I originally published this six years ago. I remember this evening and had no idea it had been that long ago. From 1990, the year I moved in here, to today, I’ve been tracking cats in my neighborhood. I’m still at it. Though we still have too many cats outdoors there really aren’t that many for a densely populated neighborhood like this, and one with many rentals as well. Some of them are outdoor cats and I can’t do a thing about it. Others, however, were lost, stray, or feral. I’m glad I can help them. In 2015 and 2016 we did a few large groups of TNR cats and have been after stragglers since then. Right now there are a few more, but here is the report from September 2013.
Some people don’t even notice the glowing eyes as they drive along the darkened streets, but for anyone who’s spent time chasing cats who are potentially in a difficult situation they are a beacon as certain as a lighthouse along the shore.
The cat above is my neighbor’s cat Lucky, and he is at least, for once, lying on the sidewalk instead of the street. I worry about him all the time.
He was the last of a half dozen pairs of glowing eyes I saw skimming around in the dark last night. I know it’s the earlier darkness because it happens this time each year, seeing the two glowing eyes peering through a guard rail, down at me from a hillside next to a back road, or up from the slope that leads under the bridge to the creek. As I slow down to see more, if I can, I see stripes, or black spots on white, or a tuxedo cat, and the cat sees me, crouches further, darts back through the guardrail or runs up the slope, and I worry about the one who I know will try to cross the street at the intersection.
There are a number of cats I’ve been tracking for a while, ones I see frequently in my neighborhood whose “owners” I’ve found, others I have not and am considering trapping for their own safety. Some I’ve seen in areas I regularly walk or ride my bike as I take my errands around town when it’s easier to explore and see if I find that cat, or other cats, or kittens, as I sometimes have. And cats like those I saw last night, the one by the bridge, who I went back to look for last night, and again today, knowing that one had few options for safe travel from that spot. I know the area well, walking through there, and up and down the bank, to photograph birds and wildflowers and geese and ducks and reflections on the water in all seasons, knowing the allure of a place like this to an adventurous cat. No eyes glowing in my headlights or flashlight, no kitty under the bridge or around it; perhaps under cover of darkness when traffic was sparse and the streets quiet, he made his way to a safer spot, or back to his home.
And another who looked a little too round for your average cat, she of the decorative wrought iron guardrail that framed her petite, round figure. No place to stop, I could only drive past repeatedly and return in daylight to see what houses were near, though there were also railroad tracks and a tunnel, another haven for homeless animals. I hope she had a home. I hope she was just fat.
Lucky, the cat at the top, was picked up by a visitor to the neighborhood as he picked through trash last summer. She posted his photo and surrendered him to the shelter because he looked so thin and thought he must be stray or lost. I’m so glad I saw her photo and through neighbors contacted the person who “owned” him, though he and a few others always seemed to be outdoors. That person planned to go to reclaim him, then decided against it because she didn’t have time. After a lot of tense phone calls and messages, and mostly the help from friends who volunteer there, was able to get him to safety, and though he was found to be FIV+ he eventually found a great adoptive home. Sometimes that’s the best outcome.
The long-haired black kitty disappeared after a short while, and wasn’t seen by anyone around the neighborhood who feeds or tends cats. Possibly he had escaped and was found. It’s hard to let that go, especially when he visited here frequently for almost two weeks that summer.
Read more of my stories from decades of rescuing and fostering cats, with a few from other rescuers mixed in Rescue Stories.
Help me illustrate, anthologize and publish my poetry, rescue stories and essays.
I’d love to publish an anthology of my own rescue stories entitled, What Are the Chances? featuring this story, and others including the element of pure chance at finding a cat in need. This anthology and others are on my list of Patreon projects because it would take place over time, and support through Patreon would help to support me while I worked. You can read about it here or visit my Patreon page.
Art and Gifts Featuring Cats You Know!
Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book
Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned below.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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