Previously on Y&F...
Sylvia, the beautiful, long haired alpha female of Aunt Betty's porch colony, was held in quarantine with a flu during recovery from routine spaying.  During an absence of only two weeks, her "husband," Charlie, the alpha male of Aunt Betty's porch colony (already neutered but still, apparently, attractive to the ladies), took up with a new younger woman!  HalfTail (a very young, very pretty, all gray female cat with only a stump of a tail) was pregnant by Bangs!  Knowing the unfaithful Bangs would not provide, HalfTail used the opportunity of Sylvia's absence to move in on her husband, an older, stabler man (and a  property owner) and had her kittens in their house! (the very cozy, triple-insulated winter cat shelter designed by Ashot, created by Reinier, purchased for them by Jane and placed on Aunt Betty's porch.) Sylvia, who had had an opportunity to be unfaithful with the handsome Tommy, Ashot's oldest feral cat, who was infatuated with her, returned from infirmary to find her husband shacking up with another woman, divorced Charlie, and left the porch.
Jackie and Sandra, a.k.a. The Piranha Sisters, lost their (cat) brother Lionel to bone cancer, their (cat) sister Caroline to liver disease, and the worst blow of all, their (human)  mom, Dottie to C.O.P.D. all within a few short months. They lived virtually alone in their house for almost a year during the turbulent crisis and aftermath (family visiting every day, of course) until arrangements could be made.  They then endured a chaotic renovation of their house from a 100-year-old dustbin into a cool, cat-centric NYC vacation rental house for tourists (the brainchild of their (human) sister, Jane, who inherited them plus their 18 feral cousins outside, with no way to maintain them all).  Jackie and Sandra were confused and devastated. They did not understand that Aunt Betty's Isabelle, a long-haired Birman with congestive heart failure, could not endure the excitement of two new cats in her home, or that Jane's asthma precludes any more cats than the two she lives with already (thanks only to Benadryl and Prednisone).  But they need not have feared. Their family always had their back.  After what must have seemed an eternity to them (not that they wished her ill, but) Isabelle lost her battle and Jackie and Sandra moved in with Aunt Betty.  Both cats were instantly happy.  Jackie claimed the kitchen table as her base of operations, and, exactly as in her own home before, would not abide any object to be placed upon it.  Sandra (who used to hide in the mattress and scream at the sight of any living thing) was right at home in Aunt Betty's sofa stuffing!  



Fearing Halftail's kittens would fall from the porch, or fall victim to Sylvia's revenge, Aunt Betty took the dainty and pretty young mother and her family in.  They lived in her guest room during the two months the kittens were nursing.  When the kittens were of a proper age, Aunt Betty got them adopted to good homes.  Andrea and Sophie from the Upper West Side were overjoyed to adopt Izzy and Stu.  Mouse (together with a red kitten from another litter) went home with Tom and Adam from Columbia University.  And many congrats to my good friend Sarah on the adoption of Squeak!, who is now called Puccini (a.k.a. "Pooch") and quite possibly the most loved cat on earth.  Pooch's Mom, a DIY Goddess, made Pooch a custom cat tree and a toilet training apparatus (which appears to be working) with her own bare hands!  Wow!  Now that's a good home!

But in a dramatic turn, our Ms. HalfTail, now spayed and an indoor/outdoor cat, is a rags to Alexis Carrington story!   She has declared herself Queen of not only Aunt Betty's porch, but her whole house!  Although deferential and submissive when her kittens were in the picture, HalfTail emerged from motherhood bossy and controlling, and will not suffer Jackie and Sandra to have anything of their own, or do anything of their own choosing.  She herds them around like cattle, stands on their backs, takes their toys and food at will, and most distressing, challenges Jackie's ownership of the kitchen table daily.  Jackie and Sandra are being treated like Cinderellas by a wicked step sister!  Having suffered so many losses, they don't deserve this!  Who does this upstart think she is?!  

Aunt Betty's efforts at "discipline" with HalfTail are weak.  She shakes a finger ineffectually and says, "Stop it!", then kisses HalfTail on the head.  HalfTail says, "I'm going to eat Jackie's dinner." Aunt Betty, instead of giving her a smack on the bum says, "Aw, my darling, here's your own plate."  Then HalfTail eats her plate and Jackie's too. 

Jane visits after prepping the rental house for the next guest, which is just up the street.  She is horrified by Jackie's accounts of HalfTail's abuse, and encourages her to stand up for herself.  "A bully can't bully you if you don't take it!  Smack her in the mouth!" she says.  But Jackie wants no part of battle, and when HalfTail jumps on her table and says, "get off, it's mine now," retires to her box at the top of the stairs.  

"Isn't she pretty?"  Says Aunt Betty.

"Pretty MEAN," Jane says, "look what she's doing to my Jackie! And you let her get away with it!"  Jane and HalfTail trade stink eyes. 

"What do you want me to do?!"  Aunt Betty says.  "She's an alpha cat.  If Jackie's so unhappy, take her home with you." 

"If I could breathe, I would.  Anyway it wouldn't be any better for them with Jack."  (Meaning Judo Jack the Vampire Cat who lives at home with Julie doing the same things to her that HalfTail does to Jackie and Sandra.  He's just like HalfTail but twice as big.  It's his teenage dream to have a harem of girl cats to boss around).
  "If I had money, I'd buy Jack and HalfTail an apartment and put them in it together.  They're made for each other. <sigh>  what am I going to do with all these cats....."

Meanwhile.... Call it comeuppance for stepping out on his sick wife: Charlie contracted a mysterious and terrible illness this summer.  He was half dead from malnutrition, unable to eat from some fearsome affliction of the mouth and gums.  Forever alpha, and confirmed feral, he had to be wrestled into a cage by professional trappers in order to get him to a vet. He was on meds for 3 weeks before showing any sign of improvement.  As stubborn as he was sick, he refused Aunt Betty's repeated pleas to come indoors while recuperating, and insisted on holding his post on the porch. 

Charlie is recovered now, although shaken by his brush with death, and remains King of the Porch.  Only his friends Snake and HalfTail are allowed to visit.  However, HalfTail, who used to cling to him and gaze at him adoringly when she was a cat in need, is now Queen of her own home, never mind porch, coming and going at will with her nose in the air.  We assume they are divorced.

Black Shuck is still Charlie's sworn enemy and is thrown down backwards in clouds of black hair and claws if he tries to come up the stairs.  (Black Shuck will often wait until the wee hours of night when Charlie is asleep in his house to sneak up the stairs and steal a few bites of tuna from his bowl.  God have mercy on his soul if he is caught.)

Sylvia has not been seen since leaving Charlie.

Will Sylvia ever return?  Will Charlie's health hold through another winter?  Will Jackie fight for her right to the kitchen table?  Will Judo Jack and HalfTail end up together in their own apartment?  Will Black Shuck ever get a bite of tuna?  Stay tuned to The Young and The Feral.


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