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My secret shame

Yes, that’s a gnarly feral tomcat. And yes, that’s a blankie. And a hot water bottle.

It’s Christmas, dammit!

We call him Asbo. He’s been hanging since Summer. Maybe before. Nipping in the kitchen door when we leave it open. Stealing food. High-tailing it out again if he hears us coming.

Probably peeing on stuff; he’s an intact male.

He’s not completely feral. He won’t let us closer than a few yards, but he seems to like being near us. In warm weather, he’d doze nearby in the grass while we were in the garden. He likes the sound of our voices. He’ll walk up to the window if we speak to him, and sit looking up at us for as long as we do.

At first, he stalked the chickens with apparently evil intent, but somehow he got the idea that would be Trouble. Now, he often lazes on top of the henhouse, alternately snoozing and watching them peck around in the grass.

All growed up, the chickens bully him now. If we feed him near them, they will run him off and steal his Friskies.

Yep. When the cold weather came, I started feeding him. He comes to the back door and calls loudly for his supper. Yowly boy. Like he has some Siamese in him.

I feed him under an old enamel table. He feels safe under there and will come up quite close for his plate. A few times, I’ve reached out and stroked his head, but he doesn’t like that at all. He gives me this horrified look like, “hey lady! You touched my head. With your hand.” Not a stray pet, then.

We worried about him when the snows came. I didn’t have much hope he’d accept shelter, but while he ate, I put down near him an old cat carrier with a blanket in it. He finished his supper and walked straight in.

I suspect he has a real home. He disappears days on end, but he’s getting downright fat now. All things taken into consideration, I believe he’s probably an untame barn cat from the horse farm next door.

A serious working farm animal that we have utterly ruined by keeping him fed.

Heh heh.


Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 20, 2010, 10:51 pm

So now you’re making nicey-nice with a fat cat?


Comment from DJMoore
Time: December 20, 2010, 11:23 pm

My current owner was also feral when she moved in. (Was moved in, actually; she and her brother were brought in by Mom-cat, who made sure her young adolescent kittens were being well-fed, and then disappeared again.)

The only place I’m allowed to touch her, most of the time, is the rub spots on the sides of her face, the places she uses herself to rub chairlegs, fenceposts, and the like, and leave her scent marks. Mostly I can only use one, maybe two fingers.

She doesn’t like the top of her head touched either, I think because it’s too close to the mom-handle on the back of her neck. (Which also works as the tom-handle during mating, of course.)

Once she’s settled into my lap, and very relaxed, she sometimes lets me pet her back. And she does the usual head dives and back rolls which seem to invite a tummy rub, but I’m not allowed to actually do that except for a few strokes in greeting, than I have to go back to face-rubs.

She has a terrible voice, too. I think they need to be well-socialized around humans from early kittenhood to have good voices.

Comment from Allen
Time: December 20, 2010, 11:46 pm

I certainly enjoyed the list of ASBOs. I could understand most of them, but the wearing of one golf glove as an ASBO completely escapes me. Then again to some I suppose golfing might be considered anti-social behavior. Fore!

Busking I thought was pretty funny.
“What are you in for?”
“Making balloon animals in public.”

However, mimeing in public is always criminal.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: December 21, 2010, 12:00 am

My princess was dumped as small kitty up the road from my house out in the country. Not wild at all, in fact, despite the fact that the bastard who dumped her also abused her and broke most of her ribs and one back leg, she crawled right up to me purring. She’s a great lap kitty, purrs loudly. LOVES to be petted.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 21, 2010, 12:42 am

Charlotte was feral. I found her starving in my garage; she was about three months old and damn near dead. It took me about a year to make friends. She skulked around the house like a shadow.

She’s a lovely sweet girl now, but she’s terrified of strangers. Particularly children; they make her crazy scared.

I think she probably had a family, scratched a child and got booted. She’s not quite eccentric enough to be a feral that only had a home at three months.

She loathes Asbo, naturally.

