Friday, March 6, 2009
We are enjoying the warm day with the screens letting fresh air in our special cat shelter! The birds are really busy today at the feeders. (This is Two Spot and Norm at the door and Snowball in the chair-- I have so many white cats, it is hard to tell who is who!)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Once I caught Darby, I secured her in a small room to begin taming her. I set her up with food, water and a litter box. I used a bathroom with a window with a view in our other house which was also a gift shop. Our rental house was too small for another cat. Minnie was living in the shop already and I thought Darby would be a good buddy for her. I made her a nest under a chair with towels draped over it to offer her a hiding spot but one we could get to her from.
She would not let us touch her but would swat at our hands with her paws, claws out. After many attempts to pet her we wore gloves to put her food near her etc. I sat in there on the floor and talked to her, played with her with feather toys ...anything to get her to interact with us. I finally contacted an animal behaviorist who told us to try to pet her through the towel. It seemed that Darby was afraid of our hands and when she saw them coming at her would swat them in defense.
We tried again, petting her through the towel when she was under the chair and with our gloves on when outside the chair. Both my husband and I took turns doing this several times a day. It took weeks but she finally relented to us touching her!!!!
Then we moved her to a bigger room, closing off all the hiding places like under the bed, to force her to interact with us. She did better and being in a bedroom was more able to move around and have us visit her easier.
Finally we let her interact with the other cat Minnie by putting a screen door up between the bedroom and the hall. Minnie and Darby could see and smell each other but no one would get hurt. The screen also enabled Darby to see what life inside was all about without having to be in it all the time.
We got her spayed at my neighborhood vet who had been working with me to get all the ferals done. We kept Darby inside with the other cat rather than release her to a yard she was not familiar with.
Darby was certainly one of the tougher ferals to tame but now she is a love bug, wanting to sit on my lap all the time. She gets very possessive of me and sleeps with me in the crook of my arm at night. Ferals do bond strongly with the one person who works with them most.
She likes to play with ribbons (supervised of course), tends to be a loner and not real friendly with the other cats, preferring me or my husband to them. She can be a bully, picking on the lesser cats in the group we have now. She is friendly with visitors and lets them pet her. As each year goes by she opens up more and more. She is a beautiful addition to our family and we love her dearly.
Monday, March 2, 2009
I thought I would tell a bit about each of my cats and how we found each other.
Darby was living under our rental house as a kitten. Our neighbors at the time move to Florida for the winter so we have no idea where she came from. Only a few people live here year round. I noticed her going across the street to eat outside another house who has cats. I asked them if she was a new addition and they told me she came from under our house!
Darby was very wild and would not let me get near her. It was cold and snowy so I made a covered cage for her on the porch to protect her from the cold. She would go inside during the day but spent her nights under the house. It seems she had a roommate...a possum would come out at night and feed from the bird feeder in the yard and then go back to the crawlspace and Darby would come out during the day! I was worried the possum would hurt her but they seemed to get along, coming and going on their own hours.
Other cats would come by to steal her food but Darby would chase them off even as a tiny kitten. I thought she was a male for all her bravado.
I waited until Darby was using her cage which was a dog kennel cage and then I began to plot her capture. I moved the cage closer to the front door little by little until it was in front of the door. I had started to put her food inside the cage so she would be busy eating. I tied a string to the cage door and ran it through the door to the house making sure I could pull it and shut the cage door quickly and quietly. I have used this method many many times.
This was the day. My other three cats Chica, Yoko and Sweetpea were lined up inside the glass door of the house watching this all unfold. Darby went inside the cage and I pulled the string. Got her! She fought and wailed and put up a fuss. I picked up the cage and brought it inside. Now to tame her...a long time consuming challenge. To be continued.