This is a slightly sad story of a feral kitten who found his way into a couple’s backyard 18 years ago. The husband wanted to trap, neuter and return the cat to whence she came but his wife fed the kitten who eventually became very friendly with their much older domestic cat. They became buddies for around 16 years and then two years ago the domestic cat died.
Since that tragic moment this ‘domesticated’ feral cat (and we do not have a name for her) went into seclusion. She spends most of her time beneath one of the couple’s three beds upstairs. They feed her daily and empty her litter box. However, despite several attempts over the ensuing years the couple have failed to establish a relationship with her.
They ask whether they are crazy to have sheltered a feral cat for 18 years without having the joy that a pet cat can bring them. Clearly this cat found a friend in the couple’s domestic cat and she found warmth in their home but after the domestic cat’s death she feels alone.
The couple asked a question. The answer is that they did well to give this cat a home and they deserve praise and a sense of satisfaction. The more important pressing answer is not the answer to their question but an answer to the feral cat’s dilemma. This cat must have been grieving and may indeed still be grieving over the loss of her cat companion. She is probably quite timid by nature and stressed as indicated by the fact that she hides all the time. It is important that the owners try and do more to reduce that stress and inject some confidence into her character.
I believe that they should spend some time trying to socialize her. I wrote that she was socialised years ago but that might not, in truth, be the case. If I were the owner, I would play with this cat, I would interact with her for a long time and in a very gentle way, to gradually gain her trust. They may have tried to do this but I sense that they have not tried hard enough. Patience is obviously the key to success.
In addition, the couple might try and find a new cat companion for this domesticated feral female feline. If they can find the right cat her life will be complete again and the couple will have completed their task.
The story is on the mercurynews.com website.