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My Cat was a Feral Kitten.
Coco all grown up!
Scribenet's Avatar as a Kitten with Mom
When I first moved into my city neighborhood I noticed several orange tabbies that had no tail. They were definitely wild. Eventually, those cats disappeared to be replaced by different color cats, also wild, some with tails, others without. I had never seen a tail less cat before that. I thought they were beautiful and I despaired they seemed so wild. They seemed to have short lives, because none were ever around for too long. Winters were harsh and cities not the greatest source of food for a cat that should have a home.
My cat's mother was one of those wild (feral) cats. She roamed my neighborhood until we noticed each other. I was able to tame her enough to start feeding her. She thrived and survived.
She bred two litters every year ranging from two to six kittens. That is, at least eight new strays each year. Fortunately, after I met her, her kittens had the good fortune to find homes.
She had a regal bearing despite the fact she seemed to belong to no one. Eventually she was named by the neighborhood. We all agreed on Princess.She was a beautiful cat; either an American Bobtail or a Cymric ( she just had a tiny stump...barely no tail, which my cat inherited).
She had a very bossy attitude yet a very gentle soul. She loved to be pampered! After she discovered humans would feed her, Princess, regally claimed ownership to a few households in the "hood" that she panned for food and asked for shelter from when she became ill or in the "family way".
At that time Rescue Groups were not well known. If I had known what I know now, I probably would never a chance to adopt my kitten. That would have been a loss for me. However, since then I have discovered there are places that adopt feral cats in most cities. However, not all can be tamed or caught easily. Princess was a special case.
She began observing me cautiously
I began placing food for her and several wild kittens that probably were not hers. The kittens disappeared before I could approach them, but Princess soon figured I could be counted on for food and that is how I became her main meal ticket. My grocery trips involved cat food even when I did not have a cat!
Emboldened, she mooched from new neighbors who had moved upstairs who began taking an interest in her as well. She had it good for awhile.
Before I found a rescue group to work with to have her fixed "at a discount" and also to place her to be adopted into a "real home", I kept her from malnutrition and made sure her kittens did not perish. It felt like at least something... finding forever homes for kittens that did not have much of a chance for survival on their own.
Just two litters of a stray cat...
The Cycle Continued for a Little Longer...
On yet another day, Princess showed up once again at my door to greet me as I left to work.
Beside her was a new kitten. "Feed me and my kitten!" she demanded in loud cries. As usual, she got food before I left for the day. I came home to find Princess lounging contentedly in the driveway and on my landing were an additional 5 kittens! She always placed her trust in me. She knew she was unable to feed them all and with me they would thrive. I think I may have been the surrogate mom...lol.
Princess, was a good little mother, knowing kittens need food and she knew I couldn't resist those tiny,helpless,little creatures.
I would fashion a shelter and play area in a contained area like I always did. Then I helped the the kittens learn to eat kitten food and provided a litter pan to teach the little ones to use litter and get them ready to be adopted. The kittens also needed human touch since they were fairly wild.
The adoption process was left to my good-hearted upstairs neighbors, who chipped in their time to find the little ones good homes.
Princess knew how to work her resources.
That year local animal shelters did not accept adult stray cats in Toronto. They were filled to capacity. I cannot emphasize enough...you need to get your pet cat fixed, there are way too many unwanted cats in the cities! Princess was one of the lucky ones.
...She Gave Me Coco...
Along the way, I adopted a kitten myself. He is my Avatar and my most cherished companion. He is every bit as regal as his mother with the same bossy attitude and gentle soul... and a clown to boot.
I had not planned on adopting a cat...but hang around cute kittens long enough and it is bound to happen!
He was already spoken for, but something about him made me ask to keep him for a week longer to make sure he could survive. I fell in love with his little character and in a real fortunate turn of events, the prospective new owners changed their mind. Some one else was lined up but I claimed him for myself and it has been over eight and a half years of devoted attention for us both!
Some of Princess' beautiful kittens:Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Princess Retires
When I originally wrote this story my neighbors were finding homes for Princess' kittens and I was feeding her and sheltering her kittens. While not ideal, it was better than most strays get.
Sometimes, a little bit of luck happens.
This didn't seem to be the case when the neighbors abruptly decided they had had enough and were not that interested in that latest litter. It didn't help to know I was moving away within weeks and I wasn't so sure from their attitude if they would feed Princess either. They fed her scraps but I knew from the amount she ate from my feedings that was not going to be enough. I was baffled by this turn of events and worried she would not survive another winter. I decided to mobilize a plan.
I could not take Princess along even though I gave it serious thought. I had already adopted her son and another cat before him from the strays. I wasn't prepared to take on another cat....I was downsizing. Something had to be done.
I called a few groups and shelters and wasn't able to get much response. The move date loomed. I just could not leave the mom and kittens and I didn't want them to go to a shelter where they might be killed if enough space wasn't available. I was getting desperate for them.
They say necessity is the mother of invention.
One night I lay in bed pondering my dilema. I got up and went through a list of rescue groups I had found and emailed individual pictures and an appeal that homes were desperately needed and the reasons for my concern. It took most of that night.
I was surprised and delighted to get a number of responses from concerned groups. Not only did they get Princess spayed and fostered with the hope of finding her a forever home, they also had her kittens de-wormed and vaccinated.
How do i know that? I brought Princess to the vet myself... as well as the kittens for their shots.I donated $175 to sponsor Princess' spay...a sum far below the cost of doing it on my own. They rapidly screened and found homes for most of the little family before I moved!
My heart is at ease knowing Princess is in capable and caring hands. Being an older cat she may have problems being adopted, but I know she will never be released back outside because she loves being in her foster home and they love her! At last it all came together.
Why it is important to fix your cat
Maybe you keep your cat inside. Well, a male cat that has not been fixed can spray and stink up your home. Their urine smells stronger ...even in a litter box. If you let that male cat outside they will contribute to unwanted pregnancies in the wild population, or your neighbor's unfixed female. While kittens are lovely...no one can take care of oodles of cats unless you happen to be some cat lady who takes care of twenty in her home! Think of the hair and hairballs alone.
Then there is the additional problem that your cats can escape or become one of the lost animals posted every day.. That lost cat if unfixed will create to further misery if it is able to procreate and add to the feral population.
Pet ownership brings responsibility. Coco was fixed as soon as he began to reach maturity. As beautiful as he is and even though his kittens would have been gorgeous, I am happy he will never contribute to the misery of another wild kitten...even though he is an inside pet!