City seems to have more strays than usual

It’s early. The sun is just starting to break over the horizon as I slip on a pair of beat up old sneakers. I ease myself out the door, trying to keep the excited, impatient, wiggling mass of black and white fur next to me inside. He cries an agitated whine that sounds more like a steam whistle than a living creature.

I walk into the back yard and check the spots they’re usually found: the flower side garden, the vegetable patch, the concrete pad under the arbor and the tall grasses near the fence line.

It’s the grasses that I find one. It’s eyes widen with surprise as it notices me. Before I can breath a word it takes off, under the neighbors fences and into their bushes.

I’m hoping he hasn’t seen it and will just do what he needs. But as I open the door, he leaps out like a fully loaded spring, running right to the spot in the fence the cat had made its escape.

As I re-enter the house, I sigh and sit in a chair near the door to await what I’m sure will be a longer than normal visit outside for the dog. He’ll have to check every inch of his yard to ensure the intruder did not have backup. He’ll stand, stiff legged with his ears perked sniffing the wind for a sign of it.

Fifteen minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

This morning ritual is something that is new to me. I didn’t use to have to comb the yard in search of feral or free-roaming cats whose owners leave them out all night or have abandoned them.

On occasions there would be rabbits or squirrels, and for one particular summer we had a nasty looking groundhog we called “Scar” due to the jagged one that ran down the left side of his mean looking face as he’d sit staring right at us stuffing any apples we had missed from our tree into his well-fed mouth.

But we haven’t seen any rabbits this year, and ground hog sightings have been few and far between after we cut down the crabapple tree that was too close to our house.

They were easy though, they hung out right in front of the window and never came after our goofy black Labrador-mix.

Duke wouldn’t hurt them. He likes cats, even if the one he lives with doesn’t much care for him. But he’ll still chase them out of his yard, after all in his mind, cats belong indoors, just like all the ones he’s every known.

Since the late spring, my husband and I have noticed a large influx of cats in our yard and around our street. There is the skinny black and white mix that struts up and down the street and occasionally makes his way into our yard. A tough looking tiger tom cat that seems to delight in tormenting our cat Coco by laying in the driveway, rolling in a sun spot as she growls and whips her tail at this unwelcomed guest from a living room window.

A long-haired black and white cat seems to like our side garden, rubbing its face on our lavender and leaving behind, well you can imagine what.

I’m not entirely sure why the sudden increase in cats. Some seem like they are owned, but others are clearly feral, terrified at our presence.

But I don’t hate these cats. I worry about them. The world can be a cruel place filled with larger animals, speeding vehicles and sick people who can hurt them.

I find it amazing that the number of people I see on Facebook around the area seeking to help reunited pets they find that are clearly lost or abandoned housepets. I often find myself checking Facebook to see if any of these cats are missing pets, but so far, no one is looking for the ones I am seeing.

Our own cat has been outside exactly twice since she was adopted nine years ago. Once during an ill-fated attempt to walk her on a leash and another in my parents backyard that ended when my father, unaware that my mother had brought her out, came along with his leaf blower to clean off the pool deck from shrub clippings and with his ear buds in didn’t hear my mother yelling for him to stop.

Needless to say, my mother hasn’t tried to have her go outside on any visits to my parents after that.

I am not entirely certain why some people feel it is OK to get rid of their unwanted pets by just leaving them outside.

So much can happen to an animal and nature is not known to be kind. Parasites, diseases and injuries can be obtained from other cats, and these can be costly to treat or even fatal.

My own cat was left in a field on a sub-zero January day by her former owner when she was still just a fluffy five-month-old. While she has a good life now, I still find this act of abandoning her in such conditions horrible.

I understand that people sometimes need to rehome their animal, finances can get tight, a new child may be allergic or a move may mean the pet can’t come along.

But there are resources available, shelters will take in animals and groups such as The Gloversville Cat Sanctuary will share postings on Facebook.

As for the ones in our yard, my husband and I have tired to befriend the ones we see, but most seem scared and flee or we have seen them inside a neighboring house, telling us it is a pet.

One seems to want to trust us, but it still flees as we get close. But we’ll keep trying to help it.

∫As the summer heats up, remember to check your dogs for ticks. I’ve already caught a one on mine.

Removing them is simple. Put on a pair of plastic gloves, take a dedicated pair of tweezers and pull the tick upward in one smooth motion. Check to make sure you’ve gotten the entire tick.

Save it in a plastic bag or container your don’t mind throwing out in case you need to take your pet to the vet if it shows any signs of destress.

Items like “Tick Twisters” are also helpful in removing them from yourself or your pet.

∫As July moves by, please remember to never leave any animal or child in a hot vehicle. Even a short trip can turn deadly.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the newspaper or its editorial board.

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