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So Sweet

June 18th, 2012

Some of you were reading back when “Miss Mamma” a feral cat moved her kittens into our garage. Miss Mamma is no longer with us, she is resting peacefully under a pussy willow in the front garden. One of her kittens survived A Series of Unfortunate Events and still lives in our garage. I was trying to remember how old she was, then I realized she’s just turning two now.

We’re so glad she survived her series of unfortunate events as a wee kitten because she has grown into a super sweet cat. For the longest time she was feral, not letting either of us get near her, much less pet her. Probably because of her early trip to the vet as a kitten and once again to get her fixed at 6 months.

She’s still semi-feral, but in the last few months she’s finally tame enough to let me pet her. Everywhere I go in the garden she’s not far behind, watching what I’m doing with her big curious eye, chasing insects and simply enjoying life as a cat.

Now that she’s older, we’re noticing a lot of her mamma’s traits in her and we’re thankful for that. We both say Miss Mamma was the best cat we’ve ever had. She doesn’t have an official name, we just call her “The Sweets”. We figured naming outdoor cats wasn’t a good idea since they usually live short lives, as was the sad case with Miss Mamma.

The Sweets keeps our garage rodent free and she keeps the chipmunks out of the garden. We never set out to have outdoor cats, but sometimes you can’t help it, they just show up at your door. They get trapped, fixed and fed and usually weave themselves into the fabric of life here at Chiot’s Run.

We’ve had our share of cats that just show up, I can’t even begin to nail down an actual number, most are feral and move along, though a few stick around. In the case of Dexter we think he was a pet someone left at the back gate of our allotment.

While I love cats, it makes me sad that we have to deal with so many because people don’t spay & neuter or decide to dump them off “in the country”. At least a few of them end up at Chiot’s Run where they can live a cat’s dream!

Have you ever had an animal show up at your door?

26 Comments to “So Sweet”
  1. KimH on June 18, 2012 at 5:53 am

    When I lived in the country, we had them show up all the time. People would drop off their unwanted animals and let them go some 12 miles out from town. Its sad to see some of them. We would keep some, and some I’d have to take into the pound. It was much kinder than letting them starve to death or become coyote dinner.

    I wish I had a good outdoor kitty. I know I may be tempting the Spirits, I love them, but Im allergic so I dont have any inside my home anymore.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  2. Canned Quilter on June 18, 2012 at 6:43 am

    We have cats dumped on our gravel road in the country also. Many never make it to houses and many are killed by the local large coyote population. We also have enjoyed the few we have been able to catch and somewhat tame but as you say the lives of outdoor cats are short. Sadly as our coyote population has exploded we rarely see cats anymore outside.

    Reply to Canned Quilter's comment

  3. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife on June 18, 2012 at 6:47 am

    The Sweets is gorgeous! She looks super silky in that straw photo :)

    We used to live on a very poor inner city estate and there were always unwanted cats around there too – people too poor or too apathetic to get their pets neutered. We fed dozens of cats over the years and had a long-time outdoor feral one in our later years there too. After just a few months of living there though, a semi-feral cat adopted us and decided to move in – and once he was settled after about three months, he brought his young girlfriend to live with us too.

    He let us pet him but was always a bit distant, and I wasn’t surprised when he disappeared after about 18 months – thought it was the last I’d see of him (his girlfriend stayed put, she was a softy from day one). I thought he’d just got the wandering bug again or had gone away to die of old age.

    I was very surprised when he returned six weeks later – rather thin and missing a couple of chunks from his ear but otherwise fine. That was 10 years ago now and he’s a huge cuddle monster these days — so much for thinking he was old then! :)

    Reply to louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife's comment

    • Susy on June 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

      She is very silky and very soft.

      We too have a male cat (Dexter) that likes to be outside to roam. He’s usually on the front porch in the morning, but not always and he does come back beat up sometimes.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Terry on June 18, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Thank you for taking care of these cats and getting them fixed! We have so many cats at the Humane Society and there seems to be a never ending stream of kittens this time of year. Last Friday we had around 20 kittens in the clinic waiting to be fixed and this is a small shelter.

    Reply to Terry's comment

  5. Melissa from the Blue House on June 18, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Never have had one show up, but I live in the city. Our last cats went to be with Jesus after a couple of unfortunate accidents, so I can hardly stand to think about another one!

    Maybe someday…

    Reply to Melissa from the Blue House's comment

  6. daisy on June 18, 2012 at 8:22 am

    They are so sweet. We don’t have any pets or feral animals around us. So glad they have found a home with you.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  7. Annie on June 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

    The Sweets looks very much like a cat I had for 181/2 years that I rescued from the pound when he was very young. He was a real keeper an outside cat in his younger years and an inside cat later on. He was a good mouser and a good friend. Haven’t wanted to get another after him although I’ve had cats in my life for over 60 years. Bless you for taking care of these souls that are sent your way. I always took care of anyone who showed up wanting food or medical care I just haven’t had any show up since I have lived in town.

