WALKING IN THE RAIN WITH A FERAL CAT
A few months ago I began a twenty-five minute early morning walk around a park near my house. As soon as it was light I headed out. It was not long before I heard the jingle of a collar bell. I had company. My feral cat, Mitzy, was trotting along behind me. I’ve not seen a cat on a walk before, and I was astonished.
Over the weeks, our morning walk has become a ritual. She begins pestering me with her paws before I’m ready to go. I explain to her that we need a little light before we venture out by ourselves into a dark park. She settles down patiently but when I tell her I need my shoes, she’s energized. Rain is no excuse, however. The walk must take place regardless.
Over the weeks, we’ve detoured from the sidewalk by circling through the park to the play area. Since it’s way too early for children to be in the park, we walk around the wood structures and sometimes climb to the top of a castle. She likes that. She's quite the show-off and often disappears up one of the trees that circle the play area.
Seriously, this cat goes up a 4X4 post in less than a second, and as for returning she turns around and climbs down tail first. The new TV show in which the guys rescue the cats from trees is an enigma to me. No way would Mitzy get stuck in a treetop. She’s fond of rooftops too of course. She leaps off the roof and lands on a 6-inch deck railing, flying over a flowerpot. It’s a 25-foot drop to the ground, so that’s a heart stopper.
I know, I know outdoor cats are not safe. All that climbing and jumping could be devastating, but she came to me feral, and that funny little animal is happiest outside even if it is pouring rain.
Prior to Mitzy joining my cat family I had two indoor cats that never left the safety of our home, so adjusting to a feral cat took some doing. At first she growled at me and refused to come in the house. I installed a doggie door to the laundry room for her and added an enclosed bed with a heated pad. The laundry room was her domain. She had food, water, a litter box and her warm bed. Eventually, when the other cats got old and died, she ventured into the house and now of course she sleeps on my bed. It took over two years, but now we are friends.
I used to worry myself sick when Mitzy was out of my sight, but I’ve learned to exert a little control over her, by withholding food until evening. She must come inside if she wants to eat. If she fails to come when I call her for dinner, I lock her out for the night. She hates that. So do I. But much like a toddler, she seems to respect the authority.
Mitzy is only about three, so I'm hoping when she matures she'll find the comfort of a warm home more attractive than curling up on the roof.