Stephanie spearheads the team seeking to trap stray cats reported to RAPS. Very often these cats will be part of a colony that has found a fairly safe place to live with an access to rodents or other food. The cow-cats featured recently come to us from a local organic recycling plant – plenty of food sources, but also many predators of which they constantly need to be wary.
Another site where cats have been found is a nearby paper recycling depot where one of the employees, Jeff Zimmerman, was most helpful and supportive of Stephanie’s efforts. She says, “We had a great system going at Urban; Jeff would set the traps, then I would meet him at Ironwood, give him an empty trap & take the one he had rescued. The first day we went, we got one adult and several kittens, and re-set the traps. Jeff called me a little later to report more kittens; I spotted another adult so set the trap, waited, and got her. The two females were TNR (trapped, neutered and released) as they are looked after there, might have had more kittens, and have warm places to hide.”
The last cat they found at this site was a battered looking male. He took a while to find but Jeff was persistent. Once trapped and vetted, he proved to be FIV-positive, and was transferred to the New Aids enclosure – Stephanie decided to call him Zimmer, after his trapper. In his new home he hid in the corner of his cage, and, once released, took himself out of reach of human touch – occasionally I would go in and see this face peering quizzically down at me, but he didn’t want my attention. Jill called him Sad Cat.
Enter our cat-whisperers – Phaedra has the ability to make the most scared cats feel safe with her, and has recently been reporting that “Zimmer is super snuggly”. I asked her to update me on Zimmer’s progress. She says, “When Zimmer was first trapped he was deemed ferocious but he was really just very scared and untrusting. One member of our wonderful med team [C] spent quite a bit of time with him and said she thought he was originally someone’s pet who had been dumped then gone wild. Quite often this type of situation makes it harder for the cat to trust again and it ends up taking longer than a born in the wild feral. I believe a lot of people have worked to gain his trust. Just look at his sad face, who could resist?
“He needs to be approached slowly while verbalizing quietly to reassure him. Tuna helps but isn’t essential. Once he warms up to you belly rubs are on the menu. He’s a lovely old guy; whoever dumped him initially was a fool to do so. Their loss is our gain and hopefully his. He seems pretty content now as opposed to the hissing frightened fury he was in the cage and the skittish guy who would go as high as possible when he was first released.”
I mentioned that Phaedra has the cat-whispering talent, but she says that from the beginning C worked her magic on him and was getting the belly rubs in before most people would even go near his cage. I remember watching her work with a very angry Kojak when he first came in to Old Aids – just sitting quietly in his cage with him until he realized he was safe. Phaedra says “I fully blame her for making some of the meanest seeming kitties into love bugs”. Zimmer’s rapidly heading in the love-bug direction; the sad face may be a relic of a sad past, but he’s now a cat with lots of love to get and to give at the Sanctuary.
Pictures by Phaedra Hardman, Stephanie Ross & Michele Wright