Pussycat Report


It's been a while since I brought you up to date on the animal situation in my backyard. I still have possums. I still, despite my best efforts to shoo them off, have raccoons. And as you may recall from not that long ago, I was feeding four feral cats back there — Max, Sylvia, Lydia and The Stranger Cat. In May of this year, the Stranger Cat died, having lived a lot longer than stray cats usually do in an urban environment.

More recently, Max suddenly stopped coming around for the twice-daily buffet, which for him was sometimes served nine times. Actually, he was gone for about ten days — odd behavior given how he was always hungry and I always fed him well here. In fact, for the month or two before, he'd rarely left my yard. Anyway, after the ~10 day disappearance, he came back once for a meal and hasn't been seen since. It's about three weeks now and while the return of Max would not surprise me, I'm assuming it ain't gonna happen.

Which leaves me with Sylvia and Lydia. Lydia is the cat I trapped and took in for a kitty abortion and spaying. Sylvia was Max's girl friend who was quite deferential to him. If I put out a big bowl of food for the both of them, Sylvia would sit and watch Max eat his fill, then move in and munch on the leftovers. Given Max's capacity to inhale Friskies, it was difficult to put out enough that there would be leftovers.

I tried the "two dish" strategy to no avail. If I placed them close together, Max would dance back and forth between the two, eating a little out of this one, then a little out of that one, then some more out of the first one, etc. Sylvia would sit patiently by, acknowledging that he had first dibs on both. If I positioned two dishes some distance from each other, Sylvia would just wait and watch by whichever one Max selected. Often, her duties involved chasing Lydia away from whatever chow was out.

Max was otherwise quite affectionate and protective towards Sylvia and they would sometimes sleep, literally, with her lying partially across him. I guess Max made a good mattress. Since he vamoosed, she has bonded with Lydia and they sometimes nuzzle and lick each other's fur clean. When they eat, they eat at the same time and if there's only one bowl out, they politely share. I'm not sure I see any signs of either missing Max. Maybe I'm just projecting because I do, even though I'm now spending about an eighth as much on food.