Cat Sanctuary

A Semi-Feral Quartet

Pre-pandemic, we took in four cats from VOKRA.  We have great admiration for all that Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association does. They do extensive work with trapping and spay/neuter; they place young mother cats and their litters in a network of hard-working foster-homes, and actively match cats with people seeking to adopt. They do have an operations centre in Vancouver, but it’s not set up for long-term stays. And when they have a feral group of cats come in, with limited space, they will sometimes turn to RAPS for assistance.

We accepted Libby, Mabel, Solar and Midnight from them back in 2019. The quartet was scared and wary; they were young adults way past their best-by date for easy taming.  The optimal window is usually up to about 16-20 weeks old. That’s not to say that older ferals cannot be tamed, but it takes more patience – and with a group of ferals, their fear feeds off each other. So this little bonded group avoided contact with the Kitty Comforters, and once out of their group cage, they rushed to find hiding places.

Initially they could usually be found together, in various combinations. They didn’t want to be petted, but Solar and Mabel in particular were willing to sit and listen to a voice. Black Midnight was the most contact-avoiding of the group, and in an effort to stay out of sight, he joined a couple of cats who managed a jail-break under the SingleWide trailer – not off the premises, but in the area between front and back. Luckily the escaped convicts were spotted from the other side, and a member of staff in a full coverage suit wriggled through the access to set traps and retrieve the fugitives.  It was decided that we would leave Midnight in his new back courtyard space, and he hides out there with the other ferals, like Steele and Smithy and Sylar.

Solar is a chunky light-grey tabby, and definately the friendliest of the four. He has decided that he’s on to a good thing now he lives with us, and he makes nice with the staff and volunteers working around the front courtyard. He is particularly fond of volunteer Carol P, and hovers, waiting anxiously for her attention – and her chicken tidbits! He can often be found in company with the other cats on the climbing frame; he is one of many cats who will allow contact when they are on a wall or a shelf, but not on the ground – we’re just too big for their comfort.

Mabel is the most distinctive of the four, with her smart tuxedo colouring, and the facial markings that make her appear to have a Batman mask. She’s still wary, and prefers the feral area, but can occasionally be found visiting in the Hill House.  She likes to hang out with Allen and Kenji – and they are similarly wary of any except the gentlest of contact but are starting to enjoy coming out for play. As the weather improves, the boys are more often found in the gazebo, in the middle of the courtyard – we hope that they can encourage Mabel to come out too.

Libby is one of those tabbies who fades into the background. Cookie Hill, Freya, Cricket – all are tabby plus some distinctive characteristics. Libby is just Libby – and very good at hiding.  When you see her face-on, you’ll see the little white marking at her throat; but often she’s curled up on herself and you won’t notice it at all.  Lately she’s been hanging out with mustachioed Sweet Pea, which is hopeful – Sweet Pea has gone from being a don’t-touch-me feral to a boy who is willing to accept petting. We hope that he can teach Libby that we’re not that bad.

Solar, Mabel and Libby are no longer bonded in the way they used to be, but we will still occasionally find them visiting with each other. But they’ve all established their own spaces and they know that they are safe at the Sanctuary.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Brigid Coult, Melanie Draper, 
Jennine Kariya, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright