An elderly lady started feeding cats that were wondering on to her country property, they apparently had no home or had been dumped. She loved cats and did not have the heart to turn them away. This situation was not too difficult for her to manage at first but as time went by and kittens were born it soon got out of hand, before she knew it, she had approximately 30 plus mouths to feed.
This caring woman became very ill and passed away, leaving all these cats to suddenly fend for themselves. We all know that cats hunt so it is easy to think that there is no need to feed them, this could not be further from the truth. Yes they do hunt if they can, but when out fending for themselves an injury may happen and if not cared for, infection sets in, they cannot hunt or find food. Often it is something like a broken tooth or bad teeth which may prevent them from being able to eat, which starts the decline of good health, making it hard for them to feed themselves. A domino effect begins starting with bad health due to infection or injury and ending in death.
We were called to see if we could trap these cats, get them to a spay/neuter clinic and hopefully re-home them. Many were very social but very scared, some were feral and terrified.
I know this is hard to look at, but this is Braveheart.. so named because it is obvious that he has endured monumental pain for a very long time due to a wound that was either from a cat fight; encounter with a dog or coyote or some other critter. We were able to trap him the day of the Stevens County Cat Clinic, so he was looked at immediately by a veterinarian, his wound cleaned and stitched closed, and treated with heavy doses of antibiotics. He was also neutered, just so he would not have to go under anaesthesia again. This is how infection can set in if not treated, from the littlest bite or scratch.
Braveheart is now at the shelter being cared for and believe me this is not easy when dealing with a feral cat. Feral cats are really a product of human beings, pet owners who do not get their cats spayed/neutered and many litters of kittens are produced. It becomes impossible to find homes for them all and they are left to roam where the inevitable happens, more kittens.
These kittens do not get a chance to get socialization or may never be touched, petted or fed by a human. When there is no contact they are afraid of us. They live in colonies where they form bonds with each other as that is how they survive – in numbers. Every once in a while some kind soul may put some food out but that does little to eliminate the fear of humans, they are wild and must learn to fend for themselves.
When the sanctuary takes in feral cats we do our best to help teach them that they can trust us, and this is no easy accomplishment, often taking many, many months if at all. Often we find that they want the human contact, but then there are those that will never ever want anything to do with us. Our mission then is to find them a safe barn where they can be re-homed with people who will provide food, water and a safe shelter for them to go to. All of this misery can be stopped by the simple act of taking your cat to be spayed or neutered. These feral cats will provide years of rodent extermination when well cared for, will not multiply in numbers and will keep other cats from moving in.
This is Braveheart a few days ago. I know he looks mean and cranky and he is. He is definitely feral and untrusting of all of us. He has a huge wound and infection to overcome and he is doing that. He is treated everyday by Becca our cat coordinator, who talks to him, and tells him how beautiful he is and how he will be up and moving around before long. In the days and weeks to come he may start to trust us, but who knows. Never the less he will eventually, when better, be moved into the area called The Sunroom, where our feral cats reside. It provides as much of the outdoor life for them that we can give them while still be enclosed and safe from predators.
One day all his fur will have grown back and he will be beautiful once again.
P.S. You may wonder how we give him his antibiotics, it is mixed in a bowl of Gerber’s Baby food, preferably chicken or lamb, they love it.