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Reflections On An Insignificant Shred Of Humanity

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I don’t expect this entry to get much attention and probably even fewer comments – none deserves fewer. I am the first to admit this is not about any significant socio-political issue that dominates recent conversations here and elsewhere. But, as is true of about half the blogs I write, this one is for personal ventilation. The kind of of exhalation required for no nobler purpose than to rid one’s self of stale, acrid air and to breathe in some that is fresh.

In a sense, it falls in the “rant” category but in a kindler, gentler way. It is a topic that I think of often as it befits a simple mind. At the same time, if I would allow it, the thoughts would birth one of those irrational, passion-filled diatribes we occasionally witness on Blogcritics that does no one – including the author – any good, whatsoever. A little background may shed some light on the murky waters upon which this discourse, uninteresting as it is, floats.

I have an office in a “professional office complex”. It borders some woods, an area that stretches about 100 yards deep behind our building and a half-mile or so down the parkway behind several buildings, moving west. The wooded area and a 8 foot chain link fence separates our complex from Highway 59 which runs on higher ground behind my clinic.

After I moved into the office, some 6 or 7 years back, I would get occasional early morning (I get to the office between 4:30 and 5:00) glimpses of feral cats. These hearty creatures have, I assume, been living in those woods long before I got here. They are the most feral animals one can imagine; avoiding all human contact at any cost. Undoubtedly this is a learned response, sensing – as only animals can – that humans are not to be trusted. They know, perhaps first hand, the capabilities and tendencies of our species.

It is a useful survival trait. For, if they were to be tamed, they would dare to approach cars, moving or not, to beg for a handout from their mortal enemies. They would, if they were so naive, be crushed in the parking lot or on the street, or, if they were lucky, just have someone throw rocks (or anything else handy) at them. Being the intelligent creatures they are, they have learned and they surely learned quickly. They scurry back into the woods and safety.

I have been here for some years now and I see their ghostly images in the predawn hours. I can sometimes see them observing me from the safety of their woods, eyes reflecting the fading morning streetlights or in the headlights of my car. They know that potential evil and even death lurks out on the pavement.

I think, often, about where they once might have been. In the lap of their former owner or curling, figure eight-style, between their owner’s legs while at the sink or opening up a can of cat food. Perhaps they once purred that motorboat purr that signals sheer contentment. Maybe once they actually kneaded their claws into a rug (or some soft, unfortunate furniture), as, I understand, this is how they display ultimate feline bliss. But for these cats, the days of purring and curling up in a warm lap are long over. Now, they run with the speed only a “flight-or-fight” adrenalin rush can fuel.

Last winter, I started feeding them. I couldn’t stand, as an old man with all the sentiment that entails, to see their starvation-ravaged frames skulking about in search of birds (that had long since flown further south) or rodents (who were hibernating), the staples of their usual scant diet. I would place a bowl of cheap, dry cat chow and a bowl of water at woods’ edge in the predawn hours. It would be completely gone a mere hour or two later. It cost me about 10 dollars every couple weeks; the reimbursement to my heart paid in full, many times over.

I have heard the arguments against my behavior: “You’ll only allow them to bred more cats!” “You’re not doing them any favors; they’ll stop hunting.” And the laughable, “You’ll make them tame.” My brain initially agreed with the naysayers. But, fortunately, in retrospect, my heart had a stronger voice.

A few cups of dry cat food a day is certainly not going to change their miserable existence. They are only a salve to the heart of someone who has seen too many animals killed on roadsides everywhere. Maybe, my heart tells me, if they have a regular – if meager – source of food, they will not be forced progressively nearer the roads, desperately trying to avoid starvation in the leaner times. My heart always wins the argument.

The first of the admonishments mentioned above, though, did come true. One of the female strays had a litter of kittens this spring. I saw them, following their mother one early morning, as she showed them where the “emergency rations” were placed. The kittens, a marvel of evolution and strength of breed, were beautiful, typically-curious and playful. That was in March and, while I don’t see them chasing behind their mother much any longer – their time as adolescent cats give them leave to hunt alone now – I do know they are all still alive. I saw them all, for the first time in weeks, last Saturday morning, playing and chasing each other at the edge of the woods. Kittens are kittens, wild or domesticated.

