It's pouring rain in the Boston area as I write this; apparently we're in the middle of another nor'easter. When the weather is bad I always think of the three feral cats we feed in our yard, the ones we made sure were "fixed" and vaccinated after adopting out their kittens with the help of The Cat Connection.
Although the days when the rain comes down hard like this make me worry, I admit I'm thrilled our ferals made it through the winter. One of them, a pretty white girl named "Flora" by the organization (pictured above in the larger cat house), has taken up residence in a small insulated house supplied to us by the group. Her little head pokes out of the door of the house in the early mornings, and I can't describe how gratifying it is to know she has a warm, safe place to retreat to on cold or rainy days.
The other female, "Flicka,"doesn't come as often or live in the yard, but I've seen her often enough to know she's OK.
Flora adores "Franklin," the big gray and white tom cat who started all of this. Franklin was a scraggly, angry tom when we first noticed him outside, and once he even launched himself in anger about five feet up to a window where one of our indoor cats was sitting. Now, neutered and well-fed, Franklin seems almost gentle. Flora follows him around and looks for him when he isn't in the yard. When he shows up she follows him to the food and swats at him gently from the roof of the feeding station. He tolerates her, sometimes giving her a paw in return. Once I even saw them wrestling playfully. Both have filled out, and their fur is thick and healthy-looking.
The problem is I've become so attached to our "outdoor cats" that I worry if I go away even for a weekend. We have a neighbor who usually takes care of them, but he'll be away a lot this summer. Even though my husband is going away to study for three months, I will probably stay behind, at least part-time when I can't find help to ensure the cats get the food and water they've become accustomed to. Seeing them transformed from frightened, hungry animals into happy, content, healthy cats, there is no way I could leave them without knowing they will be cared for. This whole experience has been great for the neighborhood, which is no longer over-run with feral kittens, great for the kittens and cats who were rescued, tamed and ended up in good homes, and even great for these cats who were too feral to be tamed, but who now live easier lives.
What will happen if we move away? I can't even think about it!