I always wonder, when I leave town – which isn’t often – if the feral cats will still be here when I get back. I have someone who comes in and feeds the indoor cats and leaves food for the ferals also, but she comes much later in the day than they’re used to.
Andy and Mo – the indoor cats — are very cool about the whole business, except that they reverse roles. Usually Andy is the one that runs to the door when he hears a noise while Mo hides under the bed. When the pet sitter comes, Mo comes out to greet her, while Andy hovers in the hall. The key to Mo’s heart clearly involves cuddles and food.
The first morning I was home, only BB was waiting at the back door. Part of the morning ritual is that BB gets petted – or I get to pet BB, which is more like it – before anyone else gets fed.
The other cats are curious about this petting stuff. When Patches was young she’d sit and watch, and sometimes run by me close enough that I could reach out and give her a stroke. Just so she could see what it was all about, I guess.
Tigger used to do the same thing, flirting with me, getting close enough that I could, briefly, touch him. Tigger was a talker. He’d start meowing as soon as I stepped out the door. Of course I talked back.
I’m very much afraid that Tigger’s gone. I try to convince myself that he was such a charmer that someone tamed him and gave him a good home. Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that he was run over by some idiot driving too fast down the street.
Patches doesn’t get that close to me anymore, but now I see the latest kittens watching me pet BB like they’re wondering what’s going on. I expect them to start flirting any day.
Sometimes Patches will squeak at me. She has a funny little voice.
BB is the only one that purrs.
The second morning I was home, as well as BB Patches was waiting outside the back door with a couple of the kittens. Then Squirt showed up, meowing, on the roof. Then I saw Bad Ass in the back yard.
Not just the ferals come for breakfast. Stripy Sebastian from across the street is a regular guest. Sebastian wears a break-away collar that’s wound up in my yard a couple times, once after an altercation with Bad Ass.
Bad Ass isn’t as limber as he once was. I have no idea how old he really is — and doubt that the usual human/feline age ratio applies to feral cats — but he’s gotten stiff-legged in the last year and I doubt he has the kick-butt abilities of his youth. Not that that stops him from fighting. He was looking pretty beat up a couple months ago.
The kittens have grown a lot in the short time I was gone. They now spend some of their time in neighboring yards. Sometimes I still see them snoozing in or under my olive tree. Yesterday Nose was sleeping on top of the old carpet-covered cat tree by the garage door. Sometimes the kittens aren’t around at all. They show up again in the early evening for another snack.
It’s kind of like having a front row view of a wild animal habitat. The interaction fascinates me. When the kittens were first born, BB shared the yard with Patches and her brood. Then, as the kittens got older, BB wasn’t around much during the day. Now Patches and the kittens have started exploring other vistas, and BB has settled back in.
Early in our relationship – and it is a relationship – I thought BB had been fixed. Since then I’ve discovered I was wrong. However, her kittens don’t live. I have to somehow get her spayed before we both go through that again. There’s no way she’ll go near a cage, so I’m contemplating putting on long gardening gloves and trying to scoot her into a carrier.
Contemplating it is as far as I’ve gotten. There’s the whole she-trusts-me-and-I’m-going-to-betray-her thing. As opposed to the oh-no-more-dead-kittens thing. It’s a tossup as to which is worse.
Early on Sundance had a litter (Sundance, I did get fixed, after which she moved away), weaned them, and BB then decided to nurse them as if they were her own. Patches is from the same litter as Sundance. Tigger was one of the kittens that BB nursed.
I managed to get Tigger fixed before he took off. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a coincidence that I get them fixed and they leave.
I don’t want BB to leave.
She has her favorite spots. Sometimes she sleeps right in the middle of the yard, sometimes curled up in behind the rose planters against the wooden fence. If she feels like interacting, she’ll get up and stretch and come to meet me when I go out into the yard. Other times she ignores me altogether. She rolled over for a belly scratch three times yesterday.
Maybe she’s glad I came home. Or maybe she just felt in need of a belly scratch.
They’re independent critters, these ferals.
Bad Ass just came to the front door. Mo had a hissy fit and chased him off.
This morning, all my ferals are hanging out in the back yard.