NOT ALL VAGRANT cats are feral.
Some are pets that were abandoned by their owners, and that is sad to see.
The situation created isn’t easily resolved.
The cat wants a home. It wants and needs something to eat.
That means birds and other small wild creatures acquire another predator.
It took months for me to realize this was taking place in our yard.
The first sign it was happening was the animal fur accumulating on a cushion for one of the outdoor chairs.
I remarked about this to my late husband and mumbled something about people keeping their animals in their own yard.
A glimpse of this trespasser was seen from time to time, and I would rap on the window to send it on its way.
Did its owners know it was roaming all over the neighborhood?
The truth was discovered one cold and wet morning in March.
I witnessed the cat crawling from under the neighbor’s house.
It looked miserable and scruffy but still tried to groom its long and ragged fur coat.
The next time it appeared was a sudden surprise.
I was mixing up potting soil in the garden shed.
When I looked up for a moment, I was staring into two green and watchful eyes.
The cat was curled up on some boxes where it could be out of the weather.
That only lasted a few days, and of course I fed it.
It was not a wild, feral cat. It was thin, hungry and vocal.
I didn’t want a cat and still don’t. The plan was to feed it until I could get it into an animal crate and take it to the humane society.
It’s a very large cat and doesn’t want to be put in that cage.
The figures on feral cats (or lost ones) are staggering when it comes to their predation on wild birds.
Julie Zickefoose is not only an artist and someone who writes about birds; she is also an avian rehabilitator.
In her book “The Bluebird Effect,” she presented some numbers that are difficult to comprehend.
“Birds die by the hundreds of millions, and more than a billion small mammals die every year at the claws of some of our 90 million pet cats. … An estimated 100 million additional stray cats add to the ranks of bird and small mammal predators.”
If you are a cat person, and there are several in my family, you don’t like to hear these numbers.
The sticking point is “responsibility.” These independent animals know how to outwit their owners.
They refuse to cooperate because they want to hunt.
Right now, I am facing some serious responsibility for the cat someone foisted off on me.
This cat wants to be a pet. It wants to move into the house, and my dog has turned into an angry, green-eyed monster.
I know what she wants done with their interloper, but I am determined to find it a home.
I have an applicant but am still faced with the problem of wrestling a large cat with claws into a cage.
Fortunately, the birds have the cat’s number, and now that it is being stuffed with cat food, it isn’t much of a hunter.
It prefers to lie on the lawn furniture and wait for the next meal.
The feeders have been moved to the center of the lawn where they cannot be sneaked up on.
I hope the person or persons who abandoned this affectionate animal are experiencing some guilt for what they have done.
That’s probably a futile wish.
In the meantime, my goal is the relocation of an animal that would make a great housecat.
It has way too much class to be a wild and feral creature.
This “feral” cat problem seems impossible to resolve because taking responsibility for it makes almost everyone squirm and look away.
I’m trying not to do that.
Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: [email protected].