The Tale of the Cats

Jeffrey Cohen
4 min readMay 16, 2020
Calico stray kitten caught for trap neuter release or domestication by the ASPCA

One sunny afternoon, I was getting my kids out of the car when a scruffy feral cat stepped out from under my neighbor’s deck. She was followed by two kittens but when I moved sideways, the mother cat let out a deathly hiss and I backed away.

Later, we saw the mother cat cross the street, carrying one of the kittens in her mouth. I walked to the side of the house and found the other one, shivering and mewing in a bush. Without thinking, I picked it up and it too issued a deathly hiss and swiped at me, so I wisely put it back down. A little while later, the mother came back and collected it as well.

Over the next couple of weeks, as I played catch with my older son in the backyard, the kittens would appear by our back fence. Like spectators at a tennis match, their heads would go left and right as they followed the path of the ball as it traveled from my glove to my son’s glove.

We soon learned there were three kittens, two black and one calico, as well as the mother. They were living in the greenery between the two rows of houses. I sent an email to the ASPCA about “trap neuter release” (TNR) and was contacted by Cindy, a supervisor who lived less than a mile from me. The next day, she dropped off two cages. I downloaded instructions on how to set them up humanely with food and covers. Monday morning, everything was in place. Monday afternoon, everything was untouched. I locked the cages (but left in the food).

The next morning the cages were turned over — the cats had done everything they could to get to the food. Sighing, I reset everything and went to work. My (then) wife called excitedly in mid-afternoon — we had a cat! Turns out, it was the mother. But the woman from the ASPCA was unable to come by. “Release the cat, she’ll come back,” Cindy assured me.

It took a few days, but the mother did return. Off she went to the ASPCA, and in the next 72 hours all three kittens followed. Kittens have a small window where they can be domesticated after living in the wild. Only two of the three were able to accept being around humans. “The calico is right here, brushing against my hand through her cage,” Cindy informed me. “We should have no problem finding her a home.”

I noticed a few more feral cats in our neighborhood. I saw bowls of food being left on people’s…



Jeffrey Cohen

Longtime writer and crank. Articles come from more than 30 years in journalism and corporate communications. Follow my podcast at