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Somebody’s been sleeping in my tomatoes!

By Gary Bogue
Monday, September 29th, 2008 at 6:43 am in Cats, Feral cats.


On Sept. 11, I wrote a little note here mentioning that I’d spotted a very tiny, skinny orange feral kitten hiding in the tomato jungle in my backyard garden.

What to do? I left a bowl of food and another of water for the starving little gal. That was two-and-a-half weeks ago.

The first couple of days whenever I’d slide open the back door to go feed her, POOF! the kitten disappeared in a flash of orange. It didn’t take much to spook her, but hunger is a strong motivator and the cat kept coming back.

On the fourth day I stood absolutely still about 10 feet away from the food and water dishes after filling them. After about five minutes I heard a timid little “mew.” The kitten eased s-l-o-w-l-y out from its hiding place under the lemon tree and s-l-o-w-l-y headed for the food dish, not taking her eyes off me even for a second.

She wolfed down the dish of food with her eyes locked on mine the entire time. I scratched my ear and she was gone in a blink of orange.

That was two weeks ago.


Today the kitten is eating three meals a day from its dish on the back deck in front of our sliding kitchen door.

It appears to understand that glass is a barrier even though it can see through it. As long as the door is closed, I can tap my finger on the glass and the kitten bats at it with a paw. It sits on the picnic table on our back deck and watches us eating dinner through a window — two feet away. But let me slide open the door just an inch … POOF the kitten is gone … to return when the door is closed.

Yesterday our dingbat Maine coon cat, Newman, finally acknowledge the presence of this orange creature from outer space that has landed on our back deck. The kitten was pawing playfully at the back door glass when Newman suddenly charged the door so hard his nose banged into the glass.


The kitten didn’t even flinch. She just reached up and batted the glass in front of Newman’s nose with her paw. Then the kitten turned around and wagged her little butt in front of Newman’s face.

I like a cat with style.

What am I doing here? I don’t need another cat! /Gary


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39 Responses to “Somebody’s been sleeping in my tomatoes!”

  1. Pat in Antioch Says:

    Aw gee, Gary; what a cutie! I already emailed you a note about how lucky you are that she picked you out of all the other people she could have chosen! Enjoy her!! (It’s only a matter of time till she moves in!)

    Pat in Antioch

  2. Diane Gardner Says:

    Most orange cats are male -right? The best cat I ever had in 70 years of kitties was a stray orange male. He made all the military moves from Florida, Texas, Kansas, New Hampshire and California. He got very sick moving from Florida to Texas, requiring urgent care. The military vet in Laredo referred to him as kitty baby. It got modified to Kittybabe. He was smart and sweet.

    Enjoy your new friend, you too Tut.

    Your column starts my day – thank you.

  3. Jody Cooper Says:

    Awww, Gary! Don’t you know not to look a gift kitty in the mouth?

    Jody, Clayton

  4. Debbie Says:

    That’s the same way we got our Tilly 3 years ago!
    The only problem we have is the spraying.

  5. Maria T. Says:

    That’s exactly how we got our little black kitty! Fortunately he came to us with a clipped ear (neutered) and ready to go! Six years later we’ve got ourselves a 15 pound+ tom cat whose our best little buddy.

    Maybe you could call your new cat “Serendipity”. :)

  6. Sue Says:

    Oh Gary – how can you resist that little face? There’s something about orange cats – they seem to have the best personalities. Years ago our neighbors had an orange cat, Frankie, that spent most of its days in our backyard because their dog wasn’t good about sharing space with a cat. He was very skittish and would run whenever we went out the back door or came anywhere near him. My younger son was the only one that could get close to him. He would sit far away from Frankie and little by little scoot closer and closer until Frankie would dash off. Finally he was able to pet him. As time went on Frankie let all of us pet him and soon was coming in the house, eating there, getting to know our other cat. We felt kind of guilty because it seemed that we had stolen the neighbor’s cat. But we loved Frankie – he was so sweet and cuddly. I even took him to the vet once and passed the neighbors out in their front yard without them realizing I had Frankie in the car. I finally talked to them about Frankie and told them that we loved having him around and were willing to take him as ours if they were ok with it. They had another cat and a dog and were fine with relinquishing Frankie to us. Happy day – Frankie was officially ours now! He lived with us for several more years and helped us immensely when we lost our 17 year old cat, Jimaal. Unfortunately, Frankie was killed in a freaky accident when we were out of town and in the care of the neighbors we “stole” him from. Needless to say I wish a little orange kitty would show up in our tomato garden. I’d take him in a heartbeat, although I think our current cat would have a hard time accepting a new one.
    Please continue to give us updates on your orange kitty – I’ll live vicariously through you.
    P.S. I like the suggestion of Tomato for his/her name.

  7. Millie Dusha Says:

    Gary – you need to bring her into your home and your heart. She obviously found her new home. Newman will adjust.

  8. Ann Says:

    Dear Gary,
    Although I have never written to you before I felt the need to express my congratulations for “adding” another lovely baby to your family. The little kitty could not have found a better place to move in.

  9. Patricia Seals Says:

    Our family has merged several people and their respective loved ones (pets). Sometimes it’s tense but it always works out and the dynamics prove once and for all that animals are individuals with their own little personalities. We have a no animal will be surrended policy for any reason and we have benefitted greatly. Have fun with the little one and love to Newman.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Ahh, the cats always know where the suckers – pardon me, I mean the *good-hearted* – folks live.

    As I’m a big believer in the cat finding their person when the time is right, I think that’s one lucky little feral!

  11. Christine Davis Says:

    Please try and capture him and dont leave him outside. You know how dangerous that can be. What a lucky kitty to have come to your back deck! I know your soft heart towards cats and I know you will do the right thing! Newman will adjust!

  12. Jan Says:

    Gary, it is so good that the little orange kitten has found you. Of all the people you are the most likely to work through the challenges of the feral cat becoming a “domestic”.
    Tomato is a great name!
    And, it is wonderful fun for your column.

  13. B.J. Britton Says:

    Gary, I was so very, very sad for you when Tut’s long and illustrious life came to a close. I have an aging ruddy Abysinnian (Simba-zu)who is my buddy. Now, you have a new friend who is going to wiggle her way into your heart. Orange stripped kitties are very special, had one that adopted me years ago and had him for 17 years. He helped me raise my six children and kept our Shelties in line. Does she have a name yet? How about Cleo (short for Cleopatra).

  14. Pat in Pittsburg Says:

    Gary, this reminds me of a little yellow kitten with big blue eyes who adopted my son and me many years ago when my son was in pre-school (he is 30 now). The kitten had been abused so we took it home. Schroeder lived for 19 years. What are you going to name your little one?

  15. Jeanne Says:

    Gary,I have been so anxious for news of your kitty in the garden. My Angel was abandoned with her kittens in a box in my front yard by someone last year. She is a Lynx point siamese, her boys are J.D.(Jimmy Dean)a tabby mix and Monroe a flamepoint. They were nurtured back to health and captured our hearts in the process. Now, I am sure BLINK has already captured yours. Newman has been lonely since he lost his Tut, now he will be the boss, but maybe not BLINK looks like one sassy (girl).Awaiting news on the entering the sliding door. Lots of pictures Lois.

  16. Jackie in Livermore Says:

    Hi Gary,
    We enjoy your column and stories immensely. This one about your new little “tomato” kitty is very special.
    We too have been “adopted” by a feral orange kitty. We first saw her last fall, thinking she was a new cat in the neighborhood. She was beautiful and healthy. Glimpses of her during the winter told us she had been abandoned. She appeared at our doorstep in the spring looking like she was at death’s door. Every bone in her body was visable and she could barely walk. We began feeding her and now after a summer of eating well, she looks healthy again. We named her Izzy. She still will not let us stroke her, but she does not dart off. We can touch her with one finger and she seems to like us talking to her. She spends most of her time in our yard. Our two indoor cats, big boys Blackie and Tigger, just love her. One day Tigger actually escaped through the window screen and was romping around the yard with her when I caught up to him. We’re hoping that some day, Izzy will become tame enough to come inside and join our boys in a safer life. I worry about her every day. Good luck with your new little baby Tomato!

  17. Betty Says:

    Thank you for sharing; please keep us posted! Good luck!

  18. Jennifer Regan Says:

    Oh Gary, he is sooooooo cute. I’m sure he/she already has you tied around his/her proverbial finger! I think Newman would really love a little brother/sister. By the way – though I like looking at your “mug” in the paper everyday at the top of your column, you need a Newman kitty in the picture with you…just a thought. Love your work & please keep this little guy : )

  19. Deborah Says:

    Oh how cute! That kittie is sooo yours! We all knew it when you started writing about it and I bet you secretly did too! Newman is playing tough now, because he is afraid to give up his heart again, but he’ll come around! What about Jardin, the spanish name for garden? Good Luck!

