Cat Sanctuary


Balak is one of our multitude of little black cats.

She came to us in the summer of 2018, a feral brought to us by VOKRA – her feral status as part of a TNR program can be seen in her clipped ears – and she began her stay in the DoubleWide.  Many of the DW starters, once their cage is opened, make their way to the covered deck area – home from home for the semi-ferals. There they have all the comforts of living inside, without the pressure of constantly having to interact with humans.

Balak was one of the most shy cats of the bunch.  On the deck there are lots of places to hide – draped shelves, high-up runways, cuddled with other cats in an anonymous pile.  Balak took hiding to an extreme, not only hiding under one of the big arm-chairs, but worming her way inside the chair, so that even when it was moved for cleaning the floor, she remained in hiding.

She must have been on the DW deck for almost two years, when she suddenly decided that life could hold more, took her courage in her paws and made her way to the main door.  At first, the move was not noticed – we saw so little of her that her absence on the deck wasn’t really noted. But several people commented on a new black cat in the back courtyard, and we realised that it was Balak who had relocated.

The move did wonders for her. There are many hiding places adjacent to the Newcomers and the SingleWide building, and many other wary cats who hang out there – Sylar and Quinn, Steele and Smithy, Midnight and Magpie, to name a few – and Balak found her own hidey-holes. But the move gave her fresh confidence, and we started seeing her out in the open more frequently.

In fact, she takes “out in the open” to extremes, just as she did with her DW deck hiding place. In good weather, she can frequently be found on top of Waldi’s Hut, queen of all she surveys. There are always a few cats who sit by the fence and watch for bird and rat movement in the brambles just outside;  Balak prefers to think bigger, watching activity both in the Sanctuary and much further afield.

Balak is not likely to be one of those ferals who suddenly decides that humans are OK and that she wants to be friends, though she is on the verge of accepting tidbits by hand. For now, she is still very wary around us, and she has not ventured into the TeaRoom with the really sociable cats. But she explores the area quite openly, and she’s one of the few females who hangs around with the Boys Club guys.

After years of defining all the Sanctuary cats as “unadoptable”, we are working very hard with the ones who have potential, to find them cat-savvy homes with people who understand the issues around working with a semi-feral cat. But there’s a big difference between a cautious cat like Leona, who has gone to her own home with a volunteer, and one like Balak, who still fears interaction with humans – Balak is still very much a feral, and as such, is one of many cats who relies on us for a place of Sanctuary.


Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Karen Nicholson & Molly Sjerdal