In honor of NATIONAL FERAL CAT DAY 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.
I would have made a damn good private detective . . . So the last 6 months my stash spots on the campus have gotten broken into four times. This is a little unusual. Because I often go YEARS at a stretch without anybody hitting my stash spots. So I figured it was probably the same guy. A serial thief.
And maybe, not so coincidentally, this other homeless person happened to show up around 6 months ago and started hanging out right in the general vicinity of my stash spots.
So tonight around midnight, I’m secretly waiting for him in the darkness of night. I’ve noticed he heads off with his dog every night in the same direction. So I figure he’s headed towards HIS crash spot. So tonight, when he passes by, I jump up and secretly start following him from a discreet distance.
The dude never has his camping stuff on him. So I figure, like me, he stashes it in the bushes somewhere. Which is another reason why he’s a likely suspect, because he’d be savvy about stash spots and be a likely candidate to stumble upon mine. . . Sure enough, a couple hundred yards down the road he dashed into the bushes and pulls some stuff out of his stash spot. And then later, further down the road, he pulls some more stuff out of another stash spot in the bushes. So now I’m really starting to think my hunch was right and I’ve caught my suspect.
So I follow him about half way across the campus. Until he suddenly darts into this wooded area and disappears. That is almost certainly his main crash spot where he’s got all of his camping stuff stashed.
So tomorrow, in the light of day, I am going to investigate all of his stash spots. And if I find so much as ONE of my stolen items amidst his stuff, I am going to take all of his stuff and dump it out on the side of the road. And the next time I see him, the next time I pass him on the street, I’m not going to say anything to him. I’m just going to give him a good hard glare. To give him something to think about.
This morning I managed to spot him at his crash spot at the Eucalyptus Grove on the campus, lounging around with his dog. So I figured his camping stuff must be stashed in the bushes somewhere nearby. Well, sir, it took me several hours of meticulously combing the grounds of the Berkeley campus. But thanks to logic, deductive reasoning, keen intelligence AND perseverance I was finally able to track down the dude’s secret stash spot where he keeps his camping gear and all of his stuff.
And. None of my stolen stuff was in with his stuff.
Thus ends another episode of Hardy Boys Mystery Thrillers.
I swear to God one of these days I am going to KILL that goddamn wild turkey. He’s been stalking me — and my cat food dish — for YEARS now. Every morning he’ll be CONSTANTLY circling around my campsite from every direction. And as soon as my back is turned he’ll make a mad dash for the cat food.
Well this morning I happened to feed my feral cats a tin of baked ham. Which was pretty salty. So naturally the cats were pretty thirsty. But wouldn’t you know it? As soon as my back was turned that goddamn turkey made a play for the cat food dish. And in the process the clumsy goon knocked over the water dish and spilled out all the water. So now I gotta go all the way down the road to this spigot to get more water for my goddamn cats.
I was so pissed I had a bit more speed than usual and I chased that goddamn turkey all the way down the hill screaming bloody murder all the way. And I picked up a big branch and hurled it at him and hit him right on the butt. He jumped up squawking and feathers flying and disappeared off into the woods.
It’s only the third time I’ve actually hit that turkey in all these years. I have terrible aim. It was very satisfying.
Several people warned me it might rain on Tuesday. I checked the weather forecast and they said strong chance of rain on Tuesday. I reminded myself I better start preparing in case it rains on Tuesday.
So last night I’m awoken from a dead sleep in the middle of the night. My blankets are soaking wet. “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON??? ITS RAINING!!! . … Oh. Right. It’s Tuesday.”
I never cease to amaze myself.
Woke up this morning from a really bad nightmare. The kind of nightmare where you lay there going “UGGHH!!”
What I do when I have a nightmare, I go right back to sleep. And keep sleeping until I get a good dream. As a way of cleansing my mental palate. Ended up sleeping until 2 in the afternoon.
It’s one of the fringe benefits of being a bum. You get to sleep in late.