We could learn a thing or two from feral cats

It seems that a lot of news articles and blog posts start out with the phrase, “In these times of violence, racism, and bigotry”, and it got me thinking: Was there ever a time in history that our species was not being violent, racist, and showing bigotry to one group of people or another? As far back as I can remember that has been the case with mankind. I learned this at a very early age from the white man’s version of American history, when I was young and being spoon-fed the school’s required curriculum.

As the saying goes; whoever wins the battle gets to write the story.  And the story was filled with watered-down and glossed over versions of how this country really came to be, and the people who were enslaved, run off their lands, or murdered because they were inconvenient and in the way.

Three years ago we bought a house in a neighborhood that came with a colony of feral cats. Being good stewards of our land and wanting to do the right thing, we have since captured six of those cats, had them sterilized and brought them back.

Since this is their home too, and they were here first, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

At this time, only two of them are still hanging around. Not sure what happened to the other four, but when you’re a feral cat, just getting through each day alive is an accomplishment. Raccoons, badgers, and a local Red Fox also share the land, claiming their place in the cycle of life.

Our neighbors are also doing their part to keep the population down and I haven’t seen any baby kittens around for a while. Between the fact that most of them have now been sterilized and the nighttime predators who take out the vulnerable, their numbers are holding steady.  But I know it’s just a matter of time. Cats multiply like rabbits.

Over the years I’ve had more than a few pet cats, and I have found them to be very territorial. I’ve heard enough cat fights in the middle of the night to know when an intruder is passing though.

But I’ve never had the experience of sharing the same land with feral cats. You’ll notice I use the words ‘sharing the same land’. That’s because their relatives were here first, and these cats see me as the interloper.

They are not my pets and I do not own them. However, since the two cats that are still hanging around wait for me at the back door every morning at the same time so I can feed them, well, maybe they own me.

And if I step out of what they must consider ‘the safe zone’, they scatter like I’ve suddenly become Elmer Fudd with a shotgun. Crazy cats!

Another thing I have noticed about all of the cats living in this neighborhood, since a good deal of them have had their reproductive stimuli removed, thus reducing the amount of scratching, biting, and howling contests over the latest female in heat, is there is less to argue about. There is less competition to reproduce, so the entire neighborhood is open to all and considered common ground.

It seems as if they see themselves as one big colony of felines, coexisting for the good of the community. When a neighboring cat stops by, instead of meeting it with threats of violence, their backs arched and hissing out their warnings, I’ve watched these cats greet each other with a gentle touch of noses.

Be it a ginger-colored, a Siamese, a black cat, or a spotted mix of ‘em all, all are welcomed at the watering hole.

Watching these feral cats interact with no hostility toward one another got me thinking. What a peaceful world this would be if all people could accept the differences in one other for the betterment of the whole, just as this group of felines do.

Hmm. We could learn a thing or two from feral cats.

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