Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A place at the table

If you have ever left pet food of any sort sitting outside, you know you can't leave it unattended for long.  Whether dog or cat food either one, if it isn't directly providing for the animal you intended, it will soon enough be providing for a host of other opportunistic feeders.

Meet Socks, a feral cat who adopted our family in November of 2012. She won't come in the house or let us pet her, but she spends most of the day hanging around the garden beds and back deck, supervising our outdoor activities.
I keep bird feeders stocked with seed, front and back. Rather than have those turn into some sort of feral kitty snack bar, the second or third time Socks showed up I decided to put cat food and water out for her in hopes of keeping her well fed and dampening her natural predatory response.  Socks would eat a varying amount each time, but she very often left a few cat food pellets in her bowl.

As the weeks turned into months, I stopped watching closely every time after I'd put the cat's food outside and often enough I didn't bring the food bowl with its left over pellets back inside promptly. This meant the cat's bowl became a regular enough food source to attract the usual scavengers of a slightly larger sort.
And more recently, the few remaining cat food pellets regularly left over in the bowl have begun to attract attention from an unexpected source.
How much does this dove want that cat's food?

I've watched this particular little drama unfold several times over the past few days.  This cat has never shown signs of aggression towards anything in our yard.  But this is a tolerant attitude I'd never expected.

Now that I know Socks won't defend her food, I try to pay closer attention and get the bowl back inside whenever she has finished eating.  Those cat food pellets are chicken based, and whether or not it might mean anything to that dove to know it is scarfing down a fellow fowl?  I find it a little unsettling.


Debra said...

<3 Socks! What a well behaved kitty. And thanks for feeding her so she doesn't have to hunt.

Linda/patchwork said...

Our resident cat (who actually belongs to our neighbor)would probably not be as nice. He eats here, he eats next door and he still sometimes hunts. And, he's not as sleek, as when we first moved here...lol

We always try to remember the cat bowl..and all the various birdfeeders. It's not birds and squirrels who show up. It's possums and raccoons.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: She is very well behaved - I just wish she'd let us shelter her inside and get her vet care. Eventually, we hope!

TexasDeb said...

Linda: You're right about the nocturnal raiders. We've had raccoons washing produce remnants from the compost pile in the cat's water bowl when we left it out. We TRY to be vigilant!

And when it comes to the hunting, I think that instinct varies in strength from cat to cat. We are just lucky that this little cat is so laid back!

Tina said...

Wow! That is a cat who shares nicely! It's interesting that she won't let you pet her--even after all this time. We don't leave pet food out, but we do have bird seed and the racoons will raid from time-to-time. Also, we've had rats in the past--ewe. I hope she'll eventually let you "pet" her-in all meanings of that word.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thanks - that is our hope. The cat doesn't insist upon as much distance away from us as she initially did. We keep hoping....

(We had orchard rats raiding our bird feeders one year. They seem to have moved on but we keep the feeders further away from the house now!)

Diana Studer said...

In Camps Bay we had a Cape robin who would sometimes come thru the open kitchen door to nick a bit of cat food (then we were still using wet tinned food)

PS what news of Socks over the year in beween?

TexasDeb said...

Diana: Socks disappeared as abruptly as she appeared. My husband had fashioned a wonderfully warm and snug overnight shelter for her to help get her through the hardest parts of last winter which she took regular advantage of. Once the weather warmed her visits became more erratic and eventually she simply failed to appear.

She was so mild mannered - we hold out hopes she simply chose another household, perhaps one without indoor (glaring!) cats at the window. We were happy she shared the gardens and her company with us for as long as she did.