Meet the Neighbors 12

Early in July, I mentioned that the ongoing power struggle between Grey Tabby and Meezer Girl was forcing Faux Tux to the end of the line at the backyard bowl.
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Meezer Girl has clearly won the war–well, clearly to everyone except Grey Tabby, but even he’s starting to get a glimmer of the truth–but the problem continues. The combatants have continued to block each other from the bowl, and poor Faux Tux has been caught in the fallout.

mb2So we tried putting out a second bowl. Same amount of food, just spread out more. The result was predictable.

Fortunately, the bowls are far enough apart that Faux Tux can sneak up to one when the superpowers are squabbling over the other.

mb3Sometimes Meezer Girl doesn’t show up immediately after we put the food out and Faux Tux can eat as much as he wants.

But that doesn’t happen often. We can’t keep multiplying bowls indefinitely, and Faux Tux is so unassertive that even putting out a third bowl might not get him regular munchies. We don’t really have an obligation to feed him, but we do feel a certain amount of responsibility and we worry about him.

So far, our best tactic has been aerial bombardment with treats. We toss them out the window and lure the Big Two away from the bowls. While they’re distracted, Faux Tux sometimes goes to a bowl. More often, though, he joins the chase for the treats. Sigh.

Suggestions?

Meet the Neighbors 09

It’s official. Meezer Girl is settled into the neighborhood and a regular at the backyard bowl. We’re seeing her come by every night–sometimes more than once a night–and she’s around quite a bit in the day as well. She even came into our front yard a couple of days ago, something the neighbors don’t usually do. Once in, she apparently forgot how she got there. I heard her meowing at the gate, trying to persuade it to open for her. Eventually she found her way back over the fence, so I didn’t have to traumatize her by coming outside.

Meezers tend to have strong personalities and crave dominant roles. Meezer Girl fits that profile well. Now that she’s coming around regularly, she and Grey Tabby are jockeying for top position in the hierarchy. We don’t think it’s escalated to the level of actual violence, but there’s definitely a Cold War/Mutual Assured Destruction vibe going on when they face off.

And face off they do.
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pol2pol3As usually happens when superpowers clash, it’s the little guys who suffer. Poor Faux Tux. He used to have to wait while Grey Tabby ate, but now he also has to sit through the political maneuverings and then wait for Meezer Girl to finish.


Fortunately, Grey Tabby takes her role as Protector of the Weak seriously. She makes sure that Faux Tux does eventually get a chance at the food bowl before it’s empty, and often stands guard while he does.
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Yes, that’s her tail poking under the gate as she keeps a watchful eye out for Meezer Girl or any other interloper who might interfere with Faux Tux’s meal.

Meet the Neighbors 08

Meet the latest regular at our backyard bowl: Meezer Girl.

Meezer Girl is wary, as is only appropriate for a free-living feline.
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She is not, however, as wary as she should be.
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I was tempted to open the window and shout “Get out of the street, fur-for-brains!” I suspect the HOA would not have been amused. Fortunately, before I got the window unlocked, she moved out of traffic. Well, mostly.
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Yes, she is standing in the gutter, and yes, cars really do drive in the gutter. But that’s a post for another day.

Moving on.

We’ve caught glimpses of her around the neighborhood for several months, but she’s become much more visible over the past couple of weeks. Now she’s figured out the bowl-filling schedule, and we’ve spotted her out there every night this week.

She’s an enthusiastic eater.
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“She,” by the way, is a guess. Quite frankly, we’re guessing for all of the neighbors. We usually only see them from the front or above, so the most obvious clues aren’t visible. So when we refer to Grey Tabby as female and Faux Tux as male, those are assumptions based on behavior.

We haven’t firmly settled on “Meezer Girl” for the new arrival. “Meezer Lady” might have more long-term utility, after all. We’re also considering “Meezer-san,” just in case we find evidence that she’s actually a he. We’re open to other notions. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

If Meezer Girl continues to come around, we anticipate some interesting maneuvering for dominance with Grey Tabby. So far it’s been rather mild. They’ve been taking turns at the bowl: one will come into the yard, then leave when the other shows up. We don’t expect it to stay that polite for long.


Well, that didn’t take long. No sooner had I written the previous paragraph than negotiations started heating up. No angry words or weapons, but there is a certain amount of tension in the air.
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Meet the Neighbors 04

I’ve said before that everyone is welcome at the backyard bowl as long as they behave themselves. Almost everyone does. Grey Tabby seems to keep the other cats in line, regulars and occasional visitors alike. The possum comes in quietly, eats, and leaves just as quietly.

Then there are these guys.

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They’re loud, shove each other around, chase the cats, knock over the watering can, carry off the food bowl, get the water bowl all muddy. Nobody likes the raccoons.

No, let me amend that: they’re very cute. We like to watch them on the rare occasions when they’re being good. But they’re the reason we keep a loaded SuperSoaker next to the window that overlooks the bowls.

Yep, we’ve got weapons–big weapons–and we know how to use them. And the raccoons know that we know. It’s reached the point where all we have to do is open the window and they head for the hills. Of course, when they run they trip over each other, fall down, pop back up, and generally bumble around like windup toys. They’re almost as cute as kittens. Almost.

Meet the Neighbors 01

Welcome to the first episode of “Meet the Neighbors”.

Today’s guest is Grey Tabby. Please say “Hello” to our visitors, GT.
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Actually, Grey Tabby doesn’t say much even when she’s awake. We’re not sure if she’s had some throat injury or is just a quiet kitty, but even her “back off” hisses don’t score very high decibel counts*.

She’s the unquestioned leader of the local gang of feral and semi-feral cats, and the most eager visitor to our backyard food bowl. Every day as sunset approaches, she stakes out a spot near the gate where she can keep an eye out for us and ensure that she’s first to the goodies. The other cats wait with varying degrees of patience for her to finish before moving in on the bowl; her part of the agreement is to not eat the entire content.
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* To be totally accurate, we’re not certain that Grey Tabby is a she. The lack of puffy cheeks and the position as Alpha Kitty are both suggestive, but we’ve never managed to get indisputable anatomical evidence.