Call of the Cats by Andrew Bloomfield

Call of the Cats by Andrew Bloomfield

Author:Andrew Bloomfield
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: New World Library

That night, neighborhood dogs began barking in staggered succession, indicating predators on the prowl. I ran to the street and spotted a pack of coyotes. They would gingerly jog along, then speed up and rush down any driveway they chose. Then they would disappear, certainly in search of prey, before reemerging and trying another driveway. They looked my way and cowered, having learned their lesson about this address — the bastards (sorry).

But that didn’t keep them from visiting my next-door neighbor, whose domestic cat happened to be outside. This cat had obviously never seen a coyote before and, being curious, carefully approached the prone, salivating wild animal. Well, I broke up that party in a hurry, much to the coyote’s dismay.

Now that the colony was well fed and relatively safe from predators, my biggest challenge was keeping kittens safe when I wasn’t there to protect them. Mothers gave birth out of sight. They prepared birthing sanctuaries ahead of time in the deep underbrush far from view, often on the rear neighbor’s side of the fence. But once they determined their brood had matured enough to be shown off, they would present them to us. Proud mothers displaying their litters. Those days were remarkable. A small white head would pop out of the grass, then an orange one, then a black one. Fresh new life, a world of possibilities. And it gave me ulcers.

Had they remained in their sanctuaries, the kittens would’ve remained safe. But on our side of the fence, the deep underbrush thinned, making them more vulnerable. I noticed that mothers tended to move their kittens back to their birthing nests at night and then bring them out again during the day. So I bought long strips of six-inch-wide metal flashing and attached them to the bottom of the fence that surrounded our property. This covered the gaps between the ground and the fence, making it impossible for a kitten to pass through. And I plugged the occasional large hole between our yard and the jungle behind with large rocks. Mothers could come and go by climbing the fence, but their kittens could not.

I continued feeding the colony breakfast as usual, while newborn kittens called for their mothers from behind the sheet metal. Then I’d remove the stones from holes through which kittens would rush into our yard to be reunited with their mothers. At night when mothers put their broods away again, the holes were closed up, and the cycle repeated. This technique worked wonderfully. That is, until the kittens became stronger. When I stopped hearing the kittens calling for their mothers, I knew I was screwed. I spied small heads and paws peeking at me from over the seven-foot-tall fence and realized the kittens could now climb the fence at will.

Since I couldn’t monitor the colony around the clock, and could no longer restrict access to the newborns, I considered other ways of keeping them safe from predators. I tried a rotating sprinkler, but that soaked the ground too much, making a mess.


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