Shadow the Cat Story

Pets and animals in general play an important role in my life, if you consider how much time we seem to invest. And the majority of our pets were in one way or another a rescue.

One day not long ago Jay and I decided we should at least consider what we are paying in pet care. To the classification “pet” we were including the wild birds we feed. Small nations could be subsidized on what we contribute just in bird seed.

We were a bit appalled at the overall total, but we rationalized that it worked in balance. We aren’t big eaters ourselves. And I am near genius in the kitchen with leftovers. I waste next to nothing. I am very good at rationalizing any situation  I don’t want to change.

We also have Zena on a special diet that has helped to both calm her and has taken care of skin allergies. It’s working with her beautifully, but it isn’t inexpensive.

Darwin doesn’t cost much in upkeep, but in attempting to maintain his real estate needs, he requires plenty of thought and planning. We managed to get through this winter without some of the fall-out we experienced last, but we have agreed that this coming year we will once again need to overhaul his habitat.

This week he finally rejoined us after burrowing for two full months. This is his first meal since winter fully kicked in.

Fortunately, timothy hay and pumpkin are not high budget feed.

I would say that we have our hands full, but we’ve recently added to the family menagerie after realizing that a small black cat was actually trying to eat bird food off the ground.

He, or she, we still aren’t certain, would scurry away as soon as we made our presence known, but we’d occasionally catch a glimpse and we thought she seemed very thin and was perhaps homeless.

We started putting food out, and it didn’t take long, of course, to have a hungry cat regularly expecting a handout.

Shadow, as we’ve named the little thing, appears twice a day, morning and evening, to dine on canned food–another expense, but it didn’t take her long to express a preference.

We tried putting some dried food out just to see if she’d come at times we couldn’t anticipate. That didn’t go very well.

You may not be able to tell in a photo taken in the dark through a screen, but that’s a skunk enjoying the dried food.

So we’ve abandoned that practice and now try to be vigilant to the mewing cries of a hungry and somewhat demanding kitty.

Works fine when we are at home, but now I’m wondering if I need to have someone come by the house when we travel to feed a more than likely feral cat?

This is somewhat a developing story. We have no guarantee that we are the only ones feeding her. It’s common for cats to be outdoor pets in our part of the country. It’s warm enough, and in general, many people have cats as part of an informal “rodent abatement” program.

But we like to think we are doing something kind for a hungry cat. I’ll let you know if after a while I find out we’re being played!




44 thoughts on “Shadow the Cat Story

    1. I’m worried about the coyotes, as well, Andrew. I really don’t like having food outdoors for a variety of reasons but we are still trying to figure out what we are supposed to do. I am sure this cat has good survival skills and could be counted upon to round up rodents, if nothing else. But I tend not to make them work very hard. Our first test is coming right up. We are headed up to Oakland and I don’t know what arrangements I will be able to make. I am not planning to make it easy for the skunk! And yes, we are already quite bonded with her/him, even if we are just a meal ticket in response. LOL!

    1. Oh my, Nancy! I couldn’t believe that the skunk was right at our front door eating away, happy for the invitation to a meal! I just can’t start that. I suppose I have found the line I can’t cross. LOL! We are getting ready to leave for Northern California for a few days and I haven’t yet figured out what to do. We will have to rely upon some “hits and misses” I think. 😉

  1. What a kind hearted soul you are, Debbie! 🙂 🙂 We’re not pet people at all. While I wouldn’t knowingly hurt an animal I don’t feel any great need to have their company on a regular basis. Maybe my neighbour’s feral cat senses this, when Marie’s away. I go across twice a day to feed her and she hisses at me. 🙂

    1. You’ve given me a good laugh, Jo. My mother lives across the street from us and has never been an animal person. Consequently I can’t really ask her to do
      anything on behalf of any pet care. I tease her about it and tell her she’d save us money and time if I didn’t have to board the dog when we travel but I know animal care isn’t for everyone. That you feed your neighbor’s cat is a fine service, Jo, and
      good enough! 😊It just occurred to me, my mother’s name is Jo. Hmmmm.

