13. I Don’t Know Why We Can’t Catch Him


 And….that brings me to an elusive and seldom seen very tall, handsome, gray and white male feral who was first spotted in 2005.  We had named him Earl Gray.  We’d gotten into the habit of naming every neighborhood cat who came into our yard or been presented at our front door, like Juliet was.  Well, how else can one talk about those outdoor cats without a name?  In addition to enlightened conversation about them, it seems that once they were named that we’d take responsibility for their welfare and also worry about them when we didn’t see them.  Well, I have to admit we’re “cat people” and those of you reading this probably are as well.

Yes, I know that many people don’t and won’t understand those feelings and sense of responsibility; after all, they are just cats. 

 We initially spotted Earl Gray in 2005 near our home.  He would appear intermittently.  At that time, sometimes a week would go by and sometimes an absence of several weeks would mark his next appearance.  Earl was a ghost cat or so it seemed.  Then, he mysteriously disappeared for about two years and it was during that long interval that we thought he’d probably died, but hoped he was being cared for in the neighborhood by those who feed ferals.      

Earl Gray is a handsome cat with many of the usual feral characteristics such as avoiding eye contact, keeping a very safe distance, warily approaching offered food, and for too long impossible to trap.  Secretly, we admired his suspicion about traps and simultaneously, we were outwitted by a cat!  That’s not something to admit to friends and you didn’t read it here, did you. 

 For Earl Gray, TNR (Trap – Neuter – Return) was just a theory.  At times we’d see him looking wounded with scratches on his nose, tufts of fur missing, and walking with a slight limp.  At other times, he came without a scratch and it appeared that he was a peerless competitor in the field of defending himself and/or finding a mate!

So, how does one catch a cat that refuses to be trapped or even seen?  My wife, Nancy, is a “cat charmer” and has been since she was five.  She had first observed and named Earl Gray.  During warm weather, she’d go outside to work in the garden beds or read.  She noticed Earl watching her and she would speak to him, but did not look at him.  He wasn’t ready for that yet.

I began investigating and read what experts far and wide had to say about ferals.  I started reading and reviewing.  Nancy didn’t need to read, she knew since the age of five what to do.

Our FIV cats, Snowball, Tangerine, and Earl became buddies, never attacked another household cat, and became bed cats.

These are our Meowsers in order of their arrival to our home:

  1. Lexie
  2. Sasha
  3. Hunter
  4. Clyde Died: 19 Feb 2015
  5. Hope Died: 13 Feb 2014
  6. Sam Died: 11 Oct 2011
  7. Tangerine
  8. Snowball Died: 25 Jan 2015
  9. Stripes
  10. Morgan
  11. Greta
  12. Abby
  13. Stallone
  14. Winston
  15. Rosaline
  16. Paladin
  17. Ingrid
  18. Juliet
  19. Rigby
  20. McGee
  21. Maggie
  22. Earl Gray Died: 07 May 2016

 Below is a list of our other purr babies that we TNRed and lost. 

We will meet them again at the Rainbow Bridge.

  1. Mercedes (Sadie)
  2. Midnight
  3. Callie
  4. Madison (One Bad Cat)
  5. Kyle
  6. Simon
  7. Cleopatra
  8. Oreo
  9. Charlie
  10. Eleanor

Revised: 26 September 2016

12. “One Cat Just Leads to Another”

12. “One cat just leads to another.”
Ernest Hemingway

And….that brings me to Juliet.

Juliet came to us a little differently than the other cats we have. We had seen her in the yard a few times and thought she had to be a male; she was so big. I said to Craig, “I spotted a large male in the back yard, better get the trap ready.” It was a few more days before I saw her again and this time she was looking a bit scruffy. I put out food and water for her and left her to eat in peace.

While driving home one day, I saw her again, but she was farther away from our home. I continued to put out food and water, which is our usual habit.

One day in the late afternoon on a very warm day, the doorbell rang. I answered the door and there was one of the little girls in the neighborhood who keeps an eye out for cats and will often ring the doorbell to let us know she spotted a feral here or there. Outstretched across her arms was laying this very large, scruffy looking cat that I recognized as the “male” we had been feeding in the back yard. She “presented” the cat to me and said, “Take this cat; we found her in the road and she is going to get killed.” How do you resist such a plea?

