J says that the feeding part is a lot easier than the catching. While they've fed the critters too many times to count, they've caught only four. Three were girl cats and the other was a boy. But J says that just fixing a female so she can't get pregnant can possibly save hundreds of homeless kittens from being born,* a prospect M says would probably give his Republican friends the creeps. (I wouldn't know a Republican from a Rastafarian. I swear, sometimes that man speaks in tongues.)
*There's a lot of stuff on the internet about how a single female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in a seven-year period. But this number is way too high, according to the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project. For a more realistic estimate, check out pages 2 and 3 of their February 2006 newsletter.
Here's a picture of "Penny," the first cat that J and B caught:
B named her Penny because she used to hang around a closed-down bank building at the edge of the shopping center.
And this is "Pogo," who has got to be the ugliest cat I've ever seen:
That poor thing would have to sneak up on a bowl of water to get a drink! Can I hear an amen? J and B couldn't wait to turn him loose.
Then we have "Callie" and "Pumpkin." Some time ago, after having a litter of kittens, Callie was trapped (not by J and B, but by a friend of theirs named Bob), spayed, and put back into her colony near the bank. But she has since disappeared. Pumpkin, who has not been spayed, had a litter of kittens a few weeks ago. No one has been able to find them--or to catch Pumpkin, though she shows up regularly for her dinner.
We don't have any pictures of the last three cats that J and B trapped. The second one, "Blackie," went to live at a shelter called Cat Tail Corner. The third was a boy--a little black bob-tail Manx kitty. They called him "Cash" because he hung around an online gambling joint in the strip mall. And the fourth was "Brandy," a tuxedo cat that looks a lot like Arlo, except that Brandy is a girl. She also lives near the gambling place. There's another tuxedo who lives there--a female Manx they call "Stumpy." J and B are going to try to catch her tomorrow night, with the help of a security guard who has befriended her. We'll see how that goes . . .
Which brings me back to Cash--and here's where we all get pretty upset. I started to call this blog post "No good deed goes unpunished," but decided against it because obviously some of them do. But poor old Cash and one of the other gambling joint cats ran out of luck Friday night or early Saturday morning. He and Brandy had just been trapped Wednesday and taken to the Pet Vet Cruiser Thursday morning. They spent that night in our garage, and Friday morning Mike took them back down to the shopping center to release them.
The original plan was to relocate them to Cat Tail Corner, because they tended to hang out in a big concrete storm drain, which is right next to a busy parking lot, and J and B and M thought it wasn't a very safe situation. But some of the people at the gambling place enjoyed feeding them and talked J and B into bringing them back there. As soon as they were released, Brandy and Cash disappeared into their storm-drain hideaway.
That night it rained--hard. At three in the morning the skies opened up. The dry season--which had been their entire life and frame of reference--gave way to the wet one. And in minutes the storm drain became a flash flood. Cash drowned. So did another tailless Manx--a pregnant female that J and B didn't know about. The water in the drain rose so fast the unfortunate kitties couldn't touch bottom and couldn't jump out. I suppose they swam until they could not swim anymore. Saturday morning, after the water went back down, M and J picked their little stiff bodies out of the muck and brought them home, where we buried them in our back yard. Brandy escaped, probably by the luck of having left the drain before the rain started. Of course we didn't know that until hours later when somebody spotted her. Saturday night she avoided another drain-filling flood--maybe by learning from her recent good fortune. I hope she keeps on remembering.
Here is the newest addition to our pet cemetery: