Having read many comments on articles about feral cats, I have noticed that there is a golden moment when, after a long time employing a great deal of patience, a feral cat that a person wishes to adopt and bring into the home finally trusts her and the relationship can begin. It is a reward for all the patience and gentle care that a person brings to a feral cat living in the urban jungle. What is it about that moment when a feral cat trusts you and you know that you have a close relationship upon which you can build for the future? Why is gaining the trust of a feral cat such a delight to people who look after them?
“One of my best friends died naturally last week..he was rescued by my daughter trying to find food at a dumpster outside a theater and had a broken leg. It took us a long time to gain his trust but was worth more than gold when it finally happened. The last thing he knew in this world was that he was in my arms.” – Carol Burchard Heiderman commenting on the Message to Kristen Lindsey page.
I’m not sure that I know the exact answer to the question that I have set myself. However, I think the answer is that a person who looks after feral cats and becomes close to an individual feral cat wants then to progress that care to the next level, to give that individual cat a better life as part of her family, inside the home. The only way to achieve this is for the cat to come inside the home and integrate within the family, which requires the trust of the cat.
If I am correct in my assessment then the moment that a feral cat trusts you – a moment which brings such pleasure – is a moment when the person can deliver better care. Therefore, that golden moment that I refer to in the opening paragraph comes from a golden heart, the heart of the person who wants to give and seek reward in giving and nurturing.
This is the mentality of a person who cares for feral cats. The reward is in giving and nurturing and seeing their cats live a better life. They are caring for the vulnerable which brings rewards. Once a feral cat trusts you it is, in a way, a thank you from the cat to the human to say that you are doing a good job. It is vindication for all the patience and hard work that the person has delivered to gain that trust.
If you are a feral cat caretaker and you have domesticated an individual feral cat so that he or she now lives in your home as part of the family, can you explain to us why that moment when the cat has finally learned to trust you is so important and such a great reward: a golden moment?
My cat, Gabriel, was once a semi-feral cat who was found in a garden in the suburbs of London, taken to a rescue centre from where I fostered him and then adopted him. It took me a week of patience and at times intensive attention and play to tease him out of his shell to get used to me. At the time he was about six weeks old. He is now nine months old and domesticated with a wild streak.
The first week was hard work but when he first spread himself across my lap while I watched television in the evening was my golden moment. It was about five days after I had taken him into my home. During that week I thought I had lost him because I could not find him anywhere in my apartment. I searched high and low. I searched for several hours and I even went outside in a hopeless attempt to find him because I thought he may have escaped despite being ultra-careful.
In the end I found him in the only space he could have been which is inside my bed which has a storage area under the mattress. He had found a way to get into it through a tiny space. I had been in genuine despair thinking that I’d lost him. When I found him there was great joy which confirmed my genuine love for him.
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