Being a Colony Caretaker (video)
“You said it so well that I doubt I can add anything more poignant. But I appreciate the opportunity to pass along some of the feelings that I have experienced regarding my feral cat colony. My reward regarding my feral cat colony has been that with my help along with FFSC’s umbrella of hope and caring, a stability has been provided to the kitties’ situation that has allowed them to be kind and nurturing to each other. I feel satisfied every time I see their delight at coming together at feeding time; tails high; running to greet each other; noses touching; sometimes playing; and in the case of one old boy, battle worn from previous encounters, rolling around like a kitten with appreciation of all his gathered friends as well as me, the provider. They embrace my appearance by their trust in my presence. And as I watch them have their meal I can think about the precious ones that because of this colony, I have been able–there again with the help of FFSC–to rescue and place in homes with loving and nurturing human beings. My colony offers a means of survival for some and greater comfort in their life away from most of humanity and a second chance for others with the love and security that contact with humanity can provide. I could not do what I do without the support of all of the folks at FFSC.”
Thank you, Ann Lewis
“My heart is so touched by the cats when they come running out of their hiding places to see you, even if they still have food left in the bowls. They almost run up to me but not quite, and then turn and flip their tails as if to say, ‘Thanks, but that’s as close as I get.’ Sometimes I feel like they want to run up and be petted, but just can’t allow themselves and in that cool cat way, say ‘just visiting.'”
Val Pustorino, Happiness is a little blue truck. By Odessa Gunn
“The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,’ Mahatma Gandhi.
An appropriate opener to my short story. I live in Spain. A country that never ceases to amaze me in it’s disregard and cruelty towards animals, feral cats especially. One night however, under a full Catalan moon I witnessed humanity at it’s brightest. I was working as a journalist following a three week bike race around Spain. It was late and I was headed back to my hotel when I saw what looked like 40 or so cat eyes peering out from a bush. Of course I turned around and went back to investigate. As I got out of the car they all came towards me but then retreated quickly. Different sizes, colors and ages. At least 20 cats. Then a little blue truck pulled up and the cats immediately lost all fear of my strange car and surrounded the truck. Out came the smallest oldest little Spanish man I had ever seen. He opened up the back of the truck and started scooping cat food out of big tin containers which filled the truck. One of the kittens left with him that night. Although I could not communicate with my Catalan kindred spirit, he knew I was a friend of feral cats and treated me with as much kindness and respect as his furry little colony.”
“My feral cats live in a vacant lot adjacent to a business about a mile from my house. Every morning I get up and I think, ‘I have to go feed the cats’. Sometimes it seems like a chore until I pull up and see them run around all excited because they know I’m the one human they can trust and soon their bellies will be full. I only spend five minutes each day with them but I can tell you a lot about each one of their different personalities. I love watching the close bond they all have with each other. What I enjoy most about my cats is how each one of them has slowly allowed me to become a part of their life by either allowing me to pet them or just letting me be within a foot from them. I always feel more relaxed after I leave.”
“I feed six colonies, including eight cats who live in a woodsy area near a creek. Several are 12 years old. All have never been handled, and are too wild to adopt. I’ve known them for ten years. I know their every quirk: the black, sleek high-spirited one who is so eager to eat he aims a swift slap at me if I’m not fast enough with his breakfast, the orange boy who weaves back and forth in front of me as I walk to the feeding area, making sure I don’t stray from my proper path; I know each of them. I love their every quality. I love their independence. They are the reason I get out of bed each morning.”
“At first the ferals I care for, just need food. But after they realize that in fact, I am going to feed them every day and talk to them and offer loving energy to them they slow down their departure. They turn and look me right in the eyes. Sometimes they’ll sit nearby and talk to me. It is a very slow-growing relationship, but one of those rare and most rewarding when you see the trust in those wild eyes and the blink of acknowledgement.”
“Its dark and my two cats sitting by the screen door are chattering, alerting me to the sound of crunching on my porch. I look and sure enough the ferals are coming to feed. Most of the time I just quietly watch and make sure I recognize each kitty coming to eat. I am amazed by their unfounded distrust in humans. The slightest movement or sound sends them scurrying off. I hope for the day each kitty has a home and an owner who will love them.”
“Although always just inches beyond my touch, the ferals I care for recognize my stride as I walk down the path to their food bowls. They respond to my voice as I call them to breakfast. Within the safety of their hiding spots, they trust me and rely upon me. I know I¹m improving their life. While I’ll never stroke their coat, scratch under a chin or hear their gentle purr, the relationship is there. I see it in their eyes, I feel it in their presence – a mutual understanding. One helping another – both reaping the benefits. A pure exchange of love, acceptance and understanding – from a distance.”
“One of the best things about feeding the ferals is the progression of trust built up with them. At first they are hiding behind bushes or dumpsters, then they start to know your sounds and they start coming out and waiting by the food station. After a while there will be a special one who is braver than the rest and doesn’t run away when you come up and starts to talk to you in little hello mews. If you are lucky one day you will get a chance to touch the special kitty and then she will let you pat her while she eats. If you are very lucky the special kitty will seek out your love. I have 2 who do a little “dance of food” when I show up. Feral love is really special because you know you have made a connection and helped another creature not only survive but have a happier life.”
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