The warehouse has several such windows in a row, all barred but some of the bars are wide enough for small animals to go in and out. This is where his mother Molly gave birth and reared at least three litters in less than two years.
I asked him what he was doing in there, and he turned his head away.
The very same day, my neighbor Ellen emailed that they had caught Wonka a few days earlier, had had him neutered, and were preparing to return him outdoors. Julius was moping behind bars because he was missing his best buddy, his Number One sidekick, Wonka!
Then came the bombshell -- the fierce Molly had been caught! She too was neutered, and then returned. Her three kittens from her newest (and last!) litter were also trapped, neutered and returned: one girl named Cocoa Mocha, and two boys, Nyx and Bibbs.
Only Phantom, the dad cat, remains unaltered. A couple days ago Cocoa was sitting atop a neighbor's picnic table when Phantom approached and jumped up next to her. She slapped him. He was unmoved. After a minute she jumped down and walked away.
These cats are finally free! No more unwanted litters. Without a doubt some of them will be lost over time to motor vehicles and other predators. But for now it's a joy to see them pounce and rassle.
The day Wonka came home I gave a party. I opened the basement door and set out bowls of warm mash -- milk mixed with Grape-Nuts. The guest of honor lapped the milk while Julius served as door man, having turned away in disgust at the Grape-Nuts. Cocoa arrived, and was allowed to enter. She was amazed at the interior of the basement, and explored all its corners before heading for the buffet.
Bibbs was next to arrive, but Julius slapped him and he retreated. Soon after that Julius too began exploring the basement. Seizing the opportunity, Bibbs slipped inside while Uncle Julius was thus occupied, and began lapping the warm food.
Nyx was probably nearby, but didn't attempt to get past Julius. He's smaller than the other cats. Molly and Phantom of course did not show.
When the food was gone, and everyone had had a good look around the basement, I gently herded them toward the door and thanked them for coming. A good time was had by all.