Momma, the Inside Cat

Momma Cat, AKA Calico Lady Cat but no one calls her that anymore, has discovered the joys of living inside and has all but renounced the Outdoor part of her Indoor/Outdoor Cat title. She’s snoring away on the couch next to me, where she’s been all day. So I thought this was a good time to revisit the history of Momma Cat and how she became my best little couch buddy cat friend.

Momma is the cat in our blog cover and for a reason– Momma was the first cat I started feeding. In fact, when Genius Cat started coming around, my first concern was whether he was nice to Momma or not (he was). Here are the earliest pictures of Momma (with SuperBad, one of her husbands) that I can find, from February 2015:

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Momma was a scaredy feral cat who spent most of her time getting chased around by Superbad, who would later become Boo and Ballsy’s dad, and Megalo Cat (RIP). who we believe was Genius Cat’s dad.

Here are some more pictures of Momma in the snow that winter.



Momma is an unusually clever cat, as evidenced by the time she brought the neighbor cat’s kittens to our window to pimp them out like a Fagin. I repeat, THESE ARE NOT HER KITTENS.




The only thing that was kind of like cat food I had in the house was some leftover bacon grease and a hamburger roll, so that’s what that round thing is, It wasn’t a big hit with the kittens, but something ate it. It was some time after this I started buying cat food to have some for Momma.

I started making  even more of an active effort to care for Momma when something happened to her head and she disappeared for a few days and reappeared with a big wound on her head. Here it is mostly healed but you can still see it.



It was around this time that Momma had her orange babies and we made her a box and started taking care of her as much as she would let us. Look at the tiny orange baby. You can still see the injury to her head. It was pretty bad. 20151020_143636

And here’s a photo of Boo with both his eyes looking gunky but he’s still such a brave little explorer:


Eventually of course we took Boo inside and got the cats fixed which went a long way in making Momma’s life better. Momma got really playful after she got spayed. She was like a teen mom who’s kids are finally out of the house and now she’s single and ready to mingle. 20160528_191520IMG_1358

We gave Momma a place in the basement and slowly but surely she’s become more and more of a pet cat and less of a feral cat.


Here’s Momma and Ballsy sharing a meal at the kitchen window.


As Boo as gotten bigger and become territorial about the apartment he has learned to tolerate his brother inside but he has remained consistent in his efforts to chase his Momma right out the window.

Until last week, when one rainy day Boo decided he doesn’t care if his Momma comes inside the apartment. He did the same thing with Ballsy last summer, just got over his objections and stopped chasing the cat. Momma jumped up on the bed and took immediately to the lounging-on-the-bed idea.


Yesterday, Momma and Boo even slept on the bed together!


Did I mention already what a smart cat she is? Well not only did she easily adjust to bed-sleeping, she’s gotten the hang of couch-sitting as well. Here’s my best little cat friend napping next to me. IMG_2645




Cranky Henry Looks Like a Cat!

Henry Cat is an older feral who has been coming around for a while, but has always been 100% feral and scared of people. Here’s Henry back in 2016, near but not actually going in to a TNR trap. Henry named by Claudia2

In June of this year we got him in a TNR trap.  The ASPCA rates feral cats’ body condition on a scale of 1-10. On a scale of 1-10, Henry got a Very Old. No joke, that’s what they wrote on his form. Plus he had a little jaundice.

They asked me if i wanted to have him put down because he is FELV+. I said no, if he’s Very Old and has been living in the alley his whole life whoever was going to catch anything from him has already, just send him home and I’ll keep an eye on him. Henry decided that since we snipped his balls we owe him wet food on demand twice daily.

Here’s Henry right after he got TNR-ed



Now, a little more than two months later, Henry almost looks like a cat!


His top coat of fur has started growing back, so much that he even has markings! He looks a little scary here because of the flash, but you can see his fur.


When he wants wet food, he’s become the most demanding little Gremlin, crying and headbutting me and the can of food and making the biggest fuss he can think of until he can stuff his snout in a pile of mushy goodness.  He’s also become sort of a bully to Mama but I’m hoping we can fix his attitude issues.

Out of Fireworks, Brotherly Love

So, the last blog post was about the loss of Mosey Pants…and then I guess I abandoned this blog. Well here we are nearly a year later. A lot of stuff happened, but this post is just about orange cats. For quality control.

When we brought Boo inside because of his eye infection, we didn’t even plan to keep one cat. let alone FOUR orange kittens. Carsy got adopted right away, so we were down to three. Boo ended up becoming our inside cat. and it seemed fair that Boo got to live inside and only had one eye while Ballsy and Mo got to live in the basement and come and go as they pleased and had each other.

