Our lives are so much more rich because we have rescued families of Maine Coon and Bengal kittens but this first post is about a different kind of rescue. Sometimes, it is difficult to know who is the stray.
We have a number of breeds as "singletons"; most of whom arrived here on their own, determined that this is a nice place and they want to stay. We, of course, resist; making sure that they aren't just visiting from a nearby home. We don't feed anyone unless it begins to look like they are in distress. If a person shows up repeatedly, we watch them to see how they are doing with the other kids and note their return frequency and how long it continues. During this first contact period, we put notices up and query local veterinarian hospitals to see if someone has gotten lost. There are other houses on this hill and we query them about new arrivals. Once all of these conditions have been exhausted, we'll begin feeding and getting to know the person more.
Occasionally, in the case of very skittish individuals, it takes coaxing them into a humane trap, so that we can get a look at them and see if they need medical attention. Spay/neuter is also in the plan if this hasn't been performed prior to their showing up. It always puzzles us when someone arrives and the procedure has been done and we are relieved if that is the case. Males are not so bad but females... the procedure is expensive. We obtain vouchers when possible to help with the cost but it still is a hit to the finances. With each new arrival the additional load on the food and litter is also considerable. But the Big Question always persists...
"Where did you come from, how did you find us and how long have you been traveling?"
We are not in a very accessible location on top of a mountain up a long and winding road from the nearest town 10+ miles away. Unless someone is driving out here and dropping them off, walking here is the only remaining conclusion.
But why here? Why us? Why so many? We don't have a hoard of cats, by any means, but they arrive at what we would call an unusually elevated rate. I never kept track but my guess is about one every 18 months on average. I have long known that cats can read brainwaves. This will be the subject of another post but I would wager that there are two really bright "cats" transmitting from here and people looking for help know that this is a good place to come.
This ranch came with a cat. The previous owner abandoned her here in an empty house. A local realtor was feeding her and she had a cat door in one of the bedrooms, so she could seek shelter. I found a bed and food/water in a closet when we first visited. Broke my heart. What kind of person would do this?
Didn't see her until the second visit. I was just emerging from a little building we call "The Shop" and heard a cry coming from the house up the hill. She was coming down an oak from the roof and jogged down the path toward me, talking and talking. She got to about 10 feet away and realized that I wasn't her companion. Stopped, tail lowered, turned and slowly walked back up the path with her head down, dejected. I could feel it. Tore my heart out that someone would do this to a loving person that obviously cared for them and missed them.
Couldn't get anywhere near her until the fourth or fifth visit. We were sitting on the deck at dusk, waiting for night to fall so we could see what it is like out here at different times of day. She came tentatively up alongside Joy and didn't seem too afraid. Joy coaxed her up on her lap and within a couple of minutes she was under Joy's coat, her arms outstretched around Joy's waist; purring and drooling. She was so starved for companionship that it overcame her fear of new humans in her territory. That we came back more than once must have meant something. We'd brought at least a glimmer of hope, happiness and caring back into someone's life. From that moment on, this was known as "The Cat Ranch"; in order to identify which of the properties we were discussing while making our choice. This certainly raised the bar on which property we would choose. It had a built-in stray.
She had existed here, alone, for a year. During that period, she had reverted to being partially wild in temperament, due to no interaction with humans. I'd also guess that she didn't trust humans anymore and I can't blame her. There were times when she would exhibit unexpected aggression. Nailed me in the eye when I got too close in the dark once. Other times she would fall into that grateful purr/drool and be so content.
She passed away a few years later, here in her home that we were fortunate enough to secure for her. She is buried on the hill overlooking the valley that she roamed and guarding the house that she protected for so long and her new family within it for the short time that we knew her. She comes by to visit every so often. We see glimpses out of the corner of our eye and some of the new arrivals exhibit traits that only she had. Still, we miss her terribly but know that she is waiting on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.