Nadine needed working Henhouse mousers and the Humane Society of Cottage Grove (HSCG) was overwhelmed with feral cats and kittens. A HSCG volunteer arrived at her home with a WILD mama kitty and her two littles in a big carrier complete with a litter box.
“Over the next few months all three ferals have learned to trust me,” said Nadine. “Babette, the female kitten likes to be held and walked like a baby while she purrs up a storm. Her brother, Johnny, purr-furs being loved while standing on the ground and having his tummy rubbed! Their once skittish Mama accepts head to tail pats while she eats. They come running when they hear or see me - mewing loud welcomes!”
When the volunteer delivered the fur family, they were terrified. The Mama was cowering in the back corner of her kennel and her terrified kittens piled on top of each other. They were afraid of Nadine and brave Babette always hissed and threatened to attack.
Following the volunteer’s warning, Nadine was careful not to put herself anywhere that Mama could attack a hand, arm, or face. The concern was that if they startled, Mama would bolt and attack her in her escape. While, feeding the cats and changing their litter, she wisely kept a barricade between them.
“Our connection has been slow, but it has produced wonderful results,” said Nadine. “My veterinarian said, ‘Feral cats will eventually become tame but if abandoned they quickly revert to their feral ways, the same with abandoned tame cats. It’s their way of surviving.’
I have never worked with feral cats. I took it slowly and let them call the shots. I had no idea where it would go or if I’d ever be able to hold them! The thought never crossed my mind because some house cats don’t like being held! I was simply helping a single-mother and her babies as an act of kindness, hoping they would get rid of Henhouse rodents in exchange for the food I provided.”
The volunteer warned Nadine that once the feral family left their kennel, she may never see the Mama again, and only have two skittish helpers, and those she might not see, but they would eat food she left out.
“The first time Babette rubbed against me, I was afraid she’d bite if I stroked her,” said Nadine. “She had been snarling and hissing only a few weeks before! What a relief! I cried when she didn’t hurt me and now, I pet her every day! Another scary milestone for us both was when I picked her up for the first time. I held her against my chest, with our heads touching. She was content, turned and looked at me with trust and astonishment while loudly purring! Again, I cried.
It was unbelievable!
Johnny rolls on the ground for belly rubs purring loudly! It has been an amazing journey for the four of us and we’ve just begun!
If our experience helps others feel open to adopt feral kitties, that’s fantastic. If each of us adopt a couple, made the time commitment to work with them and help them feel loved, it would be wonderful for them and for you! Together, we can alleviate our community’s feral cat numbers through spay and neuter, but in the meantime, we can bring joy and comfort to little fur beings – and to ourselves.
I had no idea what was paws-ible. None. I’m emotionally overwhelmed with the growth of my three charges.”