Last summer Micro Scaredy got noticeably pregnant for the first time. I watched as her belly grew bigger and bigger over a three month period. Then one day I could tell she was no longer pregnant. But her kittens were nowhere in sight. She had the litter stashed in a secret nest somewhere in the Berkeley hills. I could tell Micro Scaredy was nursing the litter because she had the distended nipples. And she’d show up to my campsite for breakfast, but instead of hanging out like she used to do, she’d immediately leave after eating to get back to her litter. A friend of mine — another homeless camper — told me he spotted the nest for a short time, hidden in between these big rocks, near the Greek Theater, about a mile from my campsite.
Then, about three months after Micro Scaredy gave birth, a little black feral kitten wandered into my campsite one morning. After hiding off in the distance for some time, she finally mustered the courage to approach the cat food dish. I dubbed her Nano Scaredy — the fourth in the lineage, starting with Scaredy Cat, then Mini Scaredy, then Micro Scaredy, and now Nano Scaredy.
Nano Scaredy never quite trusted me. She would often hide behind a tree and watch me, like she was studying me, trying to figure out what I was. Friend or foe.
After about two weeks she started getting a little comfortable at my campsite. She was usually waiting for me when I woke up in the morning, and she’d often call out to me, meowing for her breakfast. And every now and then she’d even dare to curl up on my blankets for a nap after she ate breakfast. She let me pet her a couple of times. But usually she would run away if I tried to approach her.
I was just starting to make arrangements to take Nano Scaredy to the vet to get her fixed, when she disappeared. Mini Scaredy — the dominant cat of the tribe of feral cats — got into some kind of territorial conflict with Nano’s mother, Micro Scaredy. And ran Micro Scaredy off. And Nano Scaredy apparently went off with her, never to be seen again.
When Micro Scaredy was 4-months old, and still very much a kitten, her mother got pregnant with a second litter of kittens and pretty much abandoned her to deal with her new litter. So her half-sister Mini Scaredy — who couldn’t have kittens (two miscarriages before I had her fixed) — adopted Micro Scaredy as if she was her own kitten. Which was great that Mini Scaredy got to fulfill her maternal instincts in that way. And Micro Scaredy and Mini Scaredy have been inseparable companions ever since.
They sleep together ever night, nestling against each other. And they romp off into the woods together every day. And every evening they’re waiting together in the darkness for me to show up at my campsite.
Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy are pretty similar physically. But their personalities are opposite.
Mini Scaredy is easy going, happy to be there, and never causes disturbances.
But Micro Scaredy has a mean streak in her. She’s always been that way since she was a kitten. This morning while I was sleeping, Micro decided it was high time I got my ass up out of bed and fixed her some breakfast. So she did her routine where she starts jabbing at my face with her claws. She’s relentless. And she enjoys being a prick, too. She’ll be purring loudly while she’s constantly harassing me. Ha ha. And today she went too far and drew blood with one of her jabs. It’s a pain in the ass, but I mostly just put up with it. I don’t want to discourage her from being aggressive when it comes to approaching humans for food. Someday I might be gone and she might need to approach somebody else.
.One thing I enjoy about my cats. They’re incredibly happy. And it’s always nice to get a little happiness in your life. I think one of the reasons they’re so happy is, they got the best of both worlds in a way. As feral cats they’re free to romp around in the woods and completely indulge their basic cat instincts without being restricted by the man-made world that most domesticated cats live in. But they also get to enjoy regular meals and nice warm blankets to sleep on just like domestic cats. Best of both worlds.
They’re definitely a matching set, Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy.
How to put this delicately . . . Micro Scaredy the 9-month old feral kitten?? She’s kind of an asshole.
All the other feral cats have always intuitively understood: You don’t wake me up for breakfast until dawn, until it starts getting light. As famously as cats are for their lack of patience, they’ve always accepted that the light of day is the defining line for their breakfast schedule. And they don’t start pestering me to be fed until then. . . Occassionally, if a cat hasn’t been fed for 3 or 4 days, they’ll wake me up at four in the morning, crying for food. And I’ll get up and fix them a late-night snack. But generally they wait until daylight before they start pestering me.
But not Micro Scaredy. Nooo. She did it again last night waking me up in the middle of the night with her meowing. And she kept jabbing at my face with her claws. Not hard enough to draw blood. But just hard enough to let me know she MIGHT. I kept turning over from side to side to avoid her jabs. But she’d just trot over to the other side and continue her assault from that angle. And when I tried hiding completely under my blankets she’d start pouncing on my head. And the funny thing is, the whole time she’s harassing me, she’s purring as loud as she can. She’s obviously enjoying the hell out of the whole exercise. It’s like a fun cat-and-mouse game to her. With me as the mouse.
So finally I resigned myself to the inevitable and got up and fixed her a can of cat food.
In truth I don’t really mind. I actually LIKE seeing my feral cats being aggressive and assertive. I’m like the proud father in the song “A Boy Named Sue.” I know these traits will help them survive if anything ever happens to me.
But man, what an asshole. Ha ha. But then, at least she’s MY asshole.
Mini Scaredy is very possessive of me, and my campsite (actually I think she thinks its HER campsite, with me there to provide her with the basic necessities, ha ha). And she’s already run several cats out of “her” campsite.
So when the kittens first showed up, I figured there would be trouble. And sure enough Mini Scaredy would hiss at them and threaten them whenever they got near her.
But she’s grown fond of them. And now she cuddles with them and grooms them with her tongue. She’s their big half-sister.