Our neighbors are very fond of animate, living things. We live in a semi-rural version of suburbia, where it’s legal to have almost any sort of animal as long as you have enough room for them (and the neighbors don’t complain too much). Our neighbor’s lot is very small, and I suspect that’s why we haven’t seen horses or cows over there. We’ve seen (and/or heard) just about everything else: goats, sheep, chickens, pigeons, parrots, misc. birds smaller than parrots, snakes, dogs, and cats. [Come to think of it, haven’t seen/heard any pigs, either.] For whatever reason, most of the animals have escaped at some point in time, but it makes it easy to figure out who to notify when you see a very large iguana crossing the road, or when a ferret shows up at the front door. Kinda makes me wonder what other animals may be in the house. There are also the people she takes in . . . she used to have foster children, but there was a problem with the grandson she raised and another child. So now it is apt to be people who are down on their luck and need somewhere to be. Most of them are okay people. And the neighbor tries very hard to get along with everyone — she’s a nice lady.
Am not sure if it is because her animals tend to escape, or because we have a larger lot with green grass and less confusion, but at some point many of them visit here. The chickens come and go; I don’t mind them, and even got an egg from one of them once. Years ago two of her ducks came to visit, and decided to stay. Even when we took them home, they returned, so finally we just let them stay. Unfortunately we didn’t have a racoon-proof pen for them, so one night we lost one (managed to get the other one in our garage before it became dinner, too). The ducks had been in our yard so long, we felt we could speak for their welfare, so we found another home for the remaining duck.
The problem is, at what point do we take responsibility for her animals that have decided to live in our yard? Right now it is two cats, an orange and white fluffy cat we call OW Kitty, and a younger orange cat we call Punkin. (Okay, so they are not terribly original names, but technically these are not our cats.) We began feeding OW Kitty last Summer when she had kittens in our thicket of berry bushes, and looked like she was starving. [Our neighbors aren’t exactly well-off.] She moved her kittens to the neighbor’s yard the day after I mowed the lawn (guess I got too close), and we have no idea what happened to them. But she is in our backyard during most of the daylight hours, and at some point was joined by Punkin. Now, I know Punkin belongs to the neighbors, because I saw the boys carrying it around. And the boys talked about their kitty (OW Kitty) having kittens. I realize once I began feeding these two cats, we were bonded with them. I’d even let them in the house, if it didn’t upset our older, neutered male cat (who then starts marking everywhere — ugh!). What I would like to do (when I have the money) is have these two cats neutered, so at least we won’t have to worry about kittens and fights (as much). Guess I’ll have to go next door and ask our neighbor whether she still thinks of the cats as hers. Have to admit, I’ve grown attached to these cats, especially Punkin. We weren’t ready for more cats . . . but guess they were ready for us. 🙂