Our yard and garden are full of feral cats. They came with the place when we rented it, and I quickly went to work getting them spayed and neutered, thanks to a discount I receive for being a TNR-certified (that’s trap-neuter-return) volunteer through the ASPCA.
Note his left ear has been “tipped” – this is the universal sign that means “this cat has been spayed/neutered.” If another rescuer were trapping feral cats to have them fixed, she would know right away to let Arthur go because he’s already been done.
These cats are all very scared of people and it’s highly unlikely they will ever be anyone’s “pet.” Feral cats in NYC have nowhere to go and continue to breed and to suffer hard lives outside. TNR helps to at least cut down on the population.
Mr. B and I love these sweet, funny, poor little creatures and are happy to be able to offer them food, winter shelters, and a safe place to live out their days.
Before they were fixed they caused some mayhem outside, but since being fixed they are no trouble at all. They keep my garden free of squirrels and their presence prevents any birds from stealing seeds or going after tomatoes. (Oddly enough, the cats don’t really go after the birds at all, in spite of us feeding them too! Since the cats aren’t hungry and since the bird feeders are kept high up, the arrangement seems to work!)
Most of these cats have come to know me and my voice. Although they won’t let me anywhere near them, they do associate my voice with FOOD, and so they will get very close to me at feeding times. I often have to take pictures through a window, otherwise they would take off running. They’re becoming more and more curious about me and about our indoor cats, though, and they sometimes peek at us through the (closed) windows.
Occasionally they provide a little too much help…
Amazingly, with all these cats, our yard does not smell! It sure did when we first moved in, but getting them fixed took care of spraying and marking territory. Cats are clean animals and generally don’t want to go to the bathroom anywhere near where they live or sleep. They have the whole rest of the block of backyards as well, which they can explore, but the food, our winter shelters, and our shady fig trees in the summer make our yard the one where they choose to sleep and play.
They all love catnip, and the 3 “kittens” love chasing leaves blowing in the wind, and play-wrestling together. I love seeing them having some degree of comfort in their poor lives and that they feel safe enough to play.
Not pictured here: Oscar, Merv, Angelo, Jinx, Barley, Millie, and Suzie! They spend most of their time in the yard of a neighbor who also takes care of cats, and they are only occasional visitors to our yard, but I’ve had them all fixed anyway.
Our permanent residents include the 6 orange cats: Rusty, Arthur + Clementine (mom and dad), Quince, Enzo, and Oscar (the “kittens”), plus Maisy and Mushy. You can watch a video of them all being served breakfast in an upcoming post! Stay tuned!