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It started last July when we got back from Killarney. The day we left, my parents came in from Montreal. They have a key to our house and that was the only time they could come in. (I kid that we're the hotel and my sister with her two adorable kids under the age of three are the entertainment.) So we went Sunday to Tuesday. They came Sunday to Thursday. And when we get back, Dad smiles at me and says, "you're feeding a cat, right?"

Well, the truth was, I wasn't and I told him as much. He was surprised. "I saw a skinny hungry cat passing through the backyard," he said. Yeah. Toronto has a feral cat problem. I'd seen them too from time to time. But I wasn't feeding them.

Well, a couple of days later, I was looking out my window and... yeah. Thin, scruffy, hungry, hunted... went I went grocery shopping, I picked up a can of tuna in water for him/her.

A few hours later, I look out on the patio and there's a cat eating it. And when I look out a bit later... the cat is lying down, staring at the empty can. If I'd had a pic to caption, it would have said "Did that really just happen?"

For about a week, I bought more tuna. Then I found out that

  1. Tuna, even if it's water-packed, isn't great for cats. (Something about the salt content.

  2. Catfood... even the premium 85% animal protein kind... costs less than a can of tuna a day.

I picked up a food-water combo dish at a dollar store and started buying the premium food. I just figured that, without knowing where else the cat was eating, if I was the sole steady source of nourishment, then I wasn't going to put out something that listed corn or soy as the first ingredient.

Well... that was early July.

I now have a shelter in my back yard from a cat rescue (Hubby doesn't want pets in the house and I'm not positive that a feral would adjust anyway).

I also have metal food and water bowls instead of the plastic 2-in-1 I bought. It seems that when the water in the dish freezes overnight and you tap it on the concrete patio to dislodge the solid ice...

And I've got five regular visitors.

  1. Simone. Long-haired tortie who, initially, seemed to be warming up to me. (I'd get in the habit of putting down the food and then moving to sit on a patio chair on the lawn. Simone would come into the yard, even if I was there, which was more than the others would). She's now gotten more standoffish. But if the food dish is empty, she will look up at my window. And if I'm in it, she we stare at me. As if to say, "Don't just stand there, Useless. Fill it. I'm hungry!"

  2. Snake. Grey-and-white. Has a bad leg and slithers a bit when s/he walks. Will slow-blink me from the neighbor's yard. Sometimes stays in mine when I go to feed them, but at the far fence. Periodically stays in the shelter.

  3. Soot. Solid charcoal grey. Might have some Russian Blue in them. Very laid back and easy-going for a feral. By which I mean that when I come into the yard, if he's lying on the cushioned patio chair near the water faucet (opposite end of the patio), he'll lift his head, slow-blink, and then just lie back down and watch. Now, if I need to fill the water at the faucet, he'll bolt but... this is Toronto and it's winter. I've been refilling a plastic bottle indoors and pouring that into the water dish. Pipes freeze. He's making very good use of the shelter.

  4. Ol Punk. Longhaired ginger tabby. Friendliest of the five. Runs up to me when I come into the yard. Lets me pet him. I start filling the bowl and he's got his head in it before I can even add the dental treats. Rubs against me. Hasn't started purring yet, but I think it'll happen. Of course, when Hubby came into the back yard to tell me something, he streaked out in mid-pet.

  5. Cayenne. Red-and-white tabby about half the size of the others. I believe they're an adult, but probably was a kitten not long ago. Trades on cutes to get by. The only one who isn't afraid to move on the food dish while another cat is there. (Will approach while I'm there, but stays a few feet away until I leave.)

Oh and the shelter? Rubbermaid container, insulated with Styrofoam, lined with straw. When I got it, the first couple of days, I strewed some kibble in front of it, as well as what I put in the food dishes. (The shelter is as far from the patio as possible; I was worried that if it was on the patio, I might be getting too close to them when I went to feed them.) Two days later, I go out to feed them and I discover a single piece of straw laid down precisely in front of the food dish. No wind. No other straw in the yard anywhere. Somehow, I think that one of them was trying to tell me that they'd found it and I could stop putting the food there now...

Winter's starting to get brutal. The shelter is supposed to sleep three. Two are using it. (Snake and Soot.) Meanwhile... I think they're getting to like me.

This entry was originally posted at http://dragonbat2006.dreamwidth.org/38064.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2015 08:28 am (UTC)
I'd feed them too.
Jan. 7th, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC)
And that's how it starts...

I have a few friends here on LJ who have made a few pets out of the strays they find. During the winter I'm sure they are thanking you for the kindness.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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