A rescue story of a different sort today: caring for cats outdoors who’ve come to visit the back patio and started families.
I know this photo is marginally clear because of the reflections on the glass, but there are four tabby cats here, cared for by a couple who live in a neighborhood backed by woods. While they’ve always kept a few cats in the house, both breed cats and rescues, they’ve also always fed cats in the outdoors.
This doesn’t surprise me—even though they’ve lived with at most three cats, they’ve had me do portraits of each of their cats knowing it helps me with my rescues, and they’ve also supported shelters and rescues with donations and benefit tickets. When I’ve visited them I’ve also visited their current outdoor cats, but until this little family came to stay they’ve always brought the strays indoors and rehomed them.
Nearly lost in the reflections at the bottom of the photo above are two tabbies, one who was feral, Julia, and gave birth to the two lovely pale gray tabbies lounging on the concrete, Liam and Ceili. She has calmed down enough to be comfortable around humans, probably with the help of Amy, the other tabby, who was a friendly stray and also had a few kittens. Amy showed up first with her kittens, then Julia began appearing, likely attracted by the food and the company of another cat in a quiet and protected place.
All cats were trapped and spayed or neutered as soon as possible with the help of the Homeless Cat Management Team in Pittsburgh—if you look closely at Liam and Ceili you can see on each that one of their ears has been tipped, the universal sign of a cat cared for through TNR. Homes were found for a few of the kittens but these live outdoors and regularly receive veterinary care, are given fresh food and water daily (note the blue water bowl with the “cord” that keeps it heated through the winter—they had a line installed just for that), and they even have toys. When the couple travel the pet sitter also feeds and waters the outdoor cats! In winter they are given shelter but they still head to another place to sleep. No shelter yet has enticed them to stay on the patio.
They are exclusively outdoors with the exception of Amy, who comes into the house every afternoon to pick at the food that Scruffy and Christie, the two lucky rescued indoor cats, eat, and to enjoy the indoors until she wants to go back outside. By the way the woman of the house talks about Amy I’m still a little surprised Amy goes back outdoors, but I think that’s Christie’s doing!
No other cats have shown up since this family took up residence on the patio, although a few neighbor cats permitted outdoors are known to visit the food bowls. There are deer and turkeys in the yard along with the usual possums, raccoons and groundhogs, and they feed birds at several stations year round as well, but all seem to get along with no injuries or predation. Over the years this couple has likely rescued a dozen cats on their back patio including these four, and prevented the births of countless others.
Many, many others quietly do this all over, in suburban neighborhoods, rural areas and in cities, and don’t think twice about helping a cat who’s shown up on their doorstep, paying for food and care out of their own pockets. You really can’t find a home for every cat you rescue, which is how I ended up with nine…or more. By whatever manner they ended up out there they came to you for help and turning your back on them is just not an option. Sounds like a rescue to me.
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