I’ve lived at my current abode for going on 7 years – –
There is a Mama, calico cat, that, in year 3 of my move to neighborhood, decided me and my four-legged, border collie companion and teen man-child were ‘okay’ to entrust her litter to care of.
She had been here at the place, hung out, watched us – but she hadn’t ever brought her children around – we were still on probation, don’t ya know –
And when she brought the first litter over, they were teeny boppers, durn near ‘kick out of the nest adults”
But the next spring – something bad happened to her usual spot – cuz she moved her litter, one by one, by carrying in her mouth, to the safe spot at the back of the shed – and most of the kits, once they had their eyes open, were still pretty gun shy, as it were – one yellow tom-to-be hissed and stood up to scare everyone who came within 20 feet of his brother and sisters hidey-hole, but still, he looked a little shooken while doing so –
I know not what scared them so to come here – but, it’s worked out for all us that first year, the sharing space, but not intruding on each other’s space, and now, she births elsewhere, and moves them here when they are just getting to the roly-poly, cute and fun stage –
Me and Oakely are not required to do full feeding/day care activities, mind you – we just sort of provide/hold the safe space…at is were….
Mama likes the empty lot south of me, owned by folks who hate coming to visit the back of the beyond and only do so when the town says, “Come cut the grass on your lot or we will do so and charge ya for it” –
Mama cat LOVES and hunts successfully near the wildland near me – Sometimes, if I remember to time my breaks right, if I’m at home – I can sit and watch the feline hunter in all its grace, patience and fury –
My place also has cool outbuildings to hide tiny ones away in – and often – in the cool of the night or early morning, Mama and her children can be seen gamboling away at indulgent play/family time, in some space that is overseen/guarded by Oakley, the wonder dog, who will bark and sound the alarm should any ‘stranger’ of any species, dare to even drive close to what Oakley considers “our domain”.
Many a day, as I left for work, over the years, would I walk out to find Oakley laying down, relaxed but head and ears alert –
Her paws crossed (as the lady she is) , all while she sat in careful vigil over the perimeters of the area where the tiny kittens played and wrestled with each other while Mama was away, hunting down the ‘bacon’ to bring home….
About the 3rd season Mama appeared at my place, deemed safe enough to hide offspring at, it was, well, a hard year – hard for moisture, hard for harsh storms, hard for me, hard for our landscape – hard for living things – the drought, the heat, it all had about beaten me back to wanting to give up,
And Mama? Well, She was looking pretty lean, and the few kittens left from the original litter moved in (2 out of 6) were looking pretty lean, too- and…well, ain’t I a mama who knows about lean times?
And so, given the hard drought year and the lean pickins for many in wildlife area, I took out raw milk that I traded the sweat of my brow for, and filled a dish and put out right in her path – then I watched from a window – as she disdained to even acknowledge my presence while I said,
Hey, Mama – hard year for everyone, eh? This is for you – it’s good, tastes sweet and I love you – and your strong ways…but worried about you and yours….
Milk was still there 3 days later – since I drank out of the same jar and didn’t immediately die nor expire 3 days later, I figured it wasn’t the offering of food – it was the pride of it all – cuz cats run in prides, right?
Ahh…Mama – you are an independent woman after my own heart
And from then on out, I didn’t question her, or try to change her ways –
I didn’t do anything more than smile in the morning when she and her family chose to gambol in my dry bed area – or caution tiny adult visitors to my place who spied the ‘family’ and exclaimed,
OOHHH!! Look Mommy! TamrahJo Has KITTENS!
all while they moved towards the beloved kittens of the current year’s ‘litter’ – At which time, me, the mean, harsh, Auntie TamrahJo, would quickly bark out,
For the Love of All That IS HOLY!!! Stop! Right Now!! These are not pets! They are wild and they feel safe here and they are not to be petted, coddled or otherwise ruined! They keep the rodent population at bay and I’ll ground you till you’re 35, myself, no matter what your parents say, if you ruin their hunter instincts by molly-coddling them!!!
