Friday, January 7, 2011

Adult Feral Cat Bonds with Colony Caregivers



Training an adult feral cat that resides in a colony is not easy however if the caregiver is  around the cat on daily basis and cares for for the cat for years, the cat will bond with the human and allow you to be a part of their world.

As a colony caregiver I have seen the inside of a thicket den while a feral cat stood on the upper branches and looked down on me. The cat could have hurt me but it did not because this cat was Lucy and she has bonded with me.

This winter I have not seen much of the feral adult cat that I call Lucy.  I put out food and fresh water for her every day but I see her rarely.  I think she is hiding because of the weakness in her paw that was injured last summer.  

My neighbor that resides across the street from me reported that Lucy is sunning herself on his deck in the afternoon and her sponsor he tells me that Lucy visits him often and that he feeds her and puts out fresh water. 

 Since Lucy’s spay she is staying close by and is not venturing too deeply into the woods.  My colony helper and I have agreed that Lucy is welcome to come indoors however we both respect her and feel she wants to live outdoors for the rest of her life then we will respect her and continue to care for her at the colony.
Lucy knows that she is safe at my home and that my shed-shelter  has warm insulated bedding for the feral cats.  That my pond never freezes over and that the small fountain has fresh clean water poured into it daily.  

There is always a bowl of food at three different feeding stations.  Yes Lucy feels safe at my home, and she also feels safe at the other caregiver’s homes.  It will be a tossup as to who she chooses to be her full time indoor caregiver.

This month Lucy is hanging out at Bruce’s; he has acres of densely wooded land and all of the feral cats find his land to be appealing to their needs. However, recently the feral cats are on edge because Bruce rescued a Bombay cat named Shirley.  

House cats generally do not get along with feral cats as they have no respect or manners.  

Lucy would prefer that she was the only female cat and has made it quite clear to Shirley that she is not welcome; from chasing Shirley up a tree and biting her tail to hissing fights and showing Shirley her razor sharp claws.  Then last week Lucy could take no more as the house cat tested her patience by eating out of Lucy’s food bowl.  


Lucy took off after Shirley; she was determined to chase Shirley out of the yard.  Shirley leaped to the top of Bruce’s back steps, ran inside the door, slid across the floor and jumped onto the table.  

Lucy did not hesitate she came inside after Shirley.  Of course when Lucy realized that she was indoors she did stop on all four paws and retreated to kitchen door, but instead of running away she stopped to rub all over the door.  She put her scent on the door as if to say this is my door and not yours, a message to all of the other colony cats. 

Bruce spoke softly to Lucy in a reassuring voice and thus Lucy was not afraid of being indoors.  For a feral cat this is a huge accomplishment, not one person forced her to come inside, Lucy came indoors on her own.

5 comments:

Diane Cass said...

Great post Susan. Lucy has really come a long way.

Nancy Hardin said...

Well Susan, I'm not sure Lucy will ever take to Shirley, but hopefully they will be able to come to a sort of truce and be civil to each other. I'm sure Shirley was scared to death!

Susang6 said...

Only time will tell concerning the relationship with Shirley and Lucy. We are hoping that Lucy will accept the house cat and will go inside the house when weather is extreme. Yesterday Lucy was in my other neighbors heated breezeway, she was lying by the step. Last night the temperature was -3 and she was in my shelter with Bob, Shadow and a new orange tabby. She likes her caregivers, the feral cats and I know she feels safe here at the end of the road by the 50 acre woods.

Nancycarol said...

Susan, you've done it! You've at least got her to the point where I believe she accepts you, which is a big step for a feral. But she feels she can trust you, cats just know when someone cares! God Bless and keep you and Lucy.

S Golis said...

Lucy has regressed and has has become very feral once again. I do not see her often, maybe 3 times out of the week. I learned that she has taken over a large thicket den where a groundhog hibernates and that she is foraging in the woods. She was viewed crossing the meadow to drink from the creek. She lives a life of solitude and fights off every cat that tries to enter her space. When I do see her she knows me and will come very close to me, however she does not hang out with me, she eats and returns to the woods.