I never considered myself a pet person. Never wanted to own a pet. It was purely an accident how I got hooked on them feral cats.
I used to feed the bluejays at my campsight every morning, throw out a bunch of bread for them. One morning as I was leaving my campsight I noticed this cat eating some of the bread. It turned out these three feral cats had been sneaking into my campsight after I left and eating the leftover bread.
As fate would have it, about a week later they just happened to be giving out free samples of cat food on the Ave. So I grabbed a bunch of samples and brought them up for the cats. I didn’t have a cat dish so I left the cat food on a piece of cardboard. The next morning I noticed the cats had not only eaten all the cat food but they had eaten half of the cardboard that had been soaked with little bits of cat food gravy. “Man, them cats are hungry!” I thought.
So I got into the habit of leaving them cat food every morning. At first they would sit at the top of the hill about 100 yards away from me and wait for me to leave before they dared come down for the food. But gradually over time they got more bold and inched closer and closer to my campsight.
One of the cats was the most bold and assertive. He was always the first to the food and the other two waited behind him until they were sure the coast was clear. Gradually he started coming right up to me as I was serving up the cat food. He was mostly black with some white, obviously the leader of the pack, so I named him King Cat. He was also the smartest. He would sit on the other side of the creek and watch me for long periods of time like he was studying me. He had a slightly owl-ish face which gave him the air of a wise old man. A real cosmic cat. I could tell he had accepted me. He’d give me this look like: “Yeah, this set-up is OK with me. Free food every morning. I’m throwing my lot in with this guy whoever he is.”
Whereas the other two cats, talk about scaredy-cats, if I made the slightest move in their direction they would bolt straight up the hill like they’d been shot out of a cannon. The second cat (they always came down in order) was an all-black cat who I named Joe Panther. The third cat, the most timid and the most beautiful, was this mostly white with some black number who I named Blondie.
At any rate, I didn’t see King Cat or Joe Panther for about a year. I always wondered what happened to them. Its a tough life for a feral cat, even in the hills with plenty of squirrels, birds, mice and insects to feed on
Then one night I scored a big platter of baked salmon that had been left over from some catered event. It was a huge, half-eaten carcass. The next morning I brought it out for my cats, Blondie and her three kittens. And I’ll be damned but who shows up out of the blue but King Cat and Joe Panther. I don’t know if they had just happened to be passing by or if they had smelled the salmon from a long distance away and decided to pay a visit to their old haunts. But there they were, looking healthy and happy. They helped themselves to the salmon, gorged themselves on it. And then trotted off into the woods never to be seen again.