I can’t believe I’m old enough to say this but back in the day, whenever I left the house, I didn’t have a cell phone in my purse. That’s because they weren’t invented yet. Unlike today, I was able to function just fine without staying connected every second of every day to every human being I know. If I needed to talk to someone, I waited until I got home to dial them from our rotary phone.
Yep, my family had a dial-up phone ages ago. Now don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t around in the day of switchboards like on the Andy Griffith Show where Andy has to ask switchboard operator, Sarah, to ring Aunt Bee for him. Please, I’m not THAT old!
Anyway, our phone was beige with a long coiled cord that stretched from the kitchen nook into the dining room, where we sat and gabbed. But for many years prior, the cord was only 2 feet long so we had to stand to talk. This was also the day of party lines. Know about those?
I’ve never wished to be a feral cat. Up until last week.
That’s because I’m relocating 9 cats to a property in Tiburon which is, in a word, unbelievable. This place is a replica of an Italian Villa perfectly situated on gorgeous land facing San Francisco Bay. The view is absolutely stunning…not that the cats will notice.
These 9 felines are not socialized to people so they aren’t adoptable. Instead of being euthanized, they’re placed as mousers on properties, but fed daily, just like domestic cats. Except instead of keeping laps warm they keep gardens rodent-free.
I received a call last week from Chris who has over 70 acres in the hills 10 miles from me. He and his wife are interested in getting feral cats as mousers for this, their second home with an upstart vineyard, enormous house, big red barn, a flourishing garden, a pool and pool house. In a word: the place is a dream. Yes, I’m aware that’s five words. But come on, it’s too incredible to warrant just one.
Anyway, the vineyard is isolated almost 3 miles off the main road, winding along seemingly endless pastureland. It was then that it occurred to me this could be a setup. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going and who knows what awaited at the end of that gravel road?
So I recently relocated 4 young ferals as mousers to a property that on the surface seemed perfect. Still, I entertained little nagging doubts about the owner of the 700 acre ranch, winery and B&B. Yes, he said all the right things but was it because he thought it’s what I wanted to hear? I wondered, but ignored my hunch because the place seemed perfect for feral mousers. And it was. But HE surely wasn’t.
We acclimate cats for 3 weeks in cages before releasing them. But when Mr. Jackass admitted he let the cats out after 10 days, he confirmed my reservations. Still, he assured me they were fine, eating a lot, everything’s hunky-dory…blah, blah, blah. So yeah, I wanted to believe him.
A couple weeks later I returned to collect our relocation supplies. That’s when I saw the magnitude of ignoring my hunch. Basically, the cats were starving. Turns out he barely fed them in the erroneous belief they’d be better hunters (the opposite of what I instructed). However, nobody can tell this guy anything so I immediately formulated a plan to recover the cats, knowing he’d resist.
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.