Gypsy - the Stray Cat Who Came to Stay
Gypsy Is Gone Now, But I Wanted to Share Her Story with You
Gypsy was a wild cat. Well, not actually a wildcat, but one who had been abandoned. She lived a desperate life in the alleys and yards of Baltimore; finding food and shelter wherever she could.
When she came into my life, her multi-colored fur was matted, lack-luster and dirty. She was thin and fearful of people. Her tail, a short stub, might indicate abuse or perhaps an accident during her stray cat days.
Photo by Virginia Allain.
Did I Need Another Cat?
I already had two cats at the time that Gypsy came into my life. It would have been sensible to have given her some food and sent her on her way. I was going through a divorce at the time and feeling overwhelmed and unwanted.
How could I turn away a cat who was in a much worse situation than I was? I had a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat, so Gypsy was invited into my house.
The First Meeting with Gypsy the Stray Cat
First I had to entice her from under the bush where she crouched in the alley. A neighbor had spotted her there and called out, "Hey, there's a cat over here." Then he noticed her stubby tail and scruffy looks and said warningly, "it's a wild cat."
I called, "here, kitty, kitty." She didn't run, but she didn't come out from the safety of the scrubby bush. From her small size and shape, I was sure she was a domestic cat and not a wildcat, though the colors of her coat and the stub of a tail looked a little like a bobcat. The fact that she hadn't bolted, told me that at some time she had been a pet. A feral cat would have been long gone.
Despite the length of time she must have been on the street and any mistreatment she had suffered, she still remembered the food and comfort of a home with humans. I was able to lure her out with a dish of cat food. Once she had eaten, she trusted me enough to be taken into the house.
Need Help Naming Your Cat?
Sometimes a cat comes with a name already attached. My cats often get a name that references their appearance.
We took in one stray cat that alternated between being nice and then seriously trying to hurt us. His name became Jekyll after Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll eventually had to go to the animal shelter as he was too dangerous to have around us or the other cats, not to mention terrorizing the humans.
Ask at your public library for a book of pet names or do an online search if you can't think of anything on your own.
The Cat Just Looked Like a Gypsy
How she got her name
Because she had been living a rambling life, the name "Gypsy" came to my mind. Her many-patterned coat also reminded me of the colorful clothes a gypsy might wear. In addition, she had a somewhat wild, untamed look to her that seemed similar to the unconventional look of a gypsy.
Feeling Safe And Cozy Under the Covers
It Took Time for Gypsy to Feel Comfortable around People
Gypsy spent the first few months looking for good hiding places around the house. When visitors came, she disappeared under the sofa, behind the drapes or down the stairs to the basement.
She is looking a little fearful in this photo.
Gypsy the Cat Had a "Coat of Many Colors" - Just Like Dolly Parton's Song
This song always touches me. Gypsy was a tabby, but had blends of orange in with the grays and browns in her coat. This Coat of Many Colors song makes me think of Gypsy's patchy colors.
I Taught Her How to Play Again - Gypsy learns to trust again after being a stray cat
Kittens instinctively pounce on anything that moves. People love playing with them with feathers or a string, just to see them leap after it. Of course, it is behavior that over the centuries provided the cat with food as they pounced on mice and other small prey.
Even though housecats don't need to hunt for their food, most cats keep that playful pounce into adulthood. At first, it puzzled me that Gypsy wouldn't follow a piece of yarn or bat at some enticing cat toy dangled for her. Then I realized that she was too busy watching me and the other cats with fearful eyes to participate in playful behavior. It took weeks and even months of feeding, stroking and soft talk to build up her confidence.
This is an old photo of Gypsy that I finally found
I felt real elation the first time Gypsy felt safe enough to bat at a piece of yarn that I wiggled teasingly in front of her.
Photos of My Cat, Gypsy - From my own albumClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Cat Tree Lets the Cat Exercise and Perch up High
Cats really like being up where they can see what's going on or what's sneaking up on them. This kind of cat tree gives them that kind of place so maybe they will leave the sofa alone.
I tried to discourage the cats from sleeping on the sofa. It was a real chore getting the fur off of it. They found it hard to understand my shooing them off the sofa which seemed perfect to them for a day of lounging around while I was at work.
I wish I'd had something like this for my cats to exercise on and to have a safe spot to retreat to. My sister has one and when I see how much fun her cats are having climbing, romping from level-to-level, and then curling up in one of the alcoves, it makes me want one for my cats. I'm saving up for it.
Gypsy finally gained confidence that she was loved and had found a safe haven. She often curled up on my lap as I read a book.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Virginia Allain