About 6 months ago, a woman and her daughter sent me a video of a long-haired tabby racing through the parking lot of Target late one night. The daughter captured him on her iPhone while her mom yelled, “Film him before he runs away! Hurry, don’t miss him!” Followed by, “I KNOW Mom! I’m getting him!”
When Target closes at 9:00 p.m., cats emerge from the marshland that hugs the store on 2 sides, the bay on the other. Shoppers sometimes leave them food, some contact us (Marin Friends of Ferals) and some, I assume, simply look away.
Target isn’t located near homes so these are feral cats or possibly lost or dumped domestics. So my awesome volunteer, Holly, and I placed a feeding station under a bush off the parking lot, locked a motion sensor camera to it, and started feeding.
Soon, the camera showed the gray cat and a black one eating regularly. The latter even fell asleep in the feeding station after his meal one rainy night — a brave thing to do since the marsh is home to a few coyotes. In fact, a dog walker told me 2 of her 4 leashed dogs were attacked recently at 1:00 p.m.
Holly and I realized then that it was time to bring the cats somewhere safer. Besides, she came upon a guy trying to cut the lock off the camera. Caught in the act, he gave some lame excuse for his attempted thievery. So getting more photos was history.Anyway, we trapped the black cat first. He’s a true feral, so after getting him neutered and vaccinated, we re-homed him to a large property with lots of hiding places and where he’ll receive daily food and water. Then, days later we spotted the gray cat emerging from the marsh at nightfall. He appeared to be so huge that we used our fat-cat trap.
Now don’t get me wrong; you can’t always believe what you see. Turns out Ned is mostly fur — a fluffy, big-eyed brown tabby who was previously neutered and micro-chipped at our humane society 10 years ago. But his owners never registered him so he wasn’t in the database and his previous life remains a mystery.
At the humane society Ned shut down, often hiding in his room. If anyone got too close he shot them a look that suggested they reconsider. So I took him home to foster even though just the sight of me induced hissing. (Seems I routinely illicit that effect.) But my feeling was he’d been someone’s pet once and maybe could be again.
It’s been 11 days since I brought Ned home and what a transformation. All this boy needed was to be reminded someone cares. The first 2 days he hissed anytime I entered his room. But with gentle petting and sweet talking, I saw his eyes soften and by day 4 he loved being brushed and was reintroduced to toys. And catnip. Holy moly, how that boy goes wild for catnip.
Ned sleeps in a bed on my desk next to the window and spends his days in blissful contentment, snoozing and watching the happenings outside. He’s no longer cold, hungry or scared. He relishes the good life, evidenced by his relaxed body language. Ned even sits on my lap now and lets me pet his belly. How awesome is that?
I wonder how many months (or maybe years) he was on his own in that marsh? And how did he avoid the coyotes? I suppose we’ll never know. But I’m happy to report he’s going up for adoption now. I sure wish, though, I had a way of contacting that caring woman and her daughter. Thanks to them, Ned gets to be someone’s pet again.
All because that night, 6 months ago, they chose not to look away.