Backyard Visitor

Soon after we moved into this house, we noticed a cat sitting in the back of our yard, some afternoons. Of course I tried to make friends with him, but he doesn’t let anyone get too close. We (ok, I) named him Mocha.

He has gotten braver. This fall he started coming up on our deck in the mornings and peering in our back door. This causes our (indoor) cat Gracie all kinds of stress. She does not want anyone else on the deck. (Our other cat Zoe doesn’t mind at all. She’s a bit more mellow about such things.)

One morning I saw him drinking from a puddle on the deck, so I put water out for him. After that, he’d come 2 or 3 times some days, just to get a drink. So when the weather got cold, of course I had to get a heated bird bath so that he (and the birds) could have water all winter long.

He seems to like it here. Sometimes he even comes and sits on our window ledges and looks in.

Did I mention that Gracie doesn’t like him hanging around?

He comes as early as 6:30 am to drink, and the other night I saw him getting water on the porch at 9:30 pm. I’m getting worried that he has no home and sleeps under our deck. What will happen when it gets really cold? Paul assures me that he probably has a cat door in his home, where he is free to come and go. But I think I had better worry about him all winter long. You know, because worrying is so effective.

So far I have refrained from buying an outdoor heated cat house, and putting food out for him. So far. But I’m still worried about him.

Sheri istherea”bleedingheart”signonmyhouse


  1. Don’t feel alone. I currently worry about 4 “barn cats”… Mom, 2 teen-agers and a fall kitten. They have food, water and a nest of quilt batting scraps in a corner of the barn. After the first of the year I am starting a catch-and-neuter campaign so we don’t have lots more. Don’t know if they will ever be more than barn cats, but they will have a home.

  2. The word is out that OUR HOUSE is the house to go to for a “wonderful life!” We recently adopted our fifth stray, Reggie. I, too, was starting to worry about the colder temps. So, after Vet check, neuter, vacc, etc. he is slowly settling in (and the others are even more slowly getting adjusted to a new family member). I love my cats!

  3. He looks exactly like my favorite cat, Manny, but he can’t be because Manny’s in New Hampshire. Pretty sure that’s a bit far even for him.

    If his fur isn’t matted and icky, he almost certainly has a home. That fur is too luxurious to be able to withstand outdoor life, so as long as he’s not got tangles all along his belly, you probably don’t need to worry!

  4. What a lovely visitor — he obviously feels the good knitting vibes around the place — cozy, with cats inside. Yup, I reckon AnaMarie is right — he sounds like he’s got a home. And a cool ‘hood to roam.

  5. He looks like my Lucy! 🙂

    I agree with AnaMarie — judging from the photos, his fur looks to be in good shape. If he were living rough, it would not looks so good. Maybe he just figured out that you have two beautiful girl cats for him to flirt with. 😉

    But still, if he were hanging around my house, I’d worry too.

  6. Oh stop worrying and just get the heated cat house. If he has a home no worries, if he does not have a home no worries! Win win! Small price to pay for kitty comfort.

    Hmmmm perhaps this attitude is why I have so many furry friends in my home! Still win win.

  7. Usually cats like that have been taken care of through the year. Maybe Mocha has just expanded his roaming range – they usually don’t go far. Do you see him at other places throughout the neighborhood? He is a pretty one. The sign over your door is a bright white light showing the love you have for these little ones. We have the same light over our house.

  8. I took in a small kitty that has been wandering around our place and she has been with us happily for 2 years now. I would poll your neighbors, see if anyone knows anything about the beauty. If no one knows where he came from or belongs, I would say he belongs with you and you should do what your heart says! Good Luck!

  9. During the first year we were in our house, three cats from the farm up the road came to visit. We had an “indoor” cat at the time, and we figured that the threesome wanted to check out the “new cat on the block”. They came every day for several years and would lie down outside our patio door while our cat would lie down on his side of the door, and they quietly enjoyed each other’s company. Two of the visitors eventually passed on, and the remaining cat still visited. When our cat finally passed on, the visitor came one more time, and spent a couple of hours curled up outside our door, and then left, never to be seen again! We still have occasional visits from other cats even though we no longer have one ourselves. Cats know who their friends are, and they bless us accordingly!

  10. I’m a 100% with you – I’m a worrier and it DOES work. I once saw the cutest LOL Cat pic that was captioned “worrying works – 99% of the things I worry about never happen”. Anyway – you could get a non heated cat house, but get a heated kitty bed to put it in. 🙂

  11. I’d be more worried that some other creature (raccoon, skunk??) would think a heated cat house is the perfect new winter home!

  12. Go ahead and put out the food and get the heated house. Trust me, you’ll sleep better!! After noticing a neighbor’s cat huddled in the bushes on several cold winter nights, I put a heated bed in my garage and started keeping the overhead garage door open all winter, just enough for a cold kitty to slip in and sleep there. Over the years, there have been an assortment of feline visitors who bolt from the bed when I open the kitchen door in the morning. Even if your visitor has a home, it may not be one where his owners provide the care they should.

