By Sandra Murphey
Sometimes our hearts can be touched by the cries of a hungry stray cat, and so we begin to feed them outdoors or in a garage when the weather is extremely cold or wet.
Depending on our circumstances, we may not be able to bring the cat indoors, even though we want to. This was my situation with my cat, Mitzy. She was born to a stray cat left behind when the owners moved. The mother cat was friendly and hungry, so I began to feed her outside and in the garage.
I rented a room with someone who had two very territorial older cats, and there was screaming and spraying whenever they caught sight of this stray cat. Although she wanted to come in, I knew it would result in cat fights. It was winter, and beginning to get cold, so I made a comfy bed for her in the garage.
When it was warm enough during the day, I ate my lunch on the back porch, and she began to sit nearby, watching me eat. I went inside for a minute, and when I returned, she was eating the peas I’d left on my plate. She wanted affection, and even though I wanted to pet her, I knew it might create a relationship that would mean she’d depend on me. She was such a sweet cat that I began to call her Sweetie. I gave in, and began to pet and hold her.
I was in rough shape physically, and was scheduled for a hip replacement. I could barely move without extreme pain. The man I was living with and renting from, was mentally and emotionally unbalanced. After I became unable to cook and clean, he started being cruel to me. I started sleeping on the floor in his office to avoid his wrath.
Sweetie sneaked in one day, and I had to protect her from his two cats. I put her in the office, and she began to cuddle with me at night. It was very comforting since I was in a lot of pain and distress. I left the window cracked a bit, so she could go out when she wanted to.
After a few weeks, I noticed that she’d had 2 kittens. I began to feed them in the garage. But since my surgery date was getting close, I knew I had to take Sweetie to the shelter for spaying. It was very hard for me, but I knew it had to be done. I surrendered her as a stray, and she was adopted in 2 weeks.
Another neighbor began to feed the kittens, and once I was able to walk, I began to look for a room to rent. My new landlady had a dog who liked to chase cats, so it meant I couldn’t have a cat.
One time when I went back to the old neighborhood for some things, one of the kittens, now about 7-8 months old, came to greet me. A neighbor told me that she’d already had a litter. I felt responsible to get her to the shelter where I was volunteering.
They kept her in a holding cage for a month, until she was deemed “unadoptable” and scheduled for euthanasia. I was the only one she trusted, and now somehow I had to save her. I begged my landlady to let me rescue her if I kept her in my room.
This began my new journey with Mitzy, my beloved and beautiful polydachtyl cat. She really wanted to be outside, but I couldn’t allow her to be subjected to the many dangers of an outdoor life, since I was now “responsible” for her care.
I decided to try a cloth halter and leash, which I had no experience with. We practiced indoors a few days, and she took to it right away, which surprised me.
For the next 9 years, she went outdoors with her halter and leash, while I supervised. After a short time, I allowed her free roam in the fenced backyard. She had a RED leash, which helped me find her if she was behind a bush or otherwise hidden.
So, this is what happened when I decided to feed a stray (Sweetie) that I couldn’t really keep in the house. We all have circumstances which may prevent us from fully adopting an outdoor cat. I have a friend with allergies, who feeds strays outdoors. They want to come in, but if she allows that, she will suffer breathing problems.
If a cat continues to cry to come in, it might be best to get the cat to a shelter where it might be adopted.
I had to put Mitzy down a month ago, and my life feels empty without her. We can never know how much a cat will mean to us once we take the step to lovingly rescue.
This was in response to my article: