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Have Cat Will Share
Spotlight on Ferals
How it All Started..sigh
My catto’s. When I moved to Arizona I didn’t know I was to become known as that “cat woman.”
A stray wandered up one day and gave me a piercing look I tried my best to ignore. I somewhat grudgingly began to feed her thinking surely she’d go home where she belongs. I didn’t even know it was a female.
It wasn’t long before one day I woke up groggily from a night out on the town and looked out my window to discover a bunch of cute fuzzy kittens exploring my outdoor laundry room.
As I advanced excitedly most of the kittens darted back under my mobile, where it seems my stray female whom I was feeding had decided to give birth. By now, I knew she wasn’t a cat that had a home as I’d thought. She was what we call a feral cat, and she was giving birth to yet more feral cats.
Feral cats are like part of the environment. What happens is this: A person acquires a kitten, and the kitten is then domesticated as a house pet. It’s used to people in other words. It’s used to being fed. Many cats if abandoned by the owners must revert back to the wild state in order to survive. They must learn to hunt. Many domesticated animals are abandoned each year. If abandoned while not having been fixed, they will continue to breed, even when food is scarce for them. Some, like my stray can “claim” a human. Mine claimed me as it’s caretaker by sitting and fixing it’s gaze on me, until I understand, it wanted food.
Although I did not want any more pets at this time of my life, I am unable to turn my back on a blantant request for a few kibbles. I thought the cat could share my outdoor living space and I’d never even notice any imposition.
Right. When she delivered babies, I conceded I had room for a few more. Hey, they were awfully cute, maybe I could find homes for them, as I’d always done when this happened in other places I’d lived in. I rushed down to Pet Smart and bought a cat tower and watched for hours as the kittens ran up and down this tower, swatting at one another.
I don’t know how the news got out to about a dozen other homeless cats that a friendly human had moved into the neighborhood and possibly had some kibbles to spare. Soon I had a colony around me. I rushed headlong into the TNR program in order to save the lives of feral cats. T is for Trap, N = neuter, R = release.
What I do, then removes some of the strain on animal control, who also traps an over abundance of cats who have no home, yet have no facilities to keep the cats, and so they are put to sleep, within 3 days of capturing them. I did not see a problem with having a bunch of cats hanging around my place, although, yea, they can be a nuisance, at least after fixing them, I can be assured they will not breed more cats that I have to feed.
And, I started bonding with them as individuals.
This article then is a description of each unique cat. I also have ulterior motives with this article.
There just may be someone who falls in love with a certain cat, and they just may come and provide a home for one of my beloveds, due to my descriptive powers of that cat!
I can dream after all. My goal is to help each cat live out a long life span. I hear they can reach 18 yrs or more, if cared for, while if they are feral cats, their lifespan is about 2 to 3 years.
Also, I am getting on, and I worry that if I suddenly died, whatever would happen to my colony? I believe they might all be put to sleep. Especially so as there are no places near to me, that could or would provide a new habitat for them to live out their natural life spans.
At last count there were 19. A few have disappeared, that I had fixed. They may have met with foul play. I just don’t know. But most of these cats stay closely by my place. In the summer, it is so hot, they seek shelter under my mobile, where I noticed it’s a lot cooler under there, then under their favorite bush. Actually, there’s not that many bushes in Arizona to hide under if you think about it. With that let’s move on to the fun part.
The original mother cat, which was a striped tabby gray and white, rather a common type of feral cat, she has disappeared after her children reached full size. Two of her children became semi domesticated with me. I call them the Charlie twins. They are male. Charlie one lets me pet him now, while Charlie two steers clear of human contact unless he’s so hungry he doesn’t notice I am combing his hair while he’s busy chewing.
Charlie One will sneak in the house and prance about near my feet. No he’s not trying to make me trip as I first thought. He’s just letting me know he could be domesticated quite easily if I have a mind to let him sleep indoors. They all know, to have house privileges, they must earn it by being quite nice to me. They seldom lose all fear of a human as most were born in the wild, so to speak.
I do have an exeption to that rule, but not sure what to name this guy.
During mating season I trap cats that come from nearby blocks, to mate or feed. Last year I acquired another Siamese. I am always thrilled by the Siamese. They have blue eyes and a dark face and gray body and often display personality quirks that other breeds don’t. I had a female Siamese once that I found a home for and she became a welcome addition to a homestead near Las Vegas, where the family had another cat, which was duly excited to attain a playmate.
And so I suspected this new Siamese, a year later to show up, must be from that previous litter of feral Siamese. When I trapped him, I had to keep him indoors for awhile, until the clinic that fixes ferals and has TNR program would open, and this was only once a month I could get him with my cats. I thought he was a she, and for sure, they don’t let you look under their legs! For about 6 weeks he hid out under my closet drawers. He must have thought I was an alien from outer space and might have him for dinner.
He had his own bedroom and daily I would talk to him, just to say hello, I am one of the harmless humans and how are you doing today? He would just stare at me and I wondered if one day he would attack me. He never did attack, and late at night I would awaken to the sounds of him playing with all the cat toys I had provided. I enjoyed those sounds very much and did not mind being awakened; cats are nocturnal creatures. I dare not touch him as he had 6 toes on each foot and each toe had a very sharp nail. These cats do not mind clawing a human if they think they are in danger, and yes, they always think that danger is lurking everywhere; that's why they have 9 lives, they are ultra cautious beings. That’s why they are called feral, or wild, because they are not domesticated and do not trust humans. Although it takes time to domesticate a feral cat, it is possible, and I have done it, but it takes a special heart to do that, a very patient heart; you would be trying to undo the damage that a non-caring society has made of these animals. Trust me, there are organizations making up for the damage that has been done to them; for that, I am grateful. In case I forget to mention it, my little teenage siamese is very domesticated after about 9 months of being a part of my colony. The gang didn't want to let him in, but he weasled in anyway!
The best way to domesticate a kitten born in the wild, is to bring it inside and begin to handle it and talk to it and just love it. The reason animal control kills them is because, generally speaking, most ferals are very difficult to domesticate. They will bite or scratch as an instinct. This instinct does not endear them to the average pet owner.
All I can say about handling them, is to wear strong gloves and long sleeved shirts and of course learn to outwit them. Most difficult to outwit them but a worthy goal.
Every now and then you get one you just know would be a perfect housecat for someone, especially if it lets you pet it, or is wrapped around your leg at feeding time, you know there is one that can be trained.
It is never their fault that they don’t trust a human, they never had a reason to trust a human. They may have been chased by a human when they came looking for a little food. This is what happened to Big Red.
Big Red explained to me early on, he'd had the roughest life possible. You could tell that he never had time to groom himself; too busy wondering where to get some grub. I'd seen my neighbor across the street yelling at him and chasing him away with rocks. Red thought when he got trapped by me, I was gonna hurt him. I explained that just was not the case. Red decided I might be trustworthy but it took a few years, finally I could touch him, for just a few seconds, I gained that honor. He seems to be the largest cat out of all of them, he is certainly alpha male, but he will let his son knock him around, thus making 6 Toes, the true alpha male of the colony.
I wouldn't like to part with Big Red, nor 6 Toes for that matter, but the fact is, both of these fixed males would make excellent house cats, if I do find someone who likes the strong survival instincts these two display. I will write more about my cats, each one has some special trait, unique all to their selves, which would fit well with the personality of a particular human that has patience and love for an animal that has never known love.