Comment from Monotone The Elderish
Time: December 21, 2010, 12:47 am

were pretty fond of those things around here. Although i always make mine learn a trade. like fetching. so far its nothing more than a milk ring, but soon i hope to move up to a sixpack. Dreams…

Comment from The Dread Pirate Neck Beard
Time: December 21, 2010, 1:58 am

Our boy was 5 or 6 weeks old and starving. Came running in after a storm. He absolutely adores humans, strangers or not, & is the snuggliest turd on the whole planet.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: December 21, 2010, 2:27 am

My sister gave me a Siamese kitten she found in a dumpster. Tristan grew to be a 27 pound tomcat, with claws like cashews. He was the most laid back animal I have ever known. All he asked was a warm place to lie in the sun, and 12 square meals a day. Purred so loud, many people thought he was diesel powered.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 21, 2010, 2:59 am

Hmm… an awful lot of Cat People around these parts.

I hope Bast is pleased. I am hoping for Her intercession in the afterlife. I might well be doomed otherwise.

Comment from J Foster
Time: December 21, 2010, 3:06 am

Penelope, like Charlotte, was tiny and feral and living out of a dumpster behind our place of work; she bit a coworker and Animal Control was going to take her away until I intervened. She is scared silly of anyone and everyone besides the missus and me. Sometimes she’s scared of us, too, and is clearly still somewhat feral. She loves my mother, though. Tiberius showed up on our doorstep one day when I had called in sick. He was tiny then and looked as though he’d seen some abuse. He’s huge now and looks a lot like Asbo. He will often climb to the highest point he can find in the house and honk like a goose. At night he sleeps on my feet. Lilly, Ripley, and Travis were all the offspring of barn cats who were being threatened with drowning by the miserable old son of a whore who found them. They’re the friendliest cats you’ll ever meet and run a pretty much continuous slapstick routine that I never tire of watching. Lilly has an unhealthy obsession with earlobes, Travis will stare you down and eat your watermelon (or pretty much whatever else you happen to be eating), and Ripley will climb you like a tree and sleep on your shoulders while you walk around and attempt to do housework. Wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: December 21, 2010, 3:17 am

Weasels: Sardonic on the outside, marshmallow on the inside.

Comment from Nina
Time: December 21, 2010, 3:21 am

Yep, all my cats (and my sister’s and my daughter’s, 13 in all) were feral or rescue kitties, and while 3 are affectionate, the one is more aloof. She’s also fat, ability explains to me why she hangs around.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: December 21, 2010, 5:08 am

I dunno if you’re staying up, or getting up early, for the eclipse, but my God the Moon is gaudy tonight.

My equivalent of Asbo I call “Pistol”. I can’t pick him up to weigh him, but I’d guess somewhere around 25 pounds. He’s a silvery gray, you know the dark metallic gray you can get on a Mercedes 500? Exactly that, including gleaming in the light. His sister Angel is a pastel calico. Angel can be petted. Pistol could, when he was young, but won’t tolerate it any more. Pity. He’d be gorgeous if he could be brushed.

It’s OK to feed barn toms. They make the females and smaller toms hunt for them anyway, so you aren’t losing any rat-catching.


Comment from Elphaba
Time: December 21, 2010, 5:21 am

We’re cat magnets as well. Gods…it has reached epic proportions. 5 indoor cats (how’d ya like to clean our catbox?) and one lovely stray tom who lives outside because we’re at capacity. People keep dumping them off and we do our best to find homes for them. There ought to be a special hell for people who abuse and/or abandon animals.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: December 21, 2010, 6:54 am

Only one. A very black tom who was an injured stray, oh, 14 years ago?

Comment from JuliaM
Time: December 21, 2010, 11:38 am

“He disappears days on end..”

If he’s an entire tom, I bet I know why…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 21, 2010, 12:08 pm

I ran across a really interesting web site once. A woman — I think she was an Aussie or a Brit — who did cat rescue and had lots of good anecdotes. She said former ferals, if you manage to make friends with them, will always be eccentrics.

My later experience at the cat shelter confirms. Feral kittens are just different.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 21, 2010, 12:14 pm

Ah. I think this is the site.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 21, 2010, 12:26 pm

Oh, I set an alarm for the lunar eclipse. Where we are, it was supposed to be visible at moon-set, which was 8:11 this morning. When the alarm went off, it was totally overcast.

So I went back to sleep.

Comment from steve
Time: December 21, 2010, 1:10 pm

A home made kitty waterbed?

