Jackson County

They’ve spent their lives in a tree in downtown Ocean Springs

They have spent their lives in a Live oak downtown, one that is half hollow from age and rot.

The three kittens are half-grown now, but during the day, they still cling to the only home they know. They’re feral, and don’t let anyone near, not even the kindly people who feed them.

The tree has been solid protection for them.

They can go deep into the huge trunk. Emergency responders, called to catch them at Christmas, were unable to reach them. The mayor watched them scramble as she was leaving the Candy Cottage on Christmas Eve.

Jan Munn, who works downtown, puts out food, but she thinks the senior citizens who live at Villa Maria probably feed them more often.

Munn hasn’t seen the mother cat lately, however, and surmises she has left the youngsters on their own.

“They’re too big. She has weaned those babies,” Munn said. “I think they’re coming down at night and eating, climbing into the Dumpsters. They’re not having to scavenge far.”

Munn has been watching downtown feral cats for 15 years. She and another woman rescued a similar family of cats from the Lovelace oak five years ago.

She took the mother home and named her Monti. Still partly feral after five years, Monti will go inside only when it’s raining hard or really cold.

The three kittens in the downtown oak now follow suit, feral and living their own lives their way.

“It’s crazy,” Munn said, “but they carry on like they’re a squirrel.”