Will Feral is our young feral cat. The vet estimated Will’s age at seven or eight months when we took him in. After we finally caught Will last January (2018), the vet wasn’t sure he would live. He made the long journey back to health, both physically and mentally, from seven pounds of hair and bones to thirteen pounds of muscle.
Recently, when we were asked to foster a Hurricane Florence rescue kitten, we warily accepted because we did not know how Will would react to another cat. We named the ten-week-old kitten “Bandit” because he looked like he had a mask.
When we put Bandit on the floor, he ran straight to Will and playfully chucked him under the chin with his head. Will looked stunned. It was obvious that Bandit was familiar with being around other cats and equally obvious that Will had never played with another cat and had no idea how to. Will outweighed the kitten by a full twelve pounds, yet the kitten launched himself at Will’s throat, fully confident that the game was on and that Will knew the rules. It worked out fine, but Will had a lot to learn about governing himself. Although Will was always gentle with us, even through months of bandage changes, all he really knew from his time around other animals was the law of the jungle.
Bandit, nevertheless, not only survived five days with Will, but thrived as he transitioned from being a barn kitten to being ready for adoption. And then, on a recent Sunday evening, in the middle of a dinner party, we got a call from LASS, the Lancaster Animal Shelter Supporters. They had an eight-month-old cat, “Bob,” who had just endured four hours at an outdoor adoption fair. Bob needed a break, and Lynn Kotula, the LASS representative, asked if we could foster Bob for a few days while a family considered adopting him.
Bob is neutered and chipped and has lived for the last five months in a small kennel at a pet store, none of which we knew until after the fact because it was about ten minutes from the time we got the call from Lynn until she was at our door with Bob. Once again, Will was in shock. We were hoping Will would be a good “Uncle” to another short-term foster, but we didn’t know. Fortunately, Bob is all sweetness but pushed back when Will got aggressive and dominant. Within a day, they were drinking out of the same water bowl and sleeping on the same bed near each other. Bob even reached out a paw and gently placed it on top of Will’s paw.
I’m not a cat person, mind you. In fact, I’m not even a pet person. However, Will Feral stumbled into our lives last winter and, like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, my heart seems to have grown three sizes that day. I don’t want another cat, but it doesn’t take much to offer a cat a temporary home until they get placed in a forever home. You get a companion without the long-term commitment.
In Part II, I will share some things to consider as a cat foster parent, and in Part III share why adopting older cats is a great opportunity for seniors.
*Featured image is Will Feral.