Perhaps it was 25 years ago when I first spotted a big orange tomcat with a squirrel dangling from his mouth. When he saw me he turned and dashed away–taking the squirrel with him. I couldn’t catch the cat, but I figured there was something I could do about his assault on the wildlife population. What if I left food out for him? If he had a reliable source of meals, would that affect his hunting habits?
That was how I started buying bags of Meow Mix for outdoor cats. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that first customer. I named him Red and said that he was better Red than dead. He was a faithful porch diner for probably fifteen years. (He disappeared perhaps eight years ago when we were having a particularly cold and snowy winter.)
Since that first guy who took me up on the free meal offer, I’ve had a lot of takers. One thing I found out quickly is that if you’re feeding cats outside, you will also be feeding raccoons.
I’ve seen a mom raccoon bring her kits to eat here. They’re so cute when they’re small. But they do grow up–into eating machines. Above are three regulars.
Raccoons are not the only wildlife that show up. Over the years we’ve had foxes, opossums, and even a coyote. Here’s a handsome fox we’ve seen recently.
It’s a lot easier to spot the visitors now that we installed a camera at porch deck level. (The Ring Doorbell we installed around the same time isn’t low enough to show the porch diners.)
Both my current indoor cats first showed up on the porch. Nelson was a stray who had obviously belonged to someone. I don’t know how she ended up homeless, but she was very skittish at first. We started making friends, and I took her in a few months after she’d first come here.
Holly was brought to my porch by her mom, Hester Prynne, a feral cat I’d been feeding. One evening I looked out and thought I saw Hester with another cat. I looked again and realized it was really her and three kittens. Hester still eats here, but she’s never let me get close to her. On the other hand, Holly was always friendly to me. I got mom and kittens spayed or neutered. But over the course of a few weeks, Holly’s sister and brother disappeared. Because I couldn’t stand the idea of losing her, too, I prepared the spare bedroom for her with a litter box and food and water bowls. I got Norman to distract her with a string toy while I, wearing a heavy coat, grabbed her and brought her in. Socializing her to indoor life took several months of intensive work, but that’s another story.
Here she is–now on one of her favorite carry bags.
What happens when one of the outdoor cats confronts a raccoon? Here’s a picture of Hester staring one down.
And here’s one of my most memorable visitors. I saw him only once a few weeks ago, but he made a big impression. I wish he’d come back to eat some more.
Every morning I scroll through the motion-activated camera feed. Sometimes I get a big surprise. Usually it’s one of my regulars stopping by for a meal.
And here’s one of my recent releases–Trapped–on sale for 99c.
NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.