After BJ passed away in 2009, we really weren't considering getting any more cats.
So imagine my surprise one day in the summer of 2010 when I walked through the living room and saw Bandit by the glass door to the patio, nose to nose with a white cat on the outside!
At first we thought it was just a stray and we shooed it away and told it to go home. But we saw it more and more often and noticed how skinny it was. We took pity on it and started leaving food and water out.
Soon she (because the cat was a minimum colored calico, we took it to be female) was waiting at the door for breakfast every morning and the rest of the day, she made herself quite comfortable in the garden. She got a name too, Cali, for her color.
When she wasn't curled up on the patio, or in the flowerbed, she disappeared off over the fence and we didn't give much thought to where she was going. However one day, Eric got curious and decided to follow her and see where she went. He came back rather quickly, saying "We have a problem."
The problem was in the shape of four kittens that Cali was in the process of leading under the fence from the thicket next door, into our garden.
And so, throughout July, Cali and the kittens came and went from the thicket next door, to our garden. We checked out the thicket and there appeared to be a sturdy brush pile in which she had built her den. They seemed to be dry and safe in there, at least we hoped so.
The kittens loved to play in the garden. At times we wondered if the garden would survive four rambunctious kittens who loved to chase bugs and climb trees.
They had a wonderful summer, but we had to come to a decision. They couldn't stay as outside, wild cats.
There were several considerations: First, Cali proved herself to be an adept hunter and we found sad little piles of feathers as testament to her hunting successes.
Second, we were very concerned about Cali coming in to season again and getting pregnant.
Third, I was getting increasingly distressed by the damage they were causing the plants in my fledgling garden.
So, Eric did all kinds of research and consulted on various online forums about how to best catch five feral cats. While Cali was getting quite used to us and would let us pet her when we put the food out, we had yet to get near the kittens.
I don't know how he did it, but one evening when I was working on my computer, I suddenly heard all kinds of racket outside and went out to discover that Eric had successfully closed all five of them in a large cage he had purchased for the purpose!!
Together, we carefully lifted cage and kittens into the house and took them through to the spare room.
They settled in to the spare room quite well. As soon as we could, we took Cali in to get her spayed and kept her in the workout room for a few days before introducing her to the rest of our cats.
That went very smoothly and they seemed not to bother about her at all. One thing we thought was especially cute was that she an Merlin bonded very quickly. Two stray cats finding each other.
The kittens too, are growing up. We tried finding homes for them, but didn't have any luck. I think we sort of knew at the outset that we'd end up with five more cats in the house!
Raja and Abby
I'll add pages for the kittens (we still call them kittens, even though they are now grown), who we have named Raja, Rusty, Jester and Abby, as time allows.