Shy Fabian came to us last year. Many of our cats come through other shelters, but this boy was a feral who we helped to trap after he was found marking someone’s front porch. He was terrified when he came in – so much so that the med-staff couldn’t easily do an assessment, and it had to wait till the hospital had time for him, and it could be done under sedation. He was an intact male with many small wounds, presumably from fighting; he was lucky not to have FIV or FeLV. The hospital cleaned him up, neutered him (which helped with some of the aggression), treated his injuries and de-flea’d him before he came back to us.
In common with most of our new cats, he had a period in a cage, offering the Kitty Comforters a chance to see if he could be socialised. He remained scared, was not to be tempted by food or petting, and on release from his cage, he joined the other timid cats on the back deck of the Double-Wide trailer. There he was able to find the inaccessible (to humans) perches high up on the walls, and stare down on us with a carefully blank “I am not interested in anything you can offer” expression on his face.
For years the cats on the deck had accessed the great outdoors by going through the main building and the laundry room – for many of them that was a scary prospect, only to be executed when minimal humans were around. Last summer handyman Ken installed a cat door in the emergency exit on the deck – and many of the residents took the opportunity for The Great Escape.
For many of them that amounted to lolling around in the sun close to the exit. A few, like Hickory, ventured further a bit too quickly and then panicked when they couldn’t immediately find their way home; he now happily ventures all over the place. But because cats tend to be territorial, they almost all continued to return to the DW Deck in the evenings for dinner and together-time.
Fabian ventured out with the others, but he recovered his sense of self as a feral cat who lived outdoors, and he decided that the deck was no longer home. He took up residence with the McLeod cats at the back of Pen 1, and they seemed to accept him easily enough.
And he discovered Mercury.
Mercury was the shyest of that colony, and he welcomed Fabian as a fellow scaredy-cat. The two of them generally share quarters in one of the straw-filled dog-houses at the back, and can sometimes be seen enjoying the sun and their solitude.
Interestingly, Mercury has started to show his courage, and comes to hover on the edge of the chicken-treat crowd. He hears when I call and saunters towards the others as if it really doesn’t matter – but he’s quick to pounce when a treat comes his way, and sometimes he stands his ground when approached, and accepts the treat by hand. Fabian has not joined his buddy. I came face to face with Fabian while scooping a box at the back of Pen 1 last week; he froze while I worked, and I tried not to make eye contact, but as soon as he felt I was a little too close for his comfort, he was up and out of there. Convincing this feral boy that we only wish him well will take much time and patience!