When I last wrote about Sarge's cats, I had transported the last one, Midget, from Dick's home, had scheduled her for spaying, and was worried about taming some of the indoor and outdoor “feral-acting” cats. Midget's spaying was completed without major incident, and she was NOT pregnant. I tried to give her a cage to rest in for a few days, but she didn't want to come out of her crate, so I jury-rigged the crate to fit in the door of a cage (with some towels stuffed around the opening to keep her from escaping from the cage). I didn't think it would work, but she was content to stay in her den-crate and went into the cage only to eat/drink/use the litter box. I didn't see her do any of those for several days, but the evidence was visible.
I had put Hassle in a cage the week before and found that he was not only fearful, but aggressive – when I reached for his bowl to add food, he slashed my hand with a
strong blow and made it clear that he was ready to take further action if I tried to reach for the litter box next to him. I don't like to bleed, and was easily convinced to keep his door shut and drop food thru the cage openings..., but how to clean/change his litter box? I had hoped that he would relax after a few days, but he appeared to be growing increasingly tense and angry. I emailed folks on the animal rescue lists and asked for advice, and grudgingly decided to let him out of the cage and hope that he would respond in time – as encouraged by Colene and others. I had gotten him to move from the cage to a crate and was truly almost ready to transport him to the County pound where he would have been euthanized for wild behavior. I feared that I would end up having to do it later – and that I would get bloodied trying to trap him, but I decided he needed to have a chance. I also decided to change his name from “Hassle” to “Fife”, (and now "Barney") – after Mayberry's fearful but steadfast deputy. Photo of Fife relaxing in the cat playpen.
I am amazed to report that Fife now does the “flop, drop, and roll” to get rubbed and although still nervous about new experiences, he's explored places in my home that my own original cats have yet to touch (I hope they never do), and that he's a “sucker for salmon flavored food”. He enjoys a strong backscratching, allows a tummy rub without attacking my hand, and visits every bowl that has salmon catfood placed in it.
Midget has let me touch her, but is still leery of staying in one place and being petted, but her older stepbrother, Grayling, accepts petting once I can touch him – but doesn't always let me near enough to get that first touch.
The outdoor feral kittens are a work in progress – I took one back to Dick's place because she seemed to be very scared, Dilly and the calico, now named Taffy, have adapted to indoor life quite well. Dilly lets me touch her and pet her and plays games with the other cats when I bring out the string toys. Taffy stares at me and still considers me a threat, but a threat with food. She has gone out the door into the backyard at least twice (not my plan, but hers) and surprisingly returned – she considers the house to be her sanctuary even though she lived outside since birth. Of course, a lot of that time she spent inside a storage shed, under Dick's home, and under the roof of his carport – so that likely has helped prepare her for living under a roof. She used the litter box the first time she needed to pee after being brought to live in my home, and she and Dilly have continued to have good bathroom habits.
My dog, Honey, has chased a number of the exploratory cats, and has cornered a few which resulted in scary situations, but her intentions still appear to be playful and the cats are getting more used to her. A number of them lie in front of the pet gate and watch her with our house cats – they appear to be either judging her friendliness with those cats or studying her response time from the kitchen to the pet gate. They've knocked the gate over several times while running away from Honey, and I'm thankful none have broken any bones. That's not what I'm yelling at them when I hear/see the gate go down, though.
I now believe that each of them could live in an adoptive home, given more time to become socialized and given a patient adoptive owner.