Friday, October 1, 2010
At the end of May it had been nine months since I began caring for three rescued cats for the Fort Collins Friends of Ferals. Things had changed a lot. Two of them were still with me. Each time I allowed the cats more freedom I anxiously awaited the results. Trust has always been a big issue with me and I have to admit I had a hard time letting go.
Days were getting longer and nights shorter. And it was also getting warm enough that they didn’t need to remain in the tack room of our barn where I had decided to keep them at night when it was wintry cold so they would be warm enough. My daughter had recently helped me assemble the enclosure I had picked up from another cat rescue group that didn’t need it anymore. It was about six feet high and wide and about 3 feet deep. There was room for a climbing tower and a shelter where the cats could sleep and keep warm enough during the late spring nights. They both still were small enough to fit inside the cozy little cave.
They both had gotten used to the night-time feeding schedule and were meeting me by the back yard fence around the house. They were still shy about coming close to the house. Then they would run toward the barn, stopping now and then to roll begging for a scratch behind the ears or to rub on my ankles. I was delighted that they had gotten so friendly.
But Moonbeam (I call her Mookie now, easier to say) had begun to lollygag! She would play little games and act as if she was not really interested in dinner after all. Her sister, Polka Dot (now called Pokey) allowed me to pick her up and pet her from time to time and I could get her into the enclosure but Moonbeam was still skittish about it. I had hoped to be able to pick her up.
At dinner time one night Mookie was lounging nearer the house than she had before and she seemed to have no inclination to head to the barn. I decided to go on into the house to prepare the family dinner when I noticed she was sitting outside my kitchen window, looking up and meowing. It was a quiet meow at first but soon it became more and more insistent. A little later I heard her again but this time I found her balancing on the fence near my bedroom window. My house cat, Taffy was sitting inside on the window perch checking this brash new intruder out. Since my family was still in the middle of dinner I decided to leave her there and see if she would go to the barn after a while by herself.
When I finally got outside to check she was nowhere to be found. Not near the house or even in the barn. Pokey had eaten her dinner and was settled in the enclosure but not Mookie. I had to trust that she would show up the next morning. Putting my worries aside I went to bed. About midnight a strange noise woke me up. As my eyes opened I realized it was an insistent meow coming from outside my window. When I looked outside I didn’t see her but after shining my flashlight around the yard I caught site of her, halfway up a large tree. And sitting on the ground beneath the tree was the aggressive cat that belonged to the neighbors. So I grabbed my slippers, a robe and my flashlight and headed out the door. Neighbor cat skedaddled home. Mookie didn’t move an inch. By now I decided I wasn’t going to wait up for her.
But sleep was not for me this night, later I again was awakened to a now familiar sound. Plugging my ears didn’t work. I was resigned to another trip outside. But this time with no encouragement needed I got her to follow me back to the barn.
When she scampered into the barn she greeted Polka Dot, touching noses and hungrily gobbled her food, turned around, told Pokey she would tell her about her adventures tomorrow, curled into a ball and went to sleep. It was something I was looking forward to as well. I was just glad she was safely home.