No good deed goes unpunished.

My mom used to say this frequently when I was growing up, and I truly believe she’s right. Today’s rant is a case in point.

I have been feeding a whole entourage of stray cats since we moved into our palatial West Philly estate, going on 8 years now. Yes, I am a Crazy Cat Lady. Every neighborhood has one. We come out of our houses each morning bedecked in mis-matched pajamas and scraggly hair, bearing cat food cans and plates, calling “Heeeeerreee, kittttty, kitttty, kitttty.”

When we first moved in, these cats almost immediately began showing up. I often jest that there’s a huge neon light – visible only to animals – above our house blinking *WE FEED.* The equivalent of the depression-era signs hobos used to leave on walls or fences marking the residence of a soft-hearted woman.

7 years ago, we took on three of these strays as full-timers, opening not only our pantry but our home to them as well. We got them neutered, we took on their medical expenses, the whole shabang. We all lived in harmony for a period of time, until these cats began spraying throughout our house and got kicked to the curb. We have – mostly out of stupidity – attempted to take one or more of these cats back into our home over the years. Initially with success, but always, always ending in failure b/c of the spraying. Once a marker. always a marker. So our three cats are all well-fed, but now live outside year-round, lest my husband kill them. There is no scent quite so pungent as cat urine.

Over the years, I’ve taken on stragglers when they show up. A sweet orange-and-white tabby with a pronounced walleye, a polydactyl black & white with a perpetually startled look. These new guys show up irregularly for morning meals, but often feed at the dry food bowl on our porch. All very routine.

The past 2 weeks have brought a new wave of cats to my doorstep. Several of them have homes, as evidenced by their sleek fur and collars, but two of them appear to be true strays. I don’t know where these new guys came from, but they seem to be looking to stay for the long haul. I am never averse to feeding the hungry – people or animals – and so I’ve welcomed these new cats at the trough.

Unfortunately, as luck would have it, these new guys are GUYS. And, as most male strays, they like to mark their turf. And since they have decided our front porch is now THEIRS, they have been spraying with abandon. My younger daughter left her cute Ikea blankey on the porch overnight. Yep, PEE CITY the next day. Bagged & Tossed. Now they have a real thing for our doormat. This morning, I picked up the paper and noticed it was glistening with morning dew. Ah, even in the city, one small taste of country living. Until I discovered it wasn’t morning dew, but _GAG_ CAT SPRAY. UGGGGH. Thankfully it was bagged, so almost none got on the actual newspaper. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my hand. Which, after several vigorous washings, STILL SMELLS.

So w/in the past two weeks our front porch has become the local cat urinal. Several days ago I began feeding the cats in the back yard, where they can do less harm. Today I am removing the cat dishes and placing them back there as well. I have hesitated doing this b/c – in addition to the cats – we also have several large opossums who like nothing better than cat food, and leaving the dishes out back will simply encourage them to dine. But drastic times call for drastic measures.

My husband says we should blast them from the block with the garden hose. My heart says otherwise. What else can we do?? If anyone has any experience with this, I am VERY open to suggestions.

9 thoughts on “No good deed goes unpunished.

  1. Call animal control?

    I actually went to look at a house (during our marathon house hunt) which smelled of cat pee RIGHT BY THE FRONT DOOR. even though the house was o-k, we wouldn’t have given that house a snowballs chance in hell.

  2. Regaining composure and wiping off screen…aw
    fresh urine in the morning…good luck, we have the kitty cat club in our neighborhood (in a drainage ditch) where all the cats meet and decide who is leaving out food and who would appreciate a good spray or some other nice gift.
    Have you received any vermin on your doormat? Sadly, I have no advice. Even after the food is gone the imprint of the memory is there…they always come back!

  3. oops! The above anonymous comment was me!

    totally unrelated to the post… I love the recipes
    alas you can lead a normal, happy life without salt, a must for some of us. I did print one recipe on top of a check that was in the printer at work! Thank goodness I am the only one who handles those!!!!

  4. Your anon commentator above has actually got a solution. The kitty club in her neighbourhood meets in a drainage ditch…. Is there anywhere you could encourage them to eat, which wasn’t too far from your home but far enough away so that you are not left to live in pee scented home?
    You are like me, my husband has told me all of the time not to feed the rabbits/birds/hedgehogs/squirrels/fieldmice etc… but I never listen and now I am paying the price! The rabbits are over running place (but the babies are sooooo cute!) and the blackbirds use my washing line as a gang meeting place!
    Isn’t it meant to be a show of appreciation when a cat leaves you a dead mouse or rat or headless bunny on the doorstep?
    love you loads! xxx

  5. your timeliness with this post is brilliant! we, too , have been suckered into feed a cutie pie kitty and now he brings his friends. i thought i was hallucinating the cat pee smell each morning when i leave my house…but i guess not. let me know how you solve the problem. 🙂

    ps. do you really want me to send my air horn, or were you kidding?

  6. Thanks for all of the comments everyone. Our porch is outdoor fresh once again. Cat pee be gone! Feeding the cats out back seems to be working like a charm. I still have to referee a bit – the half-starved new guys have a tendency to edge out the well-fed oldsters, but otherwise all is well. YAY!

    PS: Yes Curly, please send air horn ASAP!! The weather is warming up & so are the hookers.

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