Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Daily Featurerescue storiesTNRTNR Seriestrap neuter returnTuesday

No Feral Life for This Boy

I touched a human!
I touched a human!

Shannon and I had been waiting for a sign of where Smokey was going with his socialization. After a month he still seemed like a feral cat compensating for being in a crate, okay, but not happy, and not interested in the humans; in fact, he seemed to regress, interacting less and less, hiding in his trap while we were there. He improved with the extra crate space, then even more with Rescue Remedy and the appearance of Cletus and Cuddlebug. Now he talks all the time, plays with us and on his own, interacts with us through the crate, and Shannon and I agree that he is not going to live as a feral cat. We don’t know how long it will take, and hopefully another foster will show up who can take him into a home situation, but he’s going to have is own forever home.

Initially, since we couldn’t release him back to the CVS, we were going to give him a month to give us a sign, and if the weather had been right we probably would have closed up shop and decided he was ready for the drive to Meyersdale. But since the weather wasn’t good for transferring a cat, and we really wanted to give him a few more opportunities, we added the extra crate giving him twice as much space, allowing for more toys, movement and play. He began to emerge on his own, and then began to talk again. I started Rescue Remedy two or three days into his new digs and he really interacted with his space, his toys, and us, talking as soon as we walked in, getting accustomed to the routines, playing with the wand toys with us as well as using his cat tree and scratching pads and tossing toys around. Then when Cletus and Cuddlebug moved in it was clear he craved feline companionship and immediately made friends through his crate with the two friendly cats, talking non-stop “in complete sentences” as I’ve always described it when cats give an extended series of meows and then stop.

Smokey watching Cletus and Cuddlebug exploring, and talking in complete sentences.
Smokey watching Cletus and Cuddlebug exploring, and talking in complete sentences.

All that is enough that I began to reconsider taking him to Birgitta’s farm, where he could live as a friendly feral, that kind of halfway cat. But he still hadn’t made any move toward us. One of the problems with the new setup is that we can’t really reach in and touch him that it doesn’t look threatening, like we’re trying to grab him. So I decided to take advantage of his settling on the hammock where he’s close enough, and accustomed to us dropping treats in for him, and I began holding his freeze-dried chicken treat, covered with a drop of Rescue Remedy, in my fingers so that he had to come and get it. He hissed the first time, and I realized it was days since I’d seen him hiss, but he gingerly took the treat from my fingers. The next day I gave him treats, fed him, played with him and the kids, and then before I left I put my fingers through the crate bars and he reached forward and didn’t find a treat, but he did touch his nose to my fingers and rubbed ever so slightly, then sat back and looked at me.

He looked as shocked as I was! And he’s done it again and again, allowing us to touch his face in this safe way, and Shannon has brushed her hand against him a few times while replacing his dish of food.

Smokey chilling in his hammock.
Smokey chilling in his hammock.

When I surrender Cletus and Cuddlebug to Animal Friends next week we’ll switch his extra crate for the one she is in, which has a door on the side as well as the end. That way we can open the door on the side, and he’ll be right there. We can reach his food more easily, and we can begin to touch him and get him accustomed to interacting more naturally. Maybe we’ll even get him socialized enough in the crate to surrender him, and if not we’ll be looking for a foster to help him along since neither of us can take him in.

I can’t wait to update!

And here are his buddies.

More photos of Cletus and Cuddlebug

Cletus and Cuddlebug exploring.
Cletus and Cuddlebug exploring.

The kids were spayed and neutered over the weekend, and will be going to Animal Friends on Monday, along with Dale, the third cat who I’d taken to another friend’s house to foster. We let them wander for a while when we arrive and feed Smokey, play with everyone, then clean their boxes and refresh their food and put them back in their crates.

Cuddlebug walks over to you, falls down on the floor and kneads her front paws in the air.

Cuddlebug air kneading.
Cuddlebug air kneading.

Cletus is much less timid since he’s been neutered, and forgot about that annoying neutered male habit of latching onto your arm, if you know what I mean.


Cuddlebug in one of the extra beds, looking sweet.

Cuddling in a bed.
Cuddling in a bed.

Cletus taking an artsy pose on the basement windowsill. He explores more than she does.

Cletus looking artsy.
Cletus looking artsy.now

Would you like to help?

As always, I love being able to help cats. My goal is not just to go out and trap or accept cats, but also to help people resolve issues or help find affordable services, and be a good example to others who are following. I write my articles to give lots of information so that others learn how to do this too, and if they find a cat in a similar circumstance they have an idea what’s entailed, whether it’s TNR or fostering to adopt. Even more than fostering, bringing a cat in from a perilous life outdoors is so rewarding. Helping a person with their cats, even if it means taking some of them to be adopted by someone else, is difficult but often necessary, and I try to be as kind and compassionate as possible.

Of course, it’s also time-consuming and has its expenses, and I’m on a tight budget. Thanks to those of you who have sent donations that paid for spays and neuters and food for Smokey and the ferals we TNRd. If any of my readers would like to help me with the spays and neuters for these cats, or gas money, no small amount when running back and forth to fosters and transporting to surgery and to surrender appointments, I would really appreciate it. You can always buy something from my website www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net including the Pittsburgh CAT calendar, below. I’m always working on new items for cat lovers to give as gifts to others or to themselves. Donations can go to my Paypal address bernadette (at) bernadette-k (dot) com, or you can go to Portraits of Animals and purchase a gift certificate in amounts of $5.00 or more and let me know it’s for me, or whatever else you’d like to do.

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