Their mother, who is about as domesticated as she will ever be, does greet me most mornings. She keeps a distance of about 20 feet but she lets me know she is there and that it is time to serve breakfast, her only sure meal of the day. She watches, at a safe and unwavering distance – she is and never will be, tame – and sits. I trudge up to the woods, a plastic drink cup full of Purina, and we exchange greetings. When I turn and walk back to my office, I glance back over my shoulder and she, incessantly cautious, approaches the food. I smile and I go back to the work of the day.

Sometimes, I am amazed at their strength and will to live. With the southern summer come fleas, ticks, biting flies, fire ants and other plagues on the animals of the wild. But, somehow, they manage to survive. I know several generations of these ferals have died. A couple years back, there was an orange tabby who, I presume, was one of the earlier generations. He was truly a splendid specimen. I am guessing about 12 pounds and with an impressive bearing. I have to assume he was the patriarch of the current clan during his (probably) brief time. I don’t see him anymore. I also haven’t seen his sidekick, a smaller male, a white tabby, either. I don’t think of those two much anymore as I suspect they died from the elements or were killed on the highway in a lean time of distance foraging.

At least for now, “my” mom and her kittens live. I am realistic enough to know that they probably will not all last through the brutal summer and, certainly not through the coming, inevitably more brutal winter. But, for their time, they will take what life gives them and, even if they could, probably not complain.

While I try and avoid it, sometimes I let myself think of the original owners of these animals. The ones who originally took the parents (more likely the grandparents or great grandparents) of these animals home as kittens and gave them a home. They fed them, petted them, maybe even took them to the vet for shots and the like. I wonder, when I am calm enough, what changes occur that allows then to accept the abandonment of their pet – any pet? When there are so many – admittedly strained to capacity and beyond these days – facilities willing to take in unwanted pets, what goes through someone’s mind when they leave a pet to the wilds or the side of the road? When animal shelters go so far as to place cages outside their buildings for anonymous, no-questions-asked nighttime drop-off of unwanted pets, what can these individuals be thinking? Do they actually have that capacity? What mind can rationalize this? The more I dwell on the subject, the more cynical I feel. So I don’t allow it often.

Please, before you fire off your missives of censure and castigation for the audacity and superficiality of one who dares complain about the plight of dumb animals when people are suffering worse fates elsewhere in the world, I understand your prioritization and your point. The thoughtlessness and cruelty of mankind knows no bounds. Clearly, it is not species-specific. People, certainly, do come first in our thoughts and our concerns. Starvation of people is worse, exponentially, than starvation of animals. Yes, my $10 every couple of weeks could theoretically (at least, according to the commercials) feed a starving child somewhere in the world. Yes, yes, I do understand, more than I might have led you to think. Many may think, but be polite enough not to write, what a piteous, misdirected, and egocentric – yes, even eccentric – old man I am. After the recent “Live 8″ concert, I realize this sort of writing, anytime, is merely a flyspeck on the enlarging blot of humanity’s indifference. Truly, there is no need to waste your time telling me that which I already know.

Perhaps, on the other hand, it is all interrelated. If we don’t give a care for the millions of refugees dying around the world of starvation, abandonment, and displacement, why should we even spend a few minutes of thought about stupid pets? Well, maybe we shouldn’t. If we have reached the point in our decline that we won’t do anything about starving people, we shouldn’t expect any concern, whatsoever, for lesser creatures. And, sadly, most don’t.

However, I will do what I can for the unfortunate orphans in my woods. Nature will, as nature always cruelly does, take care of the rest. Despite the inevitable I will not begrudge myself this simple, selfish and very personal pleasure. In a world where indifference and callousness grows exponentially everyday, I will enjoy my own minuscule and meaningless stand against apathy. It is a reminder that life will find a way, even in the face of – and in usually in spite of – its greatest enemy, humanity.

