Late this afternoon I looked out the front door to see if it was still raining and noticed several black cats on the front lawn. This is a normal site since 95% of the feral colony is black. One of them was Char. Jim told me earlier, in the morning report, that Char was not present at breakfast so I decided to give him a little food on the front porch. I went inside to get the food and put it out on the porch. As I put it down I noticed there was a minor commotion in the front yard everyone was watching. I looked over to find Charlie with something in his mouth. It was a grey bird and it was crying out in pain. I ran outside to try to get him to release it but he would have none of that and took off around the house with me right behind, although much slower since I still had my house clogs on. My heart sank when I realized I was no match for his agility even with bird in mouth. All I could do was listen to the screaming bird as Char disappeared into the back woods. I went in the house out on the back deck to see if I could see anything. I listened as the bird’s cry became fainter and fainter then silent. I knew he was gone. I hoped he didn’t suffer long. I consoled myself with the knowledge that if I had caught up with Charlie and had gotten him to release the bird, it would have been mortally wounded and his death would have been prolonged. Back on the front porch Char was peacefully eating his private snack oblivious of the drama I had just witnessed.
Later that evening I was removing a spider from the house when I saw the plate of dry food that was left over now water-logged by the continual downpour of the day. I bent down to pick it up so I could dump it in the bushes when I noticed we had some visitors making it their evening meal. I was amazed how these guys found it for one and that they were eating it. I called Jim so he could see them and went to retrieve my camera. We both stooped down and watched them go at it…as only snails could do. I found myself thinking this is why they say, as slow as snails, because I ‘ve never seen anything move that slow and deliberate. They truly must experience fully the present moment.
Snail having dinner
My camera was no match for this event as it wouldn’t focus, there wasn’t enough contrast. But I was not deterred, I went in for my cell phone. I had photographed close things like this before and I had confidence it would get the shot. Here is the best one from the several I took. I think it’s amazing for a cell phone in low light.
Flip (the cat in the previous story) apparently got into a fight because he has a swollen place on his head that I cleaned and dressed. He’s sitting inside in the feral cage until Jim gets back from his job and we can decide if he needs to go to the vet. He’s the only one that keeps getting into fights and I’m beginning to think it’s his ploy to get us to take him in permanently. Fat chance on that since the inside population has risen to six.
Recovering from the trauma of the fight
Tigger is sleeping on my desk as I write this recovering from a traumatic fight that happened while we were gone. The four inside females are still fighting the whose the alpha cat fight. It will continue until they all agree Smudge is the alpha. I hope it happens quickly I’m tired of wiping up blood.
Everything has changed in our critter population since we started the feral colony. Before, we used to have tons of birds that came to several feeders off the deck and small critters like chipmunks and voles scampering around. Now, there are only cats roaming the property. We have rescued two sets of baby squirrels, raised them to adulthood, and released them back to the wild. Those squirrels used to come back on a regular basis to get peanuts from us. Most of them have been killed or driven off by the feral cats. I remember the first time I saw a dead squirrel a cat had killed. Flip, one of the ferals had it and hovered over it for days keeping it all to himself. The back yard has become their killing fields much to our horror. We didn’t realize this would be part of the deal. It’s hard to deal with the killing of innocent animals. It’s just hard to deal with killing of any creature.
Little girl showed up the other day. She was in the last litter we raised. Her little teets showed signs of suckling so I know she has babies. She was ravenous and ate for over an hour. I don’t think the mother squirrel leaves the nest for anything but to find food. When she lived inside with us the winter we found her she lived in an enclosure inside the screened in porch where eventually she could come and go to the outside. We keep her and her two brothers over the winter and in spring we opened, the outside door so that they could come and go whenever they wanted. Many a time I would come out to the porch at lunchtime and Little Boy would be snuggled in his nest inside the enclosure. Most squirrels sleep in the middle of the day and forage during the morning and evening hours. When they got more independent, they would only come on the outside of the enclosure where we had a small house that has a platform where they would wait to get fed. We would sit on the porch chairs and fed them. This was before the feral cats, when they could feel safe to run on the deck. They even tolerated our inside cats that they had grown accustomed to over the winter as they were growing up. Even when we let our inside cats out on the deck, they would still hang around and let us feed them. I could even call Little Girl’s name and I could see her way out in the trees and watch her as she made her way across the branches to our deck.
This has all changed with the ferals. They only see the squirrels as a source of food, even though we keep them well fed. Today when Little Girl came to eat, she would not go onto the little house connected to the enclosure. Apparently, something had her spooked and she wanted me to hang around so she could feel safe enough to come down the tree and jump across to the screened in porch roof so she could get a peanut. After many trips like this, the ferals at my feet, and her nervously coming down the tree, jumping across to the roof, back to the tree and up on the house roof then disappearing over the ridge line, I started to get suspicious of what she was doing with the peanuts. This activity went on for over an hour and I think she had taken at least twenty peanuts up onto the roof when I realized she was probably stashing them in the gutters. Well that was it and she had had enough for the day. I’m sure she will be back tomorrow and we will go through the whole routine over again. It would kill me if I thought it was my negligence that got her killed by not being available to be her security guard.
Little Girl (a squirrel we raised from a baby) showed up this morning. We haven’t seen her since last fall, probably because of the feral population that will kill her if they catch her. I can tell she has babies and is probably ravenous and willing to take a chance on getting killed to get something to eat. We are out of peanuts so I put some sunflower seeds on top of her house. I found out she was there because all of a sudden the cats went crazy on the back porch racing to the shelves to get a look.
Tommy on left (he lives indoors with us) and the new Tom about Town.
Well we finally know who is the Tabby father of most of our tabby ferals. We thought it was Boots but we couldn’t remember when we got him spayed but after seeing this guy we know it’s been him all along. They have his markings and our latest rescue Tommy has his hooded eyes.
Bringing them home to the feral recovery cage
“I’m taking a cat this morning, Jim says as I lay there in bed after a sleepless night listening to him snore. I roll over as I say to myself, “I can’t get up to help, I’m so tired”. I lay there thinking he probably needs me to help him and no matter how tired I am now, I can always take a nap later. I get up and quickly get dressed, transfer the cats from one room to another – don’t ask – and head downstairs. He’s outside in the throng of things so I don’t go out fearing I’ll disturb the cats and they’ll get spooked. In order to get the kittens Jim has to grab them by the neck and put them into the feral trap. No easy feat when you have a squirming feral cat in hand. You have one try then they’re gone and there is no forcing them into the cage or the trap door will come down.
So you have to be quick and they have to be hungry enough to be interested in the food inside the cage. It’s harder with the adults because you have to wait till they go in themselves. We can only take them in to the vet before nine in the morning which means we have to leave at 8:30am to make it.
Mother had 3 kittens in her last litter right before she got neutered so after today we have two left to spay. We know they are getting close to the time they can be mated because the toms have started to hang out. There are two toms that are the fathers of the cats in the colony but they’re too street smart to go into a trap.
These cats are so friendly because of the care they get. We do have a couple that still won’t let you touch them but that’s not the norm. GreyStone is from the first litter, the one that we found on our doorstep. Bear is from the next to last litter and he has a litter mate living with us inside, Tommy. We call him Bear because his coat was so thick as a kitten and he had Bear eyes. We named GreyStone because the first winter he had a grey collar of fur around his neck that looked like a fur coat. Now every winter his coat has splotches of grey in different places. He is so loving and has a very soft mew. He is also very vocal and if you listen you can hear his mew in this video. They both have very thick coats so we thought we’d have a very cold winter but that’s not the case so far.