Maria Cassano saw a stray cat carrying a kitten through her father’s Long Island garden a few years ago.
She was concerned that if the cat, whom she called Mama, didn’t get enough food, she wouldn’t be able to provide milk for her baby. Her father was adamant about not feeding the stray dogs in the area, but Cassano persuaded him to make an exception.
Mama’s tiny kitten was eventually adopted by a neighbor, but the Cassanos continued to leave her free meals out for the neighborhood’s stray cats. Mama was especially appreciative of the meal, but the more she came around, the more they worried about her safety in the cold.
Cassano’s father decided to build her her own comfortable cat home.
“My father is quite handy, and while he’s not a big supporter of having dogs in the home,’ he’s a genuinely nice man who likes to help,” Cassano told The Dodo. “When his girlfriend and I expressed concern about the cats surviving the winter, my father bought the materials for a heated cat home, coated it in waterproof materials, built a base for it, and placed it in the backyard.”
Mama had a second kitten shortly after, and Cassano’s father decided to put a camera in the cat house to make sure they got home safely every night.
What they didn’t expect were all the lovely photographs of appreciative strays they’d shoot.
Mama and her kitten were finally captured by Cassano and taken to a nearby shelter to be spayed and vaccinated. Cassano explained, “It was fall, and the shelter indicated Mama would be OK to return, but the kitten was likely too young to survive the winter if left outside.” “However, he adapted nicely to human handling.”
Cassano cared for the cat and eventually adopted him. Mama, on the other hand, wasn’t alone for long, thanks to the Cassanos’ amazing backyard facilities.
Mama now spends her time in the yard with Inky and Finky, two black cats.
Cassano has no illusions of domesticating the small wild family, but she is delighted to provide them with a safe haven.
“They won’t allow us to touch them or come inside,” Cassano explained, “but they recognize us, snooze on the porch [or] in the lawn chairs, coexist with us in the backyard, and occasionally come up to the window when it’s time to eat.
“We’ve gotten a couple of additional houses and a ‘cat igloo’ over the years so that all of our residents can keep toasty,” Cassano added. “I call them ‘Steve’s Cat Condos,'” says the author.
Each stray cat now has their own cat sanctuary, and they couldn’t be happier.