Then Mo died, so now Ballsy didn’t live inside and didn’t have a brother. I started working on the relationship between Boo and Ballsy, but by now Boo had become very territorial about his house. In addition, while they would play with each other just fine outside, when in the apartment Ballsy would get really submissive when Boo would pounce on him. He would also seem offended on a really deep level about this attack on his dignity and as soon as Boo would jump on him he would get scared and run away.

Here’s Ballsy trying to chill out and enjoy being inside, and Boo ruining it.

Then came July. I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and in my neighborhood there are loads of people setting off personal fireworks for Independence Day. A few days before the big holiday, people start giving their explosions a test run.  The cats didn’t like the fireworks last year, but for some reason really hated them with a passion this year. On the Saturday before the 4th, Ballsy was eating kibble at the window when a series of particularly large explosions made him jump and run not out the window but deep into the apartment and under the bed.

The loud sounds also sent Boo hiding under the bed, where he ran into another orange cat exactly his size.  Instead of an explosion of yowls and hisses, there was silence. When I looked under the bed after about fifteen minutes of silence, I found the two of them holding paws. It was as if all this time that Boo had been fighting Ballsy he had only seen the negative aspects of sharing his house with his brother. All of a sudden, Boo had a revelation. “Wait…do you like hiding under the bed too? So you’re not just a horrible cat invading my space…you’re also a friend who can hide under the bed with me when it’s scary? And it’s actually really comforting because you’re not just some other cat but my brother who I know from inside my Momma? I’m rethinking this whole thing!”

Then a few days later, Ballsy got some kind of a bug and was feeling really lousy. He came right in and went straight under the bed and stayed there for two days. We had decided to take him to the vet in the morning when he perked himself up and left. but the whole time he was here Boo was a very good caregiver.

Ballsy has been gradually getting more and more comfortable in the house. He’s still really scared of the TV, but since he likes sleeping on the couch so much he tried sitting on the couch.

Now Ballsy comes and goes and if he wants to sleep inside he does and if he doesn’t he doesn’t.  And my two orange boys are still getting along better every day.



The Saint Marks Cats Daily Update

Blumberg Blog

This is the first post in what’s supposed to be a series. I tend to procrastinate full length blog posts so I’m declaring my intention to post a nearly-daily update of the goings on of the cats in the alley. Sometimes there will be pictures but I’m not going to hold an update hostage for photos.

So here we go, first Daily Update: Solid Gray Cat has a name of his/her own! Henceforth, Solid Gray Cat shall be known as Scary Panther Cat because I heard someone trying to lift the kitchen screen and I assumed it was Joe so I went into the kitchen to see if he needed anything and it was this large solid gray animal with gold eyes trying to lift the screen — he doesn’t live here AT ALL. He’s totally feral. Where you think you’re going, cat? He wasn’t hungry, there was food on the Cat…

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The Saint Marks Cats Daily Update

This is the first post in what’s supposed to be a series. I tend to procrastinate full length blog posts so I’m declaring my intention to post a nearly-daily update of the goings on of the cats in the alley. Sometimes there will be pictures but I’m not going to hold an update hostage for photos.

So here we go, first Daily Update: Solid Gray Cat has a name of his/her own! Henceforth, Solid Gray Cat shall be known as Scary Panther Cat because I heard someone trying to lift the kitchen screen and I assumed it was Joe so I went into the kitchen to see if he needed anything and it was this large solid gray animal with gold eyes trying to lift the screen — he doesn’t live here AT ALL. He’s totally feral. Where you think you’re going, cat? He wasn’t hungry, there was food on the Cat Condo. Maybe he’s a lady and was looking for a place to have babies. Either way he or she is now named Scary Panther.

Yesterday, Samuel the Eagle Cat came thisclose to coming to the window for rubs. He’s a cat who is comprised of 40% fear, the rest of him is quivery pink nose, big bat ears and giant Elijah Wood eyes. He’s been dancing around the concept of rubs for a while now, trying to screw up the courage. He at Greenies off the windowsill and sniffed my hand and that was a big deal for him.

Also yesterday Megalo came to the window for rubs, which he hasn’t done for a long time. He’s not looking great. I gave him some flea medication. It’s possible he should go to the vet but there are several reasons he should not, ranging from the fact that we don’t have the money to that we don’t have the money. He ate a lot of wet food so he can’t be doing that badly.