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  • Nancy

    I’m not going to castigate you for my own sins. It kills me to see ‘throwaway’ pets. Yeah, yeah, I know there are ‘throwaway people’ & I “should” be more concerned about them, but I’m not. People can always vocalize their needs if they really want; animals can’t. People are protected by law (theoretically); animals aren’t. 2 of my 5 girls are stray rescues I found – or rather, they found me, fortunately, & I keep a can of wet food & a bag of dry in my desk drawer for any other ’emergencies’ I might find. I just hope that there really is a greater Justice after all, and those that abandon animals like that get their well-earned reward in some truly horrific corner of hell.

  • Shark

    Nice essay, Doc.

  • Here’s the thing, dietdoc – if everyone does the thing that, in their own world, makes a small bit of difference in the quality of life, whether it be for humans or animals, the world becomes a better place. I am an unrepentant feeder of strays.

    By the way, I am speaking from experience when I say that those feral kittens make fine companions if you can catch them early and bring them in. We’ve had two such critters in our family.

  • Lisa writes: By the way, I am speaking from experience when I say that those feral kittens make fine companions if you can catch them early and bring them in.

    Reply: Wish I had been able! They were born out in the wilds of the woods and heaven only knows where! They are beautiful little buggers but, at this point, they are beyond the reach of any human. They make their Mom look like a lap cat! Good teaching for future survival!



  • Dr. Tristan, M.D.

    it actually made me sit here and cry just thinking of that little family of feral cats running back and forth dodging cars and trucks and getting their “guaranteed 1 meal a day in the morning ………

    maybe Bono & Geldof could begin that in Africa —- just going out in the morning, say with a few drums of porridge for the poverty stricken Africans so they can at least be guaranteed one meal a day……

    it IStrue—giving millions of dollars to the corrupt governments there just ends up in the thieves Swiss numbered accounts—-so the REAL solution must be to somehow bypass the individual despots and get the food into the hands of the people that actually NEED it~~

    Now if Bono and Geldof could concentrate on that and overcoming the logistics preventing THAT from happening, they would truly be performing an admirable service to the poor they are trying to help..

    and Tony Blair could dump his $1800 tailored Saville Row suits and put on some khaki shorts & a T-shirt and do the same,……I can see that now …!!!!

  • Nancy

    That’s why I don’t give to Big Charities any more. I gave to the Red Cross after 9/11, only to find out they gave huge chunks of funds that were intended by the givers like me to help the victims’ families, to corporations, to make themselves even richer by re-developing the area! These corporations would have made out like bandits anyway on their own money, but thanks to the Red Cross, they got it all for free! And then the ongoing scandals of United Way … I will NEVER give another nickel to ANY charity I can’t see with my own eyes what they do, and know for certain where that money is going.

    At least w/these strays, & the little local no-kill shelters, I can SEE where the money goes, & they file their 990s, too so I can check on what they spend it on.

  • Dr. Tristan, M.D.

    VERY good point Nancy makes; as it seems most of the larger charities are all corrupt, as in the Catholic church and Vatican;………

    at least with local smaller charities we can keep a vigilant eye on them to make sure the donations are actually going where they are SUPPOSED to ~~!!!

  • For a small local charity you can even donate time, or usable goods like nonperishable food and other supplies.

    Your hours spent caring for strays at a local animal shelter can’t be diverted into anyone’s Swiss bank account, and it would probably be more trouble than it’s worth to convert canned food into any form that could make corrupt officials rich.

  • I live in pet-dumping central: the Boonies. In fact that’s how we tripped over Molly; she basically showed up in the middle of the night and asked, “Will you be my family?”

    I’m not kidding about the dumping. Chickens, actual abandoned chickens; it’s rather absurd when ya think about it. Oh and peacocks. Peacocks do not make spiffy pets. Every hear a peacock call? Download a wav then play it continuously; voila, life with a peacock.

    Every since I moved here (nearly six years ago) we’ve had a stray that I’ve simple dubbed, White Cat. I feed him and he knows I’m his bitch. 100% feral, however if I sit very quietly he will venture within inches of me, but he ain’t havin that lovey dovey crap. Fair enough.

