It has been quite a while since I last posted here so let me bring you up to date.

In 2017 we saw the arrival of 21 kitties and worked hard to get them collected and taken over to the shelter to be neutered.  We were able to catch 20.  Over the next year these guys all migrated from the backyard (where the factory home of the colony is) to the court itself.  These guys settled in, as seen in the pictures.  Over the last 2 years a few of their number have either moved on

or have not survived the winter; as of April 2019 there were 13 members of the colony still living on the Court.

Day 2

The spring 2018 litter of 5 cats has made it through the winter and into the spring of 2019.  The only female in the liter has just delivered 4 kittens.  Attempts were made to capture them but I’m not sure if there was a successful T-N-R.


Things have also changed for our 4 cats.  I have retired and moved back east.  My son has moved to a small house in the next town over and my granddaughter has moved in with a friend.  The Oak Court  Cats have moved away.

So the youngest kitty (now 3 years old) has moved with my granddaughter.  My son has taken the Gray (now maybe  10 years old) with him. Recently he adopted another senior cat, part Maine Coon; the pair are learning to put up with each other.  I moved  3,000 miles to the east and brought the tortie and Mr.Big with me.

That’s it for now, the Trip will be chronicled on a later blog entry.




Another summer on the Court is nearing an end.  The weather has been cool these last few weeks and the cats are busy policing the court, looking for the occasional mouse or mole that attempts to settle here.  Blutto

Mr. Big (resident Maine Coon) is showing a bit of his age these days.  At 10 he’d be comparable to a human age of 56; no longer as energetic as he was when he first arrived here.  Like the other feline residents here, Mr. Big tends to sleep 18 or so hours a day.  Also have noticed that he is becoming a house cat now; not spending much time outside; prefers to watch the world from the comfort of the front window.

The cranky old torti will celebrate her 15th birthday in a week. She goes out occasionally to remind the younger cats that she is still the alpha and commands some respect.  Occasionally she’ll ask to be let out on the porch and will find her way around to the backyard, offering Precoous at 15advice to the younger cats while inspecting the fence, reviewing the kittens and complaining about the finches that congregate outside her window.  When satisfied that all is in order, she waits by the back door to be let back in.  She will sit on the kitchen floor and give me a full report on what she has seen.  She has taken to giving me long narratives, sometimes meowing in sentences of 5 to 10 seconds; a conversation may take 10 minutes until she’s talked out.

The feral community that lives on the other side of the fence is still with us, visiting daily for a handout and a nap on the chairs under the tree.  The population continues to shrink; a year ago there were 21 cats and now there are 11 remaining.  We did get a number of new kitties back in May but some were ‘kidnapped’ by the humans while a few just disappeared.

It’s time to start trapping again as there are 2 older females that have not been T-N-R’d.  Would like to fix the recent arrivals as well.

Have been asked about domesticating the ferals and giving them a chance at a home but, after some research and many attempts to get close to them, these ferals are not about to become someoMeal Timene’s pet.  As they are very social and have strong relationships within the colony, they don’t seem interested in getting close to us.

I’ve watched the adults when the kittens are about; 2 or 3 of the older cats will be close at hand, keeping an eye on the little ones.  It looks like they take turns watching and teaching the young cats how to bathe, fight and hunt.

The colony spends their days enjoying the sun, the naps and an occasional meal here.  They do not mix with the resident cats; it is as if they know they are just visitors and at some point will move on.  Ferals come and go.

Mean while Precious has just woke up from a nap and demands fresh food in the bowl.  I guess when you’re that age, you can pretty much get what you want.

It has been a year since our last T-N-R campaign.  In 2017 we were able to trap 17 of 21 ferals in our neighborhood, hopefully putting a dent into feral population growth.  In the last year we’ve seen the colony go from 21 regular residents to 14.  A few have been seen in other neighborhoods while others didn’t make it through the winter.  Sadly one of the cats from last year’s births was hit by a car and was found on a lawn.  Apparently Hudson (yeah, he had a name) pulled himself out of the roadway, trying to make it back to the safety of the colony. Over the last year he’d become well acclimated to the house and would have been a great house-cat.


