In the early summer of 2021 we welcomed an influx of feral cats from Kamloops and it turned out that the majority of them were varying shades of orange, and many were long-haired. They came to us as feral half-grown adolescents – living wild too long to be easily tamed.
After the mandatory cage-stays they were moved together into Pen 6. This enclosure has been the home for a variety of new groups of cats – a group from the Sunshine Coast in the summer of 2016 – the ones we called The Candy Cats in the fall of 2017 – the McLeod cats in the summer of 2019 – and now these Kamloops cats. The last three groups have all been fearful ferals – only Skittles of the Candy Cats and Aphrodite of the McLeod cats broke out of feral behaviour to enjoy human attention.
Pen 4 remains a closed pen for ferals, but we like to open up new colony pens as soon as we feel the cats are fairly settled. Pen 6 has been open for some time, but the Kamloops cats initially remained very determined to stay inside its bounds or within easy reach. Sometimes in the evenings, waiting for dinner, they would move into the courtyard as a group, and then escort the volunteer bearing plates as food was delivered – it felt rather like wading through a shoal of orange fish!
Two things have happened recently, and I suspect they’ve both affected the status quo. We’ve had a burst of hot days, and despite adding some shading to the area above the door, Pen 6, which is one of the smaller ones, has felt very hot. Hoses deliver misting around the perimeter, but when your fur is floofy, you don’t necessarily want to get it wet! And another group of cats coming in – this time a colony from the Kootenays (details to come) – have necessitated turning the shy inhabitants of Pen 8 out. Most of them are fairly happy to relocate around the courtyard – they spend a lot of time there – but the three Candy Cats (Hershey, Butterscotch and Purdy) have relocated themselves back to their old turf in Pen 6, which is now starting to feel very crowded!
So the Kamloops cats have started to explore! Persimmon has always been the bravest of them, and the most ready to accept human attention, but we’re finding the others in Pen 1 and Pen 5 as well, and recently a collection of them braved the Tea Room to find a cool corner on the stairs.
Black Chaga (black with a lot of rust colour in his fur) is also an adventurer and has been found in all sorts of corners. Pretty grey Chamomile is now allowing herself to be groomed by Lisa, but others have needed more drastic shave jobs to cut out the mats that develop in floofy fur.
They have always enjoyed using the cat-tree at the Pen 6 door; frequently every level has mounds of orange fur taking up the space. Now they’re expanding their territory to the group of cat-trees outside the tea-room, and there were eight orange cats and Chaga occupying the perches several days ago. Most recently, they’ve gone still higher, to establish themselves on the top of the adjacent food cupboard.
It’s very satisfying to see them feeling so much more comfortable in their wider surroundings, and more receptive to approaches from staff and volunteers, although they are still wary of contact with humans.