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By Susan Howell
Sometime late in September I noticed the stray Calico cat that has been wandering the neighborhood for the past year or so, in my backyard. A feral cat I always assumed, hiding among shadows and for the unfortunate backyard wildlife, living off the land.
Daily, she began passing through my yard, so one morning I grabbed my field glasses hoping to get a better look at her. Through my glasses she appeared to look pregnant and as I began to approach her she beat feet into the woods. So I proceeded to do what most animal loving saps do, I set out a bowl of cat food for her. It didn’t take her long to find the food, giving me an opportunity to get a closer look. One thing was certain, she no longer looked pregnant. My guess was she either had her kittens or I was mistaken in my observation. Either way I continued to feed her just in case she was indeed nursing a family.
I named her Hardcore, which I realize is a terrible name, but she is one tough cookie. Throughout my adult life I have had many cats and still do. The abandoned, strays, misfits you name it have lived their lives under my care, doctored and loved. A few days of feeding would have them wrapped around my finger or most likely it was the other way around, but pets they became and have had happy lives.
Hardcore is different, a steel magnolia, both smart and street wise. No amount of food, gentle coaxing or familiarity has thus far gained her trust. The only significant progress if you can call it that is she no longer hisses and flattens her ears at the sight of me.
Weeks have gone by and December has rolled in. While I still serve as Hardcore’s personal chef, I have come to the conclusion that if there were kittens they might not have survived, so it is time to borrow a trap from my veterinarian and get her spayed and vaccinated. Staging her capture has no room for failure so I need to plan this out carefully.
OH MY GOODNESS! Rolled out of my mouth as I gazed out my kitchen window late one afternoon. My eyes were greeted by three adorable balls of fur, tiny debutants enjoying their coming out party under the watchful eye of Hardcore. Butterscotch, Buttercup and Butternut, like their mother are wild little things, skittish and unapproachable to date. While my trapping plans are on hold I continue to feed and watch over this rag tag family of four with hope that I will gain their trust, eventually domesticating them in the process. Wish me luck!
FYI: Spaying and neutering greatly reduces the stray and feral cat population which in turn helps protect our backyard birds and wildlife.