Hudson. May 2017 ~ April 2018

Mid-May is usually when you see the first round of births show up.  We’ve been watching the back fence to see if there were any litters; crossing fingers that we wouldn’t see any this year.

2018 Kitty 3

First Kitty of 2018, female, somewhere between 4 and 5 weeks old.

The first kitty made an appearance a few days ago.    Yesterday I was able to qo out back and counted 9 young kitties, probably 4 to 5 weeks old.  It appeared they were not weaned yet so we’ll have to wait a week or 2 before we start on this year’s roundup.  Yes, it’ll be a roundup much like that ad that ran during the Super bowl a few years ago:  EDS Cat herders

So far only 2 litters that we can identify.  One litter is composed of gold tigers, markings like their mother and father (yes, we’ve identified Dad).  Not too sure the 2nd litter belongs to.

Junior 2018

Junior – neighborhood tomcat. Identified as father to at least 6 litters over the past few years. We have not been able to trap him.

So look for an update in a few weeks when we break out the cages again and try to capture as many as possible while they are  young.  Shelters will not take in cats over 12 weeks as ferals are ‘imprinted’ by then and chances are they’d never be a good house cat beyond that point.  Sadly shelters are overloaded at this time and, consequently, some of the less desirable ones are put down before they’ve had a chance to be taken into a ‘forever home’.2-18 Kitty 2

As were approaching the 1st birthday for a number of the ferals in the Northrup community, thought it would be a good time for an update.

Population – Back in the fall the population was 21 cats, the majority being born in the spring of 2017. Junior, the neighborhood tom was responsible for at least half the kittens while the remainder either found their way here on their own or the females left once the kittens were weaned.  Within the last week I have counted 15 cats, 6 have either moved on or didn’t make it through the winter.  20180406_151955

Territory – A few of the cats have expanded their territory to roughly a square mile.  this includes both the factory behind the house and the Court itself.  As seen in the pictures here, some of the cats have included rooftops  in their territory.

Family attachments – I have been watching the cts and have noticed that there is a strong attachment between cats born in a particular litter.  For example, one litter produced 3 gray cats who are inseparable.  The trio of gold tabbys can always be seen together. 20180407_110349 And the one mother  (the calico) who stayed here will usually be close to her daughter, Patches, the white and brown in the pictures below..

Feral Instincts – The cats have shown they are capable of fending for themselves.  We’ve seen several birds that have been dispatched by the young adults.  Clean kills every time.  Additionally we have not seen new cats try to come into the territory.  Judging by occasional tufts of fur on the sidewalk, the young cats have been defending their space.20180407_110108

How do the Oak Court Cats get along with the ferals? Mr Big, the Maine Coon, gets along with the ferals; they respect him, seeming to understand that they are in his territory.  Precious has no time for the ferals; she steps out into the yard and they take off.  Mr. Fatty doesn’t seem to care one way or the other; he ignores them and they respond in kind.

So we are watching for new litters; hopefully we can get to them before the cats are too old to be considered for adoption.  IMG_20171224_093553_323

As noted in an earlier post, we’ve got a problem in that there are several large cat colonies living in the factory yard behind the house.  On the southwest corner there are roughly 30 cats in that colony.  The colony behind us has roughly 20 members; most of them are less than 1 year old.  This is the largest this colony has been in the 12 years we’ve lived here. Speaking with shelter staff and rescue volunteers, this was probably the busiest kitty season in the last 10 years.

In 2015 we trapped 7 cats; failed to trap one tiger and we believe he is the father of 4 of the 5 litters we are tracking.


Junior, neighborhood gigolo

This year we had help from a woman who works hard to reduce the number and sizes of feral colonies and managed to trap 15 over the course of 4 days.  There were 4 who managed to elude capture.

