In honor of National Feral Cat Day (which was October 16th), we asked a local "feral cat" lover to share her experience with these amazing creatures. What she had to say was so powerful, we knew we needed to share...
"Many people wonder why I love caring for feral kittens. Put simply, I love the journey they take me on. It's a journey of love, patience, and truly what it means to take a leap of faith. When you give them the time to learn about you, they slowly blossom into the most loving, gentle souls I've ever known. Every baby step they take becomes a milestone for you and them to celebrate - the first day they allow you to touch them, the first day they purr, the first day they play with you, etc. I started to realize how much I take for granted in my own life - food on the table, my safety, being loved, etc. These kittens did not have such luxuries. It is then you start to appreciate what they must have gone through and how they have taken a giant leap of faith with you. This astounding journey you take with them is what forms a unique and very close bond. I continue to be amazed at how loving and caring they are for each other and for their humans. I hope other people will realize how special they are too.
Pam and Pat were part of a litter of 4 feral kittens who came to me in late June of 2014. There were very hissy kittens in the beginning, and it took quite some time for them to adjust to me being in the same room as them. Slowly, I increased the amount of time I spent with them. I also started introducing new things (toys, blankets, sticks, weight scale, boxes) to them, in hopes of capturing their attention and natural curiosity. Pam was the curious one, and she was the first to start approaching me. She was scared, but I was patient and moved very slowly. She began trusting me and allowing pets. This was over a course of several weeks. Pat was the kitten who took the longest to warm up to me. Every time I approached him, he would hiss and run away. I searched for a way to reach out to him in a non-threatening way. I discovered he loved to play and through play, he slowly learned to trust me. One day, I noticed that he was more friendlier in the morning, so I tried to spend more time in the morning paying attention to him. I basically followed his queues, similar to how a mother follows her baby's queues. Fast forward 2.5 months. They have graduated from being in a little room to being fully integrated in my household. Seeing my fosters run around and play with each other for the first time was a real Kodak moment. That's because my feral kittens never played with each other before. It's moments like these that bonded me to them. It's why I love to foster these feral babies.
Finding the right home can be more challenging because manypeople don't really know how to interact with a scared kitten. But, really, they're just like shy children. They just need love and patience. A wise woman once said, "there is an adopter for every kitten". Sure enough, I received an inquiry one day that led to a meet-and-greet, and an immediate adoption of both Pat and Pam together. It was so wonderful to know that they would going to their forever home together with a wonderful, caring and patient couple. Yes, these kittens will be scared in the beginning, just like they were when I met them, but they will warm up faster this time around. And, they will go on a similar, but shorter journey with their new family. This time, they will be more comfortable, knowing what lies ahead is a wonderful, carefree lifestyle, running and playing in their new home. "