How nice!

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 21, 2010, 1:36 pm

Hey Stoatie! I sees youse guys are turning French over this weather, according to Drudge:
Sales of white flags must be brisk. That’ll put the economy on the mend!
He also links the MailOnline article about the 1.2 mile queue for Eurostar. Y’all really WILL queue for ANYTHING, won’t you?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 21, 2010, 1:44 pm

Ugh. Don’t, Mark. It’s been an absolute humiliation.

Best guess is, the dumbsticks in government believed their own global warming bullshit and didn’t adequately prepare for Winter. This is the second or third rough Winter in a row…you’d think they’d learn.

We just heard a steam train whistle (THOSE will run in snow, thank you very much). They run a Christmas special down from London, with old-fashioned Pullman cars and fancy meals and everything.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 21, 2010, 1:46 pm

See, them ol’ steamers REALLY ARE good fer sumthin’ besides drawin’ the touristas!

By the way, I hope your moggie don’t end up like this one:
Talk about embarassment!

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 21, 2010, 2:27 pm

By the way, in light of my highlighting Gov. Christie’s anti-gun position the other day, I should at least point out this:
in his favor. Although he STILL is unconstitutionally inclined, at least as far as the 2nd Amendment goes.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: December 21, 2010, 2:31 pm

“Best guess is, the dumbsticks in government believed their own global warming bullshit and didn’t adequately prepare for Winter. This is the second or third rough Winter in a row…you’d think they’d learn.”

Believe it or not, just before the last lot of snowfall (two weeks ago) all the councils were proudly proclaiming how well prepared they were, my own had a publicity shot of their workers on a mountain of grit and salt.

Didn’t matter – it clearly didn’t get to where it was needed! And I’m not sure they even bothered to turn out this time.

Comment from Carl
Time: December 21, 2010, 2:39 pm

Allen said “… the wearing of one golf glove as an ASBO completely escapes me”

I thought that was odd, but apparently it relates to just one case. The young thug on whom the ASBO was imposed was a member of a gang of youths who were harassing the residents of a neighborhood in Manchester. The wearing of one golf glove was part of the dress code of the gang.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: December 21, 2010, 2:50 pm

“…the dumbsticks in government believed their own global warming bullshit…”

Yes, that appears to be what happened:


The guy running the Met’s a True Believer, it seems. Let’s see if he can keep it up.


Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 21, 2010, 3:10 pm

Well, at least SOME in the Empire get it:

Comment from Deborah
Time: December 21, 2010, 3:27 pm

No eclipse viewing here either—cloud cover—and it was 58 dang degrees overnight, too.

Me thinks Asbo is one lucky cat. The hot water bottle sealed the deal 🙂 Word of your kindness has now spread throughout the catdome.

Comment from Monotone The Elderish
Time: December 21, 2010, 4:45 pm

yup, same, 3:15 am cloud cover. Ah well….

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: December 21, 2010, 6:44 pm

We watched the eclipse [here in Colorado] until totality, then checked again in a couple of hours and noted the beginning of the end of it. Very light haze at high altitude, but quite visible. And cold. About 75 miles to the west of us, they were totally socked in. Something about 6 feet of snow coming down in the high country. Skiers will be happy. Roads will be in bad shape up there [but usually kept plowed enough to make them passable] until about 12 hours after the snow stops, by which time they will all have been pretty much cleared. I grant that our state government takes snow seriously as something that happens every winter; but somehow with a lot smaller population than European countries, and a lot less cost to the economy than Europeans endure every time they get an inch of snow, we manage pretty well.

Part of it is the responsibility of the average citizen. From September on, every year, pretty much everyone has at least all-season tires on their cars, if not snow treads. Sometimes, studded snow treads. Keeps things moving. From what I hear, Europeans don’t switch out from dry-road tires.

And we jump in and help.

A few years ago, one of the Officers on my crew was off duty and coming to town one night from his house in the real back country [bears on the front porch country] with his wife in their jeep; when they came across a busload of students on a church school trip from Texas off the side of the road in the snow. The driver had had a heart attack and crashed the bus. Wife was a nurse and started rendering first aid. My crew member organized a rescue. Between the ambulances and police units coming up from town, and mostly civilians volunteering in 4WD vehicles we got everyone down to town in a couple of hours, the injured to the hospital, and the kids fed [food brought by local restaurants for free] and bedded down comfortably in the high school. If I remember correctly, the hospital saved the driver.

