About four months ago a feral cat that befriended us when we first moved into the house gave birth to yet another litter. This one was the biggest one yet - nine kittens in all (see them in the first picture taken by my sister, on her visit Tuesday, June 16, 2009). I have no idea what happened to kittens from all her previous litters - they all just disappear after a while.

The current litter, however, is still with us, full force. This time the cat gave birth in the chicken/green house and the kittens continue to call it their home. About a month ago the cat left (she does that occasionally) leaving all the kittens to fend for themselves.

As I see them struggling to procure sufficient food supplies on their own, I occasionally supplement their diet with reconstituted powdered milk and cottontail rabbits that are too big for them to hunt down on their own. Phooey to the authoritative source claiming that cats are all lactose intolerant - that's all bull crap. These kittens occasionally get diarrhea, but it is in no way correlated to their intake of milk.

When I tell people that cats are natural enemies of the rabbits, people just shake their heads in disbelief, but it is absolutely true. While domesticated cats are omnivorous, they prefer and need meat to stay healthy. In addition, they are very opportunistic and will go for whatever meat they can get their little paws on. If they get hungry enough and the only meat they find is their dead human owner, they will eat it, too.

When our feral kittens get done with the rabbit carcass, all that remains are the rear legs and the backbone, perhaps the lower jaw. All the rest of the soft tissue and smaller bones they consume completely. In the second picture (taken yesterday afternoon - Tuesday, July 28, 2009), one of the kittens (it's the one with the tail turned towards the camera in the middle of the first picture) is gnawing on the cottontail's head.

Nine feral kittens in a row
Feral kitten eating an adult cottontail rabbit

Cats love to kill and sometimes eat rabbits. Every cat I ever owned (or that owned me) loved to hunt rabbits. One of them would eat the rabbits, others simply killed them and played with them. One cat would sometimes not kill rabbits too often, but only killed them occasionally.
As far as being lactose intolerant. I am not sure. Most of my cats did not like milk at all. I had one cat that drank milk and never had a problem. The rest only drank water. One cat liked cheese, but hated milk. Another cat would drink cream, but refused milk.

That's adorable in a gross way. OM NOM NOM NOM I EAT YOUR FACE! X-D

mmmmmmm yummy

Jake, just thought I'd point out one mistake in your article. Domestic cats (and feral cats, which are the same species) are not omnivores. They are obligate carnivores meaning they get all of the nutrients they need from meat (unlike dogs, which need nutrients from veggies as well). Also, most cats cannot process lactose, but some can. Or, rather, they can process it to varying degrees, just like human beings, depending on how much of the lactose-breaking-down enzyme their body produces. Because nature didn't intent for cats to have the ability to break down the sugars that come in COW'S MILK (aka lactose) cats usually do not have the lactose-breaking-down enzyme. At the store they sell "cat milk" cartons which have added enzymes, I believe. Finally, lactose tolerance isn't a fixed thing--it comes and goes depending on use in humans. While it is genetic, the gene itself has to be stimulated by the intake of lactose to create lactose breaking down enzymes. Hope that makes sense.

Why don't you try to get that poor feral mother fixed, so that more kittens are not born who have such a struggle to survive. Feeding the kittens occasionally is very nice of you, but it does not solve the problem at source, does it?

~a concerned cat lover

The mother cat never let me get close enough - she hissed every time I attempted to pet her. In any case, I have not seen her in over 4 months now. She has never been gone this long before, so I am assuming that she is no longer of this world - probably got hit by a car or something. Her lover has come here a few times in the meantime looking for her - sad...

I had no idea kittens will eat a rabbit's head. It's a strangely cute yet gruesome sight, but hey, that's nature...

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