The Ballad of Micro Scaredy and the Cal Football Stadium feral kittens (Part One)

The whole thing started out one night last summer. I was sitting on a bench by the Cal football stadium, catching my breath before I headed up to my campsite in the Berkeley hills. When a cat off in the darkness somewhere started meowing at me. Which was weird. What the hell was a cat doing way out here by the football stadium?? And why was it meowing at me?? Finally, after awhile, the cat mustered the courage to come out of the shadows and approach me. It was Micro Scaredy!! She was a feral cat that had been born at my campsite about three years ago, and lived with me for her first two years, before she got run out of my campsite by the alpha cat of the tribe. And I hadn’t seen her since then, in well over a year. But now, here she was! Magically manifested right in front of me!

Micro Scaredy kept meowing at me as she tentatively circled around me from a distance. I was amazed she still recognized me after all this time, but I could tell she didn’t quite trust me anymore — if I made the slightest movement towards her, she’d go running back into the shadows. As luck would have it, I had some cat food and some cheese in my backpack, so I dumped it out on the ground and sat there on the bench, waiting. . . Finally, Micro Scaredy came over and gobbled down the food. I wondered how she had survived during that year on her own. She seemed healthy enough, but definitely a little on the skinny side. After she was done eating, I reached down and tried to pet her. But she recoiled, and quickly ran off back into the shadows.

The next night I showed up again at the football stadium at the same time, and sat there on the bench, waiting. . . Sure enough, after awhile, I hear some meowing coming from the darkness. Same deal as the day before — I put out some food, Micro Scaredy comes out into the light and eats it up, and then returned to the shadows. . . Well, we repeated this pattern for about a week before Micro Scaredy finally let me touch her. First just a couple of quick pats. But after awhile she’d let me pet her. And by the second week, she’d jump right up on the bench and hang out with me for awhile after eating. So this became a nightly ritual — feeding Micro Scaredy and then hanging out with her outside the football stadium. I set up food and water dishes in a discreet spot behind these bushes on the grounds of the stadium. And Micro Scaredy would usually be waiting for me to show up every night. As soon as she saw me coming up the steps, she’d come running towards me. Usually she was inside the football stadium when I showed up, she was on the other side of the fence that surrounded the stadium, and she’d come running out of crack in the fence to greet me. Apparently, she had been living inside the Cal football stadium for some time, which was almost completely deserted because of the Covid lockdown. So she had the whole place to herself. All 60,000 seats.

Then, after a couple weeks of this, Micro Scaredy started doing something odd. After eating she would stand there meowing at me, like she was trying to communicate something to me, like maybe she was in some kind of distress and wanted something from me. But I couldn’t figure out what. Until one night, when I noticed two little kittens scurrying around on the other side of the fence inside the stadium. Apparently, Micro Scaredy had picked the stadium to have her litter of kittens– which was the perfect spot; deserted, safe and warm. And now Micro Scaredy wanted me to start feeding her kittens, too. She called out to her kittens and then went rushing off to attend to them.

Eventually, Micro Scaredy led her two kittens down to food dish after she was done eating. Two little tabbies, about 3 months old. One of the kittens immediately darted to the food dish and started gobbling it down. While the other was more timid — the slightest movement by me and she’d go running back into the shadows. … So this went on for about a month, feeding the whole crew every night. And often they’d all follow me when I walked up the steps, and hang out with me at the top of the steps. And I’d throw them some more treats before they disappeared back into the football stadium.

But then one night when I showed up, Micro Scaredy wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened to her. Or where she disappeared to. But I would never see her agsin. The kittens were still there, but mom was gone. The kittens would meow like crazy at me from inside the fence when I showed up. I figured they were pretty freaked out now that their mom had deserted them. And they sure looked pretty forlorn, scurrying up and down the steps of the stadium, all alone in a cold, hard world. And I didn’t know what to do about it. The campus would be re-opening in a couple weeks for the fall semester, and all the students would be flooding back to the campus. And the football season would be starting soon, too, and the stadium would be opened up and full of people. So I didn’t know WHAT to do — if anything — about these two little feral kittens who had been abandoned and were now fending for themselves, living inside the Cal football stadium. . .

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