At which point, lil human tiny adult faces (and big adult faces, as well) looked shocked, amazed, and then close into the familiar face I’m used to seeing, which states, “Well! She is just mean, she is….”
SO? I learned, some short time ago, that sometimes, when protecting what is beautiful, it’s rather helpful to come across as a selfish hard-arse, looking out for your own good – rather than wasting other people’s time trying to get across all that you find beautiful and awesome with leaving stuff just as it is – – folks don’t have patience for that long of a story -anymore – :).
People believe and accept the selfish-all-about-me-best-for-me story line with less than a bat of they eye – – they rarely, if ever, believe you if you, if you actually tell the truth:
“I am willing to let them be them, I worry sometimes on how they will make it – I offered what I had to give, that I thought might be needed/wanted, they didn’t need nor did they want, so I let them be them – They must be okay with that cuz they stay and it’s working out for me too, if we just let each other be ourselves and try not to interfere with each other too much – “
But I tell you, in my soul – I have a story – – I think they showed up to keep Oakely entertained and needed when I was away at work too much –
I also think Mama showed up, and then carefully, throughout the years, brought her latest litter here, because she knew I needed some cheer in my soul – and she needed a place where she could safely stow away her family and go do what she needed to –
And, in the end, she knew I would just muck the whole thing up if we actually became chummy roommates – – 🙂
I’m a Leo by sign – She’s a Leo by birth – ya know what they say about what bad things happen when two queens inhabit the same castle – – 🙂
Unfortunately, my soft-hearted, elderly neighbor (who moved in after the arms dealer got busted – yes – my place was the scene of SWAT like moves for a couple of years until the landlord got better at weeding out the drug and arms dealers as potential renters…)
Well – beautiful, quiet, nice neighbor is concerned about the Feral Cat issue in our town –
I’m thinking, “There’s an issue?!? Really?!?”
While I like my neighbor, I have to confess I take offense at how the ‘Feral’ term is being labeled/trucked out nowadays –
But, sigh… concerned she is, and…wouldn’t ya know? She found an organization on the web that will reward her if she can just capture/feed those ‘feral’ cats to help save themselves from themselves – –
Only catch is – she must trap them to hold them, until said organization arrives to sterilize them – then?
Why then! She will get some financial support to help feed those poor, helpless, trying to be reformed, feral, sterilized, cats – –
Ya know – the ones that kept down the rodent population, kept to themselves and didn’t create havoc on my place while hanging out?
Yup, those poor, poor misguided, feral cats are in need of ‘saving’ –
I confess to not being a very ‘good and gracious neighbor” upon hearing this latest plan of action to ‘better our community’
I not only didn’t agree, but also replied,
‘Well, I can see you are pretty committed to what you think is going to be good, but know, right now, if I can find a way to let Mama cat and her 5 generations of offspring that pretty much keep my place mouse free, all by themselves, while not hampering my loving neglect ways, nor tripping me while I walk to the truck in the morning – keep on living the life they live?
That said, I’m not really too worried about any of the grand petitions or social activism things growing up in aconcerned steam –
Well, I happen to know Mama – and at least 5 different years of offspring show back up here, now and then, to say hi – or sit in the shade just north of the Guard Dog Pen – and never a bark, warning or upset is uttered by the Wonder Dawg – but let a stray tom not of ‘our pack’ even skirt the edges of the right away across the street – and holy heck! Alarms go off – – 🙂
The Clan of Calico Mama, all, one by one and sometimes, here and there, as a family, come out to share in communion the space/time I inhabit, and can slip away and hide or disappear just as quick as they need too –
If so many concerned folks think they will whip in and change all that beauty, by free or supplemental food, okay –
I’m placing my bet on Mama and her offspring getting the better of them all –
My simple “okay – you do your thing, I’ll do mine and me and/or the wonder dawg will stand guard for babies if need be – other than that – until you say so, we are just here – and you are there – but I still see us a partners in this whole thing – – ” works – apparently, for those of us most closely involved –
Seriously? “FERAL Cats?” you’d think my place 100 of the running around whining to be fed – nope – this years batch off on their own – one black tom from last year is a mama’s boy and hasn’t completely flown the coop yet – I notice Mama is staying away longer and longer – perhaps she is hoping young Tom will take the hint and ‘hit the road jack, on your way to manhood” – who knows?!?
