Those in my OIRW classes and in my Yellow Highlighter Classes and those who know me from Facebook Groups have heard a lot about my cats.
For those who have somehow missed hearing about the cats, we live in a house with our eighteen cats. All but two of the cats were stray or feral when we first started taking care of them about eight years ago. Some became tame pretty quickly. With others, it took much longer. I still have two that greet me at the great room door every morning when I come into that part of the house, sit about two feet from me, but won’t let me touch them. There are others that come, lean against my chest and purr when I am at the desk but who will not allow me to pick them up. Feral cats connect and relate at their own speed.
At first, we fed ours outside because we didn’t think of them as ours. We thought of them as neighborhood strays. We felt sorry for them, we bought them a couple of giant dog houses that we filled with straw for winter and we got them spayed and neutered, and so on. When we traveled we hired a pet sitter to take care of them. In short, we took care of them as well as we could…but we didn’t really think of them as ours quite — though we did become more and more bonded to them as time went on. Then my husband got an unexpected opportunity to retire early and we decided to hop on that opportunity and to move to Iowa to be closer to family.
The cats were by then dependent upon us because we’d been taking care of them for a couple of years–and by then I did think of them as MY cats and there was no way I could have left them. We enlisted the help of my parents and my niece, bought a BUNCH of kennels, rented an SUV and moved the lot 500+ miles to our new place.
Since the cats were pretty wild at that time and we were having a lot of remodeling done, my mother who has a talent for building animal habitats, built the cats a nice space in the basement with all kinds of climbing apparatus and bins, boxes, and places to hide and lurk. They lived in the basement and I spent a couple of hours a day sitting in the basement with them over the next six months or so Gradually those that weren’t tame began to get tamer and the remodeling work in the upstairs got completed and we decided to let the cats upstairs. We started feeding upstairs instead of downstairs. It didn’t take much time at all for the cats to start hanging around upstairs more than downstairs, though the downstairs remained their safe place…and still is. Over time the cats became much more comfortable with us and have become pretty well-adjusted house cats. When we sit down to watch TV at night we usually have six or eight cats on our laps…between the two of us. The cats do sort of cycle through…some will sit for a while and then that group will move on and another group will take up residence. I usually have four or five cats on my desk and more on the tables beside my desk.
None of them express any desire to go outside, and in fact, hide when it rains hard or thunders and lightnings. In short, they seem like very happy and contented cats.
Since so many people have heard about the kitties and since a lot of people seem to enjoy pictures of them, I thought I’d share some pictures taken in the years since they’ve become house kitties.
Part of my motive I guess, is to show that many feral cats can become well-adjusted house cats. It does take a lot of time and patience, but when you do have that break-through and a cat who has been afraid of you – FOR YEARS – finally decides to trust you, it is extremely rewarding.