LETTER TO THE EDITOR: In these times of COVID-19 cats take your mind off the terrible things that are happening.
Every winter for the past few years I have helped various animals with food and shelter. The turkeys got scratch grain. The squirrels got peanuts by the bird feeder and also peanuts tucked into a sleeping bag in the garage.
The birds got sunflower seeds and suet squares. The fox got various scraps of meat and this year I took pity on a couple of feral cats.
In the bitter cold of January, one feral cat came up to my front door holding his paw up and meowing like crazy.
“I’m getting frost bite,” he seemed to be saying.
He has a female accomplice. Somehow I instinctively knew that he would be the easier one to tame.
It took a lot of patience and trickery on my part to get the male inside.
Day-after-day I kept putting the food further into the house, first on the front porch and then in the kitchen.
I had to slam the door many times on him. Sometimes with a long string attached to the aluminium door hand on the outside of the door and later I slammed the kitchen door when he had his head under the kitchen cabinets eating food off a paper plate.
He went really squirrelly at the beginning hiding under furniture and jumping on window sills looking for a way out.
Eventually he let me touch him and pet him, and now he sleeps here inside in the afternoon and goes out most nights.
The female cat has been a lot tougher nut to crack. She comes in to eat on the porch or kitchen floor and will still bolt if I make any sudden movements.
This cat business is all new to me. I’ve owned two dogs in my life and would never intentionally get myself a cat. These two tabbies I felt sorry for and they have grown on me.
In March I told the OSPCA in Orillia the female cat was getting bigger and bigger. She disappeared for one day entirely on March 8 and on March 9 she came back substantially skinnier. I never could locate the kittens.
I searched my garage and nearby on various neighbours’ properties.
The shelter I provided was the perfect “cat motel.” Two end tables put together with two cotton rugs on top and a pair of down-stuffed winter coats the final layer that allows them to jump up to overturned bushel baskets and then on the “the bed.”
There is another large wicker basket with a pillow and towel on top in the garage that both cats access by going under the cottage.
On April 15 the female cat came into the kitchen and sat on the rug and looked at me, then goes out on the porch and comes back in and looks at me again.
Then I hear “meow, meow” from the porch area. Sure enough one of the small kittens was there. Later that day there were two, then three the next day and finally four who were sunning themselves by the cottage.
I left food outside for mama cat and then five kittens came running to the plate.
In all I had six kittens. As they had just turned six weeks old, I contacted Muskoka Animal Rescue and we trapped them.
First this organization puts kittens into foster homes to socialize them and from there they go to adoptive parents who are carefully screened.
Cats are great company if you live on your own and they are very entertaining.
A big plus — they clean up “the mouse palace” in my other garage.
Contact the Muskoka Animal Rescue if you can make a lifelong commitment to a really nice pet that will make your life better. The rescue people do a great job and are very committed to their cause.
It is well worth the time and effort it take and have a pet.