Tale of a Tortie


Once upon a time there was a pastel tortie that lived with a colony of kitties in a small town. She spent her days outside in all kinds of weather, but she had the companionship of her feline friends if not a warm bed or a comfortable lap. She vaguely remembered living in a house. However, one day she was allowed to venture out and was never let back in.

She did have a bit of human companionship. In a flurry of activity one day, several humans arrived with all sorts of boxes and boards and bowls. Within a few hours, they had put together some houses and filled them with hay. Best of all, they placed bowls of food near the houses. Once the humans left, Tortie and her friends ate heartily for the first time in ages.

They all fell into a routine. The cats had a large area in which to hunt and explore and at night or when it rained, they

Despite the snow, the cats had plenty to eat and snug huts for protection.

sought refuge in the little huts. And for the first time for some, there was plenty to eat since the food placed out for them was not a one-time event. Twice a day, every day, a car would pull up near the colony and a woman would fill the bowls with fresh food and water and occasionally add fresh hay to the houses.

Gradually Tortie, her orange friends, the black and white friend, the big tabby boy all started looking forward to the visits. Occasionally, someone would disappear for a day or so, then return, smelling a bit odd and mumbling something about “being fixed.”


Then came the snowiest winter any of them could ever remember. One after another, the storms practically buried the cats in their little houses. The nights were long and dark and cold. The wind swirled the snow

A special hut was set up for their food.

around the colony.

When they crept out of their huts after the storms, their food bowls were nowhere to be found. It became routine for Tortie to make her way to a nearby tree to survey the effects of the storms on the little colony. Each time she wondered whether the people who fed them would be able to find their way back.

But Tortie and her friends didn’t have to worry. Each time it snowed, their caregivers indeed came back. They shoveled pathways to the cats’ dens, put in fresh hay for extra warmth, installed sheets of plywood as a barrier against the wind, and even put all their food in a separate shelter


to protect it from the snow.

A sense of trust began to build among the cats. The people were kind and spoke to them gently. Some of the cats even came out to greet them and allowed themselves to be scratched under their chin or stroked along their backs.

As the days lengthened Tortie began to dream of


sunlight and warmth, sunlight that would come through a window into her cozy bed and warmth that just might come from the love of a person.

Editor’s note: This is typical of the 12 to 14 colonies managed by the Branford Compassion Club, an organization dedicated to caring for the feral and abandoned cats around Branford, Conn.  It is hoped

And down!

that cats like Tortie will be able to find loving homes through their new facility at 2037 Foxon Road, North Branford.

Many thanks to Mary Johnson for providing these wonderful photographs.


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

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