Feral Cat Fridays: Looking Back

Feral cat looks away from house and uphill

It’s been more than 18 years since we came to Dry Creek Hill and saw our first feral cat. We’ve known and named 78 cats in those years–you’ve met all the colony cats in previous posts. We trapped, neutered, and cared for all of them that allowed it. For those who say TNR does not work, we haven’t had to deal with new arrivals for 6 years now. Compare that to 78 in the preceding 12 years.

The colony is now gone and only a few cats remain. MiniMo is the last colony survivor and she has moved into my office in her old age. We have 3 house cats that arrived on Dry Creek Hill as kittens during the years of the colony, but they were obviously socialized and we couldn’t resist their affection. They’ve become great companions. I’ve already introduced Turk, and I’ll cover Swiffer and Sofia in the coming weeks. Swiffer and Sofia were tiny black littermates we found abandoned in the weeds at the foot of our driveway. They were purring in our laps within an hour and haven’t left yet.

Large feral cat feeding station
The Harley Platform, no longer needed.

The remnants of the colony are still in the yard, but it’ll be time to break them down when the weather cools. The Harley Platform is a big, heavy structure and it’ll be quite a job. (Those flat rocks on the roof served as plates when we served wet food.)

Smaller feral cat feeding station
The Boots Platform, also needed no more.

The Boots Platform is less substantial and will be easier to break down. It grew from a piece of plywood on sawhorses into it’s present form as we gradually realized we were in this for the long haul. By the time we needed the Harley Platform we knew how big a job we had and built accordingly.

Platform attached to deck rail for cat to rest on
MiniMo’s recovery station. We’ll be removing that shelter in the trees on the upper right, too.

We removed MiniMo’s recovery station a month ago so we could hang a hummingbird feeder on the nearby pillar. We built it so MiniMo could rest and recover at a safe distance above the ground and in the light from the front door while she was using up at least 1 of her 9 lives getting over her raccoon attack. We didn’t think she’d make it, but she fooled us then just as much as she fooled us by happily moving into my office. If you need a lesson in how to roll with the punches, talk to MiniMo. She surprises us every day.

MiniMo plays with a feather toy

2 thoughts on “Feral Cat Fridays: Looking Back

  1. shoreacres

    Apart from anything else, the tale of the colony supports the importance of record keeping. It’s one thing to say, “We had a lot of feral cats, and now we don’t.” Being able to put numbers to the process is a good way to impress its importance on people who might be ambivalent about its actual success.

    On a different level, the photos made me a little — nostalgic. There’s something about endings that always have a bit of memento mori about them. The first thing that came to mind when I saw the photo of the Harley platform? The day I closed the door on my mother’s cleaned-out apartment for the last time after her death.

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      At first the records were just taking pictures of cats, but when we started trapping and neutering we needed a good system to keep track and we discovered we were documenting the life of a colony. The project and the cats became a big part of our daily life and we wanted a way to recall it beyond “Wow, there were a lot of cats!” It became even more important to us to do that as we got to know each cat to the degree they allowed it. They weren’t just feral cats – they were Jackson, Stoney, Fluff, Mama, and Batman. We also knew feral cats were a problem and there was a lot of debate about how to deal with it. If we could contribute evidence of a successful humane control method, that was all to the good.

      I surprised myself writing the post when I got to feeling a little wistful and nostalgic. I intentionally took those shots of the platforms at sunset because that said something about how it feels, despite the fact that Loretta and I are both relieved that we don’t need to tend the colony anymore. I can see the parallel to your feelings concerning your mother’s apartment – I felt something similar when I walked out the door of my late parent’s house for the last time, knowing I’d never be back.

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