by Ruth (Monty’s Mom)
(West Allis, Wisconsin)
'Semi-feral' reads the tag on the cage holding these two beauties. (Actually, there were three cats in the cage, but as soon as I decided to take a photo one cat decided not to be included in it!) "Semi-feral?" I inquired, to which the shelter volunteer responded, "Gives them more character!" These cats currently reside at The Cat Network in West Allis, WI, a truly top-notch no-kill cat shelter and adoption organization.
Location: "Our Adoption Center is located at 8121 West National Avenue in West Allis":
They came there from a larger cat rescue sometime in the summer.
There were five of these black beauties in a very large cage when I first visited the shelter. They were younger then, and I noticed immediately the notched ears, used to identify altered animals in Trap-Neuter-Return programs.
These cats hadn't had much human contact, but I thought that at their young age, taming and adopting them out would still probably be possible. Their antics were amazing and beautiful. The cats would leap from ledge to ledge in the large cage, but they also would grab onto the bars on the top of the cage with their paws and swing like monkeys, sometimes actually traveling the length of the top of the cage in this manner. There was something wild and beautiful about them, that couldn't be dimmed by their current situation.
Watching these cats left me with the impression that I'd been to the zoo. At any exhibit of wild animals I feel really bad for the animals being in cages (and even the best zoo habitat is still really just a cage) but I also feel gratitude for having been able to see up close something so beautiful, rare and wonderful.
Currently two of the five cats are being fostered, living with a volunteer in her home. If my husband would not object, I would have offered to foster the other three!
I am working on a separate article about The Cat Adoption Network, but I wanted to feature these wonderful cats, because they got me thinking about what it means to love cats. Some people seem to want a cat to be like a throw pillow-- something soft and pretty and cuddly that goes with their furniture and accents their home. The idea that every house cat is in reality a fearsome predator with the heart of a tiger isn't attractive to these people, who are often quick to declaw the cat or to give it up if it doesn't behave exactly according to human expectations.
If you brought these semi-feral cats into your home you would expect the cats to want to scratch and climb, probably being more destructive than your average cat, at least initially. You know, I wouldn't care. What do drapes and furniture matter when you have the chance to watch these little athletes in action, and to perceive the wild little heart that beats in each breast?
Yet they are not totally wild, and will tolerate some human contact. To many who love cats for what they truly are, the semi-feral cat is the perfect cat. They really do have more "character".
I have wondered if my own little ex-feral Monty would be better classified as semi-feral. He doesn't cuddle like other cats I've owned, though he will tolerate brief hugs and even give a loud purr. He seems to always want to be moving, like those shelter cats. He'll jump up on the bed, up the into the window sill above the bed, back down to the bed to run across the house and return to jump up and down off the bed again in a little while. (This is why he sleeps in his own room!)
He's allowed to climb my curtains, which are ugly, and he loves to do this. He longs to be outside and it's always a good day when he gets the chance to kill something, even a bug or, most recently, an earthworm. "Gross!" I said to him as he was attempting to eat it. But I looked into his eyes and I knew he would say to me, "But it's my nature." If we truly would love and care well for our domestic cats we cannot forget their true nature. Long live the semi-feral cat!
If you live near West Allis and would like to find out about fostering these amazing creatures you can contact The Cat Network by:
Here are some more photos: