- Author: Susan Croissant
Lordy, lordy-three feral kittens. The neighbor lady feeds them, I get their poop, and it's not always solid. This is the second spring, or is it the third. They go from yard to yard, playing and pooping. Their targeted spots vary--front, back, side yard--my yard has slowly-fading wood chips. Told her once, half-jokingly, I was gonna oblige her to come over and clean it up. "I've been trying to find them homes," she said. I collected their leavings almost daily to keep up. Being feral, they skedaddled when I came outside. "Scat!" worked, but I wasn't always out there when they were.
My 18-year-old cat, Gordie, was quite the territorial guy. Determinedly and efficiently, without a doubt, he kept all intruders out. Then he started to go blind. As his blindness progressed, they could be in the yard and sometimes he didn't even know it. But they were young and just went about their business. They're still around, now adults, huge with beautiful markings--and bigger poops. Gordie's gone since January, and they come and go as they please. So do the neighbors' felines.
I learned to patiently collect regularly--what choice is there? I've hosed off many a shoe, but most of the time it's easy to spot because "mounds" of wood chips appear--big and small--every day. I tarped my two compost piles, untarped during heavy rain. Then I found meshed material in the basement, so the compost could get rain. I put recycle, garbage and yard waste cans over the most-used spots, so they find wood chips at cans' edges. Laid out some old, thin, cheap, folding metal fences; sometimes they find a spot in the square slots. After pruning and preparing the roses, I spread small pebbles but then laid weed mesh. I knew they couldn't do any scratching, but I can't lay it everywhere. The little buggers persist in finding new spots. What else to do? Doesn't matter. My yard is still their daily stop along the way to someone else's.
In the last 2 months, I mostly see one (female?), who also sheltered under the steps in cold and rain. Sitting in the sun, I move, she is long gone. I started talking to her: "It's okay, kitty, watcha doin'?" "Want some water? Here's a bowl." As spring has evolved, so has our relationship. When I say, "Its okay," she pauses. She spends more time lying in the shade, looking at the birds, keeping an eye on me. I don't know where the other 2 went, and the neighbors' cats are still around. But I am relieved to see fewer wood chip mounds. The burden has lightened, and I have fewer tasks in the yard now.