Those lil’ kitties creep out from under the fence and bite- one, two, three! Gobbling mouthfuls of kibble gone soggy in the rain. Then they glance furtively up at me with bright blue eyes and dash back under the fence. One is littler, more delicate of build, and I think she must be the female and the other is getting a bit bigger, a tad huskier about the chest and can no longer fit under the same gaps that his sister does, so he must dart a little further to a bigger hole. There is a at least one more from their litter of orange crème-cicle kitties and this third is more weary than the other two, always rushing into the shadows long before I am near enough to get a good look.
There are other cats with them much of the time. Some big and fat and clearly domestic and others who may or may not be cared for by one who would call themselves their master. I have seen a striped cat and a black cat with them from time to time. I hear them at night either fighting or mating or both, yowling eerily like tortured babies in the ally between apartments.
They live under an industrial trash bin in the lot next to my building. In front of that gated lot, people from the surrounding neighborhood dump their rubbish, old mattresses, broken chairs, lamp shades, shoes toys and music boxes. My children have often speculated that the kittens are living beneath all of that rubbish, but now it is clear, even to them, that theses kittens turned cats live under the trash bin in the yard, because the debris comes and goes from week to week but the cats remain.
When they were small, I first noticed them running out of the garage at night when I came down to do laundry. The sight of them pleased me so that I brought them a saucer of milk. I don’t know whether they drank it or not, but the mounds of soggy cat food in front of the fence indicated that I was not their only admirer. No doubt they are viewed as both adorable and a scourge by the neighborhood as a whole.
Some will, like me, wish them well and hope that they have nice enough lives out there, and others will curse them when they find the dumpsters in the garage spilled upon the ground.
I like cats and because I do, most cats like me when we meet. I speak to them in cat tongue and this usually pleases them very well, because even if I have got the pronunciation all wrong, at least I have tried, whereas most people won’t.
The little alley cats, however, ignore my cat talk. They don’t care if I like them, they don’t like anyone that walks on two legs. They are wild cats with no desire to speak to stupid people like me. Their eyes are cold and unyielding, heartily disinterested as they wait behind the fence for me to pass out of their way, not caring what I say in English or in Cat. That is how I can tell that some of their companions do live or at least have lived with people, because when I pass by, some of these cats get together and say hello. The little wild cats care not at all, but the others look into my eye as if they understand me. Actually they look at me rather like children who are embarrassed that their old mother has come to speak to them while they are among their friends. They don’t want to be unkind or impolite but nor do they want to show the wild cats how domestic they are. So they look embarrassed and urge me to be on my way so that they can play with the wild kids.
It has started raining again and is very cold out, so now the alley cats must be huddled under the great industrial bin together, the three orange and white siblings all filled up on their wet food, and I am cold but dry while thinking of them, whereas they are not thinking of me at all, but rather visiting whatever plane it is that cats visit when they dream. I wish them happy hunting there, just as I wish it upon them here.