On the other hand, I did close my eyes and try, mightily, through pictures and my own fears of do-gooders – to send the warning to Mama, when I first saw her trotting off to evening hunts shortly after learning of the latest ‘crusade’ afoot –
“CAGES – DANGER!- HIDE HERE – SHED – FENCED IN AREA – WE ARE REFUGE SPACE -LEAVE WHENEVER SAFE”
Funny thing was, she paused, mid-step, looked straight at me and I swear, she both shook her head in exasperation AND smiled at my warning –
In my mind, her message back was…
“Don’t worry, I got this – and thanks, but nothing further needed….”
Which is why, in the end – I’m okay with dogs in the house, but cats?
They are perfectly capable of doing for themselves…
However, I do believe refuge was sought and taken sometime last week –
After nearly 8 years together with Oakley, the Wonder Dawg and nothing ever like this occurring before, imagine my surprise to come home and find many of my balls of yarn from the basket in the back yard, strewn here and there – –
I was rather stressed and distracted when I arrived, so the full import didn’t hit me until I was walking into the house with Oakely close on my heels…
(instead of shoving me out of the way to be first in the door – though she could have gone in the doggie door and beat me before I got the durn thing unlocked) all in spirit of mellow-yellow, close to my heel like I had worked to train her to do so, instead of her usual
“You’re home! You’re Home!”
spirit dance that usually knocks things akilter if I haven’t put them away properly-
and… she had a whole…well….looking rather worried, complete with tail tucked down – though I hadn’t even full noticed anything other than a strand of yarn, and wondered, distractedly, “whose trash got lose and blew into my yard?” nor scolded her or anything, at that point –
And then I walked into my living room – –
What a site to behold –
yarn strings criss-crossed back and forth – all over the small place – trails of yarn I now realize aren’t blowing trash, but attached to balls of yarn I must go out and hunt out from the growing like weeds grass during this year of blessed moisture –
– and I looked at Oakley and said,
Not really -I said the fully ennuciated, full syllables of each and every word, represented by above acronym, punctuated by breaks, to convey my total dismay at finding such a state of affairs here, in our calm household where I’m usually the one that makes the mess –
Oakley looked back at me, with a rather contrite, pained expression, and just a touch of …
“Well? What can ya do? really?”
And, given her long companionship, multiple opportunities, never taken before and the recent ‘feral cat’ discussion with another human, rolling through my mind – I found the answer I liked the best and exclaimed:
“So… the teeny boppers and the latest tweens litter, threw a party here at my house till the scary people went away and Mama got home, didn’t they? “
Oakely just looked at me, looked at the floor full of colored strings, looked back and me, and promptly lay on the floor with front paws crossed, in alert, “Aunt Nana” stance – and I caved –
“Good girl! Good Girl! You herded them in and made sure they were entertained enough they didn’t have the urge to pee on my bedspread didn’t ya? Are they safe? Did they have fun during hiding? Did they enjoy the yarn? Good Girl! IS Mama okay?”
And that was that – – I’m STILL re-rolling washed balls of yarn retrieved from the yard-
But it’s worth it – so worth it – – LOL
And that – 2200+ words later, is why you respect and align with cats, but only take dogs in for roommates – – LOL
And it is also, in the end, the tale of how dogs figure out how to play with yarn like cats and get away with it…..