    There’s a story/legend around these parts of a flight stewardess who converted her entire backyard into a cat haven. A good acre of land fenced, partially roofed for shelter and shade and the rest of the top fenced to keep out dogs, mountain lions, coyotes, etc. In one part of the yard there was this huge sandbox (every cat’s fantasy litter box), trees, toys and anything else for a cat to muck around with. So whenever this gal or someone in the community happened onna abadoned cat, she’d let ’em live in the little kitty paradise. Sometimes folks adopted the cats, but usually your one-eyed three-legged guy held less appeal and went on to live in comfort to a ripe ol’ age.

  • Nick Jones

    Beautiful article, dietdoc.

  • There are not many things that feel quite as good as helping an animal in need. I thought this was a very insightful article.

  • Jennifer

    Dear DietDoc-

    What a beautiful article you have written. In this cruel, hate filled world there are people who truly know the love and appreciation these innocent cats have. My plight for them started with a dirty towel that was a catch all for my own cats food. I thought I would throw it outside “for the birds to eat”. I just happened to catch a glimpse out the window and there she was. A starving, skinny, gray cat. I had no idea she was out there. It was the summer in Arizona. That is no laughing matter. So I started placing a fresh bowl of food and water out each day. I would watch her come to the bowl at night in the cover of darkness. One night when I peaked in on her I saw the awful truth. It wasn’t just her who was starving it was her, and her three kittens. She was a Mom. I was shocked. She wasn’t the only cat I was feeding. In the weeks that I had begun feeding I realized that the problem was a bit bigger than I had realized. I was now feeding about six other males as well. The bowl went from one to at least three or four. That was fine. The fatter she got the happier I got. I didn’t want her to get pregnant again. I started calling around to find out what I could do to help her. Fortunately there is an organization here that works to TNR feral cats. That is Trap, Neuter, Return. I got on a waiting list which was very long. By the time I was able to be helped the kittens had grown. They had learned from Mom to come to my house to eat, they have known nothing else. I was finally able to trap them and had them all spayed and neutered. She had one girl and two boys. I also got the six males and prevented them from breeding as well. Sadly, about two months after I spayed Mom she was hit by a car in front of my house and died. I promised her that day that I would take care of her “kittens” who were of course now adults. They stuck together, all of them. About a year and a half after Mom died one of the boys stopped coming. I still wonder to this day what happened to him. I know it couldn’t have been good. He knew nothing else. But his brother and sister still come here and various cats have come and gone since. This will be my third summer feeding them, I can touch the boy now. He has let me have the pleasure of petting him on his invitation only of course. I know he likes it and even looks forward to it. His sister looks just like her Mother and wouldn’t dare let me touch her but I can get very close to her. I will forever remember the beautiful cat that started my heart overfilling with joy each time I looked out my kitchen window. The view is better than any television show. It breaks my heart that there are so many cats who seek a measly bowl of cat food and never know the joy of the human touch. Who never lay on a soft bed with the air conditioning blowing on them. But I am always glad when they find my door, because I know I will make a positive change in there lives and they make positive changes in mine every time I see a new face. I prevent them from breeding, I prevent them from aimlessly searching for food. I hope that one day no cat goes without a home. Until then I will make a difference outside my door. I have volunteered for the organization that helped me for the last two years and will do so as long as they will let me. I thank God each day for the opportunity to serve, and pray that he leads many more cats to my door. There are so many more cats I could talk about but it would take all night. I hope that anyone reading this will be moved to look outsied their doors, or find ways to help in their communities. God bless…

  • I’d have no argument with you feeding them, especially if it reduced their predation on the local wild population of birds and small mammals. I’d suggest though that you’d help in promoting spaying and neutering of the adult cats.

    Colonies of feral cats can, if left unchecked, decimate quite large areas of birds and mammals of all sizes up to wood pigeon. Given the nature of their scavenging as well they’ll increase the chance of toxoplasmosis being vectored, an increasing parasitic disease in humans, especially in the continenal US.

