WARNING: this blog post contains an inordinate amount of frivolous cat pictures. If you are allergic to cat pictures, proceed with caution.
I’m a dog person, all right? Let’s start out with getting that out in the open. I want to be honest about it.
I was honest with the kitten that showed up in my backyard one evening. Well, I was when I saw her. For the first week, I only heard her, usually under my bedroom window. Usually at five in the morning.
I made a deal with Unseen Kitty. I left food out for her, and she stopped crying. It worked, but I still didn’t see her for another week or so. Even then, it was just a glimpse before she hid in the bushes again. Based on what I know now, I’d say she was about four weeks old when she first started to live in my backyard.
It was months before she would let her get close to me. I did eventually get her to let me pick her up, but even that she would only tolerate for a few seconds before she started to squirm. But I made a point to tell her that she was Not My Cat. And she purred. That indicated agreement, right?
I could not find anyone who’d lost a kitten. I do have a neighbor whose cat used to have kittens every year. All the kittens would frolic in my backyard for a few weeks, and then they’d all disappear. I suspect that NMC was a kitten who escaped the pogrom and took up refuge with me, but all I know for a fact is that no one would claim her. And the county people who take care of stray cats were unhelpful to the point of outright rudeness. They would not help with getting her spayed, even after she’d been in my yard for a month or two. They read me a lecture in not trying hard enough to find the original owner. It was Not Their Problem.
Fast forward a few months. I hadn’t had any luck persuading her to be an indoor cat, but she was happy enough in my backyard. I was saving up to pay for spaying NMC myself.The Cat Fostering groups had all pointed me back to the county people, and by this point I’d given up on them as well. Then I had to leave home for a couple weeks on a business trip. And of course, in the interim, NMC discovered Boys.
Which lead to NMK.
They were born outside, 2 calico females, 1 black-and-white male, 1 gray-and-white male. After a week of dealing with newborns and worrying about predators, NMC miraculously overcame her feelings against Indoor Cats. I was in my office working one day, and heard a tiny mew coming from the door. It wasn’t NMC making the noise, I discovered. She was holding the black-and-white male by the scruff of the neck, and he was making little cries. She dropped him at my feet and looked up with a pleading look on her face.
I brought all the kittens inside and settled them in the laundry room, with a cave-like cat bed, a box filled with straw, and a tray filled with kitty litter. NMC kept moving the incontinent kittens from this room, with its nice linoleum, to my office, with its pristine wall-to-wall carpeting. Because it was nicer? No. Because there’s where I was, and she wanted me to deal with her kids. She went back outside for much of the time.
I went out once, after she’d been out for a couple hours. She was lying on the grass, sunning herself for all the world like a woman reading a light beach novel by the pool. She looked up at me (metaphorically pushing down her sunglasses without lowering the novel) as if to say “What? I’m relaxing, here.” I pointed out that kittens needed to be fed regularly. When that didn’t work, I carried her in and parked her in the laundry room until they got fed. One of us Googled how to raise kittens, one went by instinct.
As soon as the kittens were old enough, NMC went to the vet for That Important Visit. The vet did ask me to keep her indoors for a couple days, but that did not work. As soon as the drugs wore off, she started asking to be let out. Then demanding to be let out. Then insisting at a loud voice. I brought her into the office with me, brought the kittens in there too, tried to hold her, calm her down, no luck. It got to the point where she was leaping up, three feet in the air, trying to get at the doorknob. I figured she was going to do something bad to the stitches if she stayed inside, so I let her out. I don’t know what people with fully feral cats do in this situation.
When Not My Kittens were a few weeks old, I started taking them out to meet the neighborhood kids. These kittens were not going to be half-wild. I was also hoping my devious plan would result in them getting adopted once they were old enough, but the kids had stern parents, unfortunately.
I had hoped to keep one or both of the boys, to keep NMC company, but she had other ideas. Once they were old enough not to need her, she wanted them Gone. She would have driven them out of the yard if I hadn’t found them somewhere else to live.
The two girls ended up going to a home together, to the son of an old co-worker. Sadly, the boys went to separate homes. The blessed kind people at the Oregon Humane Society take in kittens, give them their shots and neuter them, then charge about $80 for each kitten. I figure someone willing to put up that much money up front is probably someone willing to take care of the kittens. (Incidentally, OHS takes donations. I have found a new charity to support.)
NMC owns my backyard now. She comes inside to eat food, but the rest of the time she stays outside. Her new mission is to train me to live outside with her. While it’s true that she’s Not My Cat, I suppose you could make an argument that I am Her Human.
Cats. Don’t believe that innocent look they give you when they’re kittens. They’re on a mission.