Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's it like to care for a feral cat?

running feral cat
I had known Franklin for 6 months before I knew he had blue eyes.  I knew he had lush orange-and-white fur and a full tail, as this was often on display as he ran away from me.  But it took him a full 6 months to meet my eyes without fleeing.

Franklin is completely feral.  I have never touched him.  I don't know that I will ever be able to touch him, even though I feed him, wash his bedding and clean out his water dish.  Even though I take care of him, he is still afraid.

This cat was trapped and brought to our household, to protect him from being euthanized as part of a warehouse "cleanup" program.  My husband and I don't know what happened to him at that warehouse, but it has left him scared and scarred.

Taking care of a cat like Franklin is difficult, to say the least.  We cannot give him any kind of monthly flea treatment, as we cannot get near enough to him to pet him.  We cannot treat him with medications if he falls ill -- we can't even get him to the veterinarian if we wanted to.  And we cannot provide him with intangibles such as love and companionship and security.  He doesn't trust us enough.

What we can do is provide him with a warm place to sleep, with food two times per day and with our promise that we will not exterminate him in the name of cleanliness.  Sometimes, that seems like enough.

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