Have a Marlis Day!

Archive for October 2015

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It all started when I spotted this allusive cat near my home. Always a sucker for calico cats, I had no idea what this would lead to. It seemed harmless to leave a little cat food on the edge of the deck. At first she came at night, accepted my offering, and returned to the safety of the woods. Weeks passed and she became more bold as I watched from my deck chair. After tossing bits of tuna in her direction, I finally had her purring and eating from my hand. It all seemed so good at the time. A feral cat no longer, she began sleeping on the cushion of my front porch swing allowing me to stroke her back as I read. I called her Marmalade, after the cat in my Bailey’s Chase novels. It was nice to have a cat after so many years of cat-hating dogs.

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Then she showed up one day with a family. Okay, I thought, I’ll just find homes for them.And I did, except for Storm, the little wild-eyed stiped one. Storm refused to conform to domestication and never allowed human touch…only food. Being responsible, I had Marmalade spayed. It wasn’t long until two grown females from Marmalade’s previous litters showed up at the edge of the woods, sneaking onto the deck at night searching for food. She showed great affection for these two daughters and longed to share her good fortune. Of course, I felt sorry for these hungry, wild cats, so I sprinkled more dry food about.

Imagine my shock when they both brought up families. Now I had three grown females and six half grown kittens…all desperately wild except Marmalade. I could only imagine how many cats I would have when the young reproduced. Someone told me the adults have two litters a year. Yikes! I could have a hundred cats in a year! They would decimate the songbirds and small wildlife population in my area. With the growing tribe, Marmalade moved entirely to the front porch, avoiding the upcoming drama.

I called the Animal Shelter in Vincennes. They told me of a free spay & neuter program for feral cats. All I had to do was catch them, bring them in early on a Tuesday for surgery, pick them up later the same day, and return them to the wilds…my backyard and woods.

Now. How to catch them? I moved my dog Gypsy’s kennel onto the back porch and began leaving cat food near it. Suspicious eyes watched, leery of the new black cage. However, hunger prevailed and one by one, they crept up, grabbed a mouthful of kibble and dashed to safety under the deck. A few days later, I moved the bowl of feed near the door of the kennel. They cautiously came, darting in and out when they saw me or heard the door open. I decided it was time to introduce tuna, so I left some sprinkled about.Then I mixed tuna with catfood and put the bowl inside the kennel. It was too much temptation for the felines. I waited until I knew they were good and hungry for my move. Imagine their shock when I slipped out and slammed the door shut trapping four inside.

It was not pretty, my friends. The captives screamed and yowled, crashing into the sides of the pen until I feared they would break it down. With foam dripping down their chins, the frenzied cats bit at the sides of the kennel. Only when I covered it with a blanket did they settle down. The next morning they hissed and bit at me as I carted them to the friendly vet, warned him, and left. When I returned I learned how the vet tranquilized them through the cage, then removed them for the procedure. Smart. Repeating the process, I caught them all, each coming home with a cropped right ear to signify they were sterile. My son said I was a responsible citizen. It felt good.Only on the last catch, did I rush the cage so quickly I lost my footing and sat down hard on the concrete porch. Nothing broke, but I walked funny for a few days. I think my feral cats enjoyed that part of the whole business.

Hi! I'm Marlis.

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