Before I got a chance to post this, Sam let me pet him!!! This was very exciting. Here’s Samuel the Eagle Cat. You’d be excited to pet him too!


A Box Full of Kittens

After Genius Cat got a box-house of his own, he went to the neighbor’s yard and brought Black and White Kitty to check out his new digs. He was clearly proud of his new home and that made us happy. Calico Lady also came by to inspect the box and was spotted hanging out in it during the day. Then, one morning, I looked out the window and saw that not only was  Calico Lady in the box, next to here was a small puff of orange. In this photo he’s way in the back. I didn’t want to get too close and scare her off, so it’s not a great shot. But that’s a kitten in there.


That’s a kitten in there! First sighting of Mo, October 18, 2015

In addition to the kitten in the box, there was a ball of fluff wandering around in the yard.


First Sighting of Ballsy, October 18, 2015

And then they were gone. Calico Lady hustled them back to where ever she’d been keeping them. The weird part was that when we went to bed that night, she was sleeping in the box alone.

The next morning, I woke up and looked outside. There, in the box, was a great big pile of orange fluff. I thought maybe it was SuperBad and wondered if Calico Lady had a Gentleman Caller the previous evening. I put my reading glasses on and peered through the screen. It wasn’t one large cat at all.

“Oh. My. God. It’s all KITTENS!”I squealed.


Oh. My. God. It’s all KITTENS!!! October 20, 2015

All those kittens surely meant Calico Lady was hungry. Luckily I had one big can of cheap sardines. I went outside to bring the fish to Calico Lady. You can see that her head had started to heal. She was happy for the fish, but very protective of the kittens.


But once I put the food down and backed off, she was really excited about the sardines.


Calico Lady Eats Sardines, October 20, 2015

Even her tiny baby kittens came over to check out the sardine action.


First day in the backyard, October 20, 2015

At first, we were afraid to get too close, but later in the day we came back to give Calico Lady some more food. She was willing to put up with us getting pretty close to her and the babies as long as food for her was involved.


Calico Lady and BooBoo Kitty with a steak bone, October 20, 2015

There were four altogether. One was clearly the most adventuresome kitten:


Backyard Exploration, October 20, 2015

And one little kitten was a brave little fella even though it looked like he might have an eye infection:

And that’s how kittens in the backyard became a Thing.


After a morning of exploration it was time to hide behind some trash and have a nap on Momma, October 20, 2015

It was obvious Genius Cat couldn’t be expected to share his box with a whole pile of babies, so we made them a separate box. It was a hit.


Kittens and New Box, October 24, 2015

We were worried that Genius Cat would get territorial and hurt the kittens, and so was Calico Lady, but it quickly became clear all he wanted was the status of being the Cat Who Comes to the Windowsill.


I was up to my ears in Cat, so when I ran into another little black cat that may or may not have been the same one from further down the block. I bought it a can of food but this time did not try to capture it.

With a whole box full of kittens in my backyard I knew I was about maxed out on cat caretaking, so the can of food would have to be as much as I could help this little kitty.

This box full of kittens had forced us into an additional level of involvement with the lives of the ferals of the backyard. If Calico Lady Momma was going to bring us her kittens, we were going to have to find homes for them and if we had to find homes for them,  we couldn’t have her getting knocked up 3 times a year. In addition, she was skinny and starving — it was obvious that having babies exhausted her.

We started researching ways to get stray cats fixed. We quickly discovered that while there are resources available to spay or neuter pet cats for free, those resources were not open to ‘feral’ cats. Now, bringing the babies into our yard had softened Calico Lady’s attitude towards us considerably. She would let us pet her and as the kittens started eating solid food, we made sure to hand-feed them so that they would be accustomed to being touched by humans. They were much more tame than they had been. However, we weren’t sure how they’d react if they were trapped in a carrier. We weren’t sure it would work to pretend our strays were pets.

We learned that there are also resources available for stray cats, but to access those, you have to be certified through the city’s Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) program. Certification is free. We signed up for the next class, which was in two weeks.

Getting the kittens adopted was important, but Calico Lady Momma was a very attentive parent and the kittens were still nursing. She wasn’t about to let us take her babies.

We decided the best plan was to get certified, get the cats spayed/neutered and then separate Momma from babies post-op. The idea behind that was that if she was coming out of surgery and we scrubbed the yard of the kittens’ scent, we would put her outside, keep the kittens inside and she would look around for them for a day or two and then forget all about them.

So that was the plan. Let the kittens stay with Momma for a few more weeks, while they were still nursing, and then take action.