"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, December 16, 2005

Future family member?

Happy Catblogging Friday everyone, and with that spirit in mind I'd like to share a couple of photos of a feral backyard visitor we've had hanging out with us for the last month or so:

We're not 100% sure if this is a boy or girl kitty, but judging by it's demeanor and the lack of any noticeable "spraying" activity, we think that it's most likely female. We also think there's a good chance she's already been fixed, because she looks old enough to be in season, but we haven't seen any other males come a-courtin' so far. It's hard to tell how long she's been in the wild; she's very skittish about being approached, but we suspect she may have once had a home. That's a common problem in this college town: a surprising number of students pack up and move away when they graduate, and just leave their former pets behind to fend for themselves. It's hard for me to understand this throwaway attitude toward animal life, but it's an unfortunate fact. A number of groups such as the good folks at O'Malley Alley Cats try to help control the feral population with TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) programs, but there's only so much they can do. Also, some unenlightened members of the public actively oppose TNR efforts as worthless, in the mistaken belief that all feral cats are a nuisance and should just be rounded up and killed.

I've always had a soft spot for stray animals - cats in particular, and virtually every cat I've ever had in my life has been one that has "chosen" to give up the feral life and come live with me. The two we have now were part of a litter of four kittens we discovered living under our shed out back a few years ago. As best as we can tell, someone dumped them off inside our fenced yard. This photo shows them at the point when they were confident enough to sleep next to our back door (because they had figured out that was where the food came from!) but still afraid to come inside the house. It took many weeks of patience, feeding, and gentle coaxing before they allowed themselves to be touched. Ultimately, they came to trust us, and we found homes for two of them and kept the other two. They've now become cherished family members, although Callie (front right in the picture) has never been completely domesticated, and still hides under the bed at any loud sound or sudden movement. We came to the conclusion that they simply accepted us into their "pack", and think of us as just a couple of other, really big, wild cats like themselves.

We're still at the very tentative, early stage with this newest kitty as well, although I scored a major breakthrough yesterday when she allowed me to pet her for the very first time while she was distracted by the can of food she had her nose buried in. She's even briefly ventured inside the house a couple of times, but run right back out again. I think it's just a matter of time until she learns to trust me, and at the first good opportunity I plan to snatch her up and take her to our vet so he can check her out, verify her (his?) sex, if she has in fact been fixed (and neuter her if not), and get her shots. In the meantime, we're keeping the other two shut in the bedroom whenever we open the door to feed her, so that she doesn't have any contact with them until we're sure she's tested negative for FeLuke or any other communicable diseases.

I'll update my progress with Puddy Tat here in the blog, but let me close this post with a seasonal suggestion. If anyone reading this might possibly be entertaining thoughts of getting their child (or anyone else for that matter) a kitten or puppy for Christmas, please don't buy one from a pet shop. Pet shops are notorious for obtaining many of their animals from kitten/puppy mills that breed them in some of the most disgusting, inhumane conditions imaginable. There are so many unfortunate animals that must be put down each year due to overpopulation and a lack of homes, and they don't deserve this. Visit your local shelter, or the fine web site Pet Finder, to adopt a pet who is eagerly waiting to join your family. The love and gratitude in their eyes, and the knowledge that you have saved just one life, however small, will be well worth it.


  • At 12/18/2005 10:03:00 PM, Blogger CFOMahm said…

    Good luck with taming the new kitty. She sure is a cute one. Great story. I'll be checking back on your progress.

  • At 12/19/2005 03:28:00 PM, Blogger Jim said…

    terrific post -- but I wouldn't trust you if you had me neutered and gave me shots, unless there were new toys involved :)

  • At 12/20/2005 09:43:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Hi CFO Mom & Jim, thanks for reading the post and for the comments. You're right, I'm a little worried that she'll be very hesitant to ever trust me again after the experience, but it's for her own good. We figure that with lots of love, treats, and a warm place to sleep, she'll eventually forgive us. And yes, new toys too! (Everyone likes those, even us humans.) I'll post an update in a couple of weeks.

  • At 12/21/2005 11:03:00 PM, Blogger Jim said…

    "lots of love, treats, and a warm place to sleep" plus toys -- adopt me please


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