I took her and she just snuggled in and started purring. I knew immediately this was not your ordinary (if you can describe ANY cat as ordinary) feral cat. She was friendly and very healthy looking, with no signs of abuse or maltreatment. She was a little disheveled from spending a week or so outside, but other than that, she looked fine and ate very well. I put her down and she acted as if she owned the place, normal behavior for a cat!

We called the vet to get her in for neutering. Within an hour of dropping her off, the vet called to say that not only was the cat a female, she was already spayed and that she was declawed on all four paws! Well, that sealed the deal. We couldn’t put her back outside with no claws for defense. So, Juliet was added to the family.

She has found it somewhat difficult being accepted by the other cats. For some reason, none of the other cats like her and we can trace some of the other unwanted cat behavior (marking) to her arrival. That does not deter her. She will make her way around the house and get the choice spots for sunning and sleeping. And just because there are other cats who think they are the king (or queen) of the bed, she will jump right up between Craig and me and defy anyone to move her.

She is quite the talker. She makes some of the cutest noises, especially when she wants to be petted. She can also get rather vocal when it’s feeding time. She knows that she will get her food first if she makes more noise than the others. Boy, does she have us trained!

We have had Juliet in the family for 3 years and she continues to thrive. We suspect she comes from a very good family and that she had trained them very well. Maybe they felt guilty for cutting her feet. I hope they did. She seems to be sensitive about her feet and for that reason we lift her down from higher spots so she doesn’t have to perform a hard landing. Yes. Yes, we do coddle her!

Juliet is obviously a breed that is larger than the average American Shorthair. She does not have any of the characteristics of a Maine Coon or some of the bigger breeds, but she is a big girl who is a healthy weight of 23 pounds as of the last vet visit. She will be with us for the rest of her life, which we hope will be a good long life.


11. Do We Understand Cats? / Temple Grandin / Animals Make Us Human

As is my usual daily custom, I sit down with Clyde and Snowball to talk.  Usually it’s late afternoon just before their scheduled late afternoon nap time.  I say scheduled meaning they schedule their naptime.  One does not want a cat with sharp protractible claws walking around who is feeling a bit cranky because he did not get his regular nap.  I will remind you that Clyde has a Fifth Degree Black Belt in Iron Claw – that means he’s really, really effective.  He can topple a water buffalo with just one swipe!

Clyde’s mother, HRH Alexandria Regina, is often with us for these talks.  Only the inner household calls her Lexie, so don’t let word of this get out.  She is an old, wise, mama cat, the only queen in the house.  We love and respect her.  Her mother was a feral.  HRH Alexandria Regina is a feral.  She was born and raised outside and she had two litters outside.  The dramatic change for us took place when she came into our home to have her third and last litter under a tall family room chair.  Yes, it was actually Mothers Day 2009.  It is a singular story.

That heartwarming story, as told here, is a true and faithful account.  For simplicity sake, we will call our old, wise, mama cat, Lexie.  She would not mind those beyond the inner household calling her that just during this account.  Lexie was born of a feral mother and that feral mother raised her.  Lexie herself gave birth to two feral litters outdoors.  Some of you would ask “How can that be?”  Well, there was a time when TNR was an unknown term to us.  Yup – just plain ignorance.  My first sighting of a feral was Snowball during the early winter of 2006.  For his account, see the first story, “How It All Began” which was posted on 21 Jan 2011.

Nancy, on the other hand, had worked with and nurtured ferals when she was age 5.  She knew the truth of Temple Grandin’s observation “Dogs serve people, but people serve cats.”  She also learned first hand “People rescue their lives, but cats rescue our hearts.”  None of you reading this can deny either statement.

Prior to Lexie’s first litter, Nancy used to let her into the house to eat, drink, and rest.  When Lexie was pregnant with her first litter, she seemed to appreciate being allowed in even more.  It got to the place where she would come to the back step and wait even though food and water were there.  Again, I remind you that she was feral – she couldn’t be touched or held and we couldn’t violate that trust.   The same was true with her second litter although she was less skittish.  She gave birth to both those litters outside and raised them outside.

Now, back to where I originally started.  Of course, Clyde’s sisters, Hunter and Hope are there.  This particular time, Clyde mentioned a book he has just finished.  He refers to Animals Make Us Human, which was written by Temple Grandin.  He tells me it was on the New York Times bestseller list.  Temple is a woman with high functioning autism.  You may have thought you understood cats, but wait until you read her Chapter 3 entitled “CATS.”  Did you expect a complex title?  I did, but then I began reading.  No wonder Clyde was impressed.

