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Could you provide a caring and loving home for so many unwanted feral cats?
My family never does anything by halves. I have 26 Ranch Chinchillas; my aunt has a dozen or so horses; this is the true story of my sister-in-law and her tribe of rescued cats.
Pat is a widow living on her own in a Council owned pre-war terraced property. She has lived there for over thirty years. Her home and garden is neat and tidy, unlike her neighbours (on both sides) whose gardens are full of scrapped vehicles and car parts – doors, engines etc. as well as an abandoned washing machine or two.
The story starts about five years ago when one of her neighbours decided to move home. Apart from leaving behind all of their scrapped vehicles, they also left behind about seventeen feral cats. They asked Pat if she would feed them and they would return to collect the cats in about three weeks time when they had settled into their new home. My sister-in-law agreed to do this.
The cats all look alike – tabby and white and are probably very inbred. There seemed to be one dominant male cat and the rest of the cats were young and middle-aged females and kittens. None of the cats had been spayed or neutered, so the females had produced one litter after another. None of the cats or kittens were tame; it was not possible to get close to any of them. They were also thin and in very poor condition.
After several months, Pat’s former neighbours contacted her again. They wanted the dominant male cat, but did not want any of the other cats. In the event, when they came to collect him, they could not catch him, so left without taking any of the cats with them.
My sister-in-law was now left with a problem. What to do with seventeen or so cats and kittens? It was spring and the cat population was about to increase – a number of the female cats were pregnant again. She had decided to keep one cat, which she called Elsa. Elsa was allowed in the house and was the only one that had become tame. Elsa was duly taken to the vets for spaying and necessary injections.
I visited at this time and remember seeing lots of tabby and white cats leaping about the garden. Pat had provided a dog kennel and had waterproofed some tea chests for the cats. It was still not possible to get close to any of the cats, apart from Elsa that is.
I had enquired why she did not leave her garage window open to provide shelter from the bad weather for the cats. Pat had tried this, but had caught her next door neighbour red-handed escaping through the window. Several of her late husband’s tools were missing. She had called the police and they had searched the neighbour’s home, but nothing had been recovered. Hence, windows had to be kept firmly shut and locked. I think that it is very sad when you have to protect your property from your neighbours. My sister-in-law is unable to work through ill health and lives largely on benefits, so she is not rich by any means.
Feeding seventeen cats was eating into her savings. She contacted the RSPCA. She would, of course, keep Elsa, but wanted them to take the rest of the cats for re-homing. In fact, she contacted them on a number of occasions. Initially, they would not collect the cats until they had spoken to their original legal owner (who to all intent and purposes had abandoned them!!!). Then they agreed to collect the cats, but failed to turn up. Finally, they told her that they were unable to re-home feral cats and they would be destroyed. My sister-in-law was extremely upset by this; she had, by this time, fed and cared for these cats for nearly a year and had hoped that they could be found suitable homes on farms or stables.
So she came to the decision that she would keep all of the cats. She contacted the Cats Protection League who have helped her with the costs involved in spaying and neutering all of the cats – all, that is, except the dominant male cat – as once again, he could not be caught.
So five years on what has happened?
Well, the neighbour from hell has moved. Apparently he did a midnight flit. Rumour has it that he was wanted by the police for questioning following a number of burglaries in the local area.
The Council removed all of the scrapped vehicles and rubbish and Pat now has new neighbours on either side of her property, who she gets on well with.
As for the cats – there are now thirteen. Twelve of these, including Elsa, are now tame and live in her home. Fat and contented tabby and white cats can be found on chairs, on the settee, curled up in front of the fire, or sharing the dog’s bed with her dog. As for the thirteenth cat – yes, you’ve guessed – the dominant male cat is still feral and is still not neutered. Pat puts old blankets inside the dog kennel in the garden for him. He is now old and very thin, disappearing for weeks on end, but still comes home for food from time to time. When I saw him last in November I feared that if the coming winter was severe, he may not survive it.
I am quite sure that most of these cats would not be alive today if it had not been for the care and dedication given to them by my sister-in-law. It undoubtedly has been a strain on her finances, but it must be very rewarding to see them as fit and healthy as they are now.
And as for the dominant male cat – alas, Pat has not seen him since February.
~*~Thought for the day ~*~
Did you know that in five years a female cat could be responsible for 20,000 descendants?