They say that mothers’ know the cry of their own baby distinctive from the cry of other babies, not being a mother I wouldn’t know if this is true or not. I do know that I can distinguish the cry of my cats from that of other cats at the vet’s office. I also can pick up the cry of a cat in the midst of other noise or events. My ears prick and my body goes on alert when I so much as think I hear the cry of a cat. It is my self appointed job to protect them after all. It is no surprise then that I was woken up at 4am by the faintest hints of growling in the backyard, even though my room is in the front of the house. I woke up from a very strange dream which started on an airplane that was flying just above the ground, from which I was watching lots of rain fall and cats running around in a pond. The dream then moved to me finding Scruffy, the big burly boy I caught last week, eating a chicken breast off my dinner plate when I put it down, so I picked up the chicken breast and fed part of it to him, then broke off more pieces to give to all the other cats who were around. I went outside (yes, Scruffy was eating off a plate of food I put down on the floor inside my house. Dreams have a logic all their own) and fed the rest of my ferals. My dad was also outside and found some disturbing looking men in our yard, he told them to get out. They started to leave but I didn’t trust them so I watched as they walked to the front of the yard, where they tried to take some keys for our fuse box. I yelled at them and tried to take the keys from them. Things got ugly and started to turn into a fight, which is when I woke and heard faint grumblings of a cat fight brewing outside.
Once I realized I really was hearing a cat fight and not just lost in that dream-like state that happens when you wake from odd dreams, I got out of bed and went outside to try breaking up the fight. Usually when I open the door the cats scatter and that is that. Not this time. This time I saw two black cats crouched low one ran away, the other quickly followed. A few short seconds later I heard them in a neighbors yard. Before that though, my Little Black came charging into the yard clearly terrified of getting dragged into a fight. Which meant that the Nasty Black Cat had to be beating up on my poor Scruffy. They went at it for what seemed like ages, screaming and howling. I ran back in the house to get my shoes, in hopes that if I could just spot them maybe I could disrupt enough to give Scruffy a chance to flee. It didn’t happen. There is only so much one can do in the alley peering into neighbors’ yards at 4am.
I heard a brief reprise of the fight around 5am. This time I just put my pillow over my head and tried to ignore it. I am worried though. It breaks my heart to think poor Scruffy is getting walloped on again. First I chase him away by trapping him and scaring the living daylights out of him. (He had been coming around for just under a week when I trapped him. Haven’t seen him since I released him.) Then this poor boy who you can tell by just looking at him has had a rough life, gets walloped on some more by a real punk of a cat. My overactive imagination and anxiety have teamed up to give me images of this poor guy laying injured or dead somewhere. I am sure I will never know what happened to him. Scruffy will be just another entry into the log of cats I trapped and never saw again. Cats who just disappeared, whose fate will never be known to me. It’s one of the downsides of being so loving and caring for the feral cats everyone else views as nuisances. This fight brings back memories of Fluffy Butt and Tuxie, both of whom I last saw being chased, getting into awful fights with another cat. It brings back memories of my poor Poosh, whom I also failed when I moved his family downstate and couldn’t catch him. I will never forgetting his heart rending calls the night I came home from moving his family.
I guess that’s just the downside of being a feral colony “mom” or being a care giver in general. You love them, you do the best you can to protect them and give them what they need to survive, but in the end they go out on their own to meet their fate. You can’t control the world. You can’t control what happens to those you love, especially when they are wild animals.