traveler3.jpg“he didn’t stay away…he came right back…the very next day.”  I think that’s how the old Enlgish pub song goes.  Henry is never leaving and I’ve decided it’s ok…he’s a nice guy and I’m warming to the idea of his staying here forever.

Recently, I discovered Henry has a girlfriend.  ..and she’s feral (wild).

The other day I was in the woodshed and I looked up and I thought he was sitting on top of the wood pile.  “What are doing up there?” I asked. Still not wanting to claim him or comply with his wish make him part of my feline family, I fussed as I gathered fire wood. “You need to find another home. I can’t have any more cats. There are thousands of homes and farms in Stephens County – pick one,” I griped.

The little kitty listened intently and then made a decision.  It jumped up onto the rafters and continued to watch me intently. 

When I finally looked up from gathering wood, I realized it wasn’t Henry but another little cat…a kitten. Some women go all gooy when they see a human baby, I go all gooy for kittens. Nothing brings out my maternal instinct faster than a kitten in distress.  Not even puppies, though I love them, too.  But a kitten’s cry for help just breaks my heart and I have to respond. 

Over the years, I’ve become a sort of “cat whisperer” and an expert at fostering and rehabilitating kittens in need, then finding them good homes.  Once I saw this little girl, all the bells and whistles of ‘Nurse MJ’ went off and I decided I needed to get her immediately. 

As she stared at me from the rafters, I tried to make friends, but she jumped off and ran into the woods.  Later, she was in the tool shed where Henry’s food and bed are. That’s when I saw she was no more than about 3-4 mos old and very pretty. White with silver tabby spots. It’s also when I decided to trap her and bring her inside, get her spayed and either keep her or let her go. 

It was a struggle. After leaving out and setting up a humane trap baited with sardines didn’t work, I found her again one day in the tool shed.  Quickly, I closed the cat door and set about to scruff her and put her in a carrier.

Well it was World War 3, I can tell you, but after about an hour of playing “Dodge the Human” with her, I managed to catch her.  I’m sure the experience traumatized her, but I was determined.  Had I just gradually let her get used to me by allowing her to come and go from the tool shed, perhaps she would have tamed up in a couple of years.  Meantime, however, she’d be having one litter of kittens after another in places I wouldn’t have been able to find.

Then she would have brought them to the tool shed for food when she weaned them. That meant, literally dozens of cats everywhere and I didn’t want that.  Still don’t.

Anyway, the entire time she was in my back bedroom, Little Girl never warmed up to me or my other cats. Every day I left her food under the bed where she was holed up. She ate, but only later at night when it was quiet.

It’s not a good idea to try to talk and coo too much to a feral cat. Since cats communicate more verbally than with body language, they interpret the sounds as your way of saying you plan to eat them.  They haven’t learned your language and have no idea what you mean. So it’s interpreted as hostile. It’s better to say nothing around them. 

A feral cat is just like any wild animal. Humans are the enemy. If you don’t get a feral kitten and bon with it before it’s 4wks old, it’s lost to the wild forever.

So was the case with Little Girl. She had obviously been on her own since a small kitten and raised by a feral queen.

Day after day I left her food and water, cleaned her litter box and left. ..saying little. After a week, I began to try and interact with her. She would only stare at me from under the bed and move away if it looked like I was getting too close.

After two weeks, I pulled out her water bowl and discovered she had pee’d in it. I also found she had stopped eating.  She wasn’t coming out to use the litterbox and wasn’t eating or drinking water. Bad signs both. There was no way I could catch her again so I decided to open the window and let her jump out. Strangely, she refused to leave from under the bed – even after I left the room. 

So now I had a real dilemma. I had a feral cat, pooping and pee’ing under my guest bed and not eating. If a cat doesn’t eat for 48 hours, their liver begins to shut down and protein starts to clog the liver. They become toxic and die.

I was ready to have a friend come over and just go through the battle of catching her, when Henry decided to come in. As he walked around the house, he was talking to me because he wanted his dinner.  To my amazement, Little Girl heard him and from behind the bedroom door, I heard her crying….crying for him.  Then I looked and she was sticking her paw under the door!

So I opened the door and stood back and she came out and started following Henry all over the house, crying and pawing at him as if to say, “Help! I’m being held prisoner by a crazy human!”

After a little while, Henry walked into her room and found the open window and jumped out..and she went right behind him…free at last.

That was two weekends ago.  For a long time I didn’t see her. She had abandoned the woodshed and the tool shed and I hoped she had maybe gone back home..hoping she actually had a home.

Then the other morning as I walked my dog, I heard her cries. Henry was walking with us chattering as he does and off in the distance I heard her answering him.  When I looked, I saw her, back in the woods on top of a pile of old particle board that had once been yet another shed but that had been demolished because it was falling in on itself.

There she sat, calling for her only friend.  My only hope is that late at night she comes up to the tool shed for food.

It’s my fault for being too anxious to make friends with her and get her spayed.  Now all I can do is wait and hope. Guess, I’ll be seeing kittens this summer.

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