What happens when a stray cat adopts a family and the family never feeds the cat? The cat has to live on something, right? We have no pet cats in our compound but a stray cat (who starting hanging around as a kitten) decided to make us humans his pets back in 2010.
We’ve always had cats living in our compound. They’re scavengers, almost feral in nature, that live on whatever they can find. They’re not pets and they haven’t been given names. They won’t leave on their own.
Stray cats also come in and go out from the compound. Each one will run as soon as it’s spotted, except for the one who made the compound his. I’m not sure where the stray cats actually call home, but I suspect it’s the vacant lot next door.
Two of the cats that used to hang around during the day were fish thieves. When relatives were cooking fish along with other odorous foods in a makeshift dirty kitchen, they would have to stay in that area. Each time the fish were left unattended, either a large yellow-colored tabby or a black and white whatever would steal one or more fish, right from the frying pan.
Those particular cats were missing parts of their tails. They happened to be the same cats I heard in cat fights almost every night and I assumed they were fighting with each other.
This cat was no different in appearance from all the rest. He was a tabby (I think) and his colors were dark gray and white. The dark gray was almost black, but not quite. I first noticed the cat when it was still a kitten, roaming around the compound and meowing every morning for something to eat.
Unlike the other stray cats at the time, this kitten never ran from anyone. No one fed it, but it often found scraps to eat from people eating outside their homes.
I found out where the cat was hanging out when he wasn’t roaming around the compound, harassing people. I saw him lying on a tarp or something on the roof over a brother-in-law’s house. That part of the roof was near a light and a food source: Insects that swarmed around the light.
I found out about his preferred place when I walked out on my balcony and he saw me. He jumped off the roof, to the hood of my car, down to the driveway (now a carport) and then considered jumping over the expanse between the driveway and my balcony. It was a little too far for him to cross by leaping from a standstill and I’m kind of glad because I didn’t want him getting into my bedroom.
When this cat wasn’t looking for something to eat, he was one of the most affectionate cats I had ever seen. When I or one of my relatives was sitting on one of the lawn chairs between our houses, he would jump on laps, purring and snuggling as he went.
Everyone put him down immediately because he was bound have a lot of fleas on him (although he appeared pretty clean). His claws would tear holes in t-shirts.
Of course cats will eat store-bought cat food. The food is formulated just for cats and mimics the flavors they really love, like liver and fish. The more expensive cat food actually has them as ingredients. Cats eat other things, naturally, and some things you probably wouldn’t approve of.
I write from experience because I’ve had many opportunities to see cat behavior over the years. Cats at my parents’ home, when I was young, would run up the side of the wall with the outdoor light on it, just to munch down on a few stray cicadas. I don’t know how cats catch them here, but I saw one munching on some.
Cats eat mice and that’s a given. Why else would so many cartoons use it as a plot device? I haven’t actually seen any mice being eaten but the affectionate cat was seen playing with a couple of dead ones.
Cats are more finicky than dogs. Dogs will eat almost anything they consider edible. Cats seem to prefer some forms of meat or fish and some kinds of insects. If they eat anything else, I’ve never noticed. One thing was odd, though, with the cat I mentioned. He would eat fish or chicken with rice if he found it that way. I never saw any other cat eating rice, even when starving for food.
By the way, that cat disappeared sometime in 2012 and no one in the compound even noticed until I said something.
Originally published in August of 2013. Updated for various reasons.
By: RT Cunningham
December 15, 2017
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