This morning on my way to the kitchen, I glanced out the window into the back yard, as I usually do. This time, my attention was caught by something black and white at the base of the fence next to the flower bed in the far corner. The colors were too sharp for it to be a stray plastic grocery bag. A piece of clothing? I live in a duplex and we share a single, fairly large back yard. The people in “A” have a 3-year-old boy who sometimes plays in the back yard, and the far pole of the clothesline was near where the anomalous object was located.
We have feral cats in the neighborhood, and that was my next thought. I have seen a brindled female, although not recently, and there’s a marmalade (ginger) tabby tom who prowls the neighborhood, but I’ve not seen a black and white one with these particular markings. The feral cats are very wary and skittish, and a sharp tap on the glass usually sends them packing. However, there did not seem to be any response to my tapping. I opened the door, and even went out on the porch, but the cat continued to lie there watching me. This suggested to me it was either not feral, or there was something the matter with it. This was concerning to me.
The street I live on is about two blocks away from a major north-south street and about two blocks away from where that street intersects with what in our town passes for a freeway — 6-lane divided with 3-4 lane access roads and over passes — that runs east-west at this point. The eastern end of my street intersects with the main street and the other end intersects with the westbound access road to the “freeway,” which itself is 3 lanes at that point, so my little bit of street is used as a “shortcut” to get from the main street to the westbound access road without having to fool with the traffic light, and cars are always vrooming up and down it. This means the feral cats in the neighborhood have a great deal of traffic to contend with. That was also on my mind as I considered the interloper.
The cat was lying against the base of the fence in an area that gets early morning sun. It was a fairly large cat, mature, and did not look like it had missed too many meals. I decided to adopt a wait and see attitude.
Just now (about an hour later), I checked again and the cat was still there. It was lying on its other side now. It just watched me as I walked along the back sidewalk toward it. I clapped my hands and it jumped to its feet and scrambled off in between the fences. It did not seem to be limping or anything. I have a nice big magnolia tree in my back yard, and Inca doves, mourning doves, sparrows, finches, robins and blue jays* come and go. More than once I’ve found evidence of bird kills. Such is life.