We are enjoying the company of two cats who have come to us from far in the north-west of BC.
All around the province there are rescues that do wonderful work, but the long-term future of cats in their care is limited because their space and resources are also limited. If the cat is very feral, sometimes the only thing to be done is to spay/neuter it and return it to its source. Feral cats tend not to live long lives, but you have to balance a life lived in safety but also in fear, and one lived in the surroundings it knows.
Sometimes the cat is obviously a stray and not a feral, and the issue then is finding it a home. If that is not possible in the community, it may be possible in another one. And just occasionally it’s a feral cat, but the rescue thinks there’s hope, with time – and RAPS has time and space for that work. The rescues are often able to partner with a local airline, and we pick the newcomer up at the airport.Oscar was found at a dump in Haida Gwaii. He is a big blond former tom-cat, who began by trying to convince us that he truly was a grouch, but isn’t quite up to keeping up with the act. His game is given away by his teddy-bear companion; staff and volunteers have to be careful to leave Ted where Oscar can see him. As we do with most ferals, we have left Oscar’s carrier in his cage, and he prefers to hide in it for the greater part of the day, emerging occasionally to observe the world from a different angle. When you enter his cage, he retreats, but he is much less hissy than on arrival, and with the people of whom he approves, he will allow a little touching – and loves to play.He reminds me very much of OJ in pen 4 – and he may yet end up in that feral pen – but we’re going to make every effort to reach the pussycat hidden behind those hisses. He’s not very fond of the other cats that pass his cage. In many ways he reminds us more of Ranger, both physically and in attitude. Ranger (who also came from the NorthWest) is still in pen 4, but by his own choice now; he will come out occasionally, but it’s now “his” space. It will be interesting to see if Oscar acclimates in the same way. The Kitty Comforters are spending a lot of quality time with him!Oscar’s travelling mate is very unlike him. Charlotte is a tiny girl with a lot of fluff. She’s still quite young – less than two years old, we think – but she’s had a litter of kittens. She was put in one of the quieter cages, and with some reason at the beginning – she appeared to be terrified. But scared and hissy as she is, she’s actually made more progress than Oscar in terms of getting out of her carrier, and in interacting with humans.
Her age is a bonus; she’s young enough to want to play, and that offers bonding right away. Kitty Comforters with patience (and a pocketful of treats) are coaxing her into trust, and her cage door is now open, though she prefers to remain in its safety. She is less stand-offish with other cats than Oscar is; she has bonded with the cat who was in the next-door cage, Jackie O, and the two of them have been found cuddling together. She’s even been seen to roll over and expose her tummy to a visitor – an indicator of trust, though not an invitation for belly-rubs (yet).
Ferals progress at very different rates. Star and Leona, who came in together, are light-years apart – Star wants nothing to do with us, but Leona, with patience, may be adoptable. The same with these two – it’s way too early to determine that Charlotte will be adopted out, but the potential is there, and we will give her every chance to find her own home and her own person.
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen, Pauline Chin & Karen Nicholson