We have been feeding a feral cat for two years now. For a relationship built on
mutual hostility, we have made remarkable progress.
Some people have said that she is a cat with an attitude - capital A but I think
they are simply dog people who don't understand that her aloofness is not attitude,
merely personality. She's a fine looking feline, a tuxedo, all black with a white
bib and white feet. We call her Socks. I know, what a pathetic name coming from a
She is a thoughtful animal in that she drops by every morning when I am
at the computer. She presses her little nose against the glass door, and
looks inside, just to say "hello." (Cynical family members say she is a
stalker, sneering at me, saying, "Food, woman! NOW!")
Of course, she'd like some food, but I'm not the kind of person that
lets a stray animal dictate my every move. Which is why I often wait
one second - maybe even two before flying off my chair, sprinting to
the garage and bounding outside to give her cat food.
"What's wrong kitty, you don't like the chicken-flavored? Well, let me run back and
get some of the fish-flavored. Maybe the special urinary-tract blend?" Some have
said I am pampering the cat, but I think I am just demonstrating the "Do unto others
as you would have cats do unto you" principle.
I also reject the charge that she is high voltage. She simply has the inclinations
of a gymnast. If you get too close to her, she shoots straight up like a helicopter,
then rockets 15 yards, completely airborne, before hitting the ground.
There are other times when she lounges on the patio and slowly blinks her eyes. I
told one of the kids that this is a cat's equivalent to blowing a kiss, to which the
kid responded the cat is planning to get me. Probably at night. Claws in my back.
When I am winding up the garden hose and least expect it. What do you expect from a
kid who watches "Law and Order"?
I'm not denying the cat has some aggression issues. We have seen her take down
rabbits and go for squirrels, and she may have her eye on a neighbor's St. Bernard,
but I have been working with her.
I've talked with her, reasoned with her, and I do believe she's developing a social
conscience. She now practices catch and release. She catches shrews and chipmunks
and releases them on the patio. They are dead, but she does release them.
I have also had some success in teaching her math tricks. "Socks, if the
square root of 9 is 3, don't move, just sit there and ignore me." She so
gets it. And people think dogs are smart?
Our son dropped by with his street-wise city dog and the cat circled in
closer to introduce herself. "Oh, she wants to make friends," I said.
"Friends?" he yelled. "She wants to rip him like a paper shredder. Look at her!"
The dog went crazy, lunging against his leash, barking, growling, and the cat just
sat there smiling as sweet as you please. Nice kitty.
Yes, she's making a lot of progress. Some day we may even stop using the buddy
system when walking from the house to the car.