    Reply to Annie's comment

  8. MsM on June 18, 2012 at 8:56 am

    We have long lived in the country-ish area of northern NY (yes NY has MOSTLY rural country), We’ve often been “blessed with a ferral cat or 2. One who comes to mind is a lady who twice a year showed up on our property to birth her litter just inside our very large back porch. Then only to run off until another 6mos or so. We always found homes for her babies…mostly to other farms with a dairy cow in the mix (or some goats).

    One year we were able to trap our friend before she scooted off and took her to my Dad’s place 20miles on the otherside of the river…he owned and lived at a small sawmill and thought he’d like her to come to his place to raise babies and help with the rodent population.

    Well, she had other ideas. She didin’t stick around. I felt terrible wondering what demise she may have met in unfamiliar territories :( .
    Then in the Fall…I walked out my back door one morning and to my surprise…here she was with a new litter of kittens!!!!!
    I learned a valuable lesson. Let nature alone and don’t try to change it.

    Dad soon found his own feral cat.

    Reply to MsM's comment

  9. Donna B. on June 18, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I am just in love with the photo of The Sweets sitting in the straw, staring at you with those powerful eyes. She does have her mother’s eyes, doesn’t she?

    My sister in law collects, rehabilitates, and finds partially-feral cats new homes. Two of which live with our mother in law! Hee hee. [Luu and Boo are quite lucky and happy cats!]
    My MiL though has a new addition to her cat family – a large male showed up a couple of months ago! He’s a mushbucket… But we think he still technically has a “home”… sometimes he shows up with a glittery collar on. We want to call the township to see if they can contact his family… but he hasn’t gone home in a long time, so he may not want to go back…
    The little terror, D [as in Diablo]…

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  10. Denimflyz on June 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I deal with this almost on a daily basis. I have 4 outside ferals that I take care of and have for about 8 years now. I also work with a local humane society as a ICU nurse and take care of extremly injured cats and get them well and usually they end up with me, as they are either disabled, missing limbs or severly unable to function with another family who would not understand their disability. I love them all.
    Blessing be upon you for doing what you do, as well as other like us who do. All we can do is save what we can the rest is in fate.
    Wonderful post this morning, Susy.

    Reply to Denimflyz's comment

  11. Mich on June 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Luckily my farm drive is a mile long so we are away from the road; I have 4 farm cats to tend to the rodent population, tho 1 of them would love to be the house cat!
    Our old house cat just adopted us we named him Harley & in his elderly yrs Harley Fatcat!

    Reply to Mich's comment

  12. Maybelline on June 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Of course. So many show up and a few stay.

    Reminder: It’s hot in a lot of the country. Leave out a bowl of fresh water each day for stray animals to have a chance. Make sure to change the water each day to avoid mosquito troubles.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  13. amy on June 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Always have had……We live in the country…..numerous dogs, cats….. and once a fighting rooster. Our neighbors down the road had gotten it from someone because he refused to fight……And….they wanted to hear the crow of a rooster in the morning…..sigh. ……But he turned out to be a lover not a fighter……And they did not have hens for him to “socialize” with……We did/do however…. He showed up and never looked back….We named him Don Juan;) A moniker which he desperately tried to live up to!

    Reply to amy's comment

  14. Deb on June 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    After living in our home for 17 yrs. in the country we have gotten a couple dozen, maybe more cats dumped at our home. Some stay and i fix all I can catch. Some move on and many are killed trying to find food. A neighbor shoots at them to scare them off, doesn’t feed them, and they come and bring kittens each year. I hate to see so many dead on the road. I have ,many indoor cats and some out door ones. We only have actually brought in to our place a few. I try to tame them also. they get plenty of food and water at all times and I try to get medical attention to those in severe need. sometimes I can just medicate myself to save the vet bill. people are so irresponsible and it makes me very angruy that they think the country is a good place to dump iunwanted critters.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  15. Trish on June 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    we have a feral female who is about 12 yrs old living in our barn loft – we managed to get her spayed. The loft is self-contained with water and food, so she never has to venture out and can avoid the dogs. She has had a friend living with her for several yrs, and old tom my husband calls Will Feral.

    4 Christmases ago a beautiful young dog showed up at our door. We couldn’t find an owner so we added her to the herd. The vet said she is a treeing Walker coon hound – I had never heard of this breed. she is very sweet, but likes to maintain a certain odor by rolling in whatever stinkilicious things she can find.

    Reply to Trish's comment

  16. Brenda on June 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I love cats and love people who are good to cats, so many aren’t xxBrenda

    Reply to Brenda's comment

  17. Erin on June 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Oh god, my cat, my first cat that was actually mine and not a family cat. He just showed up at my parents’ house one day while my sister was the only one home. She kept trying to put him outside, but he would dart back in (and to the food bowl) before she could shut the door.

