Boomer came to us as one of a group of cats from a feeding site.
Feeding sites are an important part of TNR – Trap/Neuter/Release – one way of dealing with a feral cat problem. It takes two important things: the veterinary support that enables quick spay/neuter of ferals, and the dedication of a number of volunteers who not only trap the cats, but then continue to support them.
TNR was an important part of Carol’s philosophy when she founded Richmond Homeless Cats (now RAPS) more than 20 years ago. Because of urban development, it was not always possible to leave cats in the territory they know – hence the development of the Sanctuary – but where it was safe to do so, cat-colonies remained intact, with a volunteer faithfully feeding them and keeping an eye open for problems.
Boomer came from one of those colonies. When he was brought in for his neuter surgery it was discovered that he was FIV+, and it was decided to bring him into care. FIV – Feline AIDS – is transmitted in blood, usually in bite wounds as unneutered males do battle over females. It is now known that Aids-positive and -negative cats can live together quite safely, as long as there is no serious fighting – and the impulse for that tends to fade with the neutering surgery. But it’s irresponsible to leave an Aids+ cat living wild, and Boomer has settled quite well into his new colony with us.
A lot of our former feral males show their past in their bodies; broad jowly faces, muscled-up bodies, scars on ears and nose from fights over dominance. Boomer doesn’t fit that stereotype; he’s fairly slight in build, with a narrow, elegant face, and a plume of a tail. We’ve assumed he was a feral, but in fact he may have been a stray, because he’s adapted to Sanctuary life and to human handling very well. He likes to claim human belongings for himself – a glove, a blanket, a treat-bag – he will lie on them to let you know that they’re his now.
One of our volunteers tells me that he is the New Aids DJ! All our buildings have some sort of sound-system so that there can be music both for volunteers and for cats. Boomer sits on top of the radio and changes the station and/or volume, often mid-song. There are “Boomer guards” on the dials and knobs on the radio to stop him from changing things.. they don’t really work because he moves them.
You will usually find him hanging around the front of New Aids; quite often with his buddy Woody, though they have not always been good friends! I understand that he used to get into fights with Woody, but since new cat Randy came out of the cage, the two of them seem to have made up and appear to have a truce – probably something to do with Randy being seen as the greater evil..
We love to see our AIDS cats find new homes where possible, but as a former feral, used to living wild, Boomer would probably not be a good candidate, and he’s probably happier, and certainly safer, living at the Sanctuary.