The Crankee Yankee and I have been feeding, watering and sheltering our neighborhood cats, the skunk family that lives underneath our neighbor’s shed, and the odd raccoon here and there. Our “regulars” are Stripey 1 (a small striped gray and black cat) and Stripey 2 (a large striped gray and black cat), Two-Tone 1 (a butterscotch and white cat) and Two Tone 2 (a light butterscotch and white cat) and Scooter, a plump black kitty with a tiny white patch on his chest.
Every morning and evening I go out to replenish the food bowls and water. We also entertain more guests in our garage, where there are two beds filled with blankets for those who like to stay overnight. We have the same setup under our back porch. During the cold weather I put hand warmers under the blankets as well.
Over time, most of the cats have become used to us. Stripey 1 and Two-Tone 2 no longer run when I come out to refill the food and water. A few times they have let me pat them after I’ve offered my hand for them to smell. But Scooter is the most shy of them all.
Each morning when I bring food and water out for our guests, sometimes a few are ready and waiting; sometimes not. Scooter especially is quite shy, but recently he seems to have gotten used to my voice and my standard patter each day: “it’s only me, guys—here’s your breakfast (or dinner).” If he is especially hungry, he will even stay put a few feet away from me while I put out the food bowls and freshen the water.
Cats by nature are cautious creatures, and it takes a while to gain their trust. So each morning and evening I say the same thing; they get it that it means fresh food and water. Cats are also nosey by nature. I have no doubt that, when the weather is cold, they know exactly where the beds are, and make themselves comfortable.
The Crankee Yankee and I are up to capacity with five house cats, but we also enjoy the outdoorsies. For all we know, they have their own homes with people who love them, but just in case there is a stray or two in the mix, they can rely on us for food and shelter. I am pretty sure that there is a cat telepathy deal going on among our neighborhood that only cats can pick up: “these suckers in the gray house feed, water and shelter year round. Come one, come all!”
Well, isn’t that just catitude for you.