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!