    So carry on feeding them as you will.

  • Thanks for all the wonderful comments to something that was, primarily, simply a personal venting. I see there are more, like me, who have difficulty understanding the callousness of people who would betray these little animals, first, and leave them in the wild, second. As domesticated animals, they have few of the survival skills to hunt anyting, much less “decimate a local wildlife population.” I have seen mockingbirds squawking within 5 feet of these little cats and feel perfectly safe.

    After a few generations, like my little family, I guess they do develop some skills and can partially survive. I doubt they will significantly decimate anything. I have everything from huge crows/ravens to robins and everything else in and around the woods of my office complex.

    I have thought about capture/neuter/release but I don’t think we have those capabilities here. I will check harder because it would be a sensible thing to do. But, as I mention in the piece, nature usually is her own limiting factor.

    Thank you all for renewing my belief that, despite our gaping faults, people still care and have love to give.



  • Shark

    re: raining on the poetic, yet feral, out of balance parade

    Sliver: “…Colonies of feral cats can… decimate… birds and mammals of all sizes up to wood pigeon.”

    I left my compliment and zipped my lip, but somebody hadda say it;

    hope yall appreciate that it wasn’t me, the Simon Cowell of Blogcritics.

    : )

    PS: If somebody can breed feral cats that only eat grackles, they could make a fortune in Texas.

  • Shark

    Another Sharkian thought:

    I wonder if starving Africans would eat feral cats?


  • Shark writes: I wonder if starving Africans would eat feral cats?

    Reply: Shark, sometimes your mind takes some very strange turns, without signaling. (wink) I enjoy the wackiness of your take on most things here. You are quite unique, my friend.



  • Silver writes: Given the nature of their scavenging as well they’ll increase the chance of toxoplasmosis being vectored, an increasing parasitic disease in humans, especially in the continenal US.

    Reply: According to the CDC, Toxoplasmosis is transmitted to humans by:

    1. Accidentally swallowing cat feces from a Toxoplasma-infected cat that is shedding the organism in its feces. This might happen if you were to accidentally touch your hands to your mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat’s litter box, or touching anything that has come into contact with cat feces.
    2. Eating contaminated raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison; by touching your hands to your mouth after handling undercooked meat.
    3. Contaminating food with knives, utensils, cutting boards and other foods that have had contact with raw meat.
    4. Drinking water contaminated with Toxoplasma.
    5. Receiving an infected organ transplant or blood transfusion, though this is rare.

    While I understand your viewpoint on disease vectors and appreciate your concerns about the wildlife population, both concerns – in my particular instance – are really not likely. They (the cats) don’t ever get close enough for transmission and, from what I can tell from their hunting habits, the wildlife has little to fear. The local birds usually just swoop down, dive bomber-style, and scare the bejeebers out of the cats who appear to want nothing to do with them. Now, if they reduce the field mice and rats (old building, you know), I can live with that.



  • Nancy

    It isn’t just feeding them, always. I found a smallish cat (I thought was a 4 mo old kitten, but almost 2ce that age) who seemed to have a bad cold. With the help of a neighbor, we managed to corner her & I grabbed her & stuffed her into a carrier, shedding much blood along the way (mine, not hers), & got her to the vet. Unfortunately, not only did she have a bad case of pneumonia, she also had FIV. The vet said she had little chance of recovery, so we sadly put her to sleep. But I had her cremated, and brought her home – she does indeed have a home, & I’m her mom, for the few short hours she was under my care – and buried her under one of my big rose bushes in the sun where I first saw her. Poor little Nugget. I still cry for her.

  • Nancy writes: “I grabbed her & stuffed her into a carrier, shedding much blood along the way (mine, not hers), & got her to the vet.

    Reply: You, dear lady, are a saint in commoner’s clothing. If there were more people willing to make the sacrifices you make, in your corner of the world, it would be a much more pleasant world, indeed.



  • dietdoc…why do we need that…we have PETA…down here in VA and NC…euthanizing them and throwing them in dumpsters!

  • Andy writes: “we have PETA…down here in VA and NC…euthanizing them and throwing them in dumpsters!

