Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stranger and Company

This is my band of merry fellows. From left to right: Pickle, Torrini, Snuggle, and Stranger. They certainly are brave souls, daring to rest inside the fence when dogs may come out at any moment. I do fear we may have an issue at some point, because the cats usually only run away when chased - and only have a couple of areas they are used to escaping through. I'm sure they can climb the fence if need be, but I really don't want anything ugly happening if they get cornered by a dog...

There is a small hole nearby that they come in and out through. Most dogs are quite good about the cats. They either ignore them or give a half-hearted chase when the cats happen to be inside the fence. Some dogs, though... I had a freakout couple of minutes when I brought a dog (Suga Pie, it was) outside, she saw the cat, cat went running through the space, dog tried to follow. I dove after the dog (knowing how strong this dog was - knowing she could probably get through this hole if she really desired to do so) and was able to leash her. There is also Moby - when he sees a cat, you CANNOT tear his attention away. He will howl at those cats until the sun goes down. He's bigger and can't climb, but you never know what he may try to do to get at the cats. I certainly don't want him hurting himself, so I usually keep him inside when I know the cats will be at their feeding station. (Once he saw Ian through the door while in the playroom. He could not forget about him. He insisted on standing at the door, barking and howling. No treats, toys, or amount of love could turn his head. I ended up picking the big guy up and putting him in the tub to calm down. We spent our last ten minutes with me chanting: "Petting is better than barking. Petting is better than barking." I don't think he agrees fully, haha. He's a wonderful dog, playful and sweet - until he sees a cat. Then you can be sure he's forgotton all about you.)

We don't feed the cats inside the fence. Their houses and feeding station are on the other side, in the wooded area. Besides simply being cats, I don't know why they like to go inside the fence and hang out. Maybe just waiting to be fed? Maybe they're hoping by waiting closer to the building they'll get their food faster? I just fear they'll be attacked one day, or encourage a dog to try to escape. But we'll deal with that when it happens... (This is Jehzar, by the way)

Stranger, wanting me to put his food down and Jehzar in the left corner. Their houses are in the background, but you can't really see them. We have one large igloo, filled with straw and covered with a tarp with some more straw in between for a bit of added insulation. One small igloo, raised above the ground by a discarded tire, filled with straw and covered by another tarp with straw in between. One small, wooden house made by Feral Villa. Nice, insulated little thing - I hope they use it when it's cold. And lastly, one large wooden house made by Jeremy, for his Boy Scouts project. (The other three he made are being donated to other cat colonies in our town.) That filled with straw, as well. I've seen them use the igloos, but not sure about the wooden houses. I don't know really which ones they like best, or if there's one they don't use at all. I have seen footsteps to all entries, but that doesn't mean much.

Torrini, waiting in his little hideout by my improvised feeding station.

Pickle is limping. Has been limping for a couple of weeks now. He keeps his left front leg up while hopping around. I'm not sure if there's anything we can do...

Torrini, bothered by the fact I'm taking pictures and not leaving. He had a couple of bald spots on his back several weeks ago, but his hair appears to be growing back nicely, lately.

Snuggle in the hideout.

Pretty boy Stranger.

Jegzar and Snuggle. Waiting. Dylan said he's seen Jehzar limping, too. He looked perfectly normal these last few days, however.

Pickle, favoring his front left leg, as you can see in this picture. = (

This is my grand feeding station. Big blue tub on its side with its top as a roof. Large rotting log on top as anchor, with dead leaves strewn about as camoflauge. = ) The blue tub is sitting on two discarded tires and houses their water and one bowl of food. I believe Snuggle is in there in this picture. The two larger tires in front help keep the snow out of the tub. I packed the tires with decaying leafy matter to make them into tables, really. We put straw down over the snow so they don't have to stand directly on the snow all while they eat. It works pretty well.

Three bowls are set out so each cat gets a chance to eat. They move around constantly, maybe trying to determine if one bowl offers something better than the other. Sometimes one will smack the other away, but they share for the most part, I believe. I've started putting just a little bit of water to their food for added moisture. I bring out fresh water every afternoon when I feed them, but it freezes overnight...

I've really grown attached to these five boys. I hope they're staying warm enough on these cold nights. They all better be snuggling up with each other nicely!!!

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