Meows from Mudpie!
This year for National Feral Cat Day we wanted to look at this important issue from a different angle. While brainstorming for a topic we kept coming back to an amazing book we read, To Catch a Cat: How Three Stray Kittens Rescued Me, by Heather Green. I decided to reach out to Oona, the mother of those three kittens, who now lives the good life as a former feral with the wonderful humans who saved her little family.
What's life like for a feral mom on the streets? What made her decide to trust a human and become a pampered house cat, and does she think more kitties could adjust to life "on the inside"? Here's what Oona had to say!
Welcome, Oona! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started life as a feral cat?
Hi Mudpie! It’s so much fun to chat with you! One of the mothers in the colony I hung out with was a Tortie, so I’ve always liked the tortoiseshell crowd. Between you and me, I’m not really sure where I was born. But the place I called home was Manhattan Avenue in Union City, New Jersey. It’s really urban. Row houses, concrete sidewalks, busy streets.
What were your days like back then?
Well, you know how it is for ferals. There are great days, lolling around in the sun, catching mice in the abandoned woods, just kicking back. But mostly, it was tough. I was out there fending for myself, trying to avoid being hit by cars, always on the lookout for food. The winters were the worst. I had a nice warm coat, but it gets cold in New Jersey. The snow is the worst.
At some point you found yourself "with kitten". That must have been terrifying for you. What made you finally decide to let humans help take care of your babies?
It’s hard being a mother on your own, trying to get enough to eat to feed the kittens. So when two meals each started showing up out of nowhere like clockwork morning and night, it didn’t take me long to realize these humans in the house next door to where me and my kittens were living might be ok—as long as they didn’t get too close.
Then help came for you. How did you initially feel about Heather and Matt's intervention in your life?
It was confusing, let me tell you. I was really protective of my three boys. But I could tell that Matt and Heather cared about us. Still, going from not trusting any humans to suddenly having them feeding us, building us a house, taking pictures all of the time, that was a big jump. And just as I felt like I knew them, bam, suddenly they took my kittens and then the next thing you know there were hauling me into the vet. I totally felt betrayed for a while, but since they kept feeding me and after those dumb tom cats stopped bothering me, things seemed to get better between us.
You're now known as a "former feral"...what made you decide that letting humans take care of you was a pretty good deal?
We got to know each other bit by bit. After that operation nonsense, they kept feeding me and spending time with me outside in their backyard. During the winters, they’d even put a heating pad in my house. Now that was a nice change from my first couple of winters. I could tell they cared about me and I got to like being petted. And then one day, when it was cold, Heather fed me in her kitchen, the way she liked to do when it got really bitter and then closed the door on me and she wouldn’t let me out. I was pretty upset for a few days. But you know, there’s something nice about not having to worry being outside.
What's life like for you today?
Life is good. Soft beds, good food, my humans. I miss being outside sometimes. I spend a lot of time at the window. A couple of times, I’ve even run out the front door when my humans weren't paying attention. You know how they get so easily distracted! But you know, I got out there and I realize that it’s pretty scary on the streets. So each time, I came back in. They plan to build me an outdoor area where I can roam around in a protected space. I’m excited about that.
Do you think more feral cats could learn to adjust to life as a house cat if people would only try? What tips would you give on this process?
Totally! With time and patience, it works. It’s easier if the people don’t have too many other cats. And if they can just give us time for us ferals to trust them. I spent a lot of time under Heather and Matt’s bed at first. Now, thought, I sleep on the bed. It’s softer.
Lastly, what are the most important things you want people to know about feral cats and how we can help them?
Fix us, feed us, love us. After Heather and Matt fixed the adult cats in the colony I was from and found homes for the kittens, the number of cats on our block just plummeted. TNR works.
Thank you so much, Oona! I'm sure after meeting this lovely lady you're interested in reading her human's book. It's available on Amazon and all your other favorite retailers, and if you missed our review you can find it here!
Since it's Sunday, we're also entering Oona in the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by The Cat on My Head.