June 29, 2019

Scottie and Judy
Siamese Cats at Home, 5/29/19 (watercolor and Prismacolor colored pencils on cold press illustration board)

Do you have a neighborhood cat?

When considering this question it may have crossed your mind that these particular Siamese beauties would probably not be what you would call neighborhood cats because chances are you wouldn’t see such cats just walking around your neighborhood. They are indoor cats and do not go outside unless it’s in a special carrier on the way to and/or from the vet. I would consider a neighborhood cat a very independent feline who roams away from home, and in and out of various neighboring yards with actually surprising regularity. These two kitties are actually house mates of the Siamese cat I posted on June 1st, and their collective neighborhood includes all the various rooms in the house they share with their humans. For my friend’s birthday this year (5/29/2019) I did two paintings of his three cats. The reason for one cat lounging by himself and the others as a pair has no particular meaning and is based solely on photos I was given. As of today, my friend has not seen either piece of art. (I did not tell him that I had already posted the first Siamese.) I hope to have an unveiling of both either later today or tomorrow. In any event, happy birthday again my friend! Because by now you have seen the originals and are reading this post.

There are a couple neighborhood cats that slink through my yard—looking at the birds at the bird feeders. In fact, one of them knocked over the birdbath the other morning—getting a little too close to the birds. I’m not sure which of the three did it, but I have my suspicions. Two of the three are pretty skittish and when they hear me open the door they run away. But the third neighborhood cat is more friendly. According to his tag his name is Rusty. He’s a pretty good-sized white and a rust colored male—hence the name I’m sure. Most times when he sees me, and I can get his attention, he will stop and let me pet him. (Notice how I say, he “lets” me pet him. And yes, he is one of those very self-possessed felines that is just too charming to be ignored.) He has a few marks on his face and ears that suggest he has been in a few “kitty scrapes” over the years. But if he is in the mood we can have a conversation for a minute or two. I guess the verbal part of such communicative events is all from me, but I think he understands when I tell him to leave the wild birds in my yard alone. Of course this one sided conversation is pretty funny when he spies a hummingbird and every muscle in his body tenses to attention. He just doesn’t seem to hear me at all then. I have told him that I don’t really mind if he sprays my yard, and of course I really do mind. But I have assured him that he can mark his territory at will if he just stops hunting the birds in my yard, also staying clear of my birdbath. I suspect either he, or one of the other neighborhood cats, have caught a slow moving dove on occasion, as I have seen so many feathers under the feeder now and again. Lately I have seen Rusty patiently watching a tall patch of flowers in my backyard. I suspect there are some lizards in there that he feels compelled to hunt. When we have our little talks I guess I will now have to warn him to leave the lizards alone as well. We’ll see how that goes.

I hope it’s clear that I really do enjoy having him around because I do enjoy our brief chats. But I think what I like about seeing him around is that he is around, and I know nothing bad has happened to him. When I was a kid, in San Jose, we had a dog, Shadow, who waited daily for a neighborhood cat to appear on the fence by a side gate. That cat jumped into our backyard at the same time every morning, according to my mother. Mom said the cat and Shadow loved to play together. One day she said the cat did not arrive for her playdate. She said that Shadow waited for her friend and whined quite a long time when the kitty did not appear. Later, mom said that she had heard that the cat had been hit by a car. Poor Shadow had lost her friend.

There are definite perils for a neighborhood cat—cars speeding on neighborhood streets are just one of many. I have also alluded to some of the perils Rusty has faced when describing the scars he has on his ears and head from fights with other neighborhood cats. But I still I look forward to seeing him, even if he ignores me as he saunters under my gate or jumps off my front porch on his way to the next door neighbor’s yard. (Oh yes, Rusty gets around.) So, then the question about noticing a neighborhood cat changes. “Is it really safe for a neighborhood to roam outside, or should our feline friends be kept inside exclusively?” I know my birthday friend with the three Siamese says with great certainty that they should always be kept inside. Now, I wouldn’t normally get on my “catbox soapbox” and take sides on this one, but for this post I am taking sides in favor of keeping cats indoors. So, just be warned that the rest of this post will be directed to why I believe that to be the best course of action .

From the Humane Society:

Cats face many dangers outside. And if you let your cat roam around they are exposed to careless drivers in speeding cars, diseases, dogs, poisons, cruel people and coyotes. Some people think it is unnecessarily cruel to keep your cat indoors. The truth is cats who are protected by living indoors will be happier and live longer than those allowed to roam around. And neighborhood wildlife (like my lizards and wild birds) will stay safer and live longer as well. (The Human Society has further guidelines to help you with keeping your cat inside.)

Watch out for CA coyotes! They are everywhere!

I have to say that I always thought it was up to the cat owner to decide to keep their pet cat inside all of the time or not. But as of Tuesday morning, June 25, I decided that your beloved pet cat should be kept inside and you should also keep a close eye on even your pet dog in your own backyard. So, what happened? On that morning I went out my front door around 10. I was looking to see if the mail had been delivered. On the grass next to fire hydrant and the street was someone’s pet dog (with a collar) that had been killed by coyotes. I ran back into my house to get the phone to call animal protection, when I saw their truck come around the corner and stop in front of my house. I then noticed a woman across the street, and she was waving to me. She said that she had already called them. So, yeah, keep your eye on your pets. I don’t know where you live, but I’ve seen coyotes in all kinds of neighborhoods in California—urban as well as country. And I’ve seen them at sunset as well as at noontime. The animal control guy said again that they were everywhere, but were most active in the early morning. Sorry about ending this post on such a downer, but I don’t think I can unsee what I saw on my lawn that morning. I will continue be on the lookout for Rusty, and I will continue to hope that Rusty and my other neighborhood cat friends are safe and live a long and happy life.

Happy Birthday to my baby brother (6/29/2019)


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