Our back yard is full of cat poop. Not just Mabel’s. I estimate that there are at least nine thousand stray cats in our neighborhood. And most of them think that our yard is a great place to put their poop. I love them all equally. But Mabel is the only one I have agreed to feed.
I keep a zip lock bag of Kit & Kaboodle beside a chair inside the garage door that opens our basement to the world.
I feed her to win her affection.
Though she is not shy, she doesn’t talk much. She is cautious, curious and polite. She is appreciative, but keeps her distance.
She wants love, but has issues with trust.
It’s a hard life. But she doesn’t complain. She’s a survivor.
We can’t feed them all. That only encourages and creates more poop. But I’ve felt a certain obligation to help her. Winter is coming. And worse than that, there are tomcats everywhere.…
After consulting a local cat genealogist and historian, we believe that Mabel was a single kitten birthed by by a stray named Maude and possibly sired bya green-eyed, soft gray tabby named, Bobby Flay.She is probably under a year old.
Indications are that Maude’s next litter was so cute that they all got accepted into an adoption program and are hopefully now living happy lives of domesticatedleisure. Bobby Flay is rarely seen.
Mabel has been living outside and independently and does the bestthat she can. But, for a feral feline on her own, it can be a big, cold, stressful world.
So, a few weeks ago I contacted a non-profit who helps those who help strays and got on the list to be seen by a vet and to arrange the operation to get the kitten–making mechanism shut off before we added any more hungry mouths and poop machinesto our neighborhood. My plan was to Trap, Neuter, Spay and Return. And,I’ve been considering designs for a weatherized, insulated cat-house warmedin the winter by a heating pad.…
But as is often the case, life was marching on while I was still making plans.…
The other day when Mabel came out for dinner, she paused and turned back as if something was following her….
This is Boo. I did not name him. I did not know him as a kitten. He came to us under vaguely explained circumstances that seem to involve some sort of territorial dispute involving himself and a pitt-bull puppy. He doesn’t talk much about that.
I don’t ask.
Before us, he was the companion of my wife’s daughter who expanded his education by choosing him as a roommate at WVU’s Borman Hall. I don’t think that he took any classes, but just hung around with the girls there. But I am sure that he learned some things. And though he is a cool cat who knows how to keep his mouth shut, after gaining his confidence he has since made some conversational inclinations that he has, “Seen some things.” Again, I don’t ask.
So, by the time he ended up here, he seemed, as one might expect, a little nervous and perhaps a bit over-stimulated, which is understandable.
But he’s a cat who knows how to make himself comfortable and in time and with plenty of pampering, reassurance and all sorts of kingly comforts and treats, he has settled in.
And though he says that he has never liked the term, “domesticated,” he has resolved himself to the life of an “inside kitty” and peacefully made a place for himself amoungst four poodles and two somewhat odd adult human beings.
He doesn’t usually tolerate formal photography, though he, like the Amish, will allow it as long as I don’t ask him to pose.
But these days, he knows that I am out of practice and that I miss being a photojournalist, so he graciously has allowed me to follow him around to do this “Day in the Life During the Pandemic” portrait project
from a feline point of view.
How has life changed for this house cat, since the pandemic has changed the world?
I know what some of you are thinking…. And I ask that you be considerate and kind in your comments.
He is no more vain that any other cat. He has worked through his abandonment issues and is overall very confident and certainly has no problems with self-esteem….
But he has grown somewhat sensitive about his weight.
He tells me that in his younger years he was really quite svelte.
And he still moves well, for a big man.
But what looks like lazy might just be laid-back
and at this point in his journey through nine lives he is trying to grow over all that superficial stuff.Perhaps sadly, but truly, he is more thoughtful than playful these days.
He is a cat of few words and is wise in that he stays in the moment. He doesn’t waste any energy regretting the past or fretting for the future. He doesn’t waste any energy.
He spends a lot of time napping.
In the big picture, he really is, as they say, “a good kitty.”
Except that he sits on the table and has diligently and systematically destroyed every piece of furniture that calls to his instinct to sharpen his claws.
But he puts his poop where he is supposed to, and he is a good listener.
And we have to take care of each other.
“they complain but never worry. they walk with a surprising dignity. they sleep with a direct simplicity that humans just can’t understand…
when I am feeling low all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns. I study these creatures. they are my teachers.”