Everybody has rats. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
Now don’t get me wrong; unlike Michael Jackson in the movie Ben, I am not best friends with a rat. I’m quite content with my human friends, thank you very much; taking on a rat is beyond my bandwidth. No, the reason I’m happy is because more rodents mean more feral cats will be saved.
You see, my nonprofit, Marin Friends of Ferals, takes under-socialized, un-adoptable sterilized cats (ferals) and relocates them to outdoor homes. Because ferals are the Eco-friendly answer to rodent control, our Career Cat program is booming. While receiving daily meals from their guardians, the cats do what they do best: hunt. It’s a win-win situation…well, except for the poor rodents.
So last week a man calls and asks me to do a site check of his backyard that he says is perfect for a successful and safe relocation: a deck for the cats to hide under, lots of dense foliage to hide in, trees to climb, a shed they can enter, etc.
David tells me he won’t be home but his wife will show me around. If she doesn’t answer the door, just head in back and take a look around. The address is 686 — a big gray house with white trim, 3 huge tress in front and 2 barking dogs inside. I’m on it.
Driving up and down the street, I don’t see 686 but I see 668. That house number is also gray and white and has big trees in front so I figure I heard David wrong. I phone him but he doesn’t answer so I leave a message informing him of his error, then walk up to his house.
As I rang the doorbell, David’s two little dogs appeared at the window, barking like mad. Nobody answered the door but I heard the television on upstairs through an open window. Oh well. I’ll just head in back like he instructed. And just as he said, the gate was on the left and unlatched easily.
The walkway he mentioned took me down a path to the backyard. The yard was large but the deck he’d described as open underneath was wired off so the cats couldn’t get under it for protection. And the bushes weren’t exactly dense, like he assured me, but winter is here and foliage is thinning now.
Past the deck should have been a shed but I didn’t see one. Hum…that’s odd. I wondered why David’s wife hadn’t come out yet since they were expecting me. But I continued checking out the yard, then I left.
As soon as I reached my car, David called.
He: My wife says you never made it over. Is everything alright?
Me: I’m here now, in the driveway.
He: I don’t think so.
As you probably guessed, I was at the wrong house, having just thoroughly explored a backyard, uninvited, I might add. Gulp. Turns out number 686 was hidden behind a hedge and, in addition, not in numerical order with the other homes on the block. What is THAT all about?
My first thought: how uncanny was it that house number 668 replicated 686 in just about every detail, from backyard design down to their two yapping dogs. My second thought: being thankful the resident was engrossed in a TV program and didn’t catch me trespassing.
Had that occurred, you might very well be reading about the unfortunate, untimely death of a woman found traipsing through someone’s backyard while that someone was home…all in an effort to find a safe outdoor haven for 2 feral cats.
Originally posted in 2018