A story of survival
There’s a gang of feral cats live around our apartment block. The amazing thing about these cats, other than cats are amazing anyway, is that many of them survived hurricane Irma’s 200mph winds and after the storm passed most of them appeared back in the gardens.
My wife and I have names for all these cats. Their leader is One Lug, because, well, he’s only got one lug. Old, gnarled, and always causing trouble, One Lug’s fur is predominantly white with patches of tan, ginger and black thrown in to add to his character. How he lost his ear, I don’t know but as he’s a marauding Tom, and we think the father of most of the feral cats, the chances are it was ripped off in battle over a female.
Among the other ragtag feline population is Bandit. Bandit is beautiful. She’s tiny, and has all the characteristics and coloring of a Siamese but her most striking features are two circles of darker fir, one around each eye, which gives her the look of Zorro or, a bandit. Bandit gave birth to kittens but only the cheeky black and white one seems to have survived, and it follows her everywhere even though it’s no longer suckling. Bandit is the best mum, and if you believe cats can love, then she really loves and protects her kitten, especially from the advances of One Lug. Bandit’s kitten is known simply as Kitten.
Another kitten that survived the tempest is The Ginger Clown. In any group, human or animal, there’s always one who plays the fool and cats are no different, in fact they are experts at it. Ginger likes to play dead in the parking lot and twice I’ve gone to pick up his little corpse only to have him leap up and bound away. I swear he laughs when he does this and that his gang of mates, hiding and watching from among the debris, cheer him on knowing I’ve had to walk down three flights of stairs to reach him.
Rusty Head, a tortoise shell, has developed a bad limp. I don’t think her leg is broken, perhaps she’s cut her paw. Lord knows, there’s enough broken glass strewn around to do serious harm, or she might have been attacked by a dog. Dog’s and humans are the only things that the cats fear, although old One Lug seems to fear nothing.
El Pirata, a large black and white cat, doesn’t mix much with the others preferring to live on the margins of society. He might be biding his time, waiting for One Lug to die, or leave, so that he can move in and take over. Then again, maybe he’s just very shy, or he’s been bullied, or he’s a deep thinker, a philosopher cat. At least he’s not a total outcast like some.
The real outcasts live in the gardens next door. These are cats that once had a forever home with humans and, for whatever reason, are no longer wanted. Perhaps their humans died or had human babies, or bought a dog or their kids grew tired of their feline Christmas present and threw it out. After the storm, many of the outcasts wandered about bewildered not knowing what to do or how to feed themselves in the harsh world of the street. Some still wore a collar bearing the name given to them by their humans: Fluffy, Patches, Socks and the like.
I wrote this story two years ago and some of the same cats are still with us. I have even seen Bandit a couple of times. A prolific breeder, I think she’s been trapped, spayed and released, which is good news. Alas, I think old One Lug has crossed the Rainbow Bridge where, no doubt, he’s chasing females, fighting, yowling, and causing mayhem.