When a cat suddenly starts showing up in my neighborhood, it can be quite confusing. Does it belong to one of the neighbors? Was it abandoned? Is it lost? Is it a feral cat, born outside and considered wild? Most domestic cats who do end up living outside for whatever reason often seem wild or feral. Their behaviors mimic the wild ones as a way of coping with their new environment.
Over the past several years I have been faced with this situation many times, most likely because I am a professional animal communicator and they’re attracted to my energy. Cats and kittens show up in my neighborhood and I begin the rescue process: feeding on a consistent basis, befriending when possible, live trapping when necessary, taming, getting proper medical attention and finding homes. Alas, I admit to being a foster failure more than once!
A year ago in January, I noticed that a kitty had begun to use my heated feral cat house. I get very emotional from the thought of cats living outdoors during Minnesota winters, so the heated cat sanctuary gives me the peace of mind that there is at least one place safe and warm if anyone needs it. I had no idea that the cat I was feeding for much of the winter was actually a kitten!
As spring approached, she started sticking around more and staring at me. At times when she was really hungry, she would even run toward me when I went out with her food. I saw how small she was and noticed that she seemed to want to be friendly but just couldn’t muster the courage. I started calling her “Little Lady,” so at least she would have a temporary name. Since she seemed somewhat tame, I began feeding her in a very large plastic dog crate. It kept the food dry in the rain and she started to feel comfortable going in to eat. She still kept her distance, but I could tell she was starting to like me.
Then one day after making the necessary arrangements for spaying at one of my favorites vets, I gave her a nice meal of tuna — and when she went in to eat I simply closed the dog crate door. Voila, another rescue! After some communication, it turned out she was not wild at all but had been in a household and then abandoned mid-winter.
Unfortunately, I do not have a great track record in fostering and rehoming the animals I rescue. Most of the time I end up keeping them, because I have the crazy feeling that no one else will take such good care of them. Also, the rescuing and nurturing process is so bonding that it’s hard for me to let them go.
Little Lady did find her forever home last summer with a wonderful retired woman and a kitty brother. I laugh when I think about my initial fears that she was wild and might be difficult to tame. She was simply a treasure looking for her people and for once her person wasn’t me!
Little Lady taught me many things in the months I fostered her. Most of all, she taught me once again to not judge a book by its cover and to be patient with the flow of life. To let go when necessary. It took a long time for us to find her perfect home, but the wait was well worth it! And for once I wasn’t a foster failure!