Lisa and I have cared for several stray cats in our time. Two of them even became great house cats. Most of these strays never became any more than just strangers we fed. Last fall we made an offer of friendship to a handsome little tom cat we named Telly.
When it comes to stray cats, an offer of friendship looks an awful lot like a can of food. Most of these little guys have no background with humans so a relationship begins with the basics-food and water. Providing shelter usually starts with shelters of opportunity-like hay bales, a barn or somewhere out of the wind.
In our case, we have a pattern for stray cats. It’s usually to get them used to regular feedings and then slowly work them up to the house. If we can get them close to the house, we can accomplish a few things. The main thing is we can get them good shelter. Feeding them so close to where we live means they begin the process of socialization and finally, it is so much easier to care for them when they are closer to us.
Over time, we have developed pretty good housing for the strays. We have one miniature barn that we have on wheels for easy storage. The “Cat barn” is insulated and has a sunroom. Housing number two is just some straw bales with a thick comforter inside plus a heated pillow in front. Finally, is a small insulated shelter with a heated floor. This last shelter is most-often selected by cats. It’s small so their body heat combined with the heated floor make a nice place to shelter and sleep. The shelter itself sits on a pillow so it has more separation from the cold floor plus a wind barrier around it. There are two heated water dishes and an on-demand dry food feeder. I only tell you this because it is so hard to understand why a cat would leave this set-up.
Telly left, and I don’t know why. The raccoons have been up here a lot, but I have never seen raccoons and cats have any animosity between them. There are other dangers out there, but chances are, Telly just up and left. Maybe it was too close to spring and he needed to ramble-as I said-I don’t know.
Our interactions with Telly were limited. I once got within four feet of him before he turned and hid under the deck. I think if we had of been able to touch his head or shoulders, he would have known our intentions were good. I guess we won’t know now.
Here’s the deal, this is a good lesson. Our relation with Telly had not arrived at the level of friendship we wanted however we still miss him. I guess that is like life in that there are many situations that are far from ideal but the opportunity to make improvements and enjoy the little victories are a nice part of life, and maybe more satisfying than getting everything you want at one time. That said, I still hope Telly comes back.