Saturday, September 20, 2008

Last Saturday morning...

I walked out my backdoor to see this...

Once out the door, I got their full attention. They had been waiting...

...and, in the rain.

I was getting quite the staredown. Maybe they were just being considerate and were checking to see if I got their message which took all summer for me to figure out. "Maria, just go for it. Honestly, we don't care what it is." I think more likely they were done with their summer eating and before they left, they wanted to make sure that I knew that they appreciated the datura. Maybe next year I could add to the menu since they were going to bring even more of their friends and family.

This one started crying because I told them datura would not be served next summer. It was permanently off the menu (I know, I know, I'm a mean, mean woman. I appreciate their thanking me and their kind farewell thoughts but one summer of grasshoppers is enough).

When I left them and walked down the deck steps to the yard, it was just like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," just with grasshoppers playing the parts of the birds. The backyard was full of baby grasshoppers-all kinds, and crickets, all colors. Leaping, leaping, leaping. And then on Sunday, nothing. They had all left. All of them. I haven't seen one grasshopper since.

But when one party leaves, the next party arrives.

See that cat in the background? Not mine.

See this cat? Not mine. I don't even like him. He's one of those cats that if you pet him once or twice, they will turn around and bite you. I have a scar. But he still shows up to be fed every once in a while. I'm not sure if he's a stray or not. Hard to tell. One time he showed up smelling like cigarettes so who knows where he goes or what he does on his food route around the neighborhood.

"Lady, the food goes in here. Hurry up."

This is the poor cat I do try to feed. Eli used to live a couple doors down the street but that family moved. Eli was a feral farm kitten when he was adopted and decided after a couple months of being indoors, it was not his lifestyle. He left that house and never went back. I've been feeding him weekdays for three years now. And after all that time, I have never been able to touch him. I don't see him that often on weekends because he gets his meals from another neighbor down the street, but only on weekends. 

He's a very polite cat. He will come to the backdoor and find a good vantage point on the deck so he can stare into my house to try and get my attention when he wants something to eat or just some light conversation. He has a very hard life but he's 95% feral and even if he wasn't, I have a house full of birds, as well as Violet who is not too enthused about sharing her indoor life with other cats. And being a feral cat, he is not adoptable. This is probably the best sort of life he can have but at least he does have two people feeding him. That makes it a little easier for him.

The local volunteer animal group that spays and neuters stray or unwanted cats now releases the unadoptable cats (after spaying/neutering) back to the places where they were originally trapped. Their reasoning is that there is a need to have a few cats in the neighborhood to keep the mouse and rat population down. There was a big problem with rats in my neighborhood several years ago. I remember finding a dead one on my driveway one morning and since it was trash night, I decided to just put it in a bag and then throw it out in the garbage later that night. The only bag I could find was a shopping bag from a high end women's clothing store which had lots and lots of tissue in it. So I wrapped the dead rat in the tissue and then stuffed the rest of the tissue in the bag and left it on the front porch. It looked pretty, like it was a gift. When I got home from work that night, the bag was gone. Ha ha ha!!!!! Cats might help keep the rodent population down but I'm not sure what's big enough to keep the criminal element in check. I'm hoping whoever thought he had a big prize when stealing that bag from my porch, thinks two or three times before trying that again. Ha ha ha. Still makes me laugh. :-)


Mental P Mama said...

I bet the turtles could whip those cats into shape. That being said, I still think you should get a medal for all your Dr. Doolittling;)

Maria said...

Ha ha ha. I guess I HAVE been doing some Dr. Doolittling. I love that description.

Oh those cats and those turtles have known each other for years-everybody tolerates everyone else, even the possums. And sometimes, all of them will be hanging out on the deck at the same time. They've all worked out what they had to work out years ago. :-)

Country Girl said...

I can't believe how many grasshoppers were on your property! And those cats are both beautiful. However, I know about feral cats. And cats that come from places where people don't care for them. Unfortunately, we left such a cat at our old place before we moved here. I think about him/her occasionally. And I actually miss this cat. But it wasn't ours.
Your home must be a haven, mustn't it?

snakey said...

Your writing is great, Maria.
I actually laugh out loud!

Maria said...

"Snakey"-Don't encourage me. I'm about to photoshop some feelers on my head for a profile photo.

Maria said...

Kate-I guess it is a haven-even for gray cats I'm not too happy to have around. :-) There's a lot of wild animal and pet activity going on in this neighborhood and I'm sure there are plenty of other "havens" just a few doors down or up or across the street. The neighbors I talk to all seem to be aware of the traffic of the various stray cats and pet cats. It's a good neighborhood that way.

I'm sorry to hear about your feral kitty at your old place. Those cats are resourceful though. I hope he/she found a couple backups when you left. <:-)