The kitties were taken to the local Humane shelter and, after a quick physical, were fixed and released back into the factory yard.   Dad, unfortunately, was not  captured but we hope to lay out the traps again in a few weeks, giving the colony time to settle down, before another attempt to catch the remaining “studs”.

Some questions come up when we talk about T-N-R:

  • Are the cats adopted?  Not often.  Adoptable cats are very young and by 12 weeks they are already feral; learning the social and survival skills from other members of the colony.
  • Do you feed the colony? Occasionally we’ll put out  few cups of cat kibble.  Putting out a lot of food will attract cats from other colonies and quickly the yard will be overrun with feral kitties.
  • Why are the cats returned to the factory yard?  The cats are returned to their ‘home’ territory.  If not, new cats will move into this space and you’ll quickly be facing another wave of kitties.  Returning the fixed kitties keeps the population under control as new cats looking for a home will move on.

It’s been a successful campaign.  While we believe we were successful, the real test will come in the spring when new kitties come across from the factory.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad are doing fine; she was the first cat we trapped this year so it’s safe to assume that she as well as the 5 females we trapped, won’t be contributing to nest season’s kitten count.

This year there was one kitten that took to me quickly, greeting me whenever I went out Mr Grayinto the yard, always hanging close (no closer than arm’s length however).  Mr.Gray, pictured here, is the only one of the colony who has figured out the screen door and sneaks into the house and eats Mr. Big’s food.  The larger cat hasn’t complained yet.



It’s early summer and it’s kitten season here on the Court. Some years we don’t see any and other years we are inundated with kitties.   The summer of 2015 yielded 5 kittens  and this year we have 3 litters coming through the fence in search of a meal.  The court cats, with the exception of Junior, are not too pleased with the recent population explosion.

We have been involved in T-N-R efforts for a few years now; 2015 was a good year as we were able to catch 4 kittens and 3 adults.  A gold tiger manage to avoid the traps and has made our neighborhood his own.

Trap-Neuter-Release programs, managed by local animal control, will cover the costs for 20170628_204625neutering cats and releasing them back into their territory.  Placing them back keeps the population manageable by reducing the kitty -count and keeping transient ferals out.

This year’s kitty population, The current feral population consists of 5 adults and 10 kitties.  And all of this year’s litters all bear a striking resemblance to Junior’s coloring.  He is a tiger but doesn’t have the well-defined stripes.  His markings resemble gold splotches of paint thrown against a white wall.  Most of the kitties in the clowder have similar markings.

20170622_062119We’re pretty sure that there are 3 mothers, the oldest litter consists of 3, roughly 10 weeks old now, all gray fur their flanks showing the same mottled look as Dad.  Not sure who the mother is; have only seen a large gray female on a few occasions.

The second litter, 3 gold males that are very close to Dad’s markings, 1 female calico (like mom) and 1 gray and white male. These kittens are 9 weeks old now.

The 3rd liter is a gray and white mottled fur, we think she may be one of Junior’s children.  She has 2 kittens, gray tabbies and we estimate they are 8 weeks old.  All litters are fully weaned.20170625_173618-EFFECTS

The regular inhabitants of the court have been watching the kitties, waiting for the day when they are old enough to move on.  The cats will disburse eventually, if not caught first and sent over to the shelter where they have a chance of being adopted.

Acceptance by the Court Cats. The regular inhabitants haven’t chased the kitties off yet.  Some of the locals don’t seem to mind while others find them to be an irritant. Precious (the old lady) lays out on the back steps and yells at any of the kitties who come near.  (She yells at everyone who comes near).  Mr Big hangs out with the mommy cat and the kitties.  In the evening he’ll  be found by the food dish, waiting for them to come by.  In the late afternoons he’ll be sleeping out under a bush with 2 or 3 of the furballs tucked in beside him.

Ferals vs. Strays.  There is a difference that makes a difference when cats are caught.  A stray cat is one that was formerly someone’s pet; it is used to humans and can interact with them (usually to get into their good graces and get fed).  A feral is a wild cat, the parents being ferals or strays.  The feral is very cautious around people, it does not interact well at all.

