Feral Cat Fiasco
Lovable Until They’re Not
Story and Photos by Khaliela Wright
I’m a cat person. In college, I acquired a persnickety part-Siamese, which I dubbed Stinky. He was my companion for nineteen years, making him my longest relationship. He was born before either of my kids and outlasted both boyfriends and the ex-husband.
During Stinky’s old age, I planted a couple of varieties of catnip in the garden (for medicinal purposes only, mind you). Because of this, I was used to seeing neighbor cats in the yard. Fortunately, Stinky didn’t mind sharing his weed, although the neighbor cats often got the munchies and emptied his food before departing. When he died, I pulled up the catnip in an attempt to keep neighbor cats out of the yard. It didn’t do much good. Not only is catnip hard to eradicate, but word had gotten out that his patch of weed was unguarded. My yard became the free space in a game of kitty-territory-bingo.
The winner was a watermelon-shaped, timid tabby. Any cat that fat had to be well loved, I figured. But one afternoon when I found her sunning herself on my deck, the watermelon shape was gone, replaced by a lean, lank, half-starved look. She hadn’t been fat, she had been pregnant. Several weeks later, she brought her babies for a visit. I watched with bated breath as they attacked each other in my raised beds and tormented the quail. As the weeks passed, my thoughts turned to the tabby’s owner, who needed to find homes for those kittens.