Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Feral Boys


When we bought our little house, we did not realize that it came with a backyard filled with rusty nails, shards of glass, small animal skulls, and a couple of feral kitties.

The cats are funny. Despite all the kindness and food we give them, they are still suspicious of us.

Sleeves is a real mystery. I'm convinced that he has some kind of problem with partial vision. I'll be standing right next to him, petting him, he'll be purring his head off, and then SUDDENLY (EGADS!) he'll notice me, and run away in terror.

But the big news is that if I approach him just right, he will allow me to pet him. He's incredibly affectionate, but his fear over-rides everything else.

I can't imagine what happened to this cat to make him so afraid. If we move too quickly, he panics and runs off, as if his life were at stake. He also cries piteously when he can't find his brother Cardigan. Sometimes Cardigan is off tom-catting, but more often than not, Sleeves will be howling with loneliness while Cardigan is just a few feet away. It's baffling and heart-wrenching.

Life is not all sadness and fear, thankfully. I have enjoyed a few exquisite moments of on-lap Sleeves-petting. This requires great cunning and stealth on my part.

Cardigan is bolder, but less overtly friendly. When we pet Sleeves, he thrusts his head into our hands for more. Cardigan, on the other hand, often tenses every muscle in his body, which seems to help him endure the humiliation of human contact. Robb and I are Food Dispensers, but we're only sometimes Cardigan's friends.

Occasionally, he'll curl up on one of our laps and have a nice snooze. Today all the kitties were squinting and soaking up the autumnal sunshine. Cardigan was trying to perfect the use of the persimmon pillow.

And, of course, he was being a perfect feline and lens-sniffing.

Linguine was, as ever, not amused.


Rabid Quilter from CA said...

What sweet, fat, beautiful babies! If you're like us, you'll take any second or minute of their affection they'll gift you and be grateful that you are the humans they trust, even if it's just a little bit.

Anne Bonny said...

Beautiful lofties! That first pic, those eyes! Gorgeous! Theres nothing like being granted permission to pet a usually standoffish kitty, such an awesome gift! How is Mr. Smog doing?

Anonymous said...

Lisa, it is possible that nothing happened to the kitty to make him so fearful. It may just be his nature. I have a beautiful male 10-year male cat who is usually afraid of everything, including me, his loving "Mom." And he has lived with me his whole life except for a few weeks at the cat shelter where he was born.

Occasionally when he's in a less frightened mood, he is loving and will even sit on my lap. -Rose

Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

You're kitties are lovely, and it's nice that you can at least give them some loving. I've had my almost 11 year old cat since he was about 9 months old, and he *still* flinches every time I reach out to pet him. I've never hit him, so I don't know what he thinks I'm going to do to him. Fortunately, once my hand is actually on him, he's totally into it. :)

ASL Girl said...

I always enjoy reading your updates about your cats!!! I occasionally go back and read The Cats Have The Flue because it cracks me up seeing Linguine, the pile of soot and a cat peeking over the inside of your chimney. I also am wondering how Smog is doing too.

Noreen said...

To tend to cats is such a mystery at times. So good that they have you two.

Erin said...

I think that due to the small animal skulls you found there is a real chance the kitties are traumatized. I have taken in several feral and rescued cats and volunteered at a best Friends in Utah. That does NOT make me any kind of authority. I will say that if they aren't spayed or neutered, you would see a tremendous improvement within q few months of the surgery. Animals just settle better. Then just slow and steady. They will come around. That I can guarantee.

If you can't afford surgery, there are lots of rescue groups that will help with or even cover the cost.

I hope this is helpful.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Hi Erin. One of the mysteries about these boys is that they were neutered and their ears were notched (which indicates they were to be released). Maybe the trauma was from the alien-abduction- like experience. Who knows?

The skulls in the backyard are all rodentia and possibly marsupial. I think the only distress they ever gave the cats was their unwillingness to get eaten. ;}

camissonia said...

Those kitties are adorable, and so lucky to be feral on your turf! The Cardigan-persimmon pose is just priceless!

magnusmog said...

There's something extra special about petting a grumpy, wary and potentially violent cat. Ask me how I know!


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