Really bad dream last night. What was so bad about the dream, it was RELENTLESSLY bad. It just kept going from bad to worse.
It starts out with me spilling coffee on my cellphone. The screen actually dissolves, ruining the cellphone. Then I drive to the hospital to take care of some illness. I wander through the hospital for a long time trying to connect with a doctor, but everyone ignores me or gives me a bum steer. Then this violent lunatic attacks me. I keep pleading with him as we’re grappling, “I don’t want to fight you!” I run down the hallway and lock myself in the restroom. I hear him outside trying to break the door in. I push off the screen on the window and escape out the window. Then I’m wandering around in the parking lot and the streets trying to find my car. I forgot where I parked it. I ask a cop who’s passing by if he’ll help me but he just brushes me off. “It probably got towed.” But I have no idea how to get ahold of the towing company. I can’t even remember what kind of car I had. The psycho returns and attacks me again. I grab a big metal pole and whacked him over the head. . .
The dream continued on like that for a LONG time. One bad scene after another. Finally I woke up. . . I did what I always do when I have a bad dream. I went right back to sleep. And I kept sleeping until I finally got a good dream.
Woke up again. Mini Scaredy rushed over to me to say good morning like she always does. Mini Scaredy never seems to have bad dreams. Always wakes up in a chipper mood. I don’t know how she does it. . . Of course she doesn’t drink 100 ounces of malt liquor every night.
Poor Fatty. She’s the most timid and mild-mannered of all the feral cats. The low cat on the totem pole. So I have to stand guard while she eats her breakfast. To keep her from getting run off by the wild turkeys, or by Mini Scaredy.
Meanwhile, Mini Scaredy showed up while I was feeding Fatty. And she spent a long time sitting there staring at me with an indignant expression on her face. Like: “So!! I see you’ve been seeing other CATS while I was gone!!”
Fatty knows that Mini Scaredy won’t dare to attack her as long as I’m there to protect her (Hero of the Campsite!!).
Fatty spends some face time with me after enjoying a delicious breakfast.
Meanwhile, sneaky little Mini Scaredy thinks she’s gonna sneak around from behind me and attack Fatty from my flank (she fails to grasp the concept of the reversible lens of my cell phone camera!).
Fatty, trying to talk me into staying by her side all day long and never leaving her, so she can enjoy a little peace and quiet for a change.
Fatty spots Mini Scaredy poised for the attack, and realizes the party is almost over. She knows that as soon as I leave, Mini Scaredy will be after her again.
And sure enough, as I soon as I stand up and prepare to leave, Fatty goes running down the hill and running for her life, with Mini Scaredy chasing after he at full gallup. And they both run down the hill, across the creek, and up the next hill, and then disappear in a blink of an eye (cats can sure run like lightening). . . In truth I think Mini Scaredy isn’t doing it to be mean. She just mostly likes to have fun chasing after things and honing her hunting skills. The thrill of the chase. But it’s no fun for Fatty, that’s for sure. Poor baby.
Mini Scaredy is one of those cats that LOVES to be petted. If she could get away with it she’d have me petting her all day long. Ha ha. And when she starts to reach ecstasy from the petting experience she rolls over on her back and rubs her back on my cardboard matting over and over with a big smile on her face as she stares up to the sky. And if I stop petting her she meows over and over which translates into English as “MORE!! MORE!! MORE!!” Ha ha.
Had an odd scene at my campsite last night. Got up there around midnight and my feral cats were eagerly waiting for me. So I dumped out a can of cat food into the cat food dish.
But before my cats were able to eat much of it, a goddamn raccoon showed up. Now I can barely afford to feed my cats. I can’t afford to feed the goddamn raccoons, too. But the raccoon doesn’t care about that, the theivin’ bastard. The raccoon reached out with his front paws and started pulling the cat food dish towards him. So I grabbed the dish and pulled it back to the cats. And the raccoon grabbed the dish again and pulled it towards him. And I grabbed the dish and pulled it back. So we’re locked in this weird tug-of-war over the cat food dish, pulling back and forth. Me and the raccoon. I’m whispering under my breath “Would you get OUT of here, you!” I can’t really shout at the raccoon and scare him away. Because that would just scare my cats away, too. And then the raccoon would just come back as soon as I got into my sleeping bag, and make off with the cat food anyways. So I was stuck in this bind.
And I felt strangely ridiculous. That I was stuck in this jam. And I couldn’t out-smart this dumb beast, the raccoon. I’m the human being after all, and on top of the food chain, supposedly. But the fact is, when you live in the deep, dark woods, you’re on THEIR turf. And all the wild critters in the woods have a distinct advantage over me. For example, they all have much better night vision than me. And they’re also much more agile when it comes to traversing the hilly terrain (and I have the black-and-blue marks on my body to prove it). And considering how much alcohol I’ve usually drunk by this point, they’re often more clever than me, too. So it’s their world, and i just live in it.