    Reply: That is a public relations disaster that put PETA in damage control mode for years to come. Unfortunate for a group whose goals are noble, even if their methods are a bit wacky.



  • I think SOME of their goals are noble…some of what they spew is just way to out htere for me.

  • After the feral cats come the …

    coyotes, feral dog packs and feral hogs

    …. all of whom live behind our house.

    But it’s okay, because massive construction of new housing has driven cougars into our neighborhood to take care of all these problems for us…

    except, of course, the cougars.


  • Dave writes: “…except, of course, the cougars.”

    Reply: Dave, as I note in the original BLOG, nature is its own excellent control system. Things do have a way, usually – unless man tries to “intervene” in a particular ecosystem – of working things out.

    Cheers to the cougars and all nature’s ultimate control systems,


  • Nancy

    You have COUGARS behind your house?! COOL! That ought’a take care of the rednecks hangin’ around outside working on their trucks up on cinderblocks & blasting C&W at the top of the sound scale! Wish we had a few around my place….

  • HW Saxton

    Nancy,I live in the desert in S.Nevada
    and as the building gets closer to the
    mountains Cougars are being spotted way
    more than they used to be,which is
    fairly frequently. We have Bobcats as
    well but they are actually more elusive.

    The Cougars come down from the high
    desert hills at night and make raids to
    places on the far reaches of the ‘burbs.
    Sometimes this means Fluffy and Rover
    get brought into the chain unfortunately
    for them.I’ve seen them in the wild and
    at a meat processing plant once way out
    on the edge of town where they would
    come and raid the scrap bins. I imagine
    the smell of blood, fat, rotting meat
    scraps must put out an aroma that they
    find hard to resist.They all look very
    healthy though as there is an abundance
    of whitetail deer in the hills as well
    as wild horses and mountain sheep.

  • Nancy

    We’ve got a few, mainly in the myriad state parks, etc. along w/the bobcats & smaller predators. Lately we’ve had bears, and now coyotes, who have even taken up residence down in Rock Creek Park, in the heart of DC, w/in a mile or so of the W.H. Deer are all over the place. They stand next to the roads, either contemplating suicide or thinking about getting in to passing cars & hitching rides.

  • Nancy

    Odd that the cougars would take to dining on pets, tho: they much prefer deer, even tho harder to catch. Maybe it’s your friendly neighborhood coyotes. They’ll make off w/anything doesn’t run faster than they do.

  • HW Saxton

    Nancy, Yes the coyotes around this part
    of the country (and everywhere else I’m
    guessing) ARE notorious for eating up
    small dogs and house cats. As well as
    their pet food too,which seems to help
    to attract them. In the case of these
    cougars I think they have killed the pet
    dogs maybe not so much to eat but rather
    as a more territorial thing.But that is
    just my theory.I know that at the meat
    packing plant I mentioned previously in
    this thread that they had put pit bulls
    on guard in the area around their trash
    dumpsters and one of the pits was mauled
    beyond any recognition.That would take
    many coyotes but a good sized Puma would
    have no problem there at all.There are
    many deer here in the desert but you
    have to go up around where the tinmber-
    line starts to find them in abundance.
    Or at least well out on open high desert
    range lands where they will share the
    natural water holes that the cattle out
    there utilize and where are not too many
    people around.

  • Bennett

    Here in VT we have lots of coyotes, and I enjoy hearing them sing off in the woods that surround my home. It raises the hackles on my dog’s neck… They don’t come close to my house because my lab/sheppard is pretty good at marking the perimeter.

    Pretty sure it was a cougar that got the pittbull, coyotes have no interest in that sort of thing.

    They are the brightest of the canine family, highly social, and the only large wild carnivore that has continued to expand its range despite human population growth.

    True survivors.

  • Bennett

    Ron, I really enjoyed reading this piece this morning. When I was a bachelor living in the bay area, I tamed a feral kitten that was living in a drain pipe near our home.

    SEMI-tamed. He would hang with you, eat the cat food, and accept attention. But if you got even a tiny bit too familiar (scratching his stomach at the wrong time) he would rip you up so fast it was scary.

