Dry Creek Hill

Feral Cat Fridays: A Short Tale Of Short Tails

Wandering male cats were attracted to our colony, sometimes by the food and sometimes by the hope of feminine companionship. They found reliable food but their hopes for lady friends were dashed if they were after anything more than a platonic relationship. All the females in the colony had been spayed as a part of our trap, neuter and release program. There were just a few males that had avoided being trapped and neutered.

Stubby the feral cat
Stubby considers his new territory

Stubby was a wandering tom who became a semi-permanent resident despite the lack of somebody to love. He was a shy, nervous guy at first. A handsome gray cat with a short tail and a white mustache, he was careful to acknowledge the existing colony hierarchy and spent most of his days on the periphery, in the back yard.

Stubby the feral cat looks back toward photographer
“So where’s my dinner? It’s supposed to be on this stump!”

Stubby may have been a shy loner, but but the food he found in the colony was too good to turn down. He appreciated the dry food but the canned food snack that accompanied the evening meal was the clincher. He learned the colony’s routines, adhered to the schedule, and with time ventured out of the back yard and into the front yard. Eventually he became comfortable enough to pose for a glamour shot on the front deck.

Feral cat looks out through deck railing
“It’s pretty nice up here on the front porch.”

Bud was another short-tailed cat who passed through, but Bud never stayed. We first saw him on the front deck grabbing a snack and drink of water. He was quite surprised when he saw Loretta snapping a photo through the study window.

Bud the feral cat looks startled as he walks past the window
“Who’s that in the window?!”

His most prominent feature, other than his surprised expression, was his short, ragged tail. In contrast to Stubby’s neat bobtail, Bud’s tail looked like the result of some traumatic event. You can see how the hair thins out near the tip in the photo below. When we saw him for the second time, a year after the first sighting, the hair on his ragged tail had filled out. We saw him grabbing a bite on the deck a few more times but he never stayed.

Bud sits by the food tray
Bud is poised to leave after his snack.

A neighbor who cares for strays told us that she had adopted a short-tailed cat not long ago, so Bud may have found a home.

2 thoughts on “Feral Cat Fridays: A Short Tale Of Short Tails

  1. shoreacres

    That’s quite something, that there was a year between your first and second sightings of Bud. Of course, he could have been lurking around, or patrolling a different neighborhood. Whatever he was up to, at least his tail recovered!

    Stubby was quite handsome; that’s a fine front-porch portrait. I like gray cats, but I don’t remember ever seeing one, even among the crew that my Kerrville friend supports. I peeked into the articles about cat genetics, and found that they aren’t rare, but they’re less common because of “this and that.” I did learn that there are some breeds that are pure grays, or shades of gray. A friend has a Russian Blue, that apparently would qualify.

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      We’re not sure about Bud’s habits. He always looked healthy, with the exception of his tail, so we suspect he might have been an on and off semi-resident at several houses in the area. We’re widely spaced up here and never know where a cat or dog is roaming to or came from. Bud was unusual by being the only cat we saw several times but over such a long period. He likely wasn’t one of our typical strays or ferals.

      I think we only had 2 solid gray cats in the colony, the mother and daughter pair of Mosby and MiniMo. I suppose they would be labelled Russian Blues. Stubby’s gray coat with touches of white made him a very handsome guy. His markings in combination with his tail and what I’ve come to think of as a Manx swagger made him stand out in a crowd. Most short-tailed cats I’ve seen have a high-hips, long rear legs look to them and it gives them a distinctive gait, at least to me. Stubby had it and Swiffer, one of our house cats, has it. Swiffer got his name for his short tail that reminded us of one of those hand-held Swiffer dusters because of the way it looks and the way it twitches around.

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