So finally I just conceded defeat and poured half the cat food in one dish, and the other half in another dish. And set up separate dining facilities for the cats and the raccoon. And they all commenced to eat in peace. The End.
Moo Cat had been missing for over a week. Which she’ll do sometimes. But I was still starting to worry. I’ve seen so many feral cats come and go over the years. And Moo Cat is over 10 years old — which is pretty ancient for a feral cat. And one day I know Moo Cat just won’t be there anymore.
So it was a relief when she showed up this morning. And as wild and crazy as ever. And definitely hungry. Ate a big 14 ounce can of cat food and 3 big pieces of cheddar cheese.
Lately Moo Cat has been showing up at my campsite in the middle of the night. She’ll wake me up by nudging against my head and meowing over and over. “Its me, Moo Cat, and I’m hungry!!”
I’ll grope around in the darkness for a can of cat food. Moo Cat is so excited she’s jumping all over me and purring loudly. Finally, in my half-awake stupor, I’ll figure out how to dump the cat food into the dish. Moo Cat pounces on it and eats greedily. She hasn’t had any food in several days so she’s HUNGRY.
When she’s done eating she climbs on top of my chest and I pet her for awhile. We’ve known each other for 10 years so we have some deep history between us. Then I’ll roll over and go to sleep. And Moo Cat will fall asleep on top of me.
Woke up at my campsite around 3 AM when it started to sprinkle rain. The weather report said the real storm wasn’t supposed to come in until 7, so I decided to wait it out. Pulled this big blue tarp over my blankets and huddled under it. It wasn’t long before two of my feral cats — Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy — joined me under the tarp. They were purring wildly, no doubt impressed by my ingenuity that I could instantly produce this device (the tarp) that could protect us from the wet. And it was kind of cozy — like the three of us were submerged in this little submarine. As the pitter-patter of the rain on top of the tarp added this soothing rhythm. And it reinforced this feeling that we were all on the same team, the three of us.
Adding a melancholy note, off in the distance in the hills on the other side of the road I could hear some wingnut shouting over and over: “FUCK GOD!! FUCK JESUS!! FUCK ALLAH!! FUCK THE POLICE!! FUCK THE HOMELESS!!” He apparently had a long list of people and entities he wished to fuck. His cries went on for hours. In between these wordless shrieks of pure anguish. Evidently it was some homeless camper who had gotten stuck out in the rain and was displeased about it. I’ve been there. I call it “cursing the gods.”
Around 6 the rain momentarily stopped. So I decided to make my move. Quickly packed up my campsite, dumped out some food for the cats, and got my ass back to civilization. And it didn’t start raining again until I was safely ensconced in a nice dry doorway. So my timing was perfect. For once.
All the feral cats at my campsite over the years have been either black, white, or gray. With the exception of Tuffy, the one brown cat. Tuffy was from Moo Cat’s one-and-only litter. So I guess Moo Cat was dating outside of her tribe. . . A homeless friend of mine who camps on the other side of the Berkeley hills from me ended up adopting Tuffy. Where she lived happily for many years. Until my friend had to leave town for 6 months. Tuffy immediately marched back down to my campsite where I was laying in my sleeping bag, and climbed right on top of my chest. Instantly claiming the center of my campsite as her domain. Where she remained the dominant cat of the tribe (much to Moo Cat’s chagrin). Until my friend returned to his campsite. And Tuffy returned to her rightful owner where she happily lived out her remaining days.
In honor of NATIONAL FERAL CAT DAY (October 16) I thought I’d look back at some of my favorite feral cats, past and present, over the last 10 years.
Blondie was one of the first feral cats I hooked up with. She was already living in the bushes in the woods with two other kittens from that litter when I first showed up in 2007 (Mom had been hit by a car, so the kittens had been abandoned). Blondie was very regal and dainty. Very much the queen. She lived to be almost 10, and I never touched her or petted her once in all those years. Except for one time. I was lying on my back in my sleeping bag and out of the blue Blondie jumped up and laid down on my legs. She laid there for about 5 minutes. Like she was thinking “I ALWAYS wanted to try this.” Then jumped off and resumed her usual position sitting about 3 feet away along side me.
Moo Cat was from Blondie’s first litter in 2008. High-strung, excitable, over-emotional, Moo Cat is the drama queen of the scene. And she’s always picking fights and stirring up trouble. But extremely affectionate. Hates all the other cats and fervently wishes it was just me and her. Often when I’m petting her she’ll get so excited she’ll slash at me with her claws. Girl can’t help it. 10 years old and going strong Moo Cat is the oldest of the tribe. All the feral cats are special to me. But I have a special bond with Moo Cat.
Scamp is Moo Cat’s sister from the same litter. While they look alike as tuxedo cats, their personalities are polar opposites. Whereas Moo Cat is neurotic, anxious, and crazed, Scamp is always calm and self-satisfied with a master-of-reality expression on her face. A true cosmic cat. Scamp was adopted by a homeless friend of mine who lives on the other side of the hill from me, where she lives happily to this day.
