Posted by wendiwendy
We’d just finished watching TV; I was in the kitchen, putting away the now-dry pots and pans from dinner. Then I heard Dave scream.
It wasn’t a high-pitched girly scream, or an I’m-in-pain scream; it was more of a ‘holy crap what was THAT?’ scream. I cocked my head, trying to figure out where he was in the house. I couldn’t be sure, but it sounded like he was downstairs so I headed that way.
As I headed down from the landing, he was on his way up. “Come here!” he said, grabbing my hand. “Look at what I saw when I came down here to feed the girls. Scared the crap out of me!” I peeked my head around the doorway and saw a furry face staring in the window. Our lower level isn’t really a basement – the windows are at ground level – so any animal can wander by and look right in.
“The last thing I expected was to see a face in the window!” Dave continued. “I swear, I think she’s trying to find her way into the house.”
The face belonged to a feral cat we’ve named, in an original streak of genius, Goldie. She seems to be from an extended family of cats in our neighborhood that all have the same type of coloring – black, white, gold – and two of those cats were original visitors to the bowl of cat food we keep on the deck. One of them, with more white fur than the others, was originally a very frequent visitor. An obvious relation of his (sibling? cousin?) would visit very infrequently; his fur is all splashes of black and gold, no other color. Goldie showed up quite a while later, and she got her name because she has the most gold fur of the three. She took no time running the other cats off, even though we’re pretty sure they’re related somehow. (Couldn’t she be nicer to family?! Geez.)
Goldie showed up last fall and quickly set up residence under our smaller deck, which is enclosed. It took us a while to realize she was hanging around as much as she was; we have a high volume of wildlife that visits in the evening to eat and drink on the larger, upper deck and we just assumed that, like them, she was coming around for a snack and then leaving. It wasn’t until winter arrived and we happened to see her jumping up and into the lower deck that we realized she was sleeping there.
We’d still have periods where we wouldn’t see her for a few days, but over the past few months she’s been a regular visitor. When our cats wake Dave up at 5:30 am for breakfast, Goldie is waiting outside the patio door, pacing back and forth. When he feeds our cats again later in the evening, she’s there. She usually comes up in the afternoon as well; once or twice I’ve found her pacing by the door right before I head to bed. Any time the dish (her dish, in her opinion) is empty, she lets us know. In fact, last night we heard a loud banging sound while we were watching The Voice. We paused the show, looked at each other and then got up and went to the kitchen. There was Goldie, food bowl empty thanks to a possum, staring indignantly through the glass. (We still don’t know what she did to make such a loud noise – throw her body at the door?!)
Having had experience with truly feral cats in the past, we have no doubt that Goldie is feral and not simply somebody’s cat who’s allowed to be outdoors, or a previous pet that’s now a stray. She behaves the same way Maxie did before we trapped her; even though she knows we’re the ones that feed her, she won’t come anywhere near us.
Oh, but she’s a tease! Especially in the morning, when she’s hungry. She’ll rub along the door frame and look at us lovingly. Each time, we get suckered into thinking that this will be the time she lets us pet her. We’ll open the door a crack and she’ll run back to the end of the deck. We talk to her, shake the can of food … anything to get her to come closer. No dice – the cat acts like we have the plague. So we shut the door and she runs back, doing her arched-back little dance of love until we open the door again, like fools.
About a month ago, Dave managed to touch the top of her head while she was eating. He can do that now, but only in the morning when she first gets her food. When I try this, she comes up, sniffs my finger and runs away; she knows I’m not the One Who Feeds Her. If Dave goes out on the deck to fill the food bowl, she’ll run to the stairs and wait there while he finishes.
A couple of months ago, Dave opened the door a crack and she walked up to it. He breathlessly told me, “I think I could get her in the house!” I looked at him for a second and said, “And then what?” He deflated a bit and admitted that he hadn’t thought that far. So we talked about it, quite a bit. We realized that while we could probably lure her into the house by leaving food just inside the door, we would then have a wild, feral cat running around the house. Our current four cats, three of which are mostly-but-not-completely-tamed ferals, would definitely freak out. We don’t know if she has diseases, fleas or worms. We couldn’t pick her up to get her into a carrier and take her to the vet. (Heck, we can’t pick up our own three former-ferals … that’s the one thing they refuse to let us do, besides trim their nails.)
When we trapped Maxie and her kittens, we already had two very docile cats and one mellow dog who didn’t have a problem with the additions to the household. They also took very, very long – over a year – to make their way from living down in the lower level (which was our candle workshop at the time) to coming up into our main living area. By then everyone was used to one another and there were never any fights, just some hissing every now and then. But Maxie, Gracie and Ally-Kat are nothing like Sabrina, and they’ve already expressed their displeasure with Goldie by hissing and swatting at her through the screen. All I need is cat fights and pissed off felines spraying and marking their territory (I’m not sure they would, but I really don’t want to find out).
So we shelved the Ermagerd Let’s Bring Her in the House!!1!! plan, and went back to making sure she has food and water and a warm place to sleep outside (Dave built her an insulated house and put it under the small deck, so she has double protection). But we still get starry-eyed every now and then, especially when she acts so loving from behind the glass … surely we can figure it out and bring her in and tame her, right?!
Then she runs away from us again, tail held high in disdain.