  20. nance dalman Says:

    Dear Gary,
    It has been so special reading about you and little tomatoe. we too found abandoned kittens in behind our wood pile some years ago and what a struggle to catch them but we did and tamed them and kept one my first cat and gave the rest away as indoor cats. I love your column and is the reason I take the Times. YOu have answered so many of my questions when I was first a converted cat lover finding those little wild babies. Tomatoe is so lucky to find you, Nance in Walnut Creek.

  21. Cat Mom Says:

    Hey man, take it in, it is yours, I also think is was sent by Tut, don’t let him down.

    Cat Mom in Danville

  22. maureen oberlander Says:

    gary, i could not resist looking at the pictures. She(he) is adorable!!! the suggestion of the name TOMATO was cute but a bit too obvious. playing around with some letters i think the name “GLORIUS” would be oh so appropropriate. Parts of the 3 of you can permanently be honored by this kitty. The letters ” LOIS” piece of your wife, the “GR” piece of you, and of course the instumental “U” from the unforgettable TUT> An added plus is that it can be male or female. What do you think? All the best with this sweet thing. As, always, maureen oberlander

  23. Shelley Says:

    What a smart kitty! He/she sure knew where to find a good home. Best of luck catching him/her, and Newman getting used to the new baby.

  24. Shelley Says:

    My brother is a big John Wayne fan….they found a kitty that looks just like the “wantabe-your” kitty and named it “Trooper” in honor of all the their kitty went through to find a good home. In all my years of working with animals it’s the best cat I have ever known. Have fun with your new friend!

  25. Sharyl Says:

    Gary, you should name her ‘Heirloom’, as in tomato. She’s adorable! She is long and sleek like Tut, maybe he wants you to have a kitty that will remind you of him?

  26. janice Says:

    I have two 13 year old 23 lb orange male tabbies….max the smart one is the best cat i have ever had and he just adores my husband….he waits for him to come home from work and lays up on his shoulder every night…you can just see him thinking….the other one Sam just doesn’t have it together he is the bully and also 23 lb’s….we love them both…this little guy in your backyard is soooooo cute….you just have to bring him in

  27. dian overly Says:

    If anybody in the world can tame that kitten, guess who! Have read the comments above and love the name Jardin although, of course, the choice is yours (and your wife’s). I’ll continue reading your column even if you name her something else. What a precious bundle of joy has been thrust upon you! Must admit, Newman doesn’t look too thrilled, but . . .
    Two tuxedo cats mom

  28. Ruby Miller Says:

    Hi Gary-
    Love your column, it’s the first thing I read in the Valley Times. The first thing I read in the Chronicle is Jon Carrols’s column. He recently lost Archie, one of his two cats, and just adopted Pancho, an orange kitten and has kept me entertained with tales of life with a new kitten. I think you two are living parallel (sp) lives. Your orange kitty looks awfully cut and Newman will adjust.
    Keep us all posted.
    Ruby Miller

  29. Janet Allen Says:

    She/he’s captured my heart to I’m sure she/he has done the same to you. Of course you have a new family member!

  30. Judy Haley Says:

    I think Tut and Isis had something to do with bringing thes new kitten into your life. She looks spunkie with
    the kink in her tail.

  31. Jayne Thomas Says:

    Wally, our 20 year old, is the last of three extraordinary male gold tigers we’ve loved over the years. He says get that kitten inside, and in honor of Tut, whose spirit no doubt directed him/her to you, name him/her “Tuttoo.” What a lucky kitty!

  32. Claudia McClure Says:

    Hi Gary,

    We found a feral kitty hidden in our front yard who looked much like yours.

    We captured her after weeks of feeding her. She would follow me around as I gardened, but never get close enough for me to touch. She would “paw” me as I bent my head over a plant.

    To ensure she was healthy before we introduced her to our indoor cat, we kept her isolated in a cage for a next day vet visit. My husband already name her Cat Stevens. Oh no!

    Unfortunately, she tested positive for feline leukemia. The prognosis wasn’t good and she was euthanized. Sad, but I wouldn’t trade the time my buddy and I puttered around the garden together. I didn’t have to look far to find her if I was in the yard, and she was never far away.

    We missed her. Stevens is a good name. ( :

    Claudia and Jon

  33. Jodi Says:

    Best wishes to you & your new friend! It reminds me of the white kitty that showed up on my doorstep 10 years ago. He knew that October nights in the Bay Area got chilly. He’s been part of the family ever since. I’ve enjoyed your column for years–thank you for the stories.

