New neighbors, Part 3: Refugee cats versus our own — brokering a peace

Feeding tom-kittens Jack and Justin to help usher them through their rapid adolescent growth spurt wasn’t enough, by itself. Since their home base was right next door, they would also need to be integrated into our own brood of cats to prevent fighting with our two toms, which could potentially maim any one of them.
Go to: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Note: I have changed the names of the two neighbor cats in this post, and the preceding one, to provide anonymity for our neighbors out of respect for privacy. For the same reason I have not included any photos. I think it’s unlikely anyone in our neighborhood will read these stories, but you never know.

Roaming for food, seeking haven

As far as I could tell, Justin and Jack were fed at their place next door twice a day. Presumably they were fed in the morning right before or after being let out of the garage for the day, and again when being put inside again at night. On the other hand, perhaps they also had access to food ad libitum from a feeder overnight, although they were so ravenous when showing up at our place each morning, I doubted it. Or, alternatively, perhaps they didn’t much care for the food they were given.

I didn’t know any of this for sure, and could have been wrong. It was my best guess, based on the clues I could discern while keeping at arm’s length and not prying.

What did seem to be pretty clear, though, is that the two were put outside all day to fend for themselves. And when you do that with a cat, you can be sure they are going to try to line up other sources of food for themselves with sympathetic neighbors.

They will also try to secure secluded quiet spots and hidey-holes near preferred food sources for napping. They will scout out perches to serve as lookout posts or for keeping an eye and ear out for telltale signs food may be on its way. If they get caring attention from their benefactors as part of the bargain, so much the better.

Our own cats, with more frequent access to food, rarely wandered more than a half-block away, sometimes perhaps a block. Jack and Justin, though, had been spotted ranging as far away as two or three blocks from home, based on reports and photos posted by others in our neighborhood group online, as well as sightings by a friend of mine. Of course, part of this roving around could be attributed to the fact they were not neutered, but food is always a factor.

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New neighbors, Part 2: Refugee cats at our door

When two hungry, rapidly growing, unneutered tom-kittens unexpectedly arrived on the scene — with a brood of our own cats to care for already — deciding how to deal with them wasn’t easy. Would I be overstepping my bounds to help them out myself? Or should I leave it up to owners who didn’t understand the Tao of Cats?
Go to: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Note: I have changed the names of the two neighbor cats in this post, and the post to follow, to provide anonymity for our neighbors out of respect for privacy. For the same reason I have not included any photos. I think it’s unlikely anyone in our neighborhood will read these stories, but you never know.

So where were we with the story of our next-door neighbors who moved in a couple of years ago, as we were wrapping up Act 1 of the tale? In a nutshell, the primary theme was: Nice people, but completely unaware of how the high level of daily, hours-long noise the family squalled out into the soundscape affected those around them. Particularly the constant whooping, hollering, and shrieking emitted by their five energetic, pre- and post-adolescent children.

Before moving on to the next chapter here about the neighbors and their refugee cats, though, there’s an interesting loose end to tie up that unexpectedly capped off the previous chain of events some time after I made the original post.

The conclusion of the initial installment of the story found my wife and me hunkering down, resigned to putting up with the ongoing noise for the time being, while contemplating a potential next move, but not eager to make one because of the potential confrontation or ill will it might generate. Because most of the noise comes during the warmer months, and particularly the summer when the neighbors’ backyard pool is open and in use, we got a long-awaited respite once the family closed it down in the fall of the first year they moved in.

For perhaps four months or so after that until springtime of the second year, we were able to enjoy some peace and quiet. Not complete, mind you, but with the noise level much reduced. With their five kids in school during the day in the colder months, and temperatures often too wintry afterward in the small slice of daylight left to play outside for long when they returned home, there was simply not as much opportunity to wreak havoc on the airwaves.

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A mouse in my pocket

The pocket that held the mouse whose luck turned around.
Once in a while there is the chance to save a mouse from the carnage that goes along with owning cats who like to hunt. What difference does it make?

As much as I love our cats, one of the tradeoffs is dealing with the other animals they kill. Periodically, my wife or I will open the front door to find lying on our concrete porch a dead bird or mouse, or leftover mangled rabbit parts, lifeless before us.

My wife cannot face such scenes, and calls me in to take care of the mess if I haven’t yet come across it myself. Otherwise I will try to handle the cleanup of any blood or entrails, and dispose of the body, before she has a chance to see it, perhaps giving her a brief report later — if even that isn’t too much for her to hear.

While I’m not freaked out by the small, dead bodies and don’t mind the task itself, still, it always brings at least some pangs of regret or sadness.

Last year I remember finding a beautiful yellow finch at the foot of the short wooden staircase outside our kitchen door that opens into the attached garage, which is accessible via cat door and serves as another location where the cats leave their kills. Holding the finch in my hands, its eyes unseeing, but body and breast both still warm and supple, an emptiness arose inside and a lump came to my throat. Only moments ago it had to have been full of life. At the same time that you know cats are only doing what’s natural, your heart sinks to see such a beautiful, feathered and fellow creature — up close and personal, but gone.

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Cats versus kids: the choice is clear

Honestly, kids don’t have much going for them other than carrying on the family name. And you might have very good reason to fear even that. Cats, on the other hand… Well, by almost every other measure, they’ve got kids beat by a country mile.

From the cost to raise them to their agreeable nature, disciplined habits, all-around respectful behavior, and athletic ability — from toilet training all the way through the teenage years — it’s not hard to find a slew of reasons why you might find a cat preferable to a kid. Why anybody in their right mind would think otherwise is hard to fathom. In fact, once done reading these 36 reasons, you might well be itchin’ to find the nearest merchandise return counter to exchange your snotty hapless kid for a felicitous furry feline.

  1. You can raise six cats for the cost of one-quarter of a kid.
  2. You don’t have to pay for cats to go to college.
  3. Cats won’t owe student loan debt the rest of their life and yours.
  4. Cats come in five or six different fur colors.
  5. Kids scream. Cats purr.
  6. Cats will still cuddle with you on the sofa after they’ve grown up.
  7. Kids will move back home to live on the sofa after they’ve grown up.
  8. Cats know how to pee in the box right away and don’t need to be potty-trained.
  9. When a cat meows back at you, you know they appreciate you. When a kid talks back, it ain’t the same.

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