Thursday, August 03, 2017

Feral Porch Party

We started leaving a bowl of kibble out for the ferals on our block about a week or so ago. I have to catch myself and refrain from filling it every time I find it empty, which is generally within 15 minutes of filling it. I don’t want my own cats to suffer for these ferals which have gotten by just fine, more or less, since we decided to help out. A topic for a Patreon post, I suppose.

Sunday night, the penultimate night of July, we had baked chicken legs, the bones of which we’d left in the bowl along with some kibble. While chicken bones are invariably fatal to dogs, cats have a more circumspect way of cleaning the bones, if not eating them outright. (I’ve watched a cat systematically crack such a bone with her back teeth and devour it whole, to no ill effect.) We went inside to see which cats from the neighborhood would show up.

First up was one of the four “ginger snaps” we know of in our immediate neighborhood. She spent a lot of time looking around before tucking in.

Puff can only look on, disgusted.

She was only interested in the kibble. Then the tortie came up and began working the meat from the chicken bones. This particular ginger doesn’t care for the company of other cats, and quickly departed.

Tortie got as much as she could from the bones, successfully gnawing off their ends. Then this one showed up to get what she could. I hadn’t seen this one before.

Then the rest of the party started showing up.

This wasn’t even all of them. There’s a second white kitten, the two big white cats, and a few more I know I’m missing that aren’t here, which only emphasizes just how many cats we have around here. No wonder so many of them were starting to look skinny compared to last year. A couple of litters over the winter made the difference.

Fortunately, our neighbor on the next block was able to get most of these trapped and fixed. (You can tell which ones were trapped, fixed, and released by a single clipped ear, usually their right one.) It’s going to be a long couple of winters for these survivors, though. Also, she didn’t catch them all. Our story is far from over.

This chapter had some amusing bits, though, especially when I realized—from the migration of the cats to the other side of the porch—I had left my plate outside on the table.

Who knew ranch dressing would be such a hit with a kitten? At least she’s not (we hope) lactose intolerant by this point. The corncob left behind got worked over,too.

It was heartening to see the gingers defer to the tiny white kitten, who pretty much got everything there was to get on this plate. Keep in mind the gingers got most of the kibble earlier, so they didn’t go hungry. Indeed, the gingers are our most frequent visitors. 

This last one is the one that came to gnaw the bones after Tortie. I didn’t know she was still around; I presume she backed off when the mob gathered, and decided, along with Clarence the Cross-Eyed Siamese and others, that there weren’t enough scraps worth jostling for. She did seem to enjoy the solitude on the table, though, keeping vigil for the better part of a half-hour before going wherever these things go when it gets dark. 
What’s ironic about this shot is the shamrocks on the table. They’re outside because Puff is the one cat of our five who compulsively eats houseplants. They’re safe out here among the ferals, though.

My wife and I have noticed some of these cats sitting comfortably about our porch as if they already live here, although they still scatter when we come through the door. Most don’t run entirely away, though. They will stand at a distance and wait to see what we’re going to do—and no doubt hope it’s to drop kibble clattering into that bowl in the corner. 

This is about as comfortable as we like them with us. With five cats in the house already, we can’t take any more. not in evidence here. I have a feeling this situation will change as the weather cools, then freezes. All the more reason to finish this and get my Patreon pitch up and running.