  13. We have several outdoor cats near us but only one who consistently tries to get inside. A former renter used to let him in and he’s decided that he likes us enough to come back. He won’t get along with my two girls though so outside he stays. Kills me to close the door on him every day but I know he has at least three other houses that care for him.

  14. I would be worried, too, Sheri. In fact, I would probably have tried to lure him in with food by now, adopted him, given him a name, taken him to the vet for a thorough checkup, insist the other cats accept him, and snuggle him in my lap at night. I think you are showing great restraint!!

  15. He has sought you out. Maybe he does have a home, but if he doesn’t he needs a warm place to sleep and food to eat. From experience, I know you will feel better if you do.

  16. I have a neighbor that takes in strays and puts out food to feed them… it attracts every neighborhood outdoor cat (tame and with a home), rats, feral cats, possums, raccoon, and mice. Then the snakes come for the rats and mice. BIG Texas snakes. Everybody in the neighborhood knows who is doing it and we all sort of “look the other way” but it’s kind of gross and definitely frowned upon.

    Sort of a slippery slope there. 🙂

    Mocha might have a home and just likes to explore. Animals are smart and know how to survive. 🙂

  17. Our cat does that. She has various houses in the neighborhood where people pay attention to her and that’s where she’ll hang out. We keep food out for her and she has a warm place to sleep in our yard shed. There have been times when we haven’t seen her for months, only to see her over at a neighbor’s house where we assume they “adopted” her by taking better care of her than we do (in her opinion). Then those people will move and she’ll hang out at our house again.

    If a cat is in good health, it probably is not a stray. If it’s thin and scrawny (and obviously isn’t a new mother) then you might do something for it. But otherwise, be kind, pet it, but for goodness sake, don’t worry about it! Cats have fur. It is natural for them to be outside, regardless of the weather.

  18. I had a nice cat dropped off near our shed 3 years ago…..and I already had 2 cats. I worried and worried and not just about food but about her increasing the kitty population! So not only did I put out water and food and a bed, but I took her to get spayed and shots. Turns out she was already spayed so when I tried to give her away (did I tell you she was sweet as well as nice?) my husband promptly named her Gypsy and she now sleeps at the foot of our bed! And of course, he’s the one who says no more animals!

  19. That looks like a ragdoll or burmiess (sp.) cat which are rare breeds for a stray. Have you asked your neighbors about the cat? They might know its back story.

  20. Three years ago we found a kitty who looked very much like your visitor sitting in our garbage can. Although her fur was not matted she was very thin (found that out once we were able to get our hands on her) We put up posters, contaced the P.D., Humane Society, put her in the lost and found and yet no one ever claimed her. She is part of our family now and we still scratch our heads about why no one would have made the attempt to look for her….

  21. Ohhh. He looks like our precious Kazuhiko, who passed a few years go at age 20. If it was me (just saying) I would put out a nice heavy cardboard box with a smallish entrance for him and maybe straw or something disposable as a warm bedding.

    Keep in mind the house might be used by skunks or raccoons, so be ready to throw the whole thing away (or compost it).

  22. The cat could be a recent drop-off. In any case, he’s not wearing a collar so you won’t know unless one of the neighbors knows the story or you take him in to be checked for a chip.

    Hopefully, he’s just wandering the neighborhood irritating the new cat residents.

  23. We have a similar situation at our house. Ours, though, was MOST DEFINITELY without anyone caring for it. She was really skinny and her fur didn’t have sheen. It was cold in late October when I discovered her under the deck pressing against the bricks of my house. Long story short she lives in my (heated) barn now, and is named Lola.

    I agree that while a heated cat house might be a bit of overkill, they do make the heated mats which you could put in a regular house. They only turn on when pressure is applied. And PLEASE, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, DO NOT (!!!!) UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE YOUR GARAGE DOOR OPEN (?!!!!!!) as one commenter has suggested. That is an excellent way to get raccoons/opossum/skunks in your garage. And trust me, YOU DON’T WANT SKUNKS LIVING IN YOUR GARAGE. Happened to a friend of mine, though she isn’t sure how they got in. Her car will forever smell of skunk spray.

  24. I would do the same thing. I used to put water and food out for the neighbor’s cat who liked to hang out on my porch. I thought she was hungry, but really she just wanted to be petted a bit. My kitties were not too thrilled.

  25. Now you’ve done it — I had to click on the link and scroll through all of the pet items so I could discover all the “essentials” my guys had been deprive of . . . .

