Urban Wild Kingdom Part I

Published On September 7, 2011 | By J.R. Hampton | Commentary, News & Commentary

The first in a 3-part series by EWL resident J. Hampton

I’m on my hands and knees calling “kitty kitty” to the small orange cat that, after weeks of tuna and baby talk has finally let me get close enough to see that he’s packing.

Little Orange – “Lolo” showed up on a pissing rainy day in January. I spotted him hunched under a building, told him there was food in the parking lot and to help himself. He found the food and then he found Francesca and then he became a baby daddy to five kittens. And this is how I, another neighbor and a Good Samaritan I’ll call J. Jr. got sucked into the politics, heartbreak and humbling joys of a feral cat colony in Emeryville.

I’ve pieced together most of their story. I know who started it all: “Mama” – a small cockeyed calico female who saved her kittens from the cold by carrying them one-by-one through a broken window into a local artist’s studio circa 2004. Then the Good Sam’s dad – we’ll call him J. Sr. – saw them and worked with the City of Emeryville to live-trap, test, vaccinate and neuter them. He set up a feeding station and his work yard became their territory.

We first saw them lounging on the Pelligrini loading dock one summer night and decided to help.

It took a while to find a safe second place to feed them. Cats get the raw end of the deal when it comes to homeless animals. People will move and abandon their cats like trash. And cats are big-time targets for cruelty. Under the best conditions a feral cat on the streets has a 2 to 3 year lifespan. And it’s hard time.

Did I mention that you should neuter your pets?

The colony shrank from 6 to 3 over time, which was expected given zero population growth. We were on autopilot until Lolo and a couple other newbies showed up early in 2011.

Us humans started talking about what to do.

The cats got busy with cat math: 1 female + 1 male = 15 kittens a year.

On the day I learn that Lolo’s a full-on boy, I also spy a tiny orange kitten that’s come from hiding in hopes of food and runs like hell when he sees me instead.

Cat math had taken over.

to be continued…

About The Author

Fiction writer and cat aficionado discovered Emeryville in the ’90s, loved it and stayed. Her most recent thriller, "Eidolon" (working title) is out to agents and she's begun work on the second book in the series. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter.

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