When we lived in Maine we had our share of backyard visitors. From rabbits to bears there was always an interesting species to gaze at through the windows. However, since they were wild animals we never interacted with them, and we instructed the kids to give these animals plenty of space.
Since arriving in Merida, Mexico we have encountered a new type of backyard visitor: the alley cat. Little did we know when renting our house that it came with a backyard full of alley cats. The landlords left us instructions to feed the cats as they help keep away rodents and other pests. At first we weren’t sure that this was such a good idea. It definitely goes against our “leave wild animals to themselves” motto. However, we quickly discovered that many of these cats are more akin to pets then wild animals, and a few are used to being fed several times daily by the inhabitants of the house.
So, we began a daily ritual of feeding and getting to know the cats. Most of them stay up on the roof and only come down when food is put out. It is actually kind of creepy to know that they are watching you from above all day. Usually they are very skittish and shy, but the group has no problem flocking into the yard when they hear the cat food being poured.
In our first few days here we noticed one little fellow (we call him Young Tiger) who was the runt of the group. He was often picked on by some of the older, street hardened alley cats and pushed away from the food. Our family took a liking to him and we began to give him special treatment. After that he started to spend all of his time in our yard and put up with High Five’s loud, erratic attempts at becoming friends 🙂 With the kids’ protection and constant care he has gained weight and is starting to hold his own against the other cats.
Feeding alley cats is an odd situation to find ourselves in, and we probably wouldn’t be doing it if the landlords hadn’t made the request (and provided the initial food). It feels weird to take care of an animal knowing that we will be leaving in a short while. However, the kids have dearly loved getting acquainted with their favorite, Young Tiger, and hopefully the landlords will step back in and continue with his feedings when we leave.
What is your policy on feeding alley cats? Have you ever lived in an area with stray cats?