Alley Cat Cafe
I haven’t posted since September? What? What have I been doing? Let me think…oh yeah, drawing, messing with cats, working, building cat shelters, breathing, adopting/finding homes for and feeding, feeding, feeding the bottomless pit feral
cat population of Keenesburg, CO.
Let’s review: 2 week old feral kitten Grit was found the first week of Nov. 2011. Chloe our chihuahua died 2 weeks later. Scarlett, my Corgi, whose name I still can’t speak out loud died a month later in Dec. 2011. 2012 arrived and with it a sudden flood of cats when I haven’t had a cat in the house since 2000. I’m allergic for crying out loud!
Grit survived and thrived. Then came Tessa who ultimately ended up in Ft. Collins. There was Hambone Harry the Giant dog we fostered for a few weeks. There were 2 rescued chihuahuas, Dulcie and Chico, which is how I met Sarah and A Soft Place to Land dog rescue. My mom kept Dulcie and Chico found his forever home through ASPTL.
Then came the sudden awareness of a LOT of feral cats that I’d never even noticed before. The Alley Cat Cafe was born. I started just putting out food and water every night and taking note of who showed up out of curiosity and a desire to distract them from my neighbor’s trash bags.
Out of that came Mama Kitty (now Kona) and her kitten (Scamparella) rescued from the alley and adopted into lovely homes. Much thanks again to multiple unexpected donors and sponsors who supported and support still these efforts.
Somewhere in there, crowd-hating introverted me braved CatFest and drove all the way to Denver to spend 5 minutes with Jackson Galaxy. I also binged on episodes of My Cat From Hell, dusted off my Reiki skills and ordered Galaxy’s flower essence products (they work by the way).
All this in an attempt to understand Grit’s feral, bottle-fed baby ways. His advice worked and our relationship changed. I was no longer getting scratched daily by an easily overstimulated kitten whose body language baffled me and I understood why our Tessa adoption had failed. Who knew bottle fed ferals were so different?
July rolled around and a 4 month old stray kitten showed up at A Soft Place to Land. Sarah posted a picture of this feisty orange marmalade little dude and as soon as I saw it I had to have him. I dropped everything to drive the 65 miles (each way) up there the same night to bring him home.
He brought with him a blissful ignorance that Grit was trying to murder him, not play with him. Her repeated attempts at eliminating him from the household, and the world, failed and he grew on her. They care for each other. He taught her how to be a cat even though he barely knew how and she taught him not to bite so damn hard!
It was and has been raining cats and cats and cats all this year! We have Old Man Angus (picture below) who has been treated with cheap antibiotics for what looked like a war wound. He’s pretty much moved into the feeding station/shelter but he shares with Medium orange tabby who shows up with a 3-ish month old kitten who we creatively call the Little Guy.
There is Chubbers who has a home but shows up for snacks and looks like a carbon copy of Grit but he/she’s a gray tabby. Definitely related somehow. We have Fluffernut a buff long haired tabby and Orange Crush – a bright orange tabby who looks like what a Pit Bull would be if it were a cat. He’s a big bruiser I don’t see very often although I’d really like to catch him. I suspect he’s the one creating all the orange marmalade madness around here.
Orange Crush is another relative of Grit’s I’m sure, if not her daddy. The 3 of them: Chubbers, Crush and Grit have a very distinctive white V shaped chest and their front paw toes are white. Grit is a calico but her color patches are tabby striped. If you put Chubbers and Orange Crush together in a drink shaker, shook well and poured:I’m pretty sure you’d produce a Grit.
Lately we have a black one with a round owl face and a gray tabby who sadly looks pregnant. They are more truly feral and I almost never see them although I know they eat here regularly.
I’m sure I’m thought of as insane around here. My husband shakes his head but good naturedly goes about building me this or that and wonders what he started by bringing home a tiny kitten no bigger than a grit last winter. I don’t care what anyone thinks really, it’s a strange, almost spiritual, adventure. I too wonder what it all means sometimes when I’m skulking around the yard with a flashlight taking notes on whose around, seeing if old Man Angus’s face swelling is any better and noticing that cat activity shoots through the roof during full moon nights every month.
Watching their rhythms has restored to me the wonder of the natural world. It is soothing tracking the secret comings and goings of creatures we are barely aware of. We had a skunk for awhile and I am now acutely aware of the coyote packs. I hear them yipping but they don’t have to come into town to eat cats. We are surrounded by huge fields of prairie dogs which serve as the Coyote, Fox and Birds of Prey grocery stores making the cats a little safer than they are in more urban areas.
Old Man Angus’s physical needs and my very low income streams which prohibit trips to the vet unless it’s a real emergency, restored to me my Reiki practice. I was desperate for a way to ease his suffering in some way. Offering him the energies, dosing his food with amoxicillin and watching how he has responded has given me the boost to pursue this energy work in a way I tried to do over 20 years ago but didn’t have the courage to follow through with.
These cats make me feel closer to the midnight world of stars and weather patterns. They call me outside to see meteors and rings around the moon. I’m aware of the moon’s cycles again, the silent stillness when our near constant prairie wind stops blowing, the crackling cottonwood leaves and the movements of my neighbors.
The cats have brought me back to the gentle whispers from the Great Whatever, who I never seem to make time for when the sun is shining. I can take those moments in the darkness and feel the Is-ness of life again, feel my heart mending itself and really allow a smidgen of hope for the future to sneak into my imagination.
So crazy cat lady it is. I sleep well at night knowing that I have offered what I can to “the least of these” and maybe it makes up for some of my mistakes in life and maybe, just maybe, it offsets a little of the cruelty too often inflicted on the smallest ones of our world, children included. Or maybe it just makes me feel some joy here and there and that’s enough too. Take a look around where you live, these cats are everywhere but go unseen because they have to in order to survive. There are a lot of resources out there if you want to help them out a little. Google “feral cat care” and dig in, maybe toss some food out at night so they can too 🙂 .