For several months now I have been feeding at least four cats from the colony of ferals that have adopted these apartments. And I am not the only one feeding them- I see empty cans and little plates left around under the parking sheds.
At first I thought these cats were refugees from the flood. Some of them may be, though I think these cats may be second generation. They want nothing to do with people. Even the people who put out bowls of half and half and Meow Mix.
I worried about them all through our past few weeks of frigid weather. Where would they go at night? I put a puppy carrier covered by a fleece blanket on my porch. They never used it. Yet no matter how much ice, no matter how much snow, the tabby I see most often came every day. He was here an hour ago.
Last night, as I took the hounds out for a walk, I solved the mystery of where the cats sheltered. They did not live in tree holes or under rotten logs.
They live in the storm drains and drainage pipes. I saw my tabby sitting on the curb above a drainage grate. As soon as the dogs and I came too close ,he ran into his labyrinth. How smart of these cats! Dog-proof. Coyote-proof, and always near the handouts. And if there are no handouts, close to chipmunks and meadow mice.
A friend and her husband, who live in Santa Fe, Tennessee with 30 cats they have rescued, told me that the City of New Orleans rounds up its feral cats, neuters them ,then sends them back onto the streets. For cat colonies are everywhere. There was one on St George Island a few years back. I fed 2 or 3 of them for the two weeks I vacationed there. Yet a year or two later when I took a house in the east end there I never saw one. Earlier I asked someone on the island how the cats got there.
"People dump them here", she said, "They know they can't get back across the causeway".
And now- for anyone who wants to see a cat colony- I can direct you down the Natchez Trace to a rest stop just north of Jackson, Mississippi. Multiple cats, mostly white, living on handouts whilst dodging the alligators in the Pearl River and the coyotes in the woods. I saw an SUV pull in once while I was there, and its owners unloaded bags of food. The cats came, as though greeting old friends. They seemed less wary than the cats I live near.