Feral cats need love and care too

HOULTON, Maine — Imagine living in a world where you never know where you next meal will come from, or where you will find shelter from the elements. Imagine being sick and there is no one to help, or your water source comes from a dirty mud puddle. Imagine being ready to give birth and having to find a safe place to have your babies.

This is the life of a feral cat. I am surprised at how many people do not even know what a feral cat is. Feral cats are cats that do not welcome the human touch. You cannot hold them or touch them, they were born never knowing what it is like to be held and cuddled.  

How did they become feral? They are feral because we as humans have failed them miserably.  How did we fail them? We failed them by not getting our cats neutered or spayed, by letting them reproduce, by leaving them outside and not taking care of them, by dropping them off alongside the road and turning our backs on them, by having barn cats and not altering them.  Barn cats reproduce even though they are just barn cats. These are not isolated instances this happens every day and the one common denominator are the humans.

 When a cat is born out in the wild it becomes wild. They did not choose this life, it is the card they were dealt. They didn’t ask to be feral, they know no other way. Baby kittens are born in sheds, under trees, in abandoned cars, their mom finds the safest place she can to keep her babies alive.

It may not be the cleanest, but it is safe. Sometimes when the weather is so cold they do not survive. They are born into these circumstances and the only love they know is the love of their mother. Their mom will fight tooth and nail to protect them.

 Can a feral cat be tamed? Absolutely, but it takes a lot of love, patience and time. I know many people who have opened their hearts and homes to feral cats. One of our volunteers took in a cat named Big John and the transition was slow, but she was in it for the long haul. It took a few years, but he turned into the nicest sweetest cat and she loved him with all of heart. He went from being a feral cat to being a big love bug all because she decided to take a chance. 

Another instance where I talked my sister into taking two feral cats. She wanted to make a difference so she agreed. Two sweet cats, Kit Kat and Lola, found the perfect home that helped them overcome their fear of humans. Again it wasn’t instant — it took a few years — but these two cats are well loved and couldn’t have asked for a better life. Vet visits are never easy, but they are manageable. Everything is manageable when you have the right mind set.

 Let me ask you this. Do you want to do a true rescue? A rescue where the price you pay is plenty of patience, time and love? A rescue that may try your patience at times and require effort into making it work. We all have the ability to step up to the plate and be a part of a true rescue story by giving a feral cat a warm safe place to live with plenty of love and attention. We all have the ability to let this terrified creature have a chance at a normal healthy, happy life. The only cost to us is again patience, love and understanding.

 Just because a cat is feral doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be loved and cared for. After all the only reason they are feral is because we as humans made bad choices. But we can fix those bad choices and make a difference.  Please consider opening your heart and home to a feral cat. Make a difference the rewards that come with it will be amazing I promise. It will not happen overnight or even in a week, it will take months, even years but the bond you will have will be like no other.

 When you see a stray cat, don’t walk away and hope that someone else will take care of the problem. Look at that cat and see the desperation in its eyes, though it may have a rough exterior it is looking for something, it is looking for food, it is looking for shelter but most of all it is looking to just survive.

Even though it may run when you try to approach, it is simply running because it is scared. It wants help, but first you have to get it to trust you. That is where the rescue begins. That is when you make the choice to commit and save a life.

 At the sanctuary we have 20 feral cats, all deserving and all healthy. We took many of them in in the dead of winter with intentions of altering them and releasing them back. That never happened, as we did not have the heart. So the sanctuary is home for them now. People come to the sanctuary to adopt, but these cats are always overlooked simply because they are feral.  We do not want them to be barn cats, we rescued them from that life. We want them to be safe indoors able to live a long happy, healthy life. They are all altered and vaccinated and they get the best care. Still they are missing something, a human family to call their own, a house to explore, but most of all love, compassion and patience. Are you that person?

 We hope that after reading this that maybe just maybe everyone will take notice, that a light will go on and that people will alter their pets, that people will open their hearts and homes to a feral cat.

 Thank you for your continued support and as always, thank you for reading our column.

The Ark Animal Sanctuary is located on 101 Old Woodstock Road. To contact Lorraine Monfils call 532-7387 or check out their Facebook page. 

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