Speaking of Cats

Speaking of cats, as I seem to be lately–

I’ve been feeding a family of feral cats for the past few years.

When we moved into this house, I promised my husband I wouldn’t feed the ferals that live in the neighborhood. That lasted until one of them had kittens under the house. I’m feeding the fourth generation now. Some I’ve managed to catch and have fixed. Others are way too wily to go near a trap. One has grown so tame she’ll flop down and let me scratch her belly. I call her BB. Black Bottom. She’s a white cat with black circles on her sides and — yep — a black behind.

BB and I first met when she was a kitten and got a back leg caught in the fence outside my bedroom window. I managed to pry the wood apart and set her free. In return she bit me. I wound up with cat scratch fever and a tetanous shot. And a white cat with black spots who lives in my back yard.

We have a great back yard. It’s fenced in, with a couple sheds and three fruit trees at the rear of the lot, along with an old wood table and miscellaneous flower pots and bricks and paving stones; a dog house that I bought thinking the cats might take shelter in it (they don’t, of course); and various piles of this and that. Quite a few kittens have grown up in that back yard. It’s a safe haven for them before they venture out into the considerably less welcoming world.

Feral cats don’t have long life spans. Of one particular litter, two kittens were run over, one became so sick with mange that he had to be put down (as result of which I now know way more than I ever wanted to about mange), and the fourth — Tigger, a pretty orange-striped tom; I especially love orange-striped toms; and yes, we name them all — hasn’t been around for some time.

I used to assume the worst when I didn’t see one of the ferals for a while, until the morning Boots came back. Boots was — is, I hope — a black and white tuxedo cat. He liked to sleep on the shade cloth we have strung up between the house and the carport. It makes a great cat sling.

I always thought it a bit of an amazement that he managed to climb up into the shade cloth. Boots was a klutz. The first time I saw him hanging over the edge and looking in the kitchen window I laughed out loud.

Boots had been gone for months, and I’d pretty much decided he’d gone on to that big sandbox in the sky. Then one morning I looked out the window and there he was, snoozing in his hammock. I haven’t seen him since.

They move on. Sometimes I glimpse them in other yards in other streets. Sometimes they stop back by for a brief visit. Sundance pops in every day or so for lunch.

BB is currently sharing the back yard with Patches. Squirt is often also around, though he’s getting to be of an age to go off on his own. On a really good morning, I’ll find all three of them waiting for me at the back door.

They’re not pets. They’re not anywhere near tame, except for BB, and though she’ll let me pet and scrach her, I wouldn’t dare try to pick her up. They share their food with the occasional possum and a couple large and very nasty raccoons. Smack in the middle of L.A.

There are kittens in my backyard again. I saw them yesterday.

One of them is a tuxedo kitty.

Another is orange-striped.

Published in: on May 25, 2008 at 8:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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