This week for #RehabWednesday, I want to highlight the work our staff members and foster parents do with undersocialized cats. As you may know, our Community Cat team works every day to humanely trap unowned outdoor cats.
Once trapped, a cat will be spayed or neutered, receive a rabies vaccine, get a dose of dewormer, and have their ear tipped for identification purposes. Cats who are truly feral will be placed back into the area where they were found. Semi-social cats get placed into foster homes, where patient and loving volunteers work with them daily until they have been socialized well enough to find their forever homes.
Our Community Cat Manager, Eric, cares for a colony of feral cats at his home in Asheville. Because of the resources he provides for them (food, fresh water, shelter), it’s not uncommon for new cats to show up and stick around. Over the summer, 3 young cats showed up and started eating regularly at his feeding station. He was able to trap and spay two of them, but the third was more elusive.
In the fall, he began seeing her again. “At first, I thought it was one of the ones I had trapped and gotten spayed over the summer,” Eric says. “They look nearly identical. But then I noticed that her ear wasn’t tipped so I knew it was another cat.” He knew that the longer he waited to trap and spay her, the higher her chances were of becoming pregnant.
Then one day, he had the perfect opportunity. “She was on my back porch when I went out to feed the cats,” he remembers. “She was there all alone. I set up a trap, hoping she’d go right in. Sure enough, she was in the trap within a few minutes. I took her to the spay clinic the next morning.”
Once she was returned to his home after the surgery, Eric spent weeks working to socialize her. “Even though I couldn’t touch her at first,” he says, “she would get pretty close to me and I could tell she wasn’t truly feral. Initially, I just sat still and held my hand out so she could sniff it. Eventually she began letting me touch her head, then she let me pet her body. After about a month, she let me pick her up.”
When she started spending a lot of time staring longingly through his windows, he knew for sure that she wanted to be an indoor cat.
Because of Eric’s persistent care and efforts to socialize her, Paint is now trusting enough to be at the Adoption Center waiting for her forever home!
If you were inspired by this story, please consider making a contribution to the Help Me Learn fund, which enables our staff, fosters, and volunteers to have access to the resources they need to socialize animals like Paint.