Duke first appeared at my house during the days I was fostering pregnant cats. At the time, our main floor laundry room was the birthing home to a succession of feline moms, and somehow the scent got out that an unspayed female was on the premises. Feral tomcats came out of the woodwork and congregated in our back yard, hoping to get a chance to meet with our fertile felines.
When our fostering days were over, all the tomcats left – all but one. I had never encouraged their presence by feeding them, but when this shaggy orange fellow remained, I couldn’t resist. Our indoor cats didn’t appreciate his enduring presence on our patio; he would spend his days peering in at us through the window, or sleeping either on our porch or trampoline.
My husband made him his very own insulated cat house to keep on the porch, and when we presented it to him, he moved in right away.
I knew he was not neutered and that was something that should be fixed, so I trapped him and had the deed done, along with vaccinations, dental work, de-worming, an identification tattoo, and even a “shave and haircut” to get rid of his matted hair. I then returned him to our patio.
He seemed sociable, joining me in the back yard whenever I did gardening and yardwork, yet he retained his healthy wariness of humans and never got near enough for me to touch him.
Life continued, but eventually I noticed his mouth getting very drooly and knew it was time for another vet check-up.
During this exam, he was diagnosed with feline AIDS. I knew I could not bring him home to wander our neighbourhood, possibly infecting other stray felines, so knowing that RAPS’ Cat Sanctuary had a dedicated area just for FIV-positive cats, I approached the manager asking if she had room (and was willing) to accept this wild boy to live with her brood. Luckily she did, and I brought my old neighbour to live at the Sanctuary.
Since he needed to be caged for a while before being let loose into his new cat community, I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to spend some one-on-one time with him in close quarters to help him get used to human contact. He had never allowed me to touch him in the past. With the help of an amazing team of Kitty Comforters, that quickly changed, and he welcomed not only my affections but those of other volunteers who fell for his charms.
When he was eventually released from his cage, he was readily accepted by the other AIDS cats and has since continued to enjoy his new life at the Sanctuary. He still prefers to stay outside, but now it’s by his choice and he is kept safe from the dangers of cars and other urban wildlife.
I’m so grateful to RAPS for accepting my old neighbour, and I am so happy to be able to visit with him during my own Kitty Comforting shift. I love watching his obvious contentment and happiness being in the company of other friendly felines, having lots of human visitors, as well having his very own staff to cater to his every need.
Don’t we all wish we could live out our own golden years this way!