Mercury is one of the group we sometimes refer to as the McLeod cats, trapped during the summer of 2019 in a big operation that brought in around 60 adults and kittens. The young kittens were tamed and adopted out, the older adults remembered what it was like to be tame, and found homes – and what we were left with was a group of “teens” who only knew how to be feral. Kitty Comforters spent hours with them, but in the end, only brave Aphrodite proved to be tame enough to be adopted out, and the others are just Sanctuary-tame – willing to appear, if there’s food motivation, but not ready for much in the way of contact with humans.
The genes of this family are strongly set for black and orange colouring – no tabbies here! The group has largely relocated to Pen 1 – initially to the perimeter kennels and undergrowth, and more recently (encouraged by cold winter days) to the Pen 1 cabin. All except Mercury – the archetypal “fraidy-cat” prefers to rely on his own warm coat, and on finding a snuggle-buddy, and prefers not to feel trapped inside a building.
In the last while he has met up with another timid cat; Fabian was one of the DoubleWide deck ferals who discovered the new cat door last summer, and has never returned indoors. Fabian and Mercury spend a lot of time together, and are much more relaxed – unless there’s a human around, in which case there are identical expressions of horror on their faces.
Mercury is practically a twin to Sprocket, another back courtyard cat. Sprocket came to us about a year before, but from the same area, so they’re likely related – cousins, at the least! Sprocket is also a feral, but a more relaxed one than Mercury – you can generally tell from the expression on the face which cat it is that you’re seeing.
The McLeod sibs have discovered that some humans bring tasty offerings, and they will often join the enthusiastic group waiting for the next tidbit; black Nyx, in particular, is very keen on food and will hover hopefully. But increasingly, Mercury has become part of the group, though he prefers to stay in peripheral vision so that he can pretend you’re not looking at him. He is easily daunted by other more assertive cats, but having backed off, he sneaks back into range, hoping for another handout. If other cats move out of the way, he will occasionally brave the peril of accepting food directly from a hand.
The “ready to run” posture occasionally gives way to relaxation; it’s good to see that he can play – though cat-toys don’t seem to appeal. However, with some things he does not lack assertiveness! You would think that a Cat Sanctuary would be high on the avoidance list for most rats, but there are obviously some stupid ones who think they’ll never be noticed. Anyone doing the morning shift in the back pens needs to be aware of the odd dead body, but it’s not often that we see the hunt in action!
We love it when a formerly feral cat decides to allow touch, or even to become a lap-cat. But there are many cats here, like Mercury, who are likely to remain feral all their lives, and it’s important to us that we respect their comfort level, and allow them uncaged space. We are grateful to all the donors and sponsors whose support makes this possible.