats a year and we could have over 100 cats. The goal is to give these guys the best life we can, whether that's here in the colony or in a home if they turn out to be friendly, while preventing any more kittens or disease.