A Glimpse Into the Life of Community Cat Pretty Girl

Many of you comment on the striking beauty of our feral DLH tortoiseshell, Pretty Girl. She’s absolutely gorgeous with a long coat and beautiful piercing eyes.

Pretty Girl Winter 2021

She was part of the OG group of ferals we found at the colony we dubbed Fort Faulsey. She didn’t trust us not even a little bit, watching warily from a distance while we dished our the supper and backed away. She trusted us (me) even less after I trapped her and drove her to a TNR clinic to be spayed. That was February 2021. They estimated her to be about 18 months old. So now she’s close to 3 and 1/2 years old.

We tried to put her into a foster home, but she was not responsive to any overtures so back she went to her abandoned house and feeding station under a truck. She flourished, growing big and strong without the mating instinct to slow her down. When her home was knocked down and then her feeding station was towed away, she crept back.

Pretty Girl in her former home

She comes out nearly every day to greet me, sometimes with a meow. She keeps a distance between us, but she will eat and groom herself near me.

All things considered, she has a decent life. She has regular food, clean water, shelter, and even toys. We dubbed her colony #FortFaulsey. I have three feeding stations against the only exposed wall of the nearby garage – the owner permits us to feed on the property. There are three elevated pet beds for hangouts off the cold or wet ground. We have multiple winter shelters, but most of them use the nearby house.

We also have another feeding station in our nearby backyard. Pretty Girl and another cat, Jennie Jane, never come to our yard, but most of the other cats ping pong back and forth. In our yard, we have five feeding stations so they spread out and don’t fuss with each other. We have three heated beds and a heated water bowl. At Fort Faulsey, there is no electricity.

There are about a dozen regulars and another six to eight occasional visitors. They are all TNVRd so no kittens. It is a stable colony except for an occasional runaway or cat that is dumped nearby. We’ve trapped and returned five cats to their humans over the past two years or so. There’s no fighting, they eat side by side at Fort Faulsey unless a new cat arrives. But they work it out.

One challenge is the weather. There is wind, snow, ice, and rain from three directions. Last year, I built a fort of straw – hence the name – to serve as a windbreak. It helped. Only one of the feeding stations offers protection from the elements while they eat; the others are repurposed plastic bins.

The neighbors aren’t thrilled by the colony, but most of them acknowledge that conditions have drastically improved with food, water, shelters, etc. I’ve told them repeatedly that the cats will always be there. We are near the river, close to good “dumping spots” and there’s an ample supply of vermin nearby (not at our colony.) They’ve been there in a now-demolished abandoned house since 2000 and long-time residents say that they’ve always been around.

Pretty Girl might have been Jennie Jane’s kitten from a littler prior to the one we trapped. We also have two tabbies from that colony who joined us in 2018, it is possible Mamma Mia gave birth to her. Sometimes my heart aches to think that Mamma Mia gets to live inside with food, water, and warmth. Why her and not the others?

Pretty Girl under the truck that was their feeding station
Pretty Girl at Fort Faulsey
Another feeding station shot
She likes to eat
Pretty Girl and Jennie Jane are the matriarchs of the colony
She seems to really like the fall weather

This is a video clip of when the entire colony, including Pretty Girl, realized their home was being demolished demonstrates their vulnerability as well as resiliency. They knew the feeding station was still standing and returned for food, but everyone had to scramble for a new home. They picked another abandoned house.

It is easy to romanticize her life or the life of any community cat as one they want. Let me disabuse you of that notion with this photo of where Pretty Girl currently lives:

Digital Camera

No creature deserves this, not the cats or the wildlife. Yes, the house should be boarded up to prevent it from falling down one day, but that’s not going to help the animals. Better shelters help the animals. Fewer pregnancies. Adoptive homes.

Pretty Girl will hopefully stay at the colony for the duration of her life. It is a better life than before – even if she is picky about the dry food brand – but it isn’t ideal. I dread what 2023 will bring as the economic downturn impacts the cost of pet food, the number of people relinquishing their pets to shelters, and the pending return of kitten season.

If you’d like to help Pretty Girl and her colony,

Amazon list bit.ly/CatPgh

The following items are always welcome in good condition from smoke free homes.

  • Pet food bowls, any size.
  • Pet beds (laundered without scent, smokefree home) any size
  • Outdoor pet beds in good condition
  • Cat food any brand – someone on our list of caretakers will use it
  • Cat treats any brand – used to build trust, supplement calories, trapping
  • Pet carriers and crates with all working parts and in clean, good condition
  • Toys. Outdoor cats like to play, too. Please launder.

Financial donations for general operating expenses are also very much welcome.

GoFundMe Charities (no fees) https://www.gofundme.com/charity/pittsburgh-lgbtq-charities

Venmo @PittsburghLGBTQ

Paypal bit.ly/PayPalPLC 

Checks can be made payable to “Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities” and mailed to 1439 W. North Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15233


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