We just help each other here. People just heard that there were people stranded, jumped in their 4WD’s, and went to help. No government compulsion. When I spoke of “organizing” the rescue, it did not mean that he issued detailed orders from a HQ. He “just” got the word out to the dispatcher so they could start things moving, directed traffic, did triage, and helped get the volunteers sorted out and moving in the right direction as they arrived. I admit that I may have missed it in the news, but it seems that over there it is every person for themselves; and everybody is waiting for an overwhelmed [and less than competent on a good day] government bureaucrat to save them. Am I wrong?

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from Oldcat
Time: December 21, 2010, 10:04 pm

A cat that isn’t eccentric is so odd you would have to call him eccentric.

I rescued a Himmy Persian last spring and she has all kinds of rules. If I lay down she comes close. If I sit down she finds a spot just out of reach to sleep. If I’m standing she darts out of reach. Outside in the back yard if I come outside she runs inside past me as fast as she can. If I sit down out there she sits at my feet. In the front yard, she lets me tag along after her while she explores.

I’m sure there are more rules I haven’t found out yet.

Comment from Frit
Time: December 22, 2010, 12:59 am

My first cat, Sally, adopted me when she was a kitten and I was a wee bratling. She was a loving, cuddling, playful owner and trained me up to be a proper feline attendant.

My second cat, who was nick named “Bitch Kitty”, was a possessive feline, she owned me and refused to bother with any other attendants. I guess she realized I’d already been well trained, and didn’t want to bother training newbies herself. She wouldn’t let anyone else near her, and would cuss them out if they came close. Me? She’d curl up in my lap, sleep with me, always had to be in the same room with me, and allowed me to pet her and pick her up for cuddles.

My third cat was a feral male who apparently liked me on sight. I lived in a one acre plot in the middle of a suburb, had horses, and a roomie who also had a barn cat. I was outside checking in the critters on 4 July, when the neighbors were already setting off fireworks, when this gray tailless cat scampered by, scared as can be of the noise. I called out “Smokey, c’mere Smokey.” and crouched down, holding still with a hand stretched out. He paused and looked at me with big gold eyes, apparently decided I was ok, and came to let me pet him. I told him if he got along with the other barn cat, he could stay. The other barn cat showed up as if on cue, and Smokey promptly went to him and rubbed himself under the barn cat’s chin, purring. The barn cat decided it was ok, and Smokey stayed. He trusted me completely, but with others he was quite skittish.

At the moment I am cat-less, as the three mentioned above died after long and happy lives before I moved to Oz. (After Smokey died, I already knew I was moving to Oz so I put out ‘Don’t adopt me’ vibes until I moved.) Probably gonna be adopted after the new year, when the Dragon and I are recovered from all the Fun-N-Games™ of me moving to Oz, us getting married, and holiday entertainment.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 22, 2010, 1:09 am

Yeah, I hung out that sign, Frit. Fat lot of good it did me. I picked up two cats during the process of moving over. And, believe me, England is about the least congenial place to move a cat.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: December 22, 2010, 2:53 am

I really wanted a kitten many years ago. I love kittens. So, all of my cats have been adult rescues, some of them on their 2nd or third home. They aren’t real friendly, but they tolerate me. Oh well, I just pet kittens…..that won’t come home with me.

Comment from Mazzuchelli
Time: December 22, 2010, 7:17 pm

Hats off to you. You are doing the Lord’s work. My husband never met a cat he didn’t like. Soooo, yes, we have seven plus two dogs. All of ours are strays, most who wander up from the surrounding farms one brought back after frenzied activity on a Sunday following a Bristol race. These jackwagons keep cats to protect their feed but don’t feed the cats. The best mouser is a well-fed cat. We live in a neighborhood of small acreages. Many of our neighbors have asked to rent some of our cats since we have no rabbits and few voles on our property. Of course abandoned vole carcasses and the odd rabbit head on the deck are typical hazards but well worth it.

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