Mick and Keef were from Blondie’s second and final litter (she became infertile after that). They were a matching set who looked alike and acted alike and went everywhere together. With Keef — naturally — always one step slightly in the lead. When I left town for a year in 2013 they both disappeared from my campsite. But years later Keef would turn up several miles down the road, living happily with another homeless camper.
Tuffy was from Moo Cat’s one-and-only litter before I had her fixed. And, like Moo Cat, she was a character. Unusually brown-colored and especially beautiful, she also ended up adopted by another homeless camper. When he left town for 6 months, Tuffy immediately marched back down to my campsite and sat down on my chest, claiming the center of my campsite as hers and declaring herself the new dominant cat of the tribe (much to Moo Cat’s righteous indignation). Eventually Tuffy returned to her owner (much to Moo Cat’s relief) until she disappeared mysteriously last year.
After I got all the feral cats at my campsite fixed in 2013, I figured that would be the end of that and Blondie’s lineage would eventually come to a close. But then one day this battered old warhorse of a feral tom, Owl, showed up at my campsite, attracted to my cat food dish. And decided to stick around. Next thing I knew Owl had hooked up with this other newcomer to the scene, this saucy wench Feral Tammy. And they started popping out feral kittens left and right. The remaining cats at my campsite would all spring from Owl’s lineage (with Moo Cat the only holdover from Blondie’s lineage). Completely feral, I never touched him in all the years. And if I made the slightest move towards him he’d immediate step backwards. But eventually he came to trust me. And would sit contentedly near by me. A survivor of many long hard winters fending for himself, Owl passed away quietly a few years ago. But left a brood of cats for me to remember him by.
Feral Tammy was another one of the totally feral cats. She was already several years old before she showed up at my campsite and her feral instincts were already fully ingrained. She usually watched me warily and kept a respectful distance. But now and again she would make herself at home on my blankets. Here she is with one of her look-alike kittens, Mini Moo, who sadly didn’t make it through the winter.
Scaredy Cat was from Feral Tammy’s first litter in 2014 (along with sister Fatty and brother Crier). Scaredy Cat immediately established herself as the alpha cat at my campsite. The most intelligent of the cats with the largest vocabulary (a remarkable array of different-sounding meows) Scaredy Cat was a natural leader who the other cats naturally gravitated towards. With the exception of Moo Cat who picked a fight with her in a misguided attempt to impose his dominance, and ended up getting run out of my campsite. From that point on it would be the Scaredy lineage at my campsite (seen here with her first kitten Mini Scaredy).
Fatty the black cat (sister of Scaredy Cat) is the softest and most gentle and least feral-like of all the cats. Fragile and dainty, she’s the most human-like of the cats. And often gives me this soulful look, like: “If only I could talk the things I could tell you.” She got run out of my campsite by the more aggressive Mini Scaredy. But at 4 years old is alive and well and living on the fringes of my campsite, usually waiting patiently every morning 30 yards down the trail, waiting for me to bring her her breakfast.
Mini Scaredy (along with her brother Mini Owl) was from Scaredy Cat’s first litter two years ago. Mini Scaredy has become incredibly attached to me. She waits for me to show up every night, hiding in the bushes two blocks down the road from the trail to my campsite. Then she happily trots along side me as I make my way up to my campsite. And as soon as I lay down my cardboard matting she rolls over on her back and looks up at me like “You MUST pet me now!!” Ha ha. Sleeps with me all night long. Then hangs out with me all morning right up until I finally pack up and leave. And she’s the most generous of the feral cats, regularly gifting me with a dead mouse. Mini Scaredy.
Mini Owl (seen here with sister Mini Scaredy) was one of the most lovable and happy and goofy of the cats. Loved to romp around and play all day long. Unlike a lot of feral cats (who you have to gradually win there trust) Mini Owl immediately attached himself to me from the first time he met me as a 2 month kitten. Mini Owl disappeared at 9 months and I missed the little guy for a long time.
Thurston Owl the Third was from Scaredy Cat’s second litter (only 4 months after her first litter — she could really pop ’em out!). He was a dead-ringer for Mini Owl in both looks and personality — fun-loving and playful. Almost as if he was the reincarnation of Mini Owl. And like Mini Owl, he too disappeared from my campsite at 9 months.
And last but not least, the latest addition to the tribe: Micro Scaredy (sister of Thurston Owl) was very distrustful and wary of me right up until around 7 months when she finally began to accept me. Aggressive and assertive she wakes me up every morning at 5 AM and won’t stop pestering me and haranguing me until I fix her her breakfast. Purring loudly the whole time she’s abusing me. Ha ha. She’s a hellion. She’s the third in the lineage of Scaredy cats.