Well, we had good intentions. We decided to try to follow others’ advice when they told us that to decrease the number of feral felines in the neighboorhood to just stop feeding them.
So when warmer weather hit, we shut up the garage and took away the food dish. The six regulars along with the half a dozen others that would visit the yard for a bite to eat, the enormous racoon that would stop by at night and the oppossum that wandered through the back yard were suddenly cut off from their daily fare of cat food. Of course, being a softie, I had to begin parking my car in front of the house instead of in the garage in back so as not to have to walk through a a guantlet of cats, meowing pityfully and looking at me with sad eyes.
That worked for about a day before the cats realized the car was out front now and began taking up residence on the front cement porch. Dad has a folding chair like one would see at a sporting event or campground. When he is not sitting on the front porch enjoying a nice spring day, it is the spot where we often find the one-eye kitten. Sometimes as we return home, a quick look at the front porch will see four or more cats poking their heads up – all laying in the same chair, huddled up for warmth on a cool night.
Dad now is surrounded when he sits out on the porch. They lay nearby in the yard or at his feet. All, that is, except for the little one-eyed kitten. I think it recognizes our voices and knows food usually comes from us. This little tyke will climb up Dad’s leg to sit in his lap.
We have, of course, begun feeding them a little again. Dad is as much a softie as I am in this regard. But the felines are hunting as well. The other day as I was leaving for work, I didn’t have time to stop and feed them. Dad usually does when he gets up so I wasn’t worried that they would starve. But on this bright, sunny morning, the felines had a mouse. While the older cats were distracted by my emerging from the house, the little tyke grabbed the mouse and began to chow down.
This little kitten, who is about 6 months old, isn’t afraid of us. He would sit and eat his food, even when I started the car next to him and backed out of the garage. The older cats all run a short distance away when they see you coming. Not this one. He or she will follow you or as in most instances will lead the way, turning around and coming back to you if you aren’t moving quick enough.
Our “no feeding” to cause the felines to move out of the neighborhood has not worked, admittedly much to our own failure to stop feeding completely. One thing we have noticed though is that the felines have now made a path from the front of the house, around the side to the back. Dad, being a former hunter, noticed it right away. He said it is like a path deer make that tells a hunter it is a route that is taken often.
It’s a path they take when Dad decides to move from the front porch to the back deck for a change of scenery. It won’t be long before the cats that were near him out front are now lying around the back deck as he sits in his chair. I’ve taken to calling him the ‘cat whisperer” because they all just are happy as anything to just sit near him. Most don’t want to be close but just in the vicinity. I’m not sure if it gives them a sense of protection from other felines in the neighborhood or street cred. You know, as if they’re saying, “I’m tough. You don’t want to mess with me. I can sit two feet from that guy in the chair, no problem. I’m not scared....unless he moves to stand up and then I’m out of here or at least several more feet away....”
Of course, the three “children” inside watch those outside – many of which are their half-siblings. I told Dad just the other day that his “indoor children” were going to get jealous. I think that is why Tazzy or “Big Boy,” as Dad calls him, follows Dad around the house meowing at him. From watching him, we have determined he is saying, “Would you please sit down somewhere because I want to climb up into your lap, curl up and go to sleep for the next several hours with you holding me.”
We’ve come to this translation of his meowing and following Dad becuase as soon as Dad sits down, Tazzy is in his lap, curling up and sleeping, and all the meowing has stopped. Sometimes he ends up with both boys in his lap.
As I said, he’s the “cat whisperer.”