  2. I spotted that skunk as soon as I scrolled the story down!

    We have SO many wild animals right in the midst of town here, that outside food always brings ‘somebody’ along. Our neighbor used to leave food out all the time for all of the feral cats. Since her leaving, years ago, we have still had an abundance of wild life that had already settled in. They all seem very healthy in appearance so whatever they are doing, they are eating!!!!

    I’m sorry for your dilemma. I hope you find a resolution.

    1. I have to also learn to trust an animal’s instinct to find food, Colleen. I do laugh at some of our antics. There are plenty of rodents this kitty could help eliminate. I think we will need to see what comes of this partnership!

  3. So glad to hear the update of your dear pets, Debra. Hope Zena is doing better.
    Good to see Darwin is out there eating. 🙂 You don’t want skunk around.
    Have a great day!

  4. We are more likely to attract raccoons with outdoor dry food. Perhaps a neighbor could put some wet food out at the time the cat shows up. As long as it’s not an overnight thing, that should work. You have a kind heart. That’s the first picture of Zena I’ve seen in a long time. She is beautiful.

    1. I think you’re right about getting a neighbor involved enough to keep an added eye out for Shadow. She comes early morning and late at night, mostly when Zena isn’t outside, but if we aren’t home we have Zena boarded and the kitty might be bolder. Zena is very mild mannered and gentle, but she does not like the cat! I wish they’d all get along! LOL!

  5. We have at least one cat who’s added our feeders to the neighborhood circuit. I discourage it when I see a stalk happening, but every once in a while there are feathers blowing around. I figure a feral cat who isn’t coyote or raptor food is smart enough to survive and deserves a safe place when it’s needed. I won’t feed ’em, though. The dog asked me not to.

    1. We currently have a lot of coyote action and that greatly concerns me, Jim. I’m not sure that our good intentions might already have interfered with Shadow’s ability to survive instinctually, but we tend to jump in quickly without a lot of thinking. Now we are on the hook. And Zena isn’t too happy about it, either. 😳

      1. Looks like the neighborhood hangout, at least with quadrapeds! I can’t believe how big Darwin is getting, he cracks me up. Looking forward to what he does this year Debra hopefully, it won’t break the bank.

  6. I read a book about someone (forgot her name!) who live on the edge of civilization and fed deer, coyote, and all sorts of animals. It was fascinating.

    Your story too was wonderful.

    1. Thank you, Jacqui. I live in suburban Los Angeles and get such delight when I can connect with animals any way possible. I’d really be very at home in a more rural setting. Maybe someday! 😊

  7. The last five cats my wife has cared for all “found” us. The current one is 19-20 years old, arthritic and loves grilled chicken, pulled pork and anything with melted butter.

    When we lived in Midland TX the neighborhood encroached in box turtle territory and we wound up with several that wandered the streets. They loved cut up strawberries.

    1. I’m laughing at the idea of a cat who likes food drenched in butter! They have us well trained, don’t they? We had a cat once that lived to be about 21 and he was amazing! These animals that find us are pretty special!

  8. Gail

    That’s a good looking cat! The fur looks shiny, which usually indicates like it is eating very well. Maybe at a few houses! Oh your kind heart, Debra!

    1. I suspect Shadow is well cared for elsewhere, too, Gail. It’s pretty funny watching us run to get food every time we see her. She has us well trained already! 😉

  9. Shadow is surely related tor our feral feline, Midnight, who only comes by for a bowl of milk. 🙂 She (we think) actually comes up to the deck door and if we don’t move fast enough, she goes to the back door. Is Shadow leaving the birds alone?

    You and Jay and such good souls, Debra. I tip my hat to you. We don’t leave anything out, precisely because of skunks, woodchucks, and other visitors. 🙂
    I had to chuckle Debra as I, too, I “am very good at rationalizing any situation I don’t want to change.”

