I’ve mentioned before on this blog (right here, actually) that a stray orange tabby has taken up residence in the bike shed of my apartment building—a no-pet building. Not that I have anything against pets. I live here, because it’s cheaper to live here. I don’t have a pet anyway. Well, not officially. The orange tabby, whom I’ve nicknamed Feral, is my unofficial pet. I share him with my next-door neighbors who also feed Feral.

I assure you, a cat is in this photo. This is from the previous post. Feral is not fond of having his picture taken.

Feral prefers tuna, but not the cheap kind you can get at a discount store like Aldi. His palate is much more highbrow. Albacore tuna, please. In water.

Late last fall, my neighbor built Feral a little house out of a cardboard box, and lined it with straw. This house fit snuggly at the back of the bike shed. Feral seemed to like it. During the cold winter days, particularly the below zero days, I felt better, knowing Feral was out of the chill wind.

Anyway, last week, I went out to feed Feral, only to discover that his house had been thrown away. The bowl I used for his food had been placed on the sidewalk.

Feral had been evicted.

As I mentioned, I live in a no-pet building. Someone might have informed the powers that be of our secret pet (though technically, he’s not in the building; he’s in the bike shed).

Two days later, I peeked in the bike shed, only to discover Feral curled up behind the bikes once more. Despite the loss of his box, he’d returned to the only place he seemed to call home. So that night, I left a bowl of food and some fresh water, only to discover the next day that the food bowl was missing, and Feral too.

He’d been evicted. Again.

I thought he was gone for good. Nope. He turned up on a day when rain fell like the proverbial cats and dogs.

At the back of the apartment building is a window with a view into the attached bike shed. I could see Feral in there, sitting nicely, waiting for me to bring a bowl of food.

Feral is the picture of resilience for me. He survived being dumped in this area by someone who didn’t want him. He’s made it through a number of winters. Sometimes he comes to the shed bearing scars earned from fights. He won’t let anyone come near him to take him to the vet. He runs away and stays away if you try to pet him. All he wants is food and water. But sometimes, when I stand at the window and look in, he meets my gaze. Just that little bit of contact—knowing I’m nearby, though behind glass—seems to be enough.

Tuna from Other photo by L. Marie.

36 thoughts on “Resilience

    • I think people are afraid that leaving food for him will attract other animals–like the raccoon that visits the dumpster at night. But he couldn’t fit in the bike shed. He’s too large. And he seems to like the dumpster.

  1. I, too, see Feral! But I bet Feral thought he was invisible anyway!

    Resilience; excellent lesson for the day, thank you, Linda.

    I completely understand your angst over Feral’s plight and at the same time delight over those few times of making a difference in his life. Our porch cat, Mama Cass, is much the same – and our situation as renters much the same as your situation. You/we do what we can and seize each moment as they arise to still minister to our ‘evicted’ furry kitties…and wonder how others can be so callus and cruel.

    This attitude of ‘throw away’ animals is one step from acceptance of ‘throw away’ humans – just sayin’…

    • Glad to life’s lessons, Laura. 🙂

      I remember Mama Cass. How is she doing? Someone tosses out a cat he or she doesn’t want, instead of going to a shelter that could find a good home for the cat.

      I just refilled Feral’s water bowl. The rain has started, so he’ll probably be inside for a while.

      • It’s funny, we were gone for two weeks (had a friend set out food during our absence) and when we came back, she’s all purrs and lovey-dovey and hanging around the place. Now, just 2 days back and she’s back to her cat attitude of ‘sure I love you, but on my terms’….
        Yeah, life is good….

  2. Found him!
    You are a good person, L. Marie. So are your neighbors who help feed Feral, who obviously feels safe around the bike shed. There are probably other feral cats vying for territory, which would account for the scars. I worry about coyote. They took down two deer here last year; two dear sleeping close together in the snow in our yard. It was a horrid sight.
    We have a cat who comes by, but, isn’t a feral cat. We call him Midnight and we see him roaming the properties around us. Midnight comes to our back door and deck door, begging for milk. The neighbors next door give him cat food. He belongs to two neighbors over.

    • Love the name Midnight, Penny.
      Yes, there are other cats. I saw a black and white cat around here briefly, a few months ago. Haven’t seen him since. I also think about coyotes. I saw one of those too some months back.
      How awful about those deer, especially if you were the one who discovered them like that. 😦

      • Thanks, L. Marie. It was, to use a word used too often lately, carnage, and it must have been the pack that took them down. The good news is that Midnight seems to have nine lives and continues to come around for milk from us, cat food or tuna from the neighbor two doors down, medical attention from yet another. 🙂 I’m wondering if Feral has a mutual admiration society where you live as well.
        We used to have cats, then kittens, then took care of that. Unfortunately, our daughter Jennifer, then I, developed allergies. 😦 One litter actually gave birth in Katy’s bed, on Good Friday, while Katy was sleeping. 🙂

      • Oh my goodness! What a surprise that must have been to wake up to!

        Yes, I wonder if Feral travels about, getting food from others. There are a number of homes around. Somehow he avoids the roaming coyote.

      • It was, L. Marie, and a “teaching moment” if ever there was. We talk about the Easter kittens every year. There were also Christmas kittens, which is a long story that I’ll pull out some day. Rain! I’m so tired of this rain. 😦

  3. Poor Feral! Some people are so mean when it comes to animals! I’m glad he found you and your neighbour. Ha! I used to live in a flat where I wasn’t allowed pets, but people gave me two kittens as a gift and I couldn’t bear to get rid of them. So when the building factors did their annual inspection visit, I used to have to chuck the cats out into the garden and hide all their stuff. This would have been fine, but the two cats used to follow us round the house from the outside as the guy did his inspection, turning up on each windowsill and meowing piteously. He obviously knew they were mine, but we both pretended we couldn’t see or hear them… 🙂

    • Ha ha! That’s a great story! I’m glad you were about to keep the kitties. Some friends of mine acquired two kittens from a shelter. They couldn’t bear to separate them, since they were raised together. They are both very sweet.

  4. At first I couldn’t see Feral, but after others commented that they saw him in the photo. I was motivated to look again and I saw him! Thank you for your message of resilience. It’s one that I need today.

  5. Cats are such graceful, independent, lovable creatures. It’s too bad Feral keeps losing his bed and bowl, but I’m glad he has someone to feed him. A beautiful little story of resilience and compassion.

  6. When he was first missing I feared the worst. Yes, sharing that look is enough. It’s good to have animals around us, however much they keep their distance.

  7. Beautiful story , Linda with a lot of suspenses . Do you know what ? I love Feral too, after reading you. Perhaps it is a stray cat but he shows a kind of faithfulness and gratefrulness for the ones who love him!
    Love ❤

  8. Well. I love resilient cats with good taste. I used to tell my clients that I knew I was becoming whole when I wouldn’t settle for anything but Q-tip brand Q-tips. 😉

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