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Cat Watching Has Become A Favorite Activity

Last summer, a feral cat had kittens and my neighbors started feeding them. At one point, I was asked how to get rid of the cats. “Stop feeding them,” I answered. Since that was not an option for them, they trapped all the cats, including the mother and father, and had them all spayed or neutered.

Instead of getting rid of them, they let them stay. Since then, I’ve enjoyed watching the kittens grow up. Two or three are black and white, one is a gorgeous tabby with a lovely swirl of a black target on its side, and there’s a black one with each paw barely dipped in white. There’s another tabby, I think, and the mother cat is mostly gray.

All these cats call the neighbors’ back yard home. They congregate on the back deck for meals and to sun themselves on the railing surrounding the deck. There’s a back shed with the door partially open as a shelter. They are well-fed and they all grew thick, luxurious coats over the winter.

Cat watching has become one of my favorite activities. Last summer, a couple of the kittens even made friends with the ground hog that lives under the deck. It was fun to watch that encounter. I love watching these multiple cats as they play, or stalk prey. Sometimes one or more will climb a small tree and just curl up on a branch.

My dog Tegan is not happy about that. He’ll retrieve his ball and then realize that he’s being observed by one or more felines. With his ball still in his mouth, he’ll woof as he bounces up and down on his front feet. Sometimes he’ll drop the ball and give a few full barks, but as the cats don’t move, he soon ignores them.

He doesn’t ignore the ones who decide our porch railing is just the spot for a snooze. Standing on my chair near the window, he makes it clear that they really need to move on, with loud, frenzied barking. Those of you familiar with cats know what happens. On the cat side, nothing at all. The cat seems to understand that there’s a window between all that barking and it and he or she totally ignores the noise. To restore quiet, I have to go to the door and open it. As soon as it hears the door, the cat quickly glides away.

Sometimes, Tegan won’t notice a visitor to the porch, and then I can observe close up. Cats are so graceful most of the time, but sometimes they can be remarkably clumsy, usually when they are undecided about just what they want to do next. Sometimes they hear a bird in the thick shrubs near our porch and you can almost see thought bubbles over their heads as they consider whether or not they can get into the shrub. They ultimately decide they can’t.

Once in a while the cat on the porch is the neighbors’ original cat, Cinderella. Since the arrival of the ferals, she uses the front door of their house only. It’s her house and she’s permanently miffed at the riff raff that now occupies the back yard. I imagine that she visits our porch for a little peace and quiet. She’s a pretty smoke and orange cat and I’m happy when Tegan doesn’t spot her. Let her have her space.

We used to watch the birds at the multiple feeders our neighbors had. Now, there are fewer birds and no more pigeons. I don’t mind a single pigeon but an entire flock can get messy. Now, we watch the cats, which is just as much fun. I like watching them gather for food and then go their separate ways. They’re tame enough for the neighbor to pet them and they seem to really enjoy the attention, but so far, they are not willing to let anyone else into their social circle.

With the restrictions of the coronavirus, we’re staying home, but we’re also trying, weather permitting, to get some exercise with daily walks. Recently, we walked by a nearby home and saw four of the cats sunning themselves on the patio. They were together, yet separate. I guessed about six feet separated each cat from its neighbor. I smiled. Even the cats were practicing social distancing.

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