The Yard – Got the Jimmy Legs

The Yard

Two can be as bad as one

Tableau, originally uploaded by Jimmy Legs.

the last 3 posts have been non-cat-related, I figure I'm due for some catblogging! We are down to a total of 7 cats within the household, down from a grand total of 12. And 4 of them are residents anyway, so we really only have 3 more cats to adopt out!

Chester went home last night, he was a total angel pretty much the whole time. He's moving in with another Russian Blue, maybe it'll be like the Ugly Duckling in reverse, he'll be all like "What's this? There are other cats as beautiful as am I? Heavens to betsy!"

As for the remaining kittens, we have leads for both Tumbleweed and Baby Bones (the latter of whom is currently getting neutered). Baby Bones has been here so long he finally hit puberty and has been running around humping all the other cats, which they disturbingly don't seem to mind (even the boys). If this all goes through, it will leave Monkey, who is probably just fine with that.

Monkey is the only female of this batch, and has never really gotten over her skittishness. She lets us pet her and doesn't even freak out when we pick her up, but she hasn't yet 'asked' to be petted; she can take us or leave us. things are complicated by the fact that we have her mom (Flossie) in as well. She can sort of depend on her for all her mothering needs, reducing us to food-bringers and string-shakers.

But if Baby Bones can find a home, there's hope for us all! He's still got issues too, but he's finally come to the conclusion that people might be okay. He's running a full month behind his brothers on that tip, but who's keeping track? I am, that's who.

Of course, all this cat stuff ignores the other side of the fence, the outdoor cats (which, if you add all indoor and outdoors cats currently under our tutelage it's more like … 12). Since I put out my upgraded cat shelters, they have been occupied not by the cats I built them for, but two cats new to the patio. One is Grumpus, who looks mean but actually seems very nice. The other box contains a young gray and white cat of indeterminate sex. I have another cat condo on the way, I'm hoping regular visitor Baxter will take advantage, or (God Forbid!) Freddie, the Outdoor Cat We Kidnapped From Clinton Hill.

I don't know where she spend her nights but she comes for food every day and is way more affectionate now than she was as an indoor cat. I had hoped she would use the cat-house but apparently she's too good for that. We still theorize she breaks into the abandoned church rectory behind our house, which I must admit beats the hell out of a storage tub lined with Styrofoam.

Even if you don't please

I forgot to take pictures of the kittens again, but I'll try to take some tonight. It's pretty fascinating to watch the progress. They are now a month old and are behaving more and more like cats and less like larvae.

Elsewhere in the cataverse, I thought another rundown of the main locals is in order. Many of the cats who hung around a while ago have not been seen in a while, while new cats have appeared to take their places.

Marbles. This is the cat that I thought was male at first, but she proved me wrong by getting pregnant. She hasn't given birth yet, we have tried to get her inside but she doesn't like to stay long after she eats. Then again, she will lie for hours next to our garbage cans, which apparently she prefers to our comfy chairs.

Gladys. This little female started showing up about the time we realized Marbles was pregnant, I had hoped to ensnare her and have her fixed. Then I realized she already gave birth and was currently nursing a litter. No telling how old they are or where they are being raised.

Jojo. This young male showed up the other day, barged into the house, flopped down on the floor and hasn't left. He will not take no for an answer and I'm a sucker for a gray tabby. Since we seem to have no choice in the matter it looks like we're keeping him. I wanna take him into the shop to make sure he's not harboring some horrible disease. He still spends nights outside until we can confirm his health and his ability to play nice with others.

Siamese Cat. This guy is a prizewinner. I don't think he's purebred because he's sort of muscular and stocky for a Siamese. But he's one good-lookin' cat. If anybody wants a Siamese, I'm working on taming him and will try to get him fixed. How does such a cat become a stray? Even if he's a mix, these cats don't usually come cheap. We came up with a host of theories, usually involving an elderly dowager who owned the cat, then died, leaving him homeless. That's probably not what happened, but at least it allows me to look at him and not necessarily think somebody tossed him on the street on purpose.