When a cat is taken to the shelter the technicians will test the cat and make a determination  to either place the animal up for adoption or to  set it aside with the other ferals with no chance at a forever home.  Strays have a chance while ferals may not be as lucky.

So, until they either get caught or move on, we do what we can to take care them while IMG_20170517_075931_997they live behind us; food and water are put out in the back.  We clean their wounds (when we can get close to them) and put up with their ‘singing’ at 3 in the morning.

It’s late February and, here in Northern California, the weather is starting to break.  We’re still dealing with the rains but the temperatures are getting better with overnight lows dropping to the mid-40s.  For the feral cats that live in the factory behind us things are looking up.

This blog was started to relate the stories of the cats that call this house their home.  In the past few years, however, I’ve also written about some of the strays that come by to visit with the Court cats and share a bowl of kitty crunchies.  I won’t get up on my soap box today and preach the importance of having kitties ‘fixed’ at an early age.  Just keep in mind that serious cat-people have this taken care of quickly when the kitten is old enough for the procedure.

Currently there are 8 regulars in the neighborhood:

Junior, a 21-month-old tiger male.  We were able to catch his mother and 4 junior-nov-2016siblings.  Mom was neutered and released; the siblings were adopted.  Junior watched the family get trapped and avoids cages.

Roger, maybe 5 years old, a tiger with a white chest.  We’re not sure if he is really a stray. mHe is clean, well fed and wears a collar.  We haven’t been able to track him back to his people.  Roger’s territory covers the north side of the street and extends back behind the houses to include the apartments and the funeral home on the next block.  Mr. Big will occasionally cross the street to visit with some of the ‘house cats’ but doesn’t go behind the houses.

Princess, a female, white fur and maybe 3 years old. Our neighbor takes care of theimg_20170115_110522_021 Princess who has been neutered and sees a vet regularly.  She is an outside cat, not quite a feral then again not a house-dwelling cat.

The Trio, 3 siblings, maybe 8 months old and true ferals.  We have not been able to trap them (set out traps every night for a week and a half, managed to catch the same possum every night).  Mr. Big goes out when we put food out and spends an 20161029_174258hour back there with them most mornings.   Last week they managed to catch a finch and left half of the ‘meal’ next to the bowl, sharing the kill.

Blue.  Maybe a year old, lives in the warehouse behind the house.  He is not afraid to approach people as he knows that’s where the food comes from.

Calico Kitty, maybe 6 months and new to this end of the factory yard.  She seems to have figured out the schedules and rules.

We put out food every evening close to sunset (bowls of dry and wet food) and again around 6:30 the next morning.  Most feedings are cleaned up within a half hour; the cats are used to the schedule and know that if they aren’t there, another cat will finish the food.  Our cats don’t seem to mind, as long as the ferals stay out toward the other end of the yard and not approach the back door.  Seems our cats have laid out their territory and marked it well.

The winter hasn’t been too bad; there was a stretch where the overnight lows settled down to 29 degrees for a few weeks.  We assume the strays were able to find a warm dry shelter in one of the old warehouses.  For the first time in years we did not lose anyone.

Come April we’ll attempt to capture a few more of the strays for T-N-R; we want to keep the population down but not extinct.  We don’t have a problem with moles, mice or rats as the cats keep their numbers in check.

As for the Court Cats, with the cold and rain the Blue and the Old Lady stay in the house most of the time, venturing out on those occasional warm afternoons to sprawl on the back steps.  Long about April they’ll be spending more time outside, pursuing lizards and insects. At their age, they no longer go after birds; too much work.  The Old Lady is 13 now and not as agile.  The Blue – well, he never bothers to hunt for fresh food as there was always kitty-crunchies in the bowl.

Till next time –


It has been a while since the past post; I’ve been busy on some other things.  Today I’d like to update on the progress made in dealing with the stray cat population in the neighborhood.  The city where I live supports stray-cat population control through a relationship with the local animal shelter.  To summarize, the city picks up the cost of neuter/spay when a stray is brought in.  The cat is added to the shelter population for adoption or, if an older feral, released in the neighborhood where he was picked up.