I hope that you have seen the HBO special about her life entitled “Temple Grandin.”  The HBO debut was 06 February 2010.  We don’t receive HBO, so we initially ordered it from Netflix.  The DVD was later given to me as a Christmas gift by our granddaughter, Mia.  You may recall that she is the one who bestowed upon Snowball his name.  All of us bestowed upon him our affections.

Clyde, once again, groomed his paw, and passed his favorite catnip mouse over to his sister, Hope.  He cleared his throat and placed his right paw on his mother’s arm.  Clyde, you may recall, is the baby of that litter since he was the last born of the three.  I’m proud to say that he has become the scholar of the family and is well respected by all the other cats in this indoor colony.  He also maintains contact with several feral colonies in the neighborhood as well.

Clyde’s favorite quote from Grandin is

“Dogs serve people, but people serve cats.”

I am not sure why that is his favorite; he just purred when I asked him.  There is a certain direct simplicity with Clyde and I do appreciate it.  The others just rolled around on the floor like they were high on catnip!  Now then, Temple Grandin is absolutely correct.  Now I don’t usually wear my white shirt and black bowtie when feeding our cats.  However, I do so occasionally to remind myself of my place in the scheme of things and to humor the cats; remember, “People serve cats.”  Now if you don’t know that, you probably don’t have a cat, and, you probably wouldn’t like cats.  As I had mentioned in a previous account, most men are clueless when it comes to serving others.  When I’m in a gathering of men, I’m often asked “What do you do?”  What a dumb question.  I have been tempted to say “I serve cats,” but I usually restrain myself.  Clyde reminds us that every life deserves nine cats!  I believe everything Clyde tells me and he has never steered me wrong. Kitty kisses, head butts, and a few love bites to all!

9. When Cats Cry

One of the most heartbreaking things one can witness is to see a cat crying.  If you have never seen it, you probably will not believe me.  However, I can tell you it is certainly true.  I know.  I know.  There are people (those who are “experts” in the field of cat behavior) who will tell you that cats do not express their emotions in this way.   They contend that cats will become lethargic, or show a disinterest in food, or withdraw and that if there are tears, it is for medical reasons rather than from emotional distress.  Some medical reasons they cite are eye irritation from a speck of dust, a scratch from another cat, an allergy, or from a contagious disease, such as upper respiratory infection.  I know better.  I know cats cry when they hurt emotionally.

Sasha is a big furry, gentle, fourteen pound male feral cat, who is now one of our companions.  He was in the first (of three) feral litters of HRH Alexandria Regina.  I would let him in the house to eat his meals in peace and to allow him to have a little respite from the cruelty of the outside world.  He became quite socialized and would be in the house sometimes for hours at a time.   He would find his perfect place in the sun on a comfy cushion and fall asleep – soundly…possibly the best sleep of the day for him.  He also liked to follow me around.   He would head-butt my leg; I would pet him until he indicated he was tired of the routine and wanted to sleep, or eat, or groom.

One day, I had to do some things in the basement.  It’s an unfinished basement with exposed beams and rafters.  I was not accustomed to closing the door behind me, since we did not have indoor companions at that time…and…I forgot that Sasha was in the house.  The next thing I know, I see Sasha on the stair way and he is very frightened.   I walked towards him to see if I could ease him back up the stairs, but he panicked and ran past me into the basement.  He ran around to several different locations in the basement looking for an exit.  He finally went to the top of a shelving unit and tried to make himself invisible; he then went into the rafters behind some insulation.

I tried talking to him and tried to get him to come to me, but nothing worked.  I finally got the ladder and put myself level with him so he could see me.  I stroked him and spoke to him softly and as I was speaking with him, he started to cry.   He cried real tears that fell onto my hand.   I stroked them away and kept talking to him.  It was the saddest thing to see.  He could not express himself in any other way at that time, so perhaps he knew I would understand tears or perhaps it was involuntary.  Eventually, my husband came home and together we coaxed him down where he went limp in my arms as I was carrying him up the stairs.   It was a day, long remembered ….

Nancy L. H. Laurent

8. What Do Your Neighborhood Cats Want and Need?

Well, what do your neighborhood cats want and need?  Will you help?  Every Kitty! Every City!  What will your response be?

