Well, what do your neighborhood cats want and need? Will you help? Every Kitty! Every City! What will your response be?
Actually, feral cats, hard strays, and strays are so easy to get along with. They ask very little of you. Snowball and Tangerine, both feral males – yes, they were real ferals who were born outside to a feral mother. The father, of course, was from a nice neighborhood, but he had places to go and things to do. Actually, that sounds a lot like too many human males, but that takes me down another road, or perhaps another alley.
This record is straight from conversations with Snowball and Tangerine. You will recall that we had previously neutered and vetted them once we’d learned about TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). Both had survived outside as feral cats for five plus years. When it came time for another vet visit – yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a file folder for every cat we’ve TNRed (that is ALL of them) and we keep track of vaccinations and any other medical needs. There, I said it! Yes, we named each one of them so they would never be forgotten. They are all remembered even to the Rainbow Bridge. To our surprise, but not to our vet, we discovered both of these were FIV positive as many feral males are. In short, FIV for cats is analogous in many ways to HIV for humans, but cannot be spread to humans.
Snowball and Tangie missed an early evening nap just to tell me everything. Of course, there were a few bits and pieces they filled in later. Imagine, missing an evening nap! Those are the most extraordinary cats.
I recalled seeing a teardrop down Snowball’s left cheek when he softly said, “We didn’t ask to be born and be forced to live among you.” Snowball continued: “Then Mom, she was just Mom to us since no one had named her yet, said she had to visit her sister was was having some babies of her own in a short time. Then came the shock – she said she loved us dearly and that she always would, but that she didn’t know when she’d be back.” Snowball went on: “Mom continued to speak and said she’d given us the finest training over these eight weeks and we had what it took to survive and live a long time. And then — she was gone and we never saw her again; but she remains forever in our hearts.”
Snowball and Tangerine began to summarize what they’d been taught by their mother and learned from other feral cats. Tangerine said, “We are feral and stray cats and we have a right to live too.” Both expressed their inborn fear of nasty children. Especially noted was the plea of “Please don’t try to hurt us. Please don’t harass us or chase us. It’s stressful, and we may run out in front of a car or a soccer mom’s van.”
Snowball said that they wanted very little from humans when he said, “We just want a nice meal and safe and dry place to sleep. We have a right to exist.”
He continued, “If you don’t like cats, we will try to keep from bothering you. It seems some people didn’t get their cats fixed, so we were born. Or we got lost, or someone opened the door and then didn’t search for us. For other owners, some just abandoned us when we cost too much to feed and give proper veterinary care and we became ‘strays’ or ‘hard strays’.”
“And now we have to make a life for ourselves. Life on this planet already has enough cruelty in it. Why do some want to add to the amount of cruelty already there? We have feelings too. We have a right to exist.”
So, with that, both quickly dropped off to sleep curled around each other and off to my left as I sat on the floor with them with my hand gently soothing them for a time. Rest safely – you are now sanctuaried here with us.