Most rescue groups have a dual mission these days. We try to control the cat over population by utilizing the Trap, Neuter and Return method of spay/neuter, and we deal with the huge amount of discarded cats by trying to find homes for them. Many times there is a clear line between the two kinds of cats... one is feral, a wild decedent of a domesticated cat and the other is friendly, only frightened and wild during trapping and vetting, and then recognized as a friendly kitty who just went a little wild to ensure survival after being abandoned by some unfeeling human. But in reality there is a third kind of cat. They are what I call Tweenies. Now in the world of people, Tweenies is a term to describe young preteen girls. With kitties, the age is not what counts, it is whether they can cross the line, by intense socialization, between true feral and domestication. This is what I try to do. I also encourage others to try it too, but you must have much patience and persistence. Some of the most ferocious cats, the one’s you are afraid to even look too closely at, have the ability and desire to become acceptable house cats. They may not enjoy any company except for you and your family, but any life lived in a home is better than a life lived outside in the often harsh and dangerous world.
Grace’s attitude when she first came to Every Cat Counts was a challenge. She had been trapped by a woman in a development who did not want her to “hanging around” her house. Grace was brought to a vets office and boarded for several days. Unfortunately she was very feral, (wild), and of course there was no one to adopt her. The woman decided to have Grace killed. Fortunately, this vet did not want to kill a perfectly healthy cat and contacted us. We took Grace in, and the process began. Grace was housed in a smaller area, one with no real place to hide, and every day I would try to get close enough to touch her with my wooden back scratcher. It took several weeks before I could touch her and she would attack it with gusto! She bit it and batted it away every time I touched her. This went on for quite awhile, but eventually she allowed the back scratcher to touch her. The next step was to actually scratch her. While at the point where I could touch her, the second I moved it on her body to scratch, she attacked it.
Then one day, THE BREAK THROUGH!! I caught her while she was drowsy. I managed a good few seconds of scratching before she realized what I was doing. Her eyes closed for a second and her head turned so that I could get a good shot at her ear….then of course she smacked it away. But, it was a start. Within a few weeks I could pet and scratch her for several minutes at a time. Each day I would inch closer to her. Eventually I could touch her with my hand right at the end of the scratcher, and then… .my hand all by itself. Our progress went very quickly after that. Grace is one of those cats that once the transformation happened she embraced it wholeheartedly. She totally tamed down. I could touch her anywhere, pick her up and hold her, and she never reverted. She would even come and jump on my lap. Seeing her today you would never guess that she had been a feral cat.
HAPPY ENDING!!! Grace was adopted into a wonderful home last month. A great gal saw her photo on the site and thought she was beautiful. They met and Grace went with her to have a trial run. After a first few shaky days where Grace hid a lot, a few phone calls back and forth with suggestions, and Grace realized she could relax and enjoy herself…she was finally home! Thanks to Julia for taking a chance on a previously feral cat. As you can see any cat can finally have a good life!!
That is all it takes. A willingness to be patient with your very own Tweenie until bonding happens. And with the kitties on this site that are Tweenies, it will happen. If they bond with me. then more times than not, they will bond with you. They just need the chance to realize that you will not hurt them, you are the food machine, and that you will love them despite their small imperfections.
Tweenies... a challenge and a good thing!