  34. Bonnie Says:

    My vote for the name of your new lil’ baby is either for Carnelian or Topaz. Both are natural stones and come in shades of orange & red (Topaz comes in a wide variety of colors) and it has been told that both gemstones have healing properties for ailments of the heart. Is that true? I don’t know…but it’s fun to think it is possible. But I do agree with the others who said that Tut sent this little blessing to help ease your pain from his passing. What can be more proof than the kitty wagging it’s butt in Newman’s face that Tut had a paw in this?

  35. Mary Says:

    Reminds me of how I met most of my 6 kitties, including 2 orange and white ones. Little one looks so cute and I’m sure its only a matter of time before your little friend will lose her fear of you. All mine came inside for good when the rains of December began. I think Tut sent you a new friend to keep Newman in line. My orange and white kitties are Sammi and Beallt (byelt), which I have been told refers to fire in Gaelic.

  36. Jane Lowell Says:

    Dear Gary,

    The Cosmic Feline Distribution Office (CFDO) has decided it’s time for you to take in another kitty. You can’t fight the CFDO. They know where you live. Please keep caring for and coaxing your little girl. She’s adorable.

    I agree Topaz would be a perfect name for her.

    Two years ago I lost a very much loved, mellow cat friend. He’d been hanging around our neighborhood for years and eating with our outside kitty. He was a big kitty (17 pounds at his heathliest) and I thought he was merely two-timing other humans. One night he jumped away from the food as though it had bitten him. I took him to the vet and found out he had a terrible mouth infection due to Feline Aids. Most of his teeth had to be pulled and he immediately became an inside kitty forever after. His wonderful vet and her associates kept him going for about 3 years, but eventually he developed a huge tumor and had to cross the Rainbow Bridge. Even though I knew he had a fatal illness and knew his time with me was up, I really grieved for him.

    Two weeks later, someone I worked with on Travis AFB found a 3-4 week kitten in the Travis housing area. He and his family heard meowing for two days. They kept searching and searching and finally found him under a clump of grass. The family already had the allowable number of animals for the TAFB housing area, so my co-worker asked around if anyone would like a kitten.

    I really felt it was too early to have another cat and I had intended to take in one of the older kitties who have such a hard time being placed when I felt ready. I asked my co-worker to take the kitten to the weekend shows at the SPCA because I felt deeply, deeply disloyal to be thinking about another cat so soon.

    Two weekends went by and due to the number of kittens already available, the kitten was not placed and I had agreed if he didn’t find a home I would take him.

    The CFDO prevailed and little Scruffy rode home with me two weeks later. He’d been dearly loved as only a helpless kitten can be. The family was really sad to part with him. He came with 5 or 6 toys, a box of kitten food and a box of litter.

    He’s 2 now and doing well. He greets me with purring and stretches up to me when I get home. He’s certainly got his own ideas about things, though. He recently achieved his lifetime goal of removing all the material from under the box springs. Tee, hee. He also likes to put his toys in the water bowl.

    I love him very much and am very glad I have him.

    Jane Lowell

  37. Kay Lee Says:

    Hi Gary,

    The little orange kitty is a cutie, and a keeper!
    You can’t argue with fate!

    I like the name Tiger lily, you can always call her Lily for short.


  38. Jessica Says:

    Dear Gary,
    I actually have a similar situation that you do, with your orange kitty. I am currently living in Portland, Oregon and after about a month of living here (moved at the end of May) 3 different cats started showing up. I was able to get ahold of someone who volunteers with the Feral Cat Coalition who lent me a cage and once I was able to catch them, she came by and took them to get fixed and found a home for each one of them, but I’ve been unable thus far to catch the third. She’s an adorable calico with a limp and hurt leg, but wants nothing to do with me. All she wants is food of course, yet she sits at my patio door, mews as well as hisses at me, rubs against the screen, eats cat-nip and purrs. Every time my cat comes to the door or even walks by, she starts meowing at her and rubbing her face against the screen again but of course my female cat wants nothing to do with her and jumps at the screen door. The calico bearly even flinches. It’s hysterical, but I don’t know what to do. It’s getting colder and colder every night here and I’m just not sure how to catch her.

    I gave up on the cage and I’ve been trying to get her to come inside. Of course with my cat, that’s almost impossible even when I lock her in the bedroom. I have been sitting on the porch floor while she eats at night if I have time, and she of course doesn’t take her eyes off me. I’ve recently been able to get her to sniff my finger tips but she backs away every time and makes a face. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions? My mother is an avid reader of your colum and told me about your situation, and suggested I write to you. I hope I do and Thank you so much for your time!

    Sincerely, Jessica Skye

  39. dana Says:

    cats are very smart…look who she found to adopt her….Its kinda like hanging out in front of Trump’s place until he adopts me….(think it will work)…lol

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