Living in a tourist, beach area that provides fun and entertainment for visitors, I have been told by more than one vet, that families come to our area and 'adopt' a kitten for a short duration. There's always 'free kittens' signs that may lure the kids in their families to beg, borrow and steal that it's 'only for a short while'. The parents may say OK, knowing it's for a 'short while'.
After everyone is tanned, relaxed and fun-filled, it’s time to load the suitcases and the car and head home. Uh, oh, what do we do with the kitten that we have petted, loved, fed and made a family member for 2 weeks? It was only for a short while, and we can’t take it home. So they, and many like them, go for a drive and drop it off in a ‘nice’ development because ‘people there will probably feed it and take care of it’.
Wrong. People in most developments have one or two dogs and even one, two or three cats themselves. So the disoriented kitten, who was pleasantly socialized and fed and cared for now lives in an unknown area where its hunger and survival mode pushes it into the ‘feral cat’ category. A feral cat is defined as an unowned and untamed cat separated from domestication. Feral cats are born in the wild and may take a long time to socialize or may be abandoned or lost pets that have become wild. They should not be confused with the wildcats which are not descended from domestic cats.
The ‘chosen for dropping-off development’ frowns on these cat-trusions. Their dogs want to chase them; the cats are viewed as disease carriers – many never received rabies shots. The once-loved animal soon learns that he or she is not welcome here. They get a ragged look and are usually very hungry and thirsty.
When our dropped off kitty, Feral, appeared on our patio, there was a risk of fleas. Gombah was liberally protected frequently. Eventually, we did the same by petting Feral with flea ointment. We watched her grow from a small kitten to an adult cat and she remained an outdoor cat. Although she did allow us to pet her when we fed her, she never got beyond the few strokes stage – she was independent and feisty. She slept on the patio and communicated in some way with our cat and they were friends.
Only once did Gombah and Feral occupy the same space. She was on the patio as usual and someone inadvertently let Gombah out. We feared they would sojourn into the woods never to be seen from again. Instead, they quietly walked side by side to the shade of a peach tree, and lay down side by side. His big body next to her smaller body. They just lay there for about a half hour (talking?) and then he came back into the porch and she took her post next to him on the other side of the screen.
They spent a lot of time just sitting or laying together between the screens on the porch. When she would appear, Gombah would ‘yowl’ his “She’s here”, and Feral would helium balloon meow back. Once she ventured into the porch when the door was open, but preferred to hang around outside. It worked for both of them.
She was his friend for one and a half years – the space of time the vet told is the average life of an outdoor cat. One day a large raccoon was on our patio. After he left, we never saw Feral again.
Gombah continued to look for her – he would survey the patio and especially the barbecue – but to no avail. Occasionally, he would yowl very loudly and mournfully, but she never returned. TBContinued: Gombah Today…Chapter 10