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11 january 2006 wednesday

Have I mentioned that we have some number of cats who regularly wander through/hang out in our yard? It's not completely clear whether they are sponsored ("owned") or independent ("feral") -- our neighbors have a history of cats but not necessarily of paying a whole lot of attention to them. Two batches of kittens (whom I have dubbed "A Group," population 4, and "B Group," population 5) have spent their childhoods in our back yard since I moved in -- we haven't done a lot of yard work up to now. There is a carport and attached greenhouse that stays relatively warm and has only been used for storage, and there is a jungle of bushes against our south fence which apparently makes for quite a cozy nest.

Our "regulars" are:

- Tuxedo Mom -- the mother of both the litters of kittens, a black-and-white.

- Tiger Dad -- seems to be the dominant tom of our territory, a gray tabby. Two As and one B have also been gray tabbies (and the two blacks from B had hints of tabby stripes).

- Tuxedo Kid -- of A Group. Looks like the mom, but I'm not sure whether girl or boy. I tend to think of her as a girl because of looking like the mom.

- Tiger Kid -- also A Group. Looks like the dad, etc. I'm not actually sure these days whether I'm seeing this one or Balthasar, below.

- Bala -- B Group. White with gray-tabby patches. One of the calmer/friendlier of the five B kittens.

- Balthasar -- B Group gray tabby, other calmest one, most often picked up by my brother during his interest in kitten-taming.

Less commonly seen:

- Old Man -- a cream-colored male with brown tips, who seems a little less nimble than the others. He's also fluffier, which leads me to believe his genetics may have been involved in at least one kitten from each batch of similar fluffiness.

- a fluffy grey with white feet, who might be the grey from Batch A or else is its father.

I'm still thinking about what to do when we discover the inevitable Batch C has arrived -- seems like too many feral cats around can't be healthy for them or the local birds, but I don't want to kill any cats either -- but it's been fun and games for everyone so far, until we actually do arrive at the point of yardwork. Which we now have. This brings us to the conflicting human and feline views regarding a patch of newly-turned earth. Human: "The place where I have either just planted some seeds, or plan to plant something soon." Cat: "Oooo, fresh litter box!"

We put up some wire fencing, homemade by and borrowed from my parents, around the garden, but a cat managed to get in anyway and dug a small hole in the middle of a mixed-lettuce row sometime Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Judging by the lack of other evidence, I suspect the ground was still too damp to make a satisfactory litterbox, so I just brushed the dirt back into the hole and perhaps the lettuce won't be TOO disrupted. This weekend we'll see about getting a better fence setup.

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contents of purple tricycle are copyright 2006 carrie lynn king unless otherwise noted. .