Over the years, my wife and I adopted a few stray cats. We don’t own them. They own us, by moseying up to our back porch to beg for love with soulful eyes. Once we’re hooked, they train us to feed them, change their water dish, and on special occasions, allow us pet them. They do not stroll though our home and we don’t sleep with their warm and furry bodies wherever they bed down for the night. It’s a symbiotic relationship where they “teach lessons” for food. Yep, it’s a job passed down from generation to generation. (There’s. Not ours.) So over the twenty-five years my wife and I have lived in Cat Land, at least sixty “kitties” have visited our back door to guide our evolution. Most have been, and are, an adorable breed with fluffy ringed tails, black masks and tiny hands that grab our fingers.

Now I’m a sucker for a pretty face, and also cute kids. And these funny looking cats, well, they figured that out the moment we met. So years ago, that first mommy cat brought her babies and begged for food. The babies grew up and had litters of their own. Those litters grew up to become new mommies, who brought their new babies to start the cycle again. This has been going on for many years. And during that time, I discovered that deals are cut in back rooms as to which mommies bring the new babies to our back porch.


Because the mommies figured out that the food supply won’t feed more than one family at a time. Supply and demand – they got it. And they won’t stress the system.

Sometimes though, they test it.

Once in a while, a mommy and her babies will be casually dining under pale moon light when another mommy and her kitties wander up to our kitchen. Growls are thrown back and forth. Even a fighting charge from Mommy #1 might occur. That’s when I wait for sprays of blood and flying fur. Never happens. Plenty of noise but the confrontation is all about getting the point across in no uncertain terms. Mommy #1 is saying to Mommy #2, “Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.” Beyond that, no harm is inflicted anywhere. It’s about communication. Not mutilation.

What can I learn from this display of faux rage? How about: If you want something. Say it. Forget subtle deceit and manipulation. Work it out with all cards face up on the table. If a compromise can’t be reached, walk away from the fight.

And that’s what my backyard buddies do. They part ways when the dispute cannot be solved.

Then sometimes, I mess with their little white, black and brown heads. When two family are fighting over kibble, I throw out more. A lot more. So much more, there is no way both families can eat it all. Bingo! Issue resolved!

Now what was that war about again?

So what’s the lesson here? How about; with enough of everything, people just might get along. Scarcity makes wars. Abundance makes friends. And the secret IS, sharing makes friends too. And usually produces ways of making more of everything.

Here’s some more lessons:

My masked kitties were here first. And they let me know it by never going away.Lesson: learn to accept WHAT IS, and then compromise. You can’t push something away that is supposed to be here.

These masked cats will change their behaviors to get what they want, like doing dog tricks for food. (That’s right. I trained a few.) Lesson: If you can’t beat’em, join’em. If you want something from someone else, try entertaining her. Or responding to his needs. When that happens, something good comes back.

A mommy masked cat will always hit the food dish before her young. Lesson: in case of depressurization, parents should put on their own oxygen masks before placing it on their  children. Or… Keep yourself healthy. Your kids need you.

More confident kitties will approach the food bowl before the shy ones. Lesson: those who risk more, gain more. Those who trust more, learn more.

You can pet the babies as long as they are eating. And the Mommies won’t care, as long as they are eating too. They are trading affection for food. Lesson: sometimes you have to give of yourself  to get the things you need. If you want help in the office, try giving a little kindness. Or accept it. Nice talk around the water cooler always helps get the work done. And may earn you a free lunch.

Once in a while my little masked friends get a visit from those other cat breeds with big wide tails and a white stripe down their backs. Everyone eats from the same bowl though, and then goes their separate ways. Lesson: if there’s one big thing you need, and your enemy wants it as well, you can either go to war and risk a stink bomb, or you can share the pie and live to eat another day.

After dining, my cute masked cats stick around to lounge and play. That’s when the love starts. Lesson: Maybe snatching the big prize, like money, isn’t all what life is about. Maybe there’s much to be gained by getting to know the person paying you, or supporting you, or even the people you are supporting. Because it’s all one world, and we’re sharing it, even with our differences. Then again, how different are we?



  1. Les says:

    Love the Raccoons – er, I mean – kitties.
    We’ve got a few around here and they’re pretty friendly too. Some people don’t like them though. Guess because they’re wild and off the grid a little. But they’re as people savvy as squirrels at a golf course.
    When I lived in Tahoe a family of them lived under the house. They’d come say hi sometimes when I returned home and got out of the car. Or visit at the doorstep and take cat food, etc right out of our hands (the cat wasn’t real thrilled about that).
    Yeah, a little on the grabby side, but what the heck, they’re critters. They didn’t seem too aggressive, just hungry. Given the right vibe and due respect we never had a problem with them.
    Cool story! Really fun read …
    thx – Les

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      WHAT Racoons? Did I say “racoons”? I wouldn’t DARE touch a raccoon. They’re supposed to be really mean.

      Nope. These little guys were stray cats with Halloween faces and cute little ways to ask for candy. It’s Trick or Treat all year round!


  2. Jerry's Cousin says:

    Your racoon – er – kitty story is cute. We feed feral cats out in our backyard. And we have “those” kitties show up every once ib awhile. In the spring they bring their little one and they are adorable! I know they are known to carry rabies, so you must be careful with them. I’ve done a little reading up on them and found that they have a short life span of 18 mos to 3yrs. So for that reason, I say, “Be nice to them” as long as they do no harm.

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