Tag Archives: feral cats

Feral Cats in the Yard

“Feral cats in the yard again,” Sheila muttered to herself again, as she let the dingy curtain drop back into place.  “Why can’t they just let an old woman sleep?  Yes, yes, I need to sleep.”

Sheila groaned as she shuffled back to her bed.  She clung onto the bed covers as her right foot searched for its slipper.  Balancing wasn’t easy these days, and she nearly tipped over.  Soon enough, her big toe nudged the edge of a once-soft slipper, and she managed to scoot it and its mate back out from under the bed.  Spared the trouble of getting down on her knees, she sighed with relief and soon had both slippers on.  Who cared if their lining was filled with holes and no longer warm?  She wasn’t about to go through the trouble of purchasing brand new slippers.  Besides, putting them on was an act of habit, not of comfort.  She hadn’t had full feeling in either foot in years.

Her light and troubled sleep had been interrupted once again by the sound of angry feral cats in the yard.  Fighting, hissing, mewling.  Their nocturnal activities bothered her precious few hours of sleep each night, and she had had enough.

She groped around the night stand for her glass of water, and took a shaky sip.  Her frail body was betraying her spirit.  She felt as if she were still young, still out each night with her friends, drinking and flirting and having a grand time.  So many of those friends were gone, and the few new friends she had made weren’t interested in partying.  Massaging her sore left hand, she admitted to herself that she wasn’t up to it, either.  What time was it?  Ten thirty at night?  Ah, there had been a time when her night had just begun at ten thirty.  Now, it felt like an ungodly late hour.

She heard a particularly loud cat growl just under her window, a long, high-pitched, grating sound.  It was followed by a bump up against that side of the house.  Why on earth did the feral cats insist on fighting in her yard, just under her window?

Her slippers shushed against the floorboards as she made her way into the bathroom.  Sheila didn’t even bother snapping on the light.  She knew where everything was, including the bowl of ice water she had prepared just a few hours before.

Sheila grunted softly as she shuffled slowly back to her open window, desperate to keep all the water in the bowl.  A few sloshes here and there and her slippers were wet.  Well, that was to be expected, she supposed.  Quietly, she balanced the bowl for a moment on the window sill, and then, slowly, tipped it over.  The feral cats in the yard had been too busy with their fighting and posturing that they hadn’t paid attention to the soft noise above them before they were doused with freezing water.  Furious and sputtering, they ran off into the night.

“There has got to be a better way to make a point,” Sheila thought to herself, as she let the bowl drop outside as well.  “Perhaps tomorrow I will call Allstate Animal Control,” she whispered, as she groped her way back to her bed, slipped out of the soggy slippers, and pulled the covers back over her.

Feral Cats on Farms

Ah, you humans think you have to go about removing feral cats or saving feral cats.  You assume that we’re miserable, rooting through the garbage behind a hotel, fighting in your backyard, living our life in the great outdoors.  You assume we want to be like you, or worse, your domestic cat.  You think we’d be better off in a warm bed, being hand-fed kitchen scraps or cat food, living a long and boring life.

You have got it all wrong!  We feral cats are wild animals!  We enjoy the hunt, the chase, the free lifestyle.  Sure, if you want to feed us or put a warm bed outside, we’ll take it, but you’re gravely mistaken if you think that means we’re just going to cuddle up to you, purring and grateful you’re “rescuing a feral cat.”  You’re nice and all, but most of us just want to be left alone, free to fend for ourselves and life our life, even if it is a little shorter than your domesticated cats’ lives.

All right, fine, so you don’t want us breeding in your yard, infecting your pets or livestock, fighting all hours of the night, making a latrine out of your garden or throwing your garbage all over the street.  I can accept that, but you’ve got to accept I’m not just some stray, looking for a handout and some love.  I am a feral cat, a wild cat.  I am born to eat rodents, birds, and whatever I can scavenge. I am happy sleeping under a wood pile or finding my way into your shed or garage.

I don’t understand how some people want to force us into an alien environment, taking us in as pets and then expecting us to live up to your happy cat expectations.  Others of you want to get rid of us altogether.  Well, since there are more feral cats in the United States than there are domesticated cats, you’ve got your chore cut out for you if you think you can get rid of us permanently.

So, I think we’ve got to come up with a compromise.  Some of you humans, farmers and ranchers, especially, have lots of property and lots of rodents.  Guess what?  We’re perfectly equipped to handle your problem.  Just relocate us from the city or neighborhood to a nice farm or ranch.  We’ll fend for ourselves, sleep where we want, and keep the rodent population down for you.

And, if we get rid of your rodents, other nasty predators like coyotes, snakes or bobcats go looking for their food elsewhere.  I’m not so naïve as to think we feral cats won’t become part of the food chain ourselves, fighting with other predators for the same food source, but most of us will prevail.  Those who do will help you with your problem and you help us with our problem.  Win-win, right?

Feral Cats and Farmers

I’ve learned a lot over the last few months about farmers and feral cats.

I’m a recent homeowner, just bought my first house in a farming community that is slowly turning into a town of new subdivisions.  Many of the farmers are aging, their children have grown up and gone off to pursue careers other than farming, and they’re getting offered prime dollar for their land.  I didn’t know all of this when I bought my home, of course.  I just enjoyed the rural atmosphere that came with my brand new home.

My backyard adjoins an old farm, and the family has sworn they are never going to sell.  I know nothing’s certain, but I feel a little relieved to think the view from my backyard will retain that rural feel.  I’ve gotten to know the family that owns the place, as well as their employees, and I’ve benefitted from their knowledge of the area, gardening tips, and feral cats.

I know that sounds odd, to benefit from someone else’s feral cats.  Most people think feral cats are a nuisance at best and dangerous at worst.  It is true that they can carry disease and parasites, just like any wild animal, or they could infect my pets or fight with them.

Fortunately, though, I have indoor pets, so that’s not a concern for me.  What has been a concern is the vast number of mice, rats, voles and moles in the area.  With new subdivisions going up in former farmers’ fields, we humans are invading the natural habitat of these rodents.  Mice and rats just love new housing developments:  lots of food sources like garbage cans or kitchens, and lots of warm places to sleep, like an attic or inside the walls of a home.  Voles, gophers and moles enjoy the grass and gardens we plant, giving them a luscious food source and soft places to burrow.  And, let’s face it, rodents bring in a lot more disease and parasites than feral cats do, and they bring them right into our homes.

So when I say I benefit from the farmers’ feral cats, I mean it!  Years ago, he actually asked a wildlife trapper to bring him some feral cats, and he paid for them to get spayed or neutered. Then, he let them loose on his property.  Feral cats, as wild animals, are used to fending for themselves, chasing down rodents for food.  They don’t need constant love and attention, they don’t need to come in and out of your home, they just need a safe place to be a feral cat.  I don’t have the rodent problems some of the other new city residents are experiencing, thanks to my farmer’s feral cats.

Now, my farmer friend admitted to me that some of his feral cats have sometimes become prey themselves.  The feral cats compete with other predators for the same food source, and are also a natural food source to other animals such as coyotes.  But, since they have been pretty successful at keeping the rodent population down, many of the other predators have moved on, looking elsewhere for a more abundant food source.

It’s been a win-win for the farmer and his feral cats, and now it is a win for me, too.