I like to walk home from work in the evenings, when the sun is going down and the air is cooling. The three mile stroll gives me the chance to stretch my muscles and clear my head after sitting down for eight hours during a stressful day crunching numbers and handling customers over the phone and in my office. It's a nice break to relax and unwind before coming home to clean and cook.
I walk through numerous different neighborhoods on my route home, as is the norm in San Francisco. There are so many little neighborhoods here, or microhoods, which span a few blocks before shifting to a new microhood.
I pass through areas full of drug addicts and prostitutes waiting by the doors of various rent-by-the-hour hotels and seedy bars, posh boutiques and eateries, hungry homeless people waiting in line to receive a meal, auto galleries and diners, low-rent housing and polished Victorians. There isn't much middle ground in this city: you have the struggling hand-to-mouth poor and the uber rich. Even though I have a job now, I still fall in the struggling category.
In one of the working class neighborhoods I pass through, I usually see this little group of black cats hanging out together. Each time I see them I stop to kneel down and say hello. Yes, I'm a crazy cat lady and I do talk to animals-- so what? They're really pretty cats with rich, black fur and that fluffy lion's mane at their neck that gives a regal impression, similar to my Sookie.
I feel bad for these cats because they're living on the street and eating god only knows what. Maybe someone in the neighborhood takes care of them, but I pretty sure that they're feral and probably not fixed.
A while back, I posted on Facebook about the cats and asked friends for their opinion on feeding them. The consensus was to trap them and turn them into the SPCA to get them fixed and then release them back. I've never done anything like this before, so I'm a little hesitant,and on my recent walks home I have not seen the cats.
What would you do? Would you feed the cats, or trap them? My reservation when it comes to trapping, beyond inexperience, is that I don't want to trample on someone else's property in a neighborhood where I don't live and unintentionally anger the neighbors. It's not my block, nor even my hood, after all, and I don't want to overstep any boundaries. Besides, what if the cats are someone's pets?
I read a horrible true story about a man who trapped feral cats and took them to the SPCA to be euthanized and mistakenly trapped someone's indoor/outdoor cat and killed him. While I wouldn't do anything like that (our SPCA is a no-kill shelter, and I don't believe in euthanizing healthy animals), I still don't want to anger anyone, including the kitties.
What would you do? Get the kitties fixed, or leave them be?
UPDATE-- My mom sent me this email...
I saw your post about the "feral" kitties. Do the cats run when they see you see or can you approach them and get close? If you try to trap them you might not get the cat but something else entirely. I would leave them be especially if they look healthy.
How is everything else? Sound like you're working hard.
All's well here.
They don't run from me, but they don't get close, either. I've tried putting my hand out for them to sniff, but they keep their distance. They look reasonably healthy, just a little shabby from living outside.
I'm mostly paranoid about the neighbors. I wouldn't want some stranger planting a trap outside of my house. That would not be cool.