Monday, June 3, 2013

A Frightened Feral Cat

Morning began as it always does; I don't lie in bed much more than five minutes once I wake.  I want to get up and stretch, see what the day looks like.
The cats encourage me to be out of bed--everything from plaintive 'meows' to hefty pouncing and poking.
I am escorted down the hall to the bathroom, then on to the diningroom.
The cats must be tended before the coffee is made.
The ritual includes opening the sliding door so that whoever wishes can dive out into the fenced cat yard.
The three boy cats are served their tinned food in the carport--otherwise they gobble and snatch from the older cats. Teasel keeps up an excited litany as I set dishes around the kitchen floor and open the tin.
Stepping out the back door, tin in hand, I paused at the sight of a grey and white cat crouched in the hav-a-hart trap.  J. has been setting it each night lately as he thought we had another possum settling in.
"Nellie," I said, staring blearily, "How did you manage that so quickly?"
A blur of fur whisking under the truck proved to be Nellie and his brother Bobby, bristling and huffing at the trapped cat who was a Nellie look-alike, both long-haired and with the same owlish eyes.

Nellie, helping to cut out a quilt block.

The poor trapped cat threw himself against the bars of the cage, frantic. His nose was already bloodied from his previous efforts to escape.
I padded back to the bedroom where J. still peacefully slept.
It was, after all, barely 6 A.M.
I prodded his shoulder, getting no response, so tugged at his pillow.
He opened his eyes, not exactly focused.
"There's a cat in the trap." I announced, "You need to come and let it out."
I could see him trying to take this in.
"What cat...?
'It looks like Nellie--must be his brother, probably the cat you saw near the tobacco barn last week."
J. processed this, flung back the covers.
"Why didn't you let the cat out of the trap?" he asked reasonably.
"I don't know how to operate the spring."
J. hauled on jeans, stuck his feet in his slippers.
In the carport, Bobby and Nellie had been joined by Charlie and Willis, all prancing in a suspicious ring about the trapped cat who made another desparate lunge, bashing his damaged nose yet again.
We should perhaps have thought of putting on leather gloves, trying to take him from the trap and calm him. As it was, he shot past J. the instant the door of the trap was open and barreled across the back yard toward the barns.
The likeness to Nellie-cat is so distinct that I suppose he must be related--how he missed turning up here with the other three is a mystery.
Unlike a number of the cats who have been 'dropped off' or otherwise appeared at our farm, the three boy cats were highly socialized.
Filthy, scrawny little scraps that they were, they rushed to us that first evening, purring, rubbing about our feet, reaching up to us with tiny paws. They calmly endured the indignity of baths the morning after their arrival, made it plain that they expected to move in.
If their supposed litter mate has spent nearly a year on his own, foraging, wandering, running from humans, it may be that he will never allow us to approach him.
I so wanted to gently clean his bruised nose, soothe him, offer a treat of canned food.
For now, all we can do is put out a bit more kibble each day in the barn cats' dishes.


  1. Poor thing. Imagine it being separated from the other three at such a young age and surviving on its' own. CATS NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE ME. I hope it stays around and will at least have food. It is so kind of you to want to help it and you having already so many to feed.

    1. Deb; I wish these cats could tell us their story. I can only guess from the strong likeness that the 'wild' cat is a brother to the other three.
      As you can imagine, our cat-care budget is stretched. We do the best we can for them all--and hope there'll be no more arrivals for awhile.

  2. Feral cats are so sad looking. We have a black feral cat who lives in our yard, which we feed every day but can not touch or pick up, poor thing.

    1. Terra; Stray/feral animals, espcially cats, really pull at my heart strings. Heaven knows I don't need any more, but I can't bear not to feed them.

  3. You and me grew on the same tree Sharon. I can't look away either, even though I need another like a hole in the head . . . I hope that you can tame him - it's amazing he has survived all that time on his own. He looks so like Nellie.

    1. Jennie; I despair of taking care of so many cats--praying this will be the summer of no increases. That said, I went looking in the tobacco barn with scraps from supper thinking I might catch sight of the wild kitty. I didn't see him, but left extra kibble in the barn cats' dishes.

  4. The feral cat does look similar to Nellie doesn`t he? I wonder if he will stay around now and gradually become tamer? He`s a lucky one to have food and the kindness of your family to help him.

    1. Ann; We have noticed that the neighborhood feral cats range for a mile or more, some of them coming to an inevitable sad ending in the road. I don't begrudge them the kibble I put out, but I do feel concern because they are not neutered/spayed and haven't been vaccinated.

  5. Oh dear, poor little thing.
    As you know, we feed a feral cat who is the father to our 4 and 'husband' to Polly.
    He used to growl and hiss if we went too near when putting out the food but is gradually getting more and more tame. He actually lets Tom stay and talk to him while he is eating now but I have no doubt that if Tom made a move toward him he would be off.
    Nevertheless, it is so rewarding to make kind of friends with this poor little chap.
    Wouldn't it be great if you could do the same.
    Mornings sound as thought they are the same as in our household, very routine and lots of pouncing on feet to get us up. lol

    1. Briony; Over the years I have managed to befriend a number of cats who appeared at our home. Some had obviously been accustomed to humans, others were either never socialized or had such a frightening experience that they lost all trust in humans. The fact that we now have cats who are indoor/outdoor inhabitants makes it more difficult, I think, to win the trust of a stray. The 'resident' cats intimidate the visitors.

  6. There I was wondering why I hadn't seen any posts from you when I realised you'd dropped off my list. Blogger is VERY annoying. seem to be back now so apologies for missing stuff....just back in time to indulge in feline sympathy!

    1. Em; Bogger has some very frustrating glitches! I often miss posting notifications, then suddenly several appear at once. Lately my whole 'Reading List' seems to fade in and out like the Cheshire Cat on his branch. I'm not technically clever enough to shift the whole thing to wordpress, so I'll have to deal with it and continue to fume.

  7. cats will always find you, they are drawn to your kind and nurturing spirit.

    1. Kath; Sometimes my 'kind and nurturing spirit' feels on overload. Where do all these cats come from? So many people think cats can fend for themselves. Still, I would hate to be catless--no danger of that!

  8. It is amazing that this feral could be a sibling to your three.Who or what were you trying to catch? ....I hope you managed to bathe that poor nose xx

    1. Angie; Jim set the trap attempting to capture a possum. They are messy nocturnal creatures who rootle in the compost pile, drag tins from the garbage bin, and get into the garden stuff as soon as it ripens.
      No, we couldn't get our hands on the cat. He bolted over J. and dashed off as soon as the trap door was opend.

  9. A very poignant story. We have a cat rescue house in town and it has alleviated the poor feral cat situation considerably, but there is still the odd homeless cat wandering down the alley.

  10. oh sharon! i am catching up this morning, been a bit of a week, so i am late to this. He does look like Nellie, its a wonder he survived on his own as a little babe if he was indeed a litter mate. You are a lovely gentle soul, and although i know you dont need more expense, i do hope you win him round and he is reunited with his brothers. I think a happy ending for him would make everyone smile.
    Leanne xx