When I was growing up, my cousins lived on a farm. On visits, I always headed straight for the barn where the cats and kittens lived. That's where my love of cats began. After my dad brought a kitten home, I started to learn about cat behavior.
To catch you up, my husband and I have adopted three rescued indoor cats--two are twelve and one is a year old. We found Zoie Joy, the baby, in our backyard last summer at six weeks old, hungry, dehydrated and needing lots of love. Catch up with Part 1 Seven Lessons I Learned About Feral or Homeless Cats
Because of a dry food we had put near our patio last winter in case Zoie's mom was out there, we had two yellow tabbies visiting. The yellow tabby who we dubbed Lancelot--Lance for short--appeared on our property battered and bleeding with sores on his face and back. But he (we thought he was a she at the time) was protecting a kitten. Before we could build enough trust to capture the kitten and maybe its protector) the kitten no longer appeared. I'm hoping a good family found and adopted him. Lance, however, kept appearing. We had set up an igloo in case he and the kitten needed shelter. My blog about feral shelters
Since Lance was so battered and had trouble eating from the injury to his face--I could tell by watching from a window--we got a feral feeder and left canned food, too. I learned the times when he appeared most--around 8 a.m. and around 4-6 p.m. --and joined him on the patio, sitting very still in those first weeks and talking to him in a low voice. I was so hoping good food would help him heal. (I added L-lysine and Omega 3 to those dishes in the beginning. His eyes were runny and I knew the lysine would help that and the Omega 3 would help his coat. Often adopted cats who have been in the wild have the eye problem for a lifetime.) Then I began moving around slowly when he was there and my husband joined me. He began taking the morning shift.
After those first few weeks, Lance did begin to heal. (We considered capturing him and taking him to the vet, but he definitely returned to someplace else after eating on our patio and we didn't know if he was returning to protect kittens. We also didn't have a place to keep him confined if that was necessary. Every time I had contact with Lance--he began rubbing against my legs and accepting a head rub--I made sure I left my clothes in the basement and either showered or washed thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before going near our inside cats.) Blog about vaccines and L-lysine
|Lance in igloo
Lance was definitely a roamer, afraid of confined spaces. We have a porch area off the patio but could not coax him there. After he ate (sometimes four plates full plus softened dry food), he washed a few feet away in front of the hydrangea near the igloo. With catnip as an enticement, he rubbed against the entrance and finally sat inside. Only for a few seconds, but I felt that was progress. After he began to feel more comfortable with us, if he saw the other yellow tabby approach, he chased him away.
|Romeo on alert
This other yellow tabby, we dubbed Romeo. Even though Lance chased him, Romeo began visiting regularly, watching from the base of a pine in the distance. Where Lance might be homeless, Romeo is feral. If we were outside, he didn't come around. But after Lance ate and left, we put food down for Romeo. Sometimes we would catch site of him from the window about fifteen minutes after we went inside.
One evening Lance had eaten and left and we were pruning at the edge of the patio. Romeo must have been really hungry that night because he ventured to the dish at the other end of the patio and ate. He was on the alert the whole time, ready to run if we moved. We didn't move. This is the same night that a beautiful gray and white cat appeared at the edge of the vegetable garden. As pretty as she was--thick gray and white coat, no injuries, full face and body--I suspected she was an adopted female. I was hoping a spayed female! But she was jumpy, too, and if we moved, she ran. Still, she didn't seem homeless or feral to me. Just out for an evening jaunt before returning home.
Later that evening when it was almost dark, I happened to look out the window. I called my husband and what we watched over and the next fifteen minutes was amazing, an absolute study on how two cats behave.
The dance between Lance and Guinevere next week!
My sleuth in my Caprice De Luca mystery series rescues stray animals. My love of cats and dogs shines through her in STAGED TO DEATH, the first book in the series available for Preorder now.
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