Fast forward a few more years and into my yard comes another cat and 5 kittens! But this time, the Mom looks very distinctive and very much like one of the kittens from the earlier litter that we had sheltered.
Since in my world food=love, we immediately put out food and water. Dick was saying, just don't name them! I left for an art fair and by the time I got home, they all had names, fully based on what they looked like and we were sunk.
3 gray girls, Smoke, Bibby and Boots. 2 males, Toby and black and white Adam made up the family. It took a lot of work but we were able to capture each of the 3 girls to have them fixed.
This is Smoke in front and Miss Bibb, as we now call her, behind her sister.
Since that time we've added a "cat port" so they have covering when they eat, 2 insulated feral cat houses that get stuffed with straw, a heated water bowl in the winter and a good diet of Science Diet dry and some canned food every morning.
Do I like the fact that they live outside? Not at all. It was our only option. Because they are considered feral, we were told they could not be adopted out at the Humane Society. You can guess what that means and it was not an option for us. So we make sure they have the best life they can under the circumstances.
I'm pretty sure that Toby "found a family" and we haven't seen him since. He was such a love and very much missed. The gray girls stick pretty close to home and come inside every morning for some petting and purring before getting their canned food.
Adam is our wanderer. He would take off for days and show up again looking like a "streeter". Finally one day we realized that we hadn't seen him for quite a while and knew that we probably wouldn't be seeing him again. That was 6 months ago.
Then, the day after my surgery, Adam came home! Not looking like a streeter but clean and well fed. Marched right up like he hadn't been gone a day. When his sisters came in, he allowed all the sniffing they did, excited to see their brother again. So Adam joined them for breakfast, sharing some canned food with them, just like the old days. A happy boy. Then he left.
It's now a week and a half later, we haven't seen him again. But you won't be able to convince me that he didn't know to come that particular day. A very bright spot in a rough week...