Chauncey. You may remember this guy, we haven't seen him for a long time. He was part of the whole crew of cats who used to come by and try to steal our cats' food. His sudden reappearance gives me hope that some of the other cats we haven't seen lately are still out there and okay. We're nearly positive he had an owner now, since he's been MIA for months and then shows up looking totally healthy. Unfortunately, the intervening months have shifted his personality from goofball older kitten to randy young adult. He got into the house and got into a fight with Lucy which I feel only happened because she's the only unaltered female around. It's too bad, he was a fun cat. This makes me want to take him in and have him fixed, even though he's not a stray. Imagine his owner's surprise when he comes home sans balls! Anyway it's an interesting ethical question.

And finally, the New Cat. Actually, there are at least two of them, as a pair showed up the other night. I think they're washing their paws in the water dish I leave out. They are enormous, by the way. What bizarre animals.

Also sighted lately include George, the tuxedo cat (newly-thin after giving birth, we assume), the flea collar cat, the second Russian Blue (who showed up the same day as Chauncey, they may both be owned by the same person).

Sadly, no one has seen Mugsy in a long time.

In the diet of denial

Quite contrary

Ferdinand the Bull, originally uploaded by Jimmy Legs.

As promised, less kittens and more big fat white cats in the back yard! We hit up Home Depot yesterday for the first of what will probably be several trips there to populate the yard with plants. they had a surprisingly good selection, both for the garden and the window boxes I bought months ago but have yet to fill and mount. And yes, the window boxes are the lame plastic kind, but that's all they had at the XXtra discount store. In fact, HD was running low on decent planters too, I saw only one window box worth anything, and it was too small. To remedy this, we tried to get plants that would spill over the edge of the box to minimize our gauchity.

For the boxes we got annuals (including some 'double impatiens' which I just think are swell), but everything for the yard is perennial, so that we may enjoy the greenery for years to come. Or until we win the lottery. We're sort of reaching at straws, picking out stuff we like with little plan as to where stuff will get planted. But I guess it can go anywhere for now, it's not like we're gonna run out of room with the few plants we have so far.

At some point I'll have to remove most of the mint plants that sprouted up everywhere. I hate to tear up a perfectly serviceable plant that is doing a helluva job covering the side of the yard, but then, it's not like it won't just come right back.

I still want to get some big planters and plant some tall skinny trees so that I may move them around the patio at will, but HD had only superlame planters left. What's up with the state of outdoor furnishings? It's like people want their yards to look like the Enchanted Fairy Forest of Faux-Bronze Pots with Little Fleur-de-Lis all over the place. To the customers' credit, it seemed all the plainly designed planters and whatnot had all been sold, leaving the fugly stuff behind. But somebody must be buying this crap. I'll take my plastic boxes over the ostentatious stuff any day!

I've got the rest of the week off! If only I could enjoy it, but the specter of the workload when I return will ruin my ability to savor my freedom. Unless, perhaps, I get really drunk.

And that's something i don't wanna catch

Things seem to be going along okay with Lucy the Pregnant cat so far. I can't tell how far along she is but you can feel the kittens moving around inside, so maybe they're getting antsy to get out?

Cat Meeting

We're trying to decide how involved we want to get with the local cat population, but we found out that there is a mobile spay unit that will actually come out and fix a population of neighborhood cats (provided you have at least 10), which would nicely curtail feline reproduction on our block. But to get to this point we'd have to get the cats to warm up to us more to have a chance of getting them into the Spay-O-Matic. But of course, doing this means feeding all of these cats (instead of just some of them), pretty much for the rest of their lives unless they can be adopted out (which in the case of cats like Mugsy, is pretty unlikely). But maybe it's not that big a deal; indeed, some might argue I've been heading towards this kind of thing for years, why fight it?