Actually, feral cats, hard strays, and strays are so easy to get along with.  They ask very little of you.  Snowball and Tangerine, both feral males – yes, they were real ferals who were born outside to a feral mother.  The father, of course, was from a nice neighborhood, but he had places to go and things to do.  Actually, that sounds a lot like too many human males, but that takes me down another road, or perhaps another alley.

This record is straight from conversations with Snowball and Tangerine.  You will recall that we had previously neutered and vetted them once we’d learned about TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return).   Both had survived outside as feral cats for five plus years.  When it came time for another vet visit – yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a file folder for every cat we’ve TNRed (that is ALL of them) and we keep track of vaccinations and any other medical needs.  There, I said it!  Yes, we named each one of them so they would never be forgotten.  They are all remembered even to the Rainbow Bridge.   To our surprise, but not to our vet, we discovered both of these were FIV positive as many feral males are.  In short, FIV for cats is analogous in many ways to HIV for humans, but cannot be spread to humans.

Snowball and Tangie missed an early evening nap just to tell me everything.  Of course, there were a few bits and pieces they filled in later.  Imagine, missing an evening nap!  Those are the most extraordinary cats.

I recalled seeing a teardrop down Snowball’s left cheek when he softly said, “We didn’t ask to be born and be forced to live among you.”  Snowball continued: “Then Mom, she was just Mom to us since no one had named her yet, said she had to visit her sister was was having some babies of her own in a short time.  Then came the shock – she said she loved us dearly and that she always would, but that she didn’t know when she’d be back.”  Snowball went on: “Mom continued to speak and said she’d given us the finest training over these eight weeks and we had what it took to survive and live a long time.  And then — she was gone and we never saw her again; but she remains forever in our hearts.”

Snowball and Tangerine began to summarize what they’d been taught by their mother and learned from other feral cats.  Tangerine said, “We are feral and stray cats and we have a right to live too.”  Both expressed their inborn fear of nasty children. Especially noted was the plea of “Please don’t try to hurt us.  Please don’t harass us or chase us.  It’s stressful, and we may run out in front of a car or a soccer mom’s van.”

Snowball said that they wanted very little from humans when he said, “We just want a nice meal and safe and dry place to sleep.  We have a right to exist.”

He continued, “If you don’t like cats, we will try to keep from bothering you.  It seems some people didn’t get their cats fixed, so we were born.  Or we got lost, or someone opened the door and then didn’t search for us.  For other owners, some just abandoned us when we cost too much to feed and give proper veterinary care and we became ‘strays’ or ‘hard strays’.”

“And now we have to make a life for ourselves.  Life on this planet already has enough cruelty in it.  Why do some want to add to the amount of cruelty already there?  We have feelings too.  We have a right to exist.”

So, with that, both quickly dropped off to sleep curled around each other and off to my left as I sat on the floor with them with my hand gently soothing them for a time.  Rest safely – you are now sanctuaried here with us.

7. Declawing the Felis catus – Why is this sadistic cruelty still allowed?

You may have guessed that I have an unwavering conviction about this subject.  You are absolutely correct.

Let me begin with where declawing is outlawed.  Declawing is currently banned in only 25 countries.  Alphabetically, this includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales, and Yugoslavia.

What countries are missing from the list?  In just the Americas from northernmost Murchison Promontory on Boothia Peninsula, Nunavut, Canada to southernmost Cape Froward, Chile, ALL countries are missing except Brazil.  Of the 195 countries in the world, 170 allow the surgical mutilation of cats by declawing.  What is missing I ask.

Onychectomy is the medical term for declawing.  It is a booming business in both the U.S. and Canada!  Declawing is not a manicure.  It is an abusive and cruel mutilation of cats.

Unthinking and unfeeling people might call it elective surgery.  Note – it’s not the cat who elects it!  It’s a human being who elects it and that human is one who definitely should not have a cat.  They are not cat people.

Declawing is not a removal of the just the claws of a cat as the name might imply.  This barbaric practice is actually the amputation of the first digit of each of the cat’s toes!  In human terms, it would be the equivalent of chopping off each finger and toe at the first knuckle.  This severs both muscles and tendons.  Folks, that’s not a manicure!  Why can’t most veterinarians tell the truth – or better yet, refuse to do it.

