It’s like beating a dead horse

The cat station in the woods

The cat station in the woods

Here’s the finished version of the latest cat feeding station, completed 5/26/2009.  This is the 3rd in the series that began in January 2008.  The first one featured an old desk made of composition board, and over the last year it has crumbled considerably.  This latest one is an amalgamation of several components.  We started with a folding table of sorts.  The table is made of  two thicknesses of plywood and a set of folding legs.  It is quite sturdy, so it was relatively easy to add some upright supports and a roof.  The blue and white cooler holds bags of cat food and also serves as a launching pad for cats to get to the feeding area.  The small A-frame station to the left served as an intermediate station when the first station began to crumble until a better structure could be built.  The entire area is surrounded by fencing with openings cut throughout the perimeter to allow for easy entrance and exit.  I have since added another feeder and a water dispenser. 
I don’t tell people, when I first get to know them, that I feed feral cats.  People generally glaze over and look at me like I’ve just announced that some cattle are coming over for tea.  I’ve had all the cats altered and vaccinated, and they live in the woods in and around the area.  Some of the cats are so feral that I’ve never seen them again after releasing them.  They originated in various and sundry places, like behind restaurants, hanging out at dumpsters, or colonies that were scheduled for euthanization.  All “my” ferals are either ear-notched or ear-tipped as a way of identifying that they are feral and are fixed and most likely belong to a colony.
I’ve found that the local cats don’t mind a free meal either.  Sometimes I see a cat I can’t identify, and I assume it to be a stray, or perhaps a local cat that has a home but enjoys an occasional meal at the neighborhood diner.  If it’s someone I don’t know, I’ll attempt to trap them for a visit to the vet for altering.  After surgery and recovery, I’ll release them back at the cat station.  It’s a process called “TNR” – trap, neuter, return. 
It’s good to have altered cats in the neighborhood.  I never worry about snakes or rodents, but I suppose I’ll never be able to start a chicken ranch.  There’s another component of having a managed colony.  If all the cats in a colony were removed, a little issue called the “vacuum effect” would kick in.  More cats arrive to fill in the vacuum that was created. 
I’m always surprised when I see a new face at the feeding station.  How can there be this many cats in this little area?  Shouldn’t I know everyone by now?  The cats are free to come and go.  It’s not like I fence them in.  They have learned to respect each other’s space, and when one or two cats are feeding, others that arrive wait for them to finish, and they all manage to take turns throughout a 24 hour period. 
So yesterday I had the most amazing surprise near the cat station.  I smelled an odor wafting near the RV.  It was the odor when the electricity fails and the meat in the freezer spoils.  But I don’t have any meat in refrigeration and the electricity has not been off.  I went off into the woods in search of the origin.  About 20 feet from the cat station was the spoiling remains of a cat carcass.  And I do not know who it was. 
Is my lot now like the mythical elephant graveyard?  Do cats make their way there to die?  I suppose it’s as near to heaven on earth as a cat can get, close to food and water and safety and peace. 

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3 Responses to “It’s like beating a dead horse”

  1. kari Says:

    Ruth,

    You put a lot of thought, care and work into the cat feeding station, very cool!

    Like

  2. ruthrawls Says:

    Shucks. The cats did most of the work. I just know how to type online and get the credit.

    Like

  3. Magical doorways « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] Crazy Cat Woman Linda has concerns about how the cats get to the food at the cat station since the station itself is surrounded by a fence.  Fencing examples are here – https://ruthrawls.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/its-like-beating-a-dead-horse/ […]

    Like

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