    When he started attacking my legs as I walked past the rose bushes (bloody scratches), I encouraged him to move along.

    Thanks for the memory stimulent!

  • Eric Olsen

    a very dulcet, sweet humane story Ron, thanks! I agree with Lisa that if you improve your immediate surroundings, you improve the world.

    One of our two cats was a stray kitten my son found almost emaciated to death and brought home. “Just until he’s healthy again,” I said over two years ago. He’s sweet and tame but keeps the mouse population down in the yard – good kitty.

  • Bennett writes: “SEMI-tamed. He would hang with you, eat the cat food, and accept attention. But if you got even a tiny bit too familiar (scratching his stomach at the wrong time) he would rip you up so fast it was scary”

    Reply: There us something about getting to the underside of a feral cat…they just DO NOT allow that. They know, I think, that is where they are most vulnerable and they don’t – not matter how much food you give them – give that territory up. I have noticed the same thing with past cat encounters of the 3rd kind.



  • This was already addressed above, but get ’em fixed. It may seem like an incredibly amount of work, but actually it has become quite common. Check out http://www.neighborhoodcats.org . There are quite a few volunteers around who, if you are willing to help out, can get those cats fixed for you. Also, hide the food, and don’t make a mess. Nothing gets cats killed faster than when someone draws attention to them. Kittens can be tamed and adopted into homes.

    And you are right to equate care for animals with care for other humans and the world. If I had to pick a neighbor, would I want one who feels bad for a stray and puts out food, or one who can turn away and let it starve without a twinge of conscience? The eight-year-old who worries about kittens, or the eight-year-old who kicks them out of the way? The person who stops for a cat is likely to stop for crying child. A person who involves himself is not going to turn away when a human is in need. Thanks so much for this post.

  • Caitllin: Thanks for the wonderful link to the T/N/R site. It was most helpful and informative. Who knew a little dietary garlic can help prevent flea infestation in the lil’ buggers? I had thought of the “moat” around their outside food for preventing ants – a really big problem down here in the southeast. What I have found even more effective, since we have the aggressive red ant variety everywhere, is to spray a small amount of pet-safe insecticide on the bottom of their dish (only the part touching the ground). It works great to keep the viscious little reds at bay. They can feed later on what the cats spill out of the bowl.

    Again, thanks for the useful comments.



  • Nancy

    Y’wanna see a really BIG kitty? Check out Hercules the Liger on snopes.com. My fave photo is the one w/this gigantic 1/2-ton pussycat & a baby bottle, his eyes screwed up in bliss as he nurses. Pretty funny. Hate to clean that kitty box, tho. 😉

  • Do you know about Trap, Neuter, Return? Ally Cat Allies will help you!


    Stormy the ex-feral wishes you good luck!

  • dietdoc

    Greencounsciousness, thanks for the heads-up. Seems there are a whole slew of cat lovers up here who do still give a hoot and a hollar about the “lesser” (used facetiously here) creatures that we have around us. Even in our darkness days as a civilization, I have hope when there are people, such as those responding with such love and compassion – and those not wearing de riguer “Save The Feral Cats” wristbands and seeking recognition – just doing something that just feels right. I still have, shrinking as it is, that we have some shreds of love left and we always will as long as we share that inner voice that says “help where, how and what you can.”

    Tangentially, terrorist only make it a stronger voice becauses the contrast of unconditional love stands in stark contrast to unconditional hate and savagery.

    OK, I’ll climb off the soapboz now.

    Thansk to you all for making this a worthwhile exercise.

    Love you guys and gals,


  • Jasmin

    Thank you for at least making their lives better. You may want to consider TNR (www.alleycat.org for more info).

    I saw an earlier post regarding FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Many cats can live a long and healthy life. It doesn’t have to be an immediate death sentence. FIV is not easily transmittable. Usually through infected mothers, and or deep bite wounds is the way it can be spread. I’ve rescued many an FIV positive cat. They can have a pretty good life.
    For more information, check out: