Bill killed Baby’s brothers. He killed them a week apart, when they were doing what the young do naturally – wrestle, climb and explore in the late spring warmth. Their tiny claws were perfect tools. They climbed over Bill’s fence and never came back. But Bill was doing what he was born to do, too – retrieve. A sleek, black flat-coated retriever, Bill is perpetually on the lookout for trespassers. After he killed the first brother, Bill rolled in the grass and then took a nap.
Baby’s brothers were plush and bluish-gray. Her mother, petite, black and wild-eyed, was abandoned along with her caregivers’ Akron home during the housing-market crash. Her dad was any one of the lean, well-muscled males that cruise Baby’s neighborhood, dukes up, poised to fight the other males in his territory jockeying for female attention.
And all of them are members of an estimated 60-million-strong stray and feral cat population that lives on the fringes of neighborhoods, in abandoned buildings and crumbling lots; in makeshift cat-shacks, lean-tos and tents; and in the barns, sheds and out buildings of rural America.
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