My Love-Hate Relationship with Feral Cats

The feral cats who spend a good deal of time in our backyard have been around for about five years.  After their first year of residency, my neighbor behind me and up the hill had them trapped and neutered.  Then they were returned to our neighborhood.  I believe this is the current practice for dealing with them…to stop their procreation.  At that time there were three of them, all obviously sired by the same parent since they had similar coloring but different markings.

I wasn’t thrilled that they were back but I was glad that they wouldn’t be able to produce more of their kind. You see…I am a bird lover and I look forward to seeing the birds who show up in my yard year-round. The arrival and constant presence of the feral cats has been a definite deterrent to the bird traffic.  In fact, the year after they arrived I noticed a significant decline in the number of birds showing up. This made me very upset, especially since there doesn’t seem to be any solution to this problem.

I confess to hoping that the harsh winter might have taken a toll on some of them. But, no…..instead, the same ones are back as well as a new one! And he is the worst of them all.  He is very large and furry, and  black with yellow eyes.  I know when he is around because I hear him first.  He has a blood curdling meow which is very loud that he uses to announce his arrival.  This meowing can go on for ten minutes or so, until he moves on. I run to the back door when I hear it, but most of the time I cannot see him. Occasionally I do catch a glimpse as he saunters through the yard territorially spraying everywhere he goes.

I am dreading spring when the birds become very active and the cats will all be hunting in my backyard. Shooing them away does nothing; they run a few feet and then stop looking back at me over the shoulder. They know they will come to no real harm. I especially dread the meowing of the black cat since we will want to have our windows open and there is no worse sound than a cat’s mating sounds in the middle of the night.

Yesterday, when I opened my back door I spotted the calico who darted away as soon as he saw me. But with my peripheral vision I spotted the big orange one, the Big Daddy, curled up under a bush catching the heat reflecting from the brick wall that lines our garden. He looked really weary and happy to have a safe place to warm his arthritic limbs. I, who hate these feral cats, didn’t have the heart to disturb him!

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3 thoughts on “My Love-Hate Relationship with Feral Cats”

  1. I have never had any dealings with feral cats. It breaks my heart that they have had to survive on their own. But I know I would not like the meowing noise or the attack of the birds either. No win for this situation.

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  2. Calls to mind an experience I had in college. I worked with a special nun, Sr. Joan, in Campus Ministries at Molloy. Her cat’s name was Rachel and was very special to her. At the time, Campus Ministries had a house across the street from the main campus. Sr. Joan started leaving food out for the stray cats and when she was going to be away, she asked us, the workers, to do it. Those cats were the scariest things and everywhere! I knew exactly what you meant when you described that big, crazy fluffy one- saw the same type back then at Molloy. I love that you had empathy for that cat resting in the sun and decided to let him be!

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