A Day in the Life of a Feral Cat

It is cold, below freezing, and very damp out as it has not dried from the last rains.  McIntosh slowly wakes up; one eye cracks apart and peers out.  It is too cold and damp to do anything else.  Daylight is slowly creeping into the wooden cat shelter Mac has slept in last night.  He was lucky last night, he got one of the shelters that was filled with dry straw so he would be warmer. His stomach rumbles, a breakfast of some kind would be welcome. His dinner last night wasn’t much; he missed the dinner that his colony feeder left for all the cats as he was out on a walk-about. It was a good one too with ground chicken scraps and chicken fat.

Slowly Mac starts to move and stretches out to get his legs moving, then he sits up and looks out the door of the wooden shelter.  He doesn’t see or hear any other cats yet so it will be safe enough to leave the shelter and start on his rounds looking for food.

Mac trots quickly to the gray duplex on the corner and scurries thru the bushes to the outdoor garbage cans, sniffing briskly for leftover food scraps.  He doesn’t find anything so he moves on to the dishes where they feed their outside cats.  Nothing left and the water dish is frozen.  Mac sits on a dry spot on the porch and thinks about where to go next.

Back across the street and over to the two story pink house with all the cars in the driveway; Mac is cautious here.  There are several little black kitties that have taken over this backyard and they don’t like any strangers poking around and looking for food.  Mac races over to the outdoor feeding dishes, and there is nothing left here either.

Deciding to go down the bike path to the river, Mac is cautious and sticks to the underbrush as he makes his way closer to the Alton Baker Park.  Sometimes dry food is left in piles here and there in the park, maybe today will be a good day and the people who feed will come early.  He is careful going to the park, there are camps of homeless people and people make Mac nervous.

It’s midday and it is warming up a bit. Mac makes the rounds of the feeding stations that he knows about; and doesn’t see any food. Halfway through the day and he has not been able to eat yet; this is not a good situation for a feral cat.  He is thin, almost to the point of being scrawny, and this doesn’t provide much in the way of resources for him.  He doesn’t tolerate the cold very well and he is prone to get any illness that comes thru the cat colony; last winter it took months for him to get over the upper respiratory infection he had.

After a nice nap in the sun in some slightly damp grasses Mac decides to head back to the wooden shelters where he spent the night.  Mac trots swiftly back to the shelter area; hopeful he hasn’t missed the feeding there.  Arriving back at the feeding station he notices most of the cats who live around the area; sometimes there are as many as 17 cats who come for dinner. They haven’t eaten yet and are waiting for the food to arrive. 

He hears the sound of a familiar car; all of the waiting cats are attentive and some have started to make their way to the car to greet the feeder.  Mac scurries over to the feeding area and YES! Here she comes trailed by the kitties who met her at the car. The food is mixed and warm meat broth is put over the kibble and wet cat food in the trays. He can’t wait to eat, he pushes his way to the area where the food trays are placed and does little hops with his front feet. As nervous as Mac is around people, he appreciates the woman who brings them food.

Finally, the food is placed where he can get to it.  He eats rapidly, almost choking because he is eating so fast. Mac moves to another tray where there is more wet food and meat broth, and he shoulders two of the smaller cats out of the way so he can get to the food. All is good for now in Mac’s world.


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