It’s been clear Allie wasn’t happy about life inside. She had her own room in Cathy’s house, and Cathy spent time with her. Allie would play sometimes at night and after six months didn’t run in fear when Cathy came in the room. But she spent most of her time sitting behind the curtain on top of the air conditioner at the side window, looking out on the back yards and the alley that had been her home. It was a shame she couldn’t be released back to her territory, but the neighbor had threatened them and trapped one kitten, then set out the trap for another. We got everyone to safety, but the situation wasn’t safe enough for her to go back outside.
So she was safe enough inside, but Cathy and Pat were concerned for her state of mind. That’s no life for a cat. But not only is Allie feral, she’s also very timid and had always seemed easily frightened, so I wasn’t sure how she’d do on the farm with all the other cats and goats and chickens and dogs. I was concerned she’d be lost in all that and even more frightened than she was in the house.
A friend who, along with her husband, had built a small sanctuary in their house and yard for cats who weren’t quite adoptable had a space come up and agreed to take her. I knew Allie would have the best possible outcome there because she’d be able to find her own comfort level with humans, at her own pace. If she grew more socialized and friendly and could be handled, or if she wasn’t terribly socialized but could be handled for things like medications, then she could stay in the house. If so, she could have the choice of going out to the fenced back yard. But if not, then she could transfer back to being an outdoor kitty with the feral colony in the other back yard, in a quiet place not unlike where she’d come from.
So on Sunday we moved Allie to Robin’s house. Allie came with quite a dowry, as Pat said, of all the things Cathy and Pat had bought for her over the past six months: a cat tree, beds, small toys, feather toys, wand toys, cat tracks, boxes, all sorts of things. The entire back of my car was full of her stuff along with some donated sheets and towels. She was and is very much loved.
Getting Allie into a carrier to move
This was a concern of mine because Allie doesn’t tolerate being handled. We couldn’t just pick her up and put her in a carrier, and we couldn’t trust that she’d go into one on her own, even though her crate with the carrier in it was still in the room. For Allie’s sake I didn’t want any big scene of chasing her around the room or cornering her or forcing her into the carrier. I didn’t want a trauma for her, and that would be traumatic, that might frighten her badly enough that she’d never trust people and would associate the whole move with fear.
My plan for Allie was to make the carrier be the best thing in the room for her so she would go into it on her own. I planned to set up the room so that she would have no other hiding places, her favorite boxes, the cat tree, under tables and behind chairs. Even her favorite spot on the air conditioner would be too exposed without the curtain. Cathy had the crate covered and the carrier turned sideways so it faced away from the open door of the crate. Then she put her food in there too. Cathy had also mentioned that when the room was cold Allie would go into the crate and the carrier. In the end it only took a few minutes before Allie was in her carrier. Cathy and Pat closed and locked the door. Allie was ready to go.
The big move
With Allie safely stashed in her carrier, off we went. Robin owns two houses next to each other, and she and her husband live in one with the indoor and indoor-outdoor cats, and rent the other in two apartments and have the back yard set up for the outdoor feral colony. We unpacked Allie’s things onto the second house porch when we arrived and Robin gave us a little tour of the yards and inside her house.
The yard for the feral cats has a garage and a way for the cats to get indoors to the basement of the house in the winter, a feeding area and a transfer cage area for integrating a new feral. Some of the ferals have become quite friendly but can’t be handled, or don’t get along in the population of cats in the sheltered yard next door. I forgot to grab my DSLR and just had my cell phone, I should have known better. I will go back and get better photos at some point.
The yard for the cats at Robin’s house is really nicely fixed up with a tall wire mesh fence that has a long horizontal section all around the top that’s difficult for the cats to get over. A large pine tree has interesting “knees” to climb along with handmade cat playgrounds. The deck has several sections of different levels to hang out on, and the yard has walks and walls for cats to sit on. Both areas have various types of shelters. There’s lots to do out there.
Inside there are climbing stairs and shelves on the walls and lots of high and low areas for cats to observe and get away from congestion. Upstairs is a room of some girl cats who end up being chased, so they share their own territory as a group. Other rooms have cats like Allie who are in the process of socialization. Some of the cats have conditions like diabetes or other health issues that make them hard to adopt. The kitty below has cerebellar hypoplasia, and it’s so minimal you really have to know cats to see the tilt to her head.
Robin started Allie in a crate of her own in one of the upstairs rooms where she can decompress. Robin will try safe practices for testing Allie’s current socialization level, and see if she’s interested in becoming more socialized. If she does, Robin will keep her moving along. If not, then she’ll go to the transfer area for the feral colony. But there is no hurry, Alley can take her own good time.
I hope that relating the details of my TNR and rescue projects I can help you if you’re new to it, commiserate and celebrate if you’re not, and help to spread the idea of why and how cats are rescued, how much work goes into rescuing, and how so many people are involved. Mostly, I hope to share why it’s important that we rescue cats, and all animals.
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O.M.Geeeee! It’s Bella! On a bag with green button eyes just like her big round eyes! Others don’t live in a house full of housepanthers, so I added the white, gray and ginger kitties who are her foster friends. Read more and order.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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