  26. You are not alone. I live in a big city and every spring finds me in our back alley catching kittens. It seems like for every adult cat we manage to get fixed, two appear. I actually got in trouble with our how for feeding them in the alley, I mix wormer in with the wet food. I’m just sneakier now. 😛

  27. Mocha is gorgeous. Maybe you’ll find out his actual home if you talk to all of the neighbors (you are probably the type that knows all of their neighbors, but I don’t know even half of mine). You might see him in someone’s arms purring up a storm.

  28. My Missy came to us that way. She used to show up in our back yard to bird, and looked well-cared for. After a few months, she looked much worse for wear. We found out that a family had moved, and apparently left her behind. She now spends most of her time curled up on our heater vents. We’ve had her for 7 years now!

  29. When I lived in Texas, one of the neighbor’s cats decided she liked our house better… we had dogs, but the neighbor had 5 kids! I got her spayed (after finding kittens in my car… neighbor split the cost with me) and found homes for her babies. My alpha cat would NOT take another cat in the house, especially as Sassy was an alpha too… but Sassy was content to hang around in the car port. One of my roommates smoked, so he had a nice comfy chair in the car port.. he’d sit out side and read when the weather was nice, so she’d curl up there. I did have a dog house, but no one used it… not the cats, the dog, or any other creatures as far as I could tell. (Dog spent the nights in the house, though… Whiskey loved it outside, but I just couldn’t stand the idea of keeping her out at night!)

    Anyway, when it got cold, I started letting Sassy sleep in the laundry room. It was attached to the back of the house in a funky way, with a door directly to the car port. I’d let her in before bed, and she’d be ready to go out when the dogs woke me in the morning. (I wonder what happened to her? I broke up with my boyfriend and moved… and he was never a cat person… /sigh)

  30. I, too, am a worrier about neighborhood animals. Here is a link to a great website with suggestions for winterized housing for kitties that might not have a home. I try to be a glass half-full type of person but when I see a cat that is outside from early am to late pm, I always worry that they have no home.

  31. Hi lovey – it sounds like he doesn’t have another place to go. Once there’s snow, you can look for tracks, but I’ll bet your worst fears are confirmed.

    Get a heated cat house and start feeding. The sooner s/he gets tamed or overcomes its shyness, the sooner you can get a hold of Mocha and see to spay/neuter, but more importantly to a rabies shot. Be sure to ask the vet to look for a microchip (perhaps do that first, so if s/he is lost, s/he can go safely back home before you spend $$).

    In my experience, and I’m sorry to be this cynical, but it’s true, no one else takes care of these situations unless the person in them does. You could be saving a life. I’ve never had a Colorado winter, but I expect it will live up to its reputation, and being out in that, without food or shelter, can be lethal.

  32. Oh Sheri…what a dilemma. That’s how Sadie came to me ten years ago. She was less than a year old but did exactly the same thing. Hung around outside driving the other cats nuts! I was getting ready to move and didn’t have a lot of time to waste so one day I finally coaxed her into the house and popped her over to the vet for a check-up and the rest was history. I am a big worrier so I’m glad it worked for us. Hope it works out for you guys!! Have a great Wednesday!!

  33. Have you considered contacting a rescue society for cats or cat foster groups. They care for them till they can find good homes for them and they are cared for in actual homes and not shelters.

  34. Food…lots for winter because it helps keep him warm. Water. And a heated cat house. He looks thin. He might have a home but it could be an always outdoor one with people feeding him when they think of it…which might not be often. Go for it! You and Mocha will feel better.

  35. I used to think my Elliott was a very independent outdoor cat at our Seattle apartment… Until I found out he’d spend half the day (while I was at work) hanging out at my neighbor’s apartment with her cats, eating her food, laying around on her couch.

    If he looks healthy, he’s probably got a home somewhere and is just out cruising his territory.

  36. I’m just like you! And the cats know us! They may not come to other people but cats seek me out! I’ll be worrying along with you.

  37. I would ask the neighbors around about the cat. That is how I have discovered where two of our visiting cats belong. Peace of mind.

  38. I’m telling you – those guys talk which means when you get that heated cat house, he’s going to tell his friends which means there’s going to be a party which means one whiff of the good life and nobody’s going home which means by New Years, there’s going to be a herd of them living in your back yard from as far away as Maine. Just sayin’.

  39. I welcomed a tiny (just weaned), cold, hungry, frightened kitten into my home six years ago because he came up onto the back porch and asked. I just couldn’t turn away. HIs name is still Kitten, and he’s sleeping on my left leg at this very moment. We already had two cats, but they got used to Kitten and now they all sleep together and groom each other.

    Mocha looks thin, and I think he’s asking you for help. Life is too short to regret not helping a kitty who asks. 🙂

  40. We have two of those stray kitties that visit our house too and we feed them too. We don’t have to worry about water because of the backyard pond, but we worry over them too and we feed them. We’ve asked the neighbors, but no one is claiming them. They are also feeding these guys. Drives my (all-indoor-for-their-safety) kitties out of their minds too. Good luck!

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