I saw this exact kitty skitter across a street when I was photographing something else in that neighborhood and slip through the posts in a gate. Luckily the street isn’t very busy at all, but the cat’s actions, and the way it ran through the gate as if it was heading home, made me concerned that it might be a stray nursing mother cat.
I finished my photo session and slowly rolled down the street in my car; I have often found stray cats are less suspicious of a car moving slowly by on the street than of human footsteps. Even though I was barefoot and walking on a sidewalk, highly unlikely to make much noise myself amid all the ambient noise of a late afternoon in a small town, I felt the car more appropriate.
As I rolled past the gate I saw the cat through the posts on a sidewalk bathing, and the cat saw me. The gate and courtyard were adjacent to an huge old abandoned rooming house that had been condemned after our flood in 2004, but people and animals regularly made it a home. I pulled over and got out leaving my engine running to mask my sounds, and aligned myself with the openings between the slots on the fenceposts.
A good camera with a viewfinder and a zoom lens makes a dandy telescope. I zoomed in on the kitty as it alternately stared at me and sat, turned around and reclined while bathing. A quick check of the white belly didn’t reveal the telltale signs of a nursing mother, and while the kitty was black in the important areas I think I detected the presence of a matched set of identifiers under the tail. Plus his, as we’ll assume, face looked as if it was developing the jowly look of an unneutered male.
As I got closer to the fence he got up and ran to the back of the courtyard. No sign of other cats or of kittens, and I was surprised to see the courtyard looking fairly neat. I’ll swing past there a few times as I pass through that side of town to see if I find more cats. If I do, I’ll talk to the neighbors, of which there are only two left on this street, but I think this one is on his own for now.
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“Don’t come any closer,” he warns.
Some time in early summer as I’d been driving around my neighborhood at night I encountered a tuxedo cat who was persistently chasing a mouse down the middle of the street. If I hadn’t gotten a glimpse of movement at an angle as I turned the corner, I might have run them both over, though the mouse was more concerned with the cat and the cat was apparently accustomed to dodging traffic.
I’ve been seeing this cat through the summer, and while he’s too clean to be a cat who lives exclusively outdoors, I’m convinced he spends a good bit of time under this porch. The porch is outfitted with a skirt made of outdoor carpeting, easy for him to push aside and disappear underneath. Perhaps we have another corollary to “basement cat”, which would be “under-porch-dwelling cat”. I remember a few cats growing up who dwelled under neighbor’s porches, and they were as fierce as lions though I wanted them to be nice sweet kitties I could pick up and hug.
I hope everyone else keeps an eye out for him!