    1. So far the birds are left alone, Penny, and truth be told I think that’s also one reason I’m feeding her plenty of premium moist cat food. I’m hoping to,forestall her natural instincts. LOL! I’m not sure what we’ve started and at some point I think we need to consider getting her to a vet for a little family planning conversation and procedure! I hope Midnight has been able to find what she needs for,protection this winter, Penny. We can’t do it all, but it’s hard to know a little creature is cold or hungry and not do something. Ah nature! Hope all is well with you on the Cutoff!

  10. I would do the same Debra, if I feared the poor cat was going hungry. In our village there used to be a huge old wild tomcat fed by several neighbours (and inadvertently by us when I thought the hedgehogs were eating the food I put out!).

  11. Anonymous

    Yeah, I am a sucker when it comes to animals! My hubby is very allergic to cats though! but our two doggies live like royalty 1 love Debi

  12. I’m glad my pets are now solely of the ‘electronically generated’ variety and therefore only cost a few fractions of a penny per day 🙂 I do share your passion for feeding our feathered friends and their food does work out expensive!

    Zena looks really healthy and so calm compared with the photos in some of your past posts, so you are clearly doing a good job in enhancing her life 🙂 I’m impressed with Darwin’s shell – those are mini mountains he’s got there! You’ll be ok for Cee’s next Patterns or Textures challenge 😉 I’m pleased that Shadow seems to feed on birdseed rather than birds…

  13. I love cats and have lived with many throughout my life. I don’t feel right keeping them locked inside an apartment though so they have enjoyed their freedom but taken their chances outside. I lost my last three to the coyotes and the raccoons and can’t take the heartbreak anymore, so no more kitties for me. I can however, enjoy your animal stories and I do have the birds who, not surprisingly, returned after the cats left!

  14. We have calculated that we spend more on cat, dog and bird food than on human food. Not counting eating out, where the pets are not invited.
    In our experience, if a cat looks like a feral and acts like a feral, then they are feral. As to whether there are other contributors, the eagerness with which your offerings are received should provide a clue.
    If feral cats are healthy and happy, they are best left to their wild existences. If they become sickly or undernourished, or if kittens start happening, then intervention becomes necessary.

  15. Debra, I love and also share your affection for animals. At our fullest, we had four cats, fed two more strays, put out peanuts for squirrels and seeds for wild birds. Two of the cats passed within eight weeks of each other (they were 17 and 22!) and our neighbor took over feeding the squirrels, and I must admit it got a bit easier. I’m glad your pooch is doing better on the special diet, and I’m happy too, that your visiting feline knows to stay clear of skunks. LOL! I also think it would be absolutely amazing to have a tortoise burrow for two months, then remerge for a meal. Wow.

  16. Debra, this was such a lovely diversion and enjoyable read for me today! I needed it! We have quite a few roaming cats in our neighborhood…we’ve come to think they really do keep the rodent population down, for which I am very thankful! We also have a huge acorn tree in our front yard which attracts all the squirrels of the neighborhood, much to the delight of my son (he calls them “woof woof” thinking they’re little puppies haha!). I love seeing these little updates…I feel a little like Darwin after the winter we’ve had here! Much love to you guys and enjoy that nice warm weather of yours! We’re finally starting to thaw out here!

  17. The three ‘horns’ on the tortoise shell are interesting. Shadow is a beautiful cat and it’s good that you are helping feed her (that’s a her, I know). In my part of the world (Zambia) people would have been up in arms having an unknown black cat visit their home – think, witchcraft. :(.

  18. Your animals are gorgeous – and DARWIN – oh my. Not sure I’ve seen a ‘pet’ turtle so extraordinary and handsome like him before. Yes, we find we’re not only feeding the birds the cost of room and board, but the squirrels seem to be enjoying our “free’ services also. 🙂

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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