FROM FERAL TO FRIEND
By Judith Adamson
A skinny cat scrounging in the garbage or huddled I some dark, cold corner, fur dirty and unkempt, absolutely breaks my heart. Cats should be lying in the sun, licking their fur until the shine is blinding. A friend of mine felt the same way when six years ago a potentially white cat, made dingy gray by life on the street, caught her eye and captured her heart. She tells her story:
“I had just moved into an old adobe house off an alley in the barrio when I noticed a bedraggled, hungry-looking white cat. I put out a can of cat food and later looked to see if my gift had been accepted. The can was nowhere to be seen, so I sent looking around my yard and then my neighbor’s yard. He had an old cupboard near the street, about 75 feet from my place and in the bottom of this cupboard I found the white cat, her three kittens . . . and the empty can. She had dragged the can to her kittens, even though she was hungry, too. I was hooked . . . what a display of motherly love! What could I do? I fed the four cats daily, even though they hissed mightily every time I put the food down fo them and I could see that they waited until I was safely on the other side of the garden gate before they would eat.
“Of course, putting food out for the little family attracted othre strays and I soon had many takers. I found a home for one of Mama’s kittens but was still feeding mama and her remaining kittens plus three others-all female, as it turned out. In due time, I rounded up all six and took them to the vet to be fixed and get shots. This rather challenging venture was accomplished by feeding them in individual fruit boxes for two week and the night before surgery, the lids went on. They stayed in my bathroom that night and the night after surgery.
“When the old adobe was sold and I had to leave, I moved across the alley and set up a new refuge for my gang of six. They weathered the winters in boxes and bales of straw and climbed the garden walls and apple trees in good weather. Some got brave enough to come in and visit, but they never stayed long.
“Four years later I moved again and, of course, brought my beloved cats with me. They stayed in the garage for two weeks to get used to the new territory, but now they come and go through a cat door to the garage into the yard which is totally fenced. At last, they all feel secure enough that they don’t have to be constantly on guard. An old neighbor had told me Mama had been abandoned in the alley when she was a kitten and she had fended for herself for many years. She is probably about 16 now.
“One day last fall I was sitting in the back yard and Mama jumped onto my lap for the first time ever. We sat there together for what seemed a long time. As I stroked her beautiful white fur, she purred and the tears streamed down my face. I’m so thankful to give her some peace of mind in her old age.”
Judith Adamson is an editor for Petroglyphs.
Note: This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 1999 issue.
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