Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fat Cats

My neighbors, the Old Bird and her offspring, like to leave out food and water for the neighborhood cats. Naturally, the cats like to hang out on my porch. And it's not just the strays; there are also pet cats with collars present. They are obviously well taken care of, even the strays! People are feeding them, and it's not just the neighbors giving these cats treats. These cats are fat! During the day, they've taken to congregating on my porch, sleeping on my windowsill, and playing on the steps. On warm nights, they like to hang out on the walk way and by the doors. Even some of the pet cats don't go home on those warm nights. For the most part, I've ignored them and let them be. But every now and then, I'm reminded of their presence and their effect on my life.

On the one hand, the cats have reduced the number of the birds who used to sit in the tree in front of the building. That means less bird poop on my car. On the other hand, the cats leave dirty paw prints on my windshield and hood, especially after I get my car washed! It's like they purposely walk in mud before deciding to climb up my car to nap on the roof! Bastards.

I try to ignore them as I enter or leave my home; I've also avoided feeding them, you know? Because that would mean I cared for them and I would feel some sort of responsibility toward their well being. And everyone knows that once you feed 'em, they'll never go away! Still, as much as I try to ignore them, a couple of them like to run up and rub against my legs, purring and meowing while I'm trying to lock or open the front door. I've been able to resist reaching down to pet them so far. But I confess to breaking down and having fed them on two separate occasions.

I was coming home from grocery shopping when a group of them ran up to me, meowing. A few skittish ones ran to hide in the bushes, but they peeked inside my door while I was putting away groceries. And it was the little kittens, born to a stray, meowing that got to me. I didn't have any cat food, but I did just buy a couple of canned sardines. So I put some out in a bowl for them, along with a bowl of water. At the very least, the mother stray would have something to eat to replenish her strength to feed her kittens. The second time was when I came home to be greeted by one usually skittish stray. It was the only cat present at the time. It looked at me expectantly after running under the bushes when I approached. But when I stood at the door just looking at it, it started to come towards me, unsure but hopeful. So, I fed that one some sardines and water as well.

A few days ago it got pretty cold; we had freezing weather, and I couldn't help but wonder how the strays were doing. I hoped the cats would be okay, perhaps huddled together for warmth. But as much as I rationalized and told myself that it wasn't my problem, I kind of felt bad for them. So, I opened my door to see if they would be out there. I figured I'd let them in, but only for the night. Then I'd either let them out when it was warm or call the animal shelter to get them. But when I looked outside, I couldn't find a single cat. And I was kind of relieved, especially since I didn't have a litter box! And I was going to close my windows, so the cats would've had no way to go outside if they wanted to do their business. Still, I was a little worried about what could've happened to them.

The next day, I went by the front office to check my mail when I ran into the manager. I spotted some of the strays hanging out by the front office door. The manager said that on cold nights, she took the strays into the office, where she kept the heat on and left some food and water and a litter box for them. She also said that she used to call the animal shelter to pick up some of the strays, especially the ones with kittens. I had to admit I felt sort of relieved, knowing that the cats were being looked after; but I wondered what happened to the ones that ended up in the animal shelter. I hoped they went to good homes.

There are still a few strays roaming around; in fact, a couple of them and some pet cats are sleeping on the porch. Life is good for these fat cats. They just lounge about, feasting, enjoying each other's company or their own space, and they love how people stop by to visit them and shower them with affection. I hope you have the same good fortune in the New Year. So, to everyone, I wish you a wonderful, fantastic New Year! May your days be full of peace and serenity, may you feast among friends and loved ones, and may you find laughter and kindness that brings you true joy and great hope. Cheers!


  1. You big old may have slipped your attention , but cats have a built in fur coat to keep them warm . Happy New Year :-)

  2. Happy New Year!

    You are such a softy. I would be Scrooge hissing at them to go away. Being angry at my neigbours because they kept attracting these cats who crap in my yard and walk all over my car.

    That's how I feel about the old ladies feeding the dirty pigeons who also always seem to use my kitchen window for target practice.

  3. The next time it gets really cold outside and you're about to get in your car to go someplace, bang on the hood of your car, over your engine. I read that animals like cats will seek shelter and warmth, sometimes in the wrong places like inside cars. My brother is a mechanic and has seen the consequences. And on that cheerful, gross note I wish you a very happy 2009!

  4. My neighbours fat cat spends most of it's time in my kitchen stealing food. Every time I walk into my kitchen I hear the cat flap clap shut. Which is easier to write than say.

  5. I once ate a cat but thats another story!

    Herpes Noiuye Yeer!!

  6. Beast, I was thinking about that, but the weatherman on the news advised view to bring indoors any pets because the grounds would freeze and the winds would make the cold deadly. I didn't want to find frozen kitties in the morning. And I wasn't sure how many lives each cat had left. Happy New Year!

    CP, I used to try and scare them, but they still came back. Now I just try to live with them; but pigeons (and seagulls!) are the worst! At least the cats have either eaten or chased away those flying rats from the neighborhood! Happy New Year!

    Tara, Thanks for the good advice (and inspiring various images of engine cooked vermin providing entertainment in my brain this morning ;) I do have to chase some of those cats off the car sometimes. Happy New Year!

    Tickers, That fat neighbor's cat is a rude (and criminal) one! I'd be shooting it with a water pistol the next time it ventures onto the property! Happy New Year!

    Mutley, Meow! Did it taste like chicken? What's funny is that I saw a program on tv a few nights ago that said, pound for pound, a cat is more nutritious than a dog! Happy New Year!

  7. Happy New Year from north of the border!

  8. MJ, Thanks! Happy New Year to you, too, from south of the border!

  9. Happy New Year, Eros! Hope you are out having a great evening!

    On the car and cat note, it is not cooked cat you end up with... it is cats with bits missing. I once knew a cat named Tripod because it lost a back leg in the fan belt. And another that had a huge swath of skin and fur ripped off its back from the same thing. It survived after being basted back together again. Once the fur grew back, you couldn't see any scars at all - amazing!

    Anyway, have a great evening and a wonderful 2009 to you!

  10. It's -20ºC here today so even my kitties won't venture out and normally they love to be outside. Bless you for thinking of all the strays. Best of 2009 Eros! May your kindness come back to you 10-fold.

  11. Happy New Year Eroswings! I hope 2009's a goodun'!

  12. Ponita, Happy New Year! Well, I'm glad the kitties survived. I read a story in the paper last winter, about a woman who took her car in for services, and the mechanics found a nest of critters sleeping!

    Snooze, Happy New Year! I like animals, but I can't have pets. I try not to get attached to these cats, but I still hope that they're okay. It seems to be the neighborly thing to do.

    Tim, Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to 2009, glad to be alive and living life to the fullest!