All of this stuff is certainly easier to deal with now that it's summer. Winter is the real test, so at least I have some time to decide. Though I sure would like to get these animals fixed ASAP, to avoid the bittersweet heartbreak of More Kittens. Which reminds me, if anybody wants a kitten, head over to north Bushwick and check out Jen's brood. She's got a couple of gray tabbies left to dole out. If however you prefer a calico, just give us a couple weeks and Lucy will produce something to your specifications. If you can't use any new cats, please spread the word to your less web-savvy pals!

Oh, and last night a raccoon showed up in the yard. Think we should adopt it too? And for the record, Mr Bones was suddenly not so tough when this bad boy strolled by.

In the diet of denial

The back yard has been cleared of offending trees and related debris, but is now lying fallow as I waffle over what I should be planting. My parents suggested I grow "potato vine" over all the chain link fencing, it's what they use in northern California and it seems to grow quickly and cover stuff well. But first of all, I am not at all sure if it's commonly known as 'potato vine' or if that's their cutesy colloquialism for it. I looked it up but there seem to be several plants that sort of sound like it. And secondly, I have no idea if something that grows well in California would stand a chance in the schizophrenic weather patterns of New York. Also I hear they are poisonous, a detriment in a household with cats that chew on stuff they find out back.

I' m also planning window boxes for the front parlor floor, but again I'm at a loss as to what flowers to plant. I'd like to do something more impressive than impatiens this time around, but the more I look into things, the more I understand why I always just used them in the past. They require almost no thought, they continually flower all summer long, and they're not half-bad looking. Maybe that's all I want out of a flowering annual. Anyway, I'll be hitting up all the local nurseries to get some m ore ideas, but if anyone knows of a vine that will cover a fence-type thing in no time, lemme know.

Also in back yard news, the cat parade has more or less stabilized to a set of players that I am attempting to document. So far I count some 8 cats who have been patronizing our home of late, and this isn't even counting Lucy the Pregnant Kitten. I will eventually have photos of all of them, plus short psychological work-ups:

Russian Blue: This is the good-lookin' feller who comes by every so often to strut his stuff. He never wants food, and is apparently not interested in any of our female cats. He is, however, smitten with Hubcap, which is just plain weird.

Mugsy: The scroungy orange tiger who likes to sleep on the ratty blanket in the church yard. He may not win any beauty contests but he seems to have a sweet disposition. Also known as "Fugsly."

Marbles: This is the cat I called Decatur's Boyfriend previously, but she too has turned out to be female. She hasn't been in the back yard but she has been hanging outside the front window. She doesn't appear to be pregnant … yet.

Russian Blue II: Mysterious cat only seen once in the past week, it may not be a blue, further reports pending. UPDATE: He came back last night and was singing for a while.

Georges: A longhair gray with some white accents (he may be a Nebelung, but he might also just be a longhaired gray cat), he likes to caterwaul to the ladies in the middle of the night. He also approached Mr Bones the other day, singing his heart out, so there may be a problem with his eyesight. You can kind of see him in the below photo.

Tuxedo: Newly noted, this black and white cat was assumed to be male (since most of the others are), but we just realized it's a girl, which partially explains her timidity. Note Georges sitting on the fence behind her.

Flea-Collar Tiger I: The first one we spotted is male and pretty assertive. He looks like a cross between Hubcap and Decatur and made for many frustrating moments when Decatur was lost.

Flea-Collar Tiger II: This one may be female and has more of a leopard-spot coat. I don't know who is putting these flea collars on the neighborhood's street cats but I think it makes people think they are being cared for, which is only true in the sense that there are many garbage bags for them to root through.

And of course, the kitten who we've been calling "Lucy," (pictured at left) she's coming along well, but she just cannot grasp the concept of a litterbox, insisting on going back to the vacant lot at night. Maybe I should fill a litterbox with dirt, gravel and discarded tires. We're not sure how old she is but she must still be pretty young, she doesn't look full-grown yet. Who wants a slightly used kitten?? She will be delivered somewhat thinner than she appears here.

UPDATE: Here's a shot of the back yard yesterday, where at least seven (7) cats are in evidence.

You can't really see Georges or the Russian Blue cat (who is actually outside the fence), but I assure you, they (and possibly others) are indeed out there.