In 2015 we successful in that we trapped 6 feral (the parents and 4 of their 5 offspring). The kittens found new forever homes and the parents were released in the neighborhood but have since moved on.

This year we again set out to trap strays.  3 new strays moved into the factory yard. The adult is a large tiger; I guessed his age at 2 to 3 years and he seemed to be quite well fed which leads me to think he was someone’s cat at one point.  There are 2 kittens, maybe 6 months old at this point that have taken to visiting our yard, looking to share a meal with our own cats. The 5th kitten from last year’s litter is still here, visiting most every morning for a meal.

Working the trap for a 10 day period we were able to capture the adult tiger (taken to the shelter) and Paul the Possum (repeatedly).

The current stray population:

Junior, 18 month old tiger.  He has managed to avoid the traps (we’ve tried to catch him on junior-nov-2016a dozen occasions but have not been successful) and has settled into the role of ‘neighborhood cat’.  While he still stops by here in the mornings for a meal, he is also fed by some of the other people living on the court.

The Kittens – They started showing up in the back during the summer.  Not sure where they came from but, due to their coloring, we think their parents started to visit the yard in the early spring.  Always seen together, they come out at sunrise and again near sunset, looking to get a handout.  Mr. Big, our Maine Coon, has taken an interest in these kitties and visits with them at meal time.kitties-and-mr-big

Paul the Possum – A frequent visitor, Paul has spent more time in our trap than all other captures combined.  He likes the cat food we put out and doesn’t seem to mind getting caught, as long as there is food available.20150802_122822

And the Court Cats are all doing fine.  Precious just celebrated her birthday; she’s 13 and is talkative.  Fatty and Mr. Big are doing well; they spend the autumn days sleeping on the back steps, warmed by the sun.precious-at-13

I’ve often wondered how well the cats hear.  Googling ‘cat hearing’ I have learned that cats can hear sounds at 64 kHz, nearly 1.6 octaves higher than we humans; a full octave higher than dogs hear.  How accurate is their hearing? At a distance of 91 cm their ears can focus the hearing on an object to within 70 mm.  (So that’s how the Big Guy can track the occasional spider that dares challenge him on his turf.)

But, if their hearing is so good, why don’t they hear me?

I’ve tried a number of things to test their hearing and have come to the conclusion that they hear what they want to hear.  The other senses do a pretty good job of warning them about the approach of danger, the availability of food and what corner of my freshly tilled garden plot makes the best bathroom.

But hearing?Blutto2

To test the theory that they hear just fine I conducted a few tests:

1)      The sound of Tidy Cat being dumped into a clean box.  Cat owners know that most cats prefer to utilize a ‘clean’ and well-manicured box if at all possible.

2)      The sound made when I slowly twist off the lid from the treat jar.

3)      The sound of the alarm clock.

The Big Guy would argue that what I see as reactions to sounds are not Pavlovian responses, the actions of cats trained to respond to certain events. He would say that they are responding as they believe the humans would want to see them respond.  When asked to explain he offered the example of the ‘treat jar’.

I have a jar filled with Friskies Party Mix; a cat treat that comes flavored with salmon, tuna, cheese or some other taste they are expected to like.  I’ll slowly twist the lid off and put a few treats on the table; cats appear as if my magic and devour the treats before slinking off.  Per the Big Guy, they are getting rid of the snacks before they can attract flies and mice.  Just looking out for the humans; wanting to keep the house clean.

If that were true, if they really cared about the house then why do they leave hair balls scattered about on the floor?  Seriously?

The alarm clock heralds the new day and a reason to dash about the house for 10 minutes, ensuring that all human occupants are woken up.  They hear the clock and use that as an excuse to sprint from one end of the house to the other, knocking things off tables, tipping plants over, slamming into each other (which sets off a fair amount of hissing and whining,eventually  freaking out the squirrel who begins to bark.

