wildlife

Tug Boat Kitties

I work in a large city down by a major u.s. river. My day job is not so rewarding but my walks around this building near the river are. Amid the rubble, and general gritty riverside atmosphere I find beautiful surprises. One day I went out for some fresh air I and I found a bunch of perfect miniature lemon yellow snapdragons growing by the docks. This was not carefully placed by a landscaper, but deposited on by a local avian inhabitant. Precisely because this place is not tame, I get to see this yellow jewel every year.

Because my place of employment is near high grasses and water, wildlife abounds. It’s fascinating to watch the birds, ducks and cats go about their daily business. In fact there is one very ambitious cat (all black and cross eyed) somewhere between kittenhood and adulthood who goes after this one crazy duck who seems to dare this cat to come after him I haven’t seen any dead ducks around – yet. Somehow the cats, birds and ducks survived one of the harshest winters I have ever experienced. I stopped counting the snowstorms after twelve and these were snow storms. Go down by the docks and it’s even colder. There were actual chunks of ice on the river. This is where the tugboat kitties live.

I discovered this tribe on one of my walks and decided to leave some food out for them. I don’t leave it out every day (four days out of seven) because I don’t ever want them to be too dependent on us humans. We are after all very unpredictable. Humans up and leave (for no apparent reason) These cats are semi tame: black, black and white tuxedos, grey, grey and white tuxedos and brown tabby striped. All with distinct personalities. You get to know the inhabitants where you work and live and these guys are no exception. There’s a few of us that come over to feed them and they know our cars. There is no such thing as a “dumb animal”. How dumb can a cat be if he knows your car and when to expect you? So, on a freezing cold day I decided I should feed them. Well, I’m not the only one. I found out the fisherman feeds them, the police officer feeds them on the weekends, a man from an industrial plant feeds them, I feed them in the afternoon and somebody else feeds them (from my office) in the early morning.

A few people have been saying catch them, vaccinate them and give them homes. Generally speaking, I’m for that and a few kittens have been caught and adopted out of the tribe, but this tribe is different. They seem content where they are. I am not in favor of abandoning any animal, but these cats may never have had a home aside from the area around the tugboats and docks. Is it fair to take them away from this place? I think they’re pretty contented. I say let them be. I’m sure they keep the rodent population down and for all their hard work the tugboat captains leave them with a fresh fish and shrimp on a regular basis. This is a highly evolved symbiotic relationship that is working. Should we alter this working relationship? I don’t think so.