Six months ago, I noticed a small cat stalking me while I did the chores on our permaculture farm. She kept her distance from me, bolting anytime I ventured closer than 100 feet or so. She was obviously feral and from what I could tell, very small and skinny. We actually need cats here. We have too many mice and voles that eat my produce and try to infiltrate my beehives and greenhouse. In permaculture they’d say, “You don’t have a mouse problem, you have a cat deficiency.”
I bought some cat treats from the grocery store in an attempt to make a friend who might stick around and eat some of those mice. My wife Denise gave me a look. I said, “Yes, I realize I’m buying cat treats for a cat who won’t let me get within a hundred feet of her.”
Whenever I went out to do my chores I carried the cat treats in my pocket. After a week or so, I saw the cat again. While she watched me from afar, I held up the treats, and placed a small pile of treats on the patio. I thought she might come closer, thinking she would smell the treats. The cat didn’t budge. I went about my business. A few hours later, I noticed the treats were gone.
This went on for weeks. I would see the cat and then I would place a small pile of treats on the patio or the front porch, but the cat wouldn’t come for her food until I was out of sight. Denise and I occasionally watched the cat eating on the patio from our window. She was so small and skinny. Denise thought she was adorable, with her little white feet. She named her Patches.
Gradually, over many months the cat became more comfortable with us, showing up on our porch. Although, when we opened the door, she would bolt down to the grape vine, still keeping her distance. By then, Denise bought some dry cat food and was feeding her once per day.
We noticed that she was getting bigger. I said, “I think we’re feeding her too much. She won’t catch mice if we overfeed her.” Denise said, “I think she’s pregnant.”
Denise was right. Patches was getting bigger, but it was all belly. During this time, she became more comfortable with us, often sleeping on the porch on one of the chairs. Each day she would stand on the porch and look up at the window, waiting for one of us to feed her. She never made a sound. When we came out, she would still run away, but only twenty feet or so.
Then she disappeared. For a week. When she came back to eat, she was ravenous. Her pregnant belly was gone, but no babies. We figured she had stashed the kittens somewhere. After she ate, Denise followed her and found the baby. It was only one, and he or she looked exactly like Patches. Denise named it Baby Kitty.
It took weeks for Baby Kitty to walk. She was even more skittish than Patches. After a month or so, Baby Kitty came to the porch with Patches and they would eat and sleep together.
One day, Denise was sitting on the porch with Patches. Baby Kitty was hidden in the bushes. Denise spotted a raccoon searching for Baby Kitty. She chased the raccoon away from Baby Kitty and up a tree. I told her she was lucky the raccoon didn’t bite her. I took care of the raccoon. I think it was the same raccoon who had killed several of our chickens and had left bite marks all over the chicken coop.
Now, all is well in the world of Patches and Baby Kitty. They no longer run from us, and even let us pet them. Baby Kitty loves to play. The above picture shows BK playing with Patches’ tail. Denise bought BK balls with little bells inside. I thought, That’s so stupid. That cat will never play with that. I was smart enough not to say that to Denise. I was wrong. BK bats those little balls all over the place! They sleep on the porch, cuddled together. We have a little house with a heater for them for the winter. I hooked it up to a thermostat so it only turns on when it dips below 35. On cold nights they sleep inside the house. Patches even brought us a present. A headless rabbit. Just what I always wanted!