It doesn’t matter how quiet the alarm is or when it goes off (I move the time around just to see if I can throw them off). They hear it and begin to make their presence known.  Precious the cat has tried to convince me that it is the dawn that inspires them to celebrate the return of the sun with wild abandon but I know better.  If I set the alarm to ring at 11:00 at night, I’ll get the same performance.  They hear the alarm and go into ‘wild’ mode.

Once again, they are responding with antics that we ‘like’.

Do you see a trend developing?  I can trigger a response by creating a sound.  It doesn’t need to be day or night; if I make the sound, they respond accordingly.  They hear the sounds.

However, if I call to a cat who may be sitting a few feet away, she’ll not respond.  This is a 13 year old cat who has gotten accustomed to hearing the name; who can start purring as I say the  name and brush her fur.  She knows the sound of the name. But, as she needs to demonstrate her lack of hearing, no response.

I called out the kitten’s name the other night and she turned her head.  One of the older Preciouscats went over and smacked her on the back of her head, reminding her that cats do not respond.

The sound of dinner. The quiet little ‘pop’ when you pull up on the tab on a can of Friskies wet food and the cats will hear it, no matter how far away they are.

The gray cat doesn’t like canned food but he comes running, just the same.

On more than 1 occasion I’ve seen the Big Guy run in from behind the shed (100 yards away) at the sound.  Yeah, he hears. He knows the sound of the cat food can pop top and can hear it over the sounds of the factory next door, the commuter train tracks a few hundred yards  away and the drone of C-130 aircraft overhead.

FattyAnd the litter box. Changing the powder triggers a celebratory visit to the box by each of the Court Cats; accompanied by much flinging of sand, extensive landscaping and what I can only describe as terraforming (and you thought the Chinese Government was the only group who could create a land-mass out of sand?). Just the sound the  lid generates as it is being removed from the bucket of powder  is enough sound to rouse the cats from a deep sleep and call them to the party.

So, do cats hear? Yes, I believe they hear just fine.  

In the fall I posted a blog that covered our attempts to trap-neuter-and-release a family of cats that lives behind our house.  The kittens are 10mmonths old now; time for an update.

There were 5 kittens in the litter.  We were able to trap 4 of them and they were all adopted quickly.  My granddaughter adopted 1 while her mother adopted another.  The shelter told us the 2 gold/white tabbies were also adoped.  The 5th kitten managed to avoid being trapped.  Junior (ok, we named him).


Junior and Mom in September, 4 months old.

The cats continued to come around through the falll and into the winter.  We noticed that the father stopped coming around on a regular basis in November and has not been back since early December.DSCN0541

This picture was taken late in January.  The mother (on the left) is about as big as her 9 month old son.

The mother comes around most mornings, looking for a bite in the early morning and again in the evening, just after sunset.  She won’t hang around after eating; usually has a quick meal and is gone in 15 minutes.


After the father moved on, Junior used to spend time shadowing The Big Guy.  Meal time, nap time andplay time.

Junior, on the other hand, liked visiting and would spend the cold nights in the garage,  sleeping close to the hot water heater where the temperture says around 65 degrees.  We set up a box and blanket where he could snuggle under cloth and keep warm.

In the last few weeks Junior has stopped coming around.  Towards the end of January he stopped sleeping in the garage and hasn’t shown up for meals either.  The assumption is that he has moved on to a new neighborhood where he can find warmth and a meal.    Either that or he succumbed to the winter.  I’d like to think he has found a home where he has a quiet corner near the heater and a bolw of crunchies to snack on.


This is Kimchee, my granddaughter’s adopted kitty, around 6 months, having a conversation with her father through the screen door.

Hopefully we won’t see any new litters this year; the neighborhood females are all fixed and we haven’t seen any new ferals slinking around.

Meanwhile, The Big Guy continues to patrol the neighborhood, going out early  to visit the others on the Court and chase unwanted visitors away.