Domestic cats are digitigrade, meaning they walk on their toes.  His claws and toes are an integral part of making a cat a cat.  Think about that for a moment.  Declawing also robs a cat of his chief weapon of defense – his protractible claws.  Another way of stating this is that people have chosen to remove an entire tier from a cat’s defense hierarchy of behaviors.  Again, that sadistic maiming cannot be reversed.

The cruel disfigurement does absolutely nothing to benefit the cat.  Not only is this extremely painful surgery, but it includes phantom pain which may last for weeks or months.

It is non-reversible surgery.  The horrible suffering and disfigurement it causes are not offset by any benefit of any kind to the cat.  Declawed cats often are much more stressed out and behavior problems result.

So, why does your neighborhood vet do this?  It’s called money.  It has nothing to do with the welfare of your cat or the ethics of proper care of cats.  Again, it is a human being who elects this barbaric surgery.  It is also clear that the human is one who should never have a cat.  So, what you do think?

6. Neighborhood Cats / Gesine Lohr / Trap-Neuter-Return

We are feral cat colony caretakers. I like the sound of that, don’t you?  This means several things.   We take responsibility to TNR all of our cats.

First, this means we TRAP cats that come into our yard and take them to the vet to NEUTER or spay them.  By the way, Clyde tells me that he and his fellow male cats are not too keen about the “N” part of TNR, but that he intellectually understands the rationale.

It’s interesting to note that the reason why so many human males refuse to have their dogs or cats neutered is that they believe it reflects on their “manhood.”  Yeah, sure it does.

In addition, our vet examines each cat and notes any other health concerns.  They always call me if there is a concern and I have that care provided when necessary.  Our TNR cats always receive Rabies and FVRCP vaccinations, and always have their ears checked for problems.  I have never liked an itchy ear and Clyde tells me that cats like an itchy ear even less.  Of course, we left eartip all ferals.

When it’s time for pickup, we bring the cats home to recover.  They are placed inside in a quiet, temperature regulated, isolated room, either Nancy’s study or my study.  Recovery is the most neglected aspect of TNR.

First, we give time for recovery because it takes a proper amount of time to allow the sedation and its effects to completely wear off and for the cat to begin to function normally.  Please note – cats cannot regulate their body temperatures when sedated.  The larger the cat, the more heavily sedated she is.  Secondly, we keep TNR cats in our home long enough for healing to have a good start, and for the cat to begin eating and drinking.  Then, we RETURN the cat to where it was originally trapped.  This is standard protocol.  Please note that the word is RETURN, not release.

Once back outside in their original colony location, the colony remains stable and no more kittens are born.  The neutered male cats no longer have to fight or roam.  Of course, we continue to provide food and fresh water for them as well as shelter.  In Northern Illinois, it does get cold.

As many of you know, feral cats are a marginalized population.  An uninformed public regards ferals as inconvenient and worthless at best.  At worse, that same public regards them as better off dead. Some even believe it’s the cats’ fault for being born – go figure.  In addition, neighborhood cats are certainly an easy target for those of an evil mind.  The incidence of maiming and torture is too high to ignore.

I greatly admire and respect one particular feral cat specialist.  She is Gesine Lohr.  Gesine is an expert in TNR, taming, and rescue ethics.  Gesine is experienced, intelligent, articulate, and she perseverates with her TNR work and clear teaching.  Gesine is one of the very few who is clearly a goddess!  She is a foremost proponent of TNR and knows that TNR is the conditio sine qua non to solving issues involving feral cats.

Gesine is also a proponent of “Yes, you can tame/sanctuary hard stray cats, even though many rescue advocates say you can’t.” Both Nancy and I know Gesine is correct and we, too, have experienced the same good results.  Of course, it isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone.

Feral cats are called by a variety of names – take your pick. American cats, community cats, feral cats, feral friends, free-roaming cats, hard strays, neighborhood cats, our cats, stray cats, and street cats are names I most often hear.  Of course, those who do not like cats in any form have a list of other names – none of which is suitable for the family fare of these pages.

We need to remind ourselves: “Cats nap. Humans kill.”  There is no reason to kill a cat unless there are severe neurological problems.  Brain injury or brain tumor comes to mind.

We are here and reading this because of our love for cats and maybe our love for cats on the fringe, those we call feral cats or neighborhood cats.  I prefer to think of them as “our cats.”  We have the privilege of being their caretakers if we desire to do so.

