I’m writing this on Friday afternoon sitting in my SUV in front of a home I’ve come to know much too well the last 41 days. In fact, I think I’ve been here more than my own home lately. Now don’t get me wrong; that’s a lie. But it feels true.
I’ve been on the hunt for a mom and her kittens with Constanza, our San Rafael volunteer coordinator for Marin Friends of Ferals. I’ve been doing TNR (trap-neuter-return) for 15 years and I’ve never encountered a smarter cat, feral or domestic. And THAT’S no lie.
About 6 months ago, a woman and her daughter sent me a video of a long-haired tabby racing through the parking lot of Target late one night. The daughter captured him on her iPhone while her mom yelled, “Film him before he runs away! Hurry, don’t miss him!” Followed by, “I KNOW Mom! I’m getting him!”
When Target closes at 9:00 p.m., cats emerge from the marshland that hugs the store on 2 sides, the bay on the other. Shoppers sometimes leave them food, some contact us (Marin Friends of Ferals) and some, I assume, simply look away.
Target isn’t located near homes so these are feral cats or possibly lost or dumped domestics. So my awesome volunteer, Holly, and I placed a feeding station under a bush off the parking lot, locked a motion sensor camera to it, and started feeding.
I have 4 cats and 4 dogs. All my cats were once living a feral life and of the 4, Savannah is still semi-feral. She heads for cover whenever someone stops by. If cats could cringe, that’s what she’d do when I pick her up. When all the others gather in the family room in the evening, she retires upstairs. I’d say she’s a cat who enjoys her own company.
During the day, the animals come and go through the pet door to enjoy the backyard. But then one day Savannah discovered how to access the front yard via the hot tub, a short leap onto the fence, a walk alongside the shed, then down into the front garden under the maple tree.
Savannah’s garden escape
To Savannah, I suppose it felt like the feline version of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption.
So often in our feral cat rescue (Marin Friends of Ferals) it feels like we’re barely making a dent in controlling breeding. You think rabbits and mice are prolific baby-makers? Well, unaltered felines are like polygamists with 5 kids per wife, or maybe the Duggar family (19 Kids and Counting). They have no Off switch.
But the difference with cats is that they can’t control their mating and subsequent reproducing. No, I’m afraid this one’s on us. People refuse to spay and neuter pets for many reasons: they believe it will make the animal lazy and fat (false); some are simply against birth control; others just can’t be bothered. You name it, I’ve heard it.