Monday, March 4, 2024

Stray cat strut, every day

 ABOUT A YEAR ago an alley cat came into the yard and asked to be fed. Yup. Asked. Very politely.

"Well, I'm living at the other end of the alley and crawl under the fence and sometimes the human puts food out. But sometimes she doesn't. Got any milk?" the cat said.

I'm a sucker for a furry face. So I fed her. And she came back the next day. And the next.

Then she disappeared for about a week. She showed up looking tired and hardly able to move.

"Never mind," she said, when asked where she'd been. "It's a cat and momma thing."

Uh oh. Momma thing?

Then, at the end of April, I got up on a Saturday morning, went to the porch, and there were four little alley cats staring at me. "Well, you fed momma. You can feed us too," they said.

I had two choices. I could feed the kittens, and I knew they'd stick around. Or I could ignore their cute little faces and pathetic mews and growling tummies.

They are my strays now. "Haha!" Momma Cat said. "You really are a sucker!"

The first thing I did was call Sally Westerhoff and The Quincy Cat Coalition. They have a free spade program through the Quincy Humane Society - you just have to take them back. It was easier said than done, but eventually all of the cats except one (he took off and eventually found a home a few blocks away) were taken care of.

That included Momma Cat. Boy was she pissed after I took her and the kittens to the Humane Society. When she got back, she promptly marched her brood to the house next door and moved in under a shed.

"She will be mad for about three days," Sheryl said. "Don't worry about it. She'll come back."

Three days later, Momma Cat and three little cats came back. Eventually Momma Cat left and once in a while comes around, but she raised her kittens and she's done. 

Bigsby, Taylor and Martin still live in my backyard. There's a comfortable bed and blanket in the garage, and they sleep in a big furry pile during the cold winter nights. Bigsby is skittish, Taylor looks like her momma and likes a good scratch while sitting in your lap, and Martin is the Alpha cat - he bosses the other cats around, and doesn't mind a good scritch either.

Yesterday they made themselves at home on the patio chairs and porch, enjoying the warmer weather and making me feel guilty about not getting enough cat treats.

They stalk squirrels, catch snakes and birds, and drag worms onto the porch every morning. They are carnivores. Momma Cat decimated the baby bunny population last spring and taught them well.

I think about finding them another home - maybe a farm somewhere, since they are such good mousers. And it would be nice to get my garage back.

And it ain't cheap to keep them fed, but you know what? They are are happy. They can't make more cats. They have the run of the yard and the alley. They are just ... cats.

"Stuck with us!" they say. And I'm OK with it.


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