We express gratitude for those people who work tirelessly to make this a better world for cats.  In the midst of it all, we need to remember to be thankful for those feral felines and domestic felines are have become part of us.  We think of the kitties who benefit from our care, knowledge, and resources.  We keep them close in our thoughts. They are in our hearts and never leave.

The following ran through my mind as I was thinking about our kibs.  You may recall the last verse of the Sesame Street counting song, “Two Little Dolls.”  Caution: if you are a male, under no circumstances should you tell your guy friends you even know this!

What’s that? Small pitter-pats
One, two, two kitty cats
Two kitty cats went on a spree
Then sat down and had some tea.

That is all I remember from the song.  Maybe, that’s all I need to remember.  Well, at least Clyde and Snowball said they enjoyed my singing.   They are such diplomats, aren’t they?

Head butts, love bites, and kitty kisses to all!

5. The Little, Tiny, Baby, Girl Cat / Human Male DNA Flaws / Sanctuary

Greta is our little, tiny, baby, girl cat.  Now, I have no idea where that name came from.  It does not befit my sense of dignity and self-respect.  What I suspect is that one of my other cats whispered that phrase in my ear when I was sleeping – isn’t that called subliminal programming?  I would hate to think that any of my cats would be so sneaky.  Of course not!  What was I thinking?  Nevertheless, when I asked Clyde about it, he just began rolling around on the floor and said something about the great catnip toy I’d given him.

Well, it happened!  I was talking with some of my guy friends and I blurted out something about “… my little, tiny, baby, girl cat.”  These guys were speechless.  They began looking at the floor and started talking about how seasonal the weather was.  Then, they looked at their watches, looked distressed, mumbled something about being late, and they rushed off.  Such things are still a mystery to me.

Now, the facts in chronological order.  Greta was TNRed on 04 August 2010 and later returned to where we found her.  Then days later, we were shocked on the morning of 18 August to find her inextricably entangled in a chain link fence.  She had her head through one opening, her left leg through another opening, and then she apparently turned her head to reach up to unentangle herself.  As a result, she caught a tooth on the fence wire and she was helplessly hanging with her back feet barely touching the ground.

When I saw her, I immediately lifted her back feet off the ground so she wasn’t hanging.  A neighbor came out and I asked him to get a heavy cutter to sever the fencing around her.  It took four cuts to remove her.  Nancy had already gotten a cat carrier from the house and Greta and I were on the way to our vet.  Fortunately, he’s less than a half mile away and took us in immediately.

She couldn’t support herself on her left leg.  Subcutaneous fluid and steroid injections, rest, observation, speculation that a kitten could heal more readily, an overnight stay at the clinic, and hope were combined as the treatment.  We picked up our little, tiny, baby, girl cat (Greta) the next day.  She was still having difficulty in trying to stand and move.

We had already decided to sanctuary her – there just was no way we could return her outside.  We did not know how she would heal, but we knew she’d be safer with us inside the house.  She was and is – and she appears to be fully recovered.  Greta is still a kitten who pounces on any available cat tail and chases the other cats around.  However, they do appreciate the breaks her long naps give them.

Head butts, love bites, and kitty kisses to all – except those speechless guy “friends.”

Now we just talk about the weather and “guy” stuff.  Strangely, none of them have ever asked about that little, tiny, baby, girl cat.  Well, life goes on.

4. This Feral Cat Colony Caretaker & The Vacuum Effect

My addiction to cats – did I say “addiction”?  I did not. Clyde sneaked in when I stepped out and he wrote it.  Well, he is a keen observer of the obvious.  How do cats know these things?  Ah, oh, well, what I meant to say was my deep and abiding concern for feral cats began with Snowball.

There are those days when I feel overwhelmed and I have to remind myself that feral cat commitment is forever.  Then, like so many, I take on more work.  Our ferals grace and enrich our lives in a way that’s beyond explanation; our hearts are touched and we can’t stop.

When I get discouraged, my cat Snowball snuggles close and purrs.  Then he moves in even closer.  He puts a paw on my arm and reminds me: “To the world, you are just another person.  To a rescued cat, you are the world.”  He always seems to know just when to do that; I do not know how.  Snowball’s story is the first post “Some Beginnings With Neighborhood Cats” on NoBadCat.com.