    So I ended up getting a call (“Hey, do you want a cat?” “…okay?” “Hurry up and come get it before Mum gets home.”) and driving down to their house to pick him up.

    He has turned into the most lovey cat ever, and the most… attached? When I’m home, he spends most the day curled up either on me (whether I want him to be or not) or by my side, and gets terribly cross when the other cats or the dog try to oust him from his spot. At night, he sleeps cradled in the crook of my arm, like a teddy bear.

    And he is such a one-person cat. Every time a new person comes over, I try to warn them to leave the tiger cat be or he’ll scratch the shit out of you, and they never, ever believe me. Until, you know, the first time they go to pet him and he latches on like a wild thing. When I yell at the dog for something (he’s a border collie, so it’s not like he’s smaller than the cats), Murphy will come shooting in from wherever he is in the apartment and chase the dog out of the room. With claws and teeth when necessary.

    You haven’t seen hilarity until you’re watching a forty pound dog yelping and fleeing from a fifteen pound cat that just gouged a chunk out of his hind quarters. (Which, for the record, I do discourage, and we haven’t had an incident involving actual blood in almost a year.)

    Oh god I’m basically a crazy cat lady who only ever talks about her cats and I do not even care.

    Reply to Erin's comment

  18. Rick on June 18, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I have to admit that for a lot of years I was not a cat guy. But a year ago I wanted to get chickens and the trade off was if I got chickens my wife got a cat! So Kiwi joined our family and I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed having her around. And the best part is we haven’t seen a mouse any were near the house for over a year!!

    Reply to Rick's comment

    • Susy on June 19, 2012 at 8:33 am

      Too funny, Mr Chiots was very similar until he met my cat Jeffrey (who I found in a dumpster at my high school and came home in my jacket).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. Chris on June 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    As cute an cuddly as some stray cats appear, they really are just part of the food chain. They will eat and they will get eaten. We’ve taken in two strays in our lives – one we found dumped in a park, the other was also found dumped at a camping site but the neighbours asked if we wanted it (after the other one disappeared).

    They were nice cats, but you never forget they are just another animal liable to find itself in the food chain. Now I don’t take animals on by default any more. If cats arrive on our property they fend for themselves, and I actively chase them away from the house. Kittens would be a different story but I would rehome them elsewhere or have them euthinased. Haven’t had to deal with kittens.

    I know this is a morbid line of thinking others may feel uncomfortable with, but we try to keep part of our land aside for native animals who are really hammered by the carelessness of cat owners. This is not designed to make others who take them in judged – just saying we deal with the other end of homeless cats.

    I like your pictures and I’m not judging your choices. :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on June 19, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Very true, and something you have to make peace with if you have an outdoor cat. We have an foxes, owls, eagles and hawks that could easily make a meal of our outdoor cats should they want to and I’m OK with that.

      Around here, our cats provide a valuable service of dealing with a rodent population that was out of control because of lack of natural predators (which left when the woods behind our home was clearcut by the owners). They were causing foundation problems on the house and needed taken care of. Which is probably why the feral cat population exploded when the woods were cut down.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. itchbay on June 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    As long as you’re aware of the dangers and prepared for them, I don’t really have a problem with a farm cat. I dislike urban and suburban outdoor cats, though. I’m really tired of picking up cat poop from my yard/garden. Some days I’m tempted to start flinging it over the fence back into my neighbor’s yard.

    A friend used to live along a protected wetlands, and she still let her cat roam free. That was very disappointing.

    Another friend lives outside the city limits and occasionally has new neighbors move in and then a week later post “lost” signs for their cats or dogs. She doesn’t have much sympathy for them. Visiting her in the evenings, I’ve heard the coyotes. And I’m not naive enough to think they’ll leave a pet alone.

    Reply to itchbay's comment

  21. Michele on June 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you for writhing this It gives me hope when I see that other people doing the same thing we do. Sweets look like one of the resident feral cats CC that lives on our property.

    For us an animal in need is an animal in need. We do what we can. For the cats we TNR (Feral). For the dogs we try to get them off the street and network. House cats we network. We do what is right within our own moral code. Killing something unless there is sickness or injury is not a part of our moral code. I hate calling my vet when I need a cat put down because a human did an unspeakable act towards it. Living in the city the crap we have seen makes me not like humans very much. Sorry to rant I live in an environment with many, many ignorant people.

    Susy, when you move is Sweets going with you?

    Reply to Michele's comment

  22. Britney on June 22, 2012 at 10:52 am

    We have some neighbors with outdoor cats. One of them enjoys spending most of his time at my house. I really like him, he’s very sweet. But I have a problem with him using my raised beds as litterboxes. I was hoping maybe, with all your experience in feral cats, you would have advice on how to deter him.

    Reply to Britney's comment

    • Susy on June 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

      We actually don’t have problems with our cats doing that – they much prefer the leaf litter in the woods that surround the gardens. Perhaps if you provide an outdoor litter area with a sand box he might use that instead.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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