Sunday, March 2, 2014

My #Stray and #Feral #Cat Friends by Karen Rose Smith

This has been the harshest winter on record in years in our part of Pennsylvania, especially for stray and feral cats.  But I continue to be surprised by their resilience. We have four shelters, two with heat pads, but I'm not sure the cats use them. With the temperatures so low this winter, we are putting food inside of them as well as in the feeder to keep it from freezing solid as fast.  We have dry food out continuously but the wet food aids in their health.  They can get dehydrated in this kind of weather when they can't find water, and the wet food assists that aspect of caring for them.

All of our fall regulars come to the feeders.  We have also picked up two more yellow tabbies. So the list grew from Arthur and Romeo to Galahad to Percy to Cleo to a new smaller one who meows at us now and then. The others don't speak.  Arthur (gray and white big guy) will rub against our legs and likes our company but startles easily and wanders quickly.  Percy (lighter yellow tabby) will sit at the edge of the garden while we put food in the feeders and we can talk to him without him bolting.  Galahad (rusty medium yellow tabby with gold eyes) only comes after we've gone inside.  He's constantly on the alert.  The new smaller yellow tabby sits in our window-well and I talk to him from inside the basement.  He runs if we're outside. We haven't named him yet.  But we will soon.

Taking care of the furry crew, besides our 3 inside rescued cats, prevents cabin fever even when the temperature is 5 degrees.  The day Arthur sunned himself on our bank it was 15 degrees. Yet he acted as if it was 60!  I actually stood in the sun talking to him for a while until my fingers went numb. We leave the sun porch attached to our basement open, but I don't think anybody takes advantage of that shelter.  They seem to have someplace to go every evening.  We have seen more than one dash under our neighbor's porch.  I'm able to photograph them from a window and with the zoom lens and catching personal appearances now and then, I can see how they are faring.  Amazingly they all look healthy.

I'm hoping when spring comes, they will get used to our presence a little more.  Maybe then they won't run.  Maybe then they'll realize they can trust us.

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©2014 Karen Rose Smith


Jean said...

It's a dance. Tiny steps forward and what seems like large leaps back. It's worth it, I think.

catslady said...

I love hearing about your cats. I am down to one 16 yr. fixed female and 1 male tom cat outside at the moment. I just lost the sister who was also 16 at the end of the year. She actually would come in to be petted and held. I really miss her. I can pat the sister at the door but I was never allowed to walk outside with them. I've been doing this for 25 yrs. and have had many, many cats which it sounds like you have too. I have a covered porch and insulated styrofoam containers. A few years back a kitten came to eat and by the time I coaxed it inside I realized it was ill and unfortunately even the vet couldn't save him. But I keep doing what I can. I have 5 inside kitties at the moment :)

KRS said...

I worry about them. Just can't detach. If they become friendlier , i'll probably worry more and feel more responsibilty for them. There is no answer except kindness.