As I said in a previous account, the sacred moments in our lives and those of our cats are precious.  We hold those moments in our hearts with a love that’s ineffable.  Those moments give us needed strength and compassion.

We also need to remind ourselves of this truth.  We are their caretakers, not their owners – this is the deal between us and them and nothing abrogates or transcends that.

Now, where was I?  Three weeks ago, we sanctuaried the three ferals from our backyard colony.  Snowball, Tangerine, and Stripes were clearly bonded to each other and they were bonded to us.  Of course, it’s Snowball’s fault.  He head butted my hand one day when I was feeding him.  I just could not resist petting him.  I had no self-control.  Well, I could not help myself and neither could Nancy.

Snowball and Tangerine are both twelve pound males who are at least five years old.  Both are FIV positive, but are asymptomatic.  These three were isolated for three weeks in Nancy’s “study” to acclimate.  We introduced our indoor cats to them one at a time and it went well.  There were a few hisses from the indoor cats, but the three sanctuaried cats did not respond in kind.

Now then, the “feral vacuum effect” which we’ve all read about or heard about is real.  All it took was a few days of no cats in the back yard colony.  Then, other cats began showing up.  First were two all black cats.  They seemed to be a mother and one of her kibs.  Then, yesterday, a very large cat (mostly black and a little orange) appeared in the yard.  As we begin the TNR process, we have decided to give them character names from Shakespeare’s plays.

This week is our first TNR of one of the “vacuum” cats.  These vet visits include neutering, Rabies and FVRCP vaccinations, and left eartipping.   Both Alley Cat Allies [Alleycat.org] and Neighborhood Cats [Neighborhoodcats.org] strongly recommend left eartipping.  In addition, each feral cat receives Revolution, a brief physical exam, ear cleaning if necessary, and anything else our vet may telephone us about.  We are grateful that the Rockford, IL PAWS subsidizes much of this.

We give our male ferals a full 48 hours for recovery and our female ferals a full 96 hours for recovery.  We sometimes wonder if that is enough time.

We want to be sure that these neighborhood cats be fully recovered from sedation as well as eating and drinking again.

I know that you are not cats, but if you have ever had surgery, even “minor” surgery with sedation, you know that recovering from the sedation and the effects of the surgery takes some time.  Why would it be any different for our neighborhood cats?

Next, I will tell you about our little, tiny, baby girl cat – Greta.

Head butts, love bites, and kitty kisses to all!

3. The Sacred Account Of Adam & Eve’s Pets

I know that some of you have read fragments of this factual sacred account. It was originally written in the ancient language of Ugaritic. Of course, those who love the Felis catus would have a special appreciation of the truth of this translated ancient text. My cat, Clyde, likes this particular English translation. He likes to read it to me even though I have heard it dozens of times. Of course, I believe everything Clyde tells me and he has never steered me wrong. He was right, you know, when he said that every life should have nine cats.

Most recently, he picked a warm early autumn evening when the sun’s rays were shining brightly through the western family room windows. It was almost their early evening naptime. He, his two sisters, Hunter and Hope, and I settled down comfortably. They almost seemed to be laughing, but they snuggled close to me and to each other and purred to keep me comfortable as they awaited those eternal words once again.

After licking his left paw, Clyde, with his usual affection, pushed his favorite catnip mouse over to his sister, Hunter. After a pause, and with great solemnity, he began to read “The Sacred Account of Adam and Eve’s Pets.”

Adam and Eve said, ‘Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you anymore. We are lonesome here, and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us.’

Then, God said, I will create a companion for you that will be with you and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves.’

Therefore, God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. Moreover, it was a good animal and God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, ‘Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a good name for this new animal.’

And God said, ‘I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you; his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.’

Dog lived with Adam and Eve. He was a companion to them and loved them. And they were comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a very short time, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and reported, ‘Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks. Moreover, they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well.’

And God said, I will create for them a companion who will be with them and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations. Therefore, they will know they are not always worthy of adoration.’

So God, in His great eternal wisdom, created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.

It came to pass that Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat’s eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings.

And Adam and Eve learned humility.
And they were greatly improved.

And God was pleased.
And Dog was happy.

And Cat, well, he didn’t give a shit one way or the other.

Then Clyde, with great reverence and solemnity, closed the book. Soon he, Hunter, and Hope curled up to nap. It almost looked like they were smiling, but I’m not sure.