When I was a kid, I remember traveling vagrants left marks on the fences of houses that were good for a handout. If you felt a smidgen of sympathy and gave a gaunt, sunken-eyed bum a sandwich, it wouldn’t be long before more vagrants were knocking at the door. The cure to your problem was to paint your fence. I am beginning to suspect that someone has marked my fence, or perhaps I have the word “sucker” tattooed to my forehead in invisible ink? Anyway, if someone dumps a stray cat in our neighborhood, it inevitably ends up at my door. Gent was the last to be taken in of our local feral cat colony. We were free of outside cats for a few months, but….
Meet the new kids on the block.
The big one, with the fur coat that would see her through an Alaskan winter, is Skitty. (Named that because she was one skittish kitty) She has grown extremely loving in a very short period of time, and walking to the garden without tripping over her has become quite a chore. The orange one is Pumpkin. You may pull his tail or touch his nose, but petting him is out of the question. The little fluff ball is Princess. She is very delicate, very feminine, and a non-stop chatterbox. We really don’t mind their company, and someone has expressed interest in Skitty and Princess. I’ve already decided to keep Pumpkin as an outdoor cat. (We have plenty of warm shelter for the winter, and finding a home for a cat you can’t touch is difficult.)
But how? How do these cats know that out of all of the houses in the neighborhood this is the one to come to? How do they know which person will run into the house to get them a plate of cat food and a bowl of milk? I think perhaps it’s time to paint my fence, or maybe apply a little makeup?
There was a wild kitty that lived in a shoe — box.
There are horror stories told of foolish humans attempting to domesticate wild cats. Stories of cats that vanish without a trace, shredded drapes, broken treasures, trips to the hospital, and furniture soiled with — well, you get the idea. I remember as a child I watched in awe as my parents worked for what seemed like an hour carefully freeing a feral cat from an old dryer vent, and as I welcomed Abby into my house, I was more than a little worried that her wild ways might interfere with her future home. The truth is, she took to becoming a house cat extremely well. She padded quietly about the house trilling in a singsong, little voice and checking out the downstairs before settling down to rest in front of the fridge. She missed the litter box the first time but soon discovered where it was, and she hasn’t missed since. My curtains are safe, catfights have been avoided, and she hasn’t found a handy dryer vent to wedge herself into. She has, however, ignored the soft quilt, that I gave her to sleep on, in exchange for a box of old work shoes. We have decided it is her way of saying: “When choosing a cat for a wonderful, new home, I’m a shoe in!”
If at one time, Abby had had a human friend, she couldn’t remember who or where they were. She was lost, and partially blind in a very unfriendly world, and now her marginal health was failing. Coughing, sneezing, and gasping for breath became the norm as she rummaged through garbage cans for discarded tidbits and attempted vainly to hunt. Abby’s chances for survival were dwindling. Fate is often a cruel companion, and a sick, homeless cat with compromised vision is destined to become its victim.
It’s not often a cat, much less a sick one, survives being hit by a car, but for the first time good fortune fell upon this gentle natured, feral cat. She not only survived, but someone took pity.
Though Abby’s vision may never fully be restored, she no longer gasps for breath. The large wound on her side has healed and her cracked ribs are swiftly mending, and soon, she will be on her way to a new home where she will always be loved and never again face hunger. Abby is one lucky cat.
If you are thinking of adopting a new pet, why not skip that fancy pet store and the pampered, pedigreed balls of fluff? Consider adopting a homeless cat, like Abby, and give another lucky animal a chance at a better life.