She approaches, but only in the darkness. When all lights are extinguished and the world is quiet, the bushes outside by our fence rustle and the calico steps out. I have seen her before many times, she is shy perhaps born that way or evolving into such a creature of beauty but whose distrust of humans is so strong that it keeps her at arm’s length at all times.
The motion detector when it goes off no longer prompts her to flee to safer ground. She has been here feeding before and she knows she can do so with no one disturbing her. But still, she hesitates gauging the distance to the top of the feeder. I can almost hear her thinking, wondering if there is another cat up on the platform out of sight that might knock her back on the ground should she try to eat. But, trusting her instincts, she begins to climb slowly up the post toward the food.
Her climb is a struggle. Her back legs are bent at an awkward angle. Evidence of either inbreeding, trauma or a collision with a moving object or worse but my mind doesn’t want to go there. She walks with her back legs bent outward, her paws on tippy toes. But she is determined and hungry and so she climbs.
This calico who I have named Bonnie is a clear picture of the type of life an unwanted stray lives. If you don’t see these stray cats then they don’t exist. If you don’t care about cats in general, they don’t exist. If you hate cats- then you make sure they don’t exist.
Everyone seems to lay blame on the cats. It it their fault the bird population is dwindling (hogwash!) It is their fault they are out there in the first place. Another piece of bullspit. It is a human’s fault for their existence, because someone, somewhere along the way in the past, let an un-neutered cat outside out of anger, frustration or carelessness and this cat was left to survive. So that is what they do to the best of their ability.
So Bonnie climbs and my barn cats seem to acknowledge her limits and leave her alone as she reaches the summit- the ultimate prize, the feast. She quickly gobbles the food on the trays and then quicker than her trip up the post she goes down again to let the bushes and the world swallow her.
She is trap savvy, she is an old soul and within her lies stories that would make nightmares seem an escape. But she can come here, she can feed and one day, perhaps I will see her in the full sunlight. Perhaps she will learn that this is a safe place and if anyone does harm to her and I see them- there will be hell to pay.
I write about her today although she has been with me a long time, because I heard from my mother yesterday. They lost pretty recently their 26 year old tuxedo kitty Boots. He had health issues as he grew older and they finally made the painful decision to let him go.
Mother swore; “No more CATS!” But my father, well he had other plans. He is the one who taught me passion and love for these animals so long ago. Soon, a calico showed up and against my mom’s wishes, Daddy fed her on the porch and she “adopted” my parents as her own.
Well, it is summer and even in a small town or maybe because of it, there is evil afoot and my dad saw four teenage boys walking away with Callie. He couldn’t go after them or stop them- he is in his 90’s. He could only stay behind and wonder and worry.
She was gone four days and when she returned, she had changed. Instead of being friendly, she was skittish, hiding from sight and not eating much. I encouraged my mom to bring her inside, to keep her safe. I don’t know what these kids did to her, but from the sound of it- it wasn’t good. And now Callie has stories that would make nightmares a relief and she is another casuality of cat-haters.
My parents are not close enough that I can just drive over and assess Callie and help her through her PTSD. But what I can do is continue to care for the lost and the hungry. The ones who show up in the middle of the night looking for food and safety just like Bonnie.