Posted by wendiwendy
It is a balmy 38 degrees (!!) as I type this, and I am happy to report that Goldie the feral cat made it through the polar vortex unscathed. I’m pretty amazed, to be honest.
We had probably three straight days of double-digit below-zero temperatures, all day long (it would get up to maybe -13F, at the most). At night it was even more brutal. Once the first super-cold day rolled in, we stopped seeing Goldie. Usually she’s there every morning, waiting by the food and water dishes we keep next to the patio door on the upper deck. Because we had a fresh layer of snow, it was easy to see that she hadn’t been by – there were no paw prints of any kind.
As I mentioned before, Dave had gone down and set up a second house for her under the larger deck, where she seemed to be spending more time. He also set up a heat lamp. I’m not sure how long she actually stayed there, because after the first bad night (with wind chills of 50 below zero) we saw paw prints on our driveway. We weren’t positive, but Dave thought they looked like Goldie’s. He speculated that she left and went in search of a neighborhood colony … more bodies = more warmth.
Every day we checked to see if she’d been by to eat, and for four days the snow was pristine. We didn’t know if she was under the deck, or if the heat lamp was still working. I was pretty sure she hadn’t made it through this horrible cold weather.
Then it started to warm up. Dave went down to check under the big deck and she wasn’t there, but the heat lamp was still working and keeping the little house nice and warm. We don’t know if she used it during the cold snap, though. The first day it got up to about 8 degrees, but it was still below zero in the early morning and overnight. We didn’t see her on that day either. The next day, though, we saw paw prints in the snow in front of the dish. We got pretty excited, although I tried not to get my hopes up; we do have about four other cats who visit periodically, so it could have been one of them.
Later that afternoon, I was in the kitchen and happened to be looking out the patio door when I saw her little face peek over the steps to the upper deck. I grabbed Dave and pointed and squealed into his shoulder. I can’t even tell you how happy I was to see that little cat!
She strolled up to the food dish, no big deal, and started eating. Dave opened the door to talk to her and he was able to pet her on the head. He urged me to pet her, but I hesitated because usually she runs away from me. She’ll sniff my hand and then back away; she knows Dave because he’s the one who usually feeds her. I gave it a try though, reaching out to pet between her ears as she ate. Not only did she let me pet her, she stopped and butted her head against my hand. That was a first! I petted her while Dave brought out some canned food as a treat. Ever since, she’s been here every morning.
Last night, Dave went downstairs to clean the litter box. A few minutes later, he called my name. I met him on the stairs and he said, “We have a visitor at the window. I really think she’ll come into the house so I’m going to open the window and see what happens.”
He opened the window and we both retreated into the downstairs bathroom to watch and wait. “Where is she?” I asked. I couldn’t see her at all. “I don’t know – I think she left,” Dave sighed. We waited a few more minutes and never saw her. “Let’s shut the door and go upstairs. Maybe she’ll come in if we’re not there,” Dave suggested.
We went upstairs and I looked to see if she was up on the deck, but there was no sign of her. After a few minutes, Dave went down to shut the window. He came back upstairs and said, “She’s back by the window. I’m going to see if some food will get her to come inside.”
I wasn’t with him, but he came back upstairs a few minutes later and described the scene. “She was right there, watching me. I’m talking to her, and I figure she must know the window is open – either she can feel the warmth from the house, or tell by the smell. So I reach out and set the food there, and she does this [here he demonstrates a cat recoiling in shocked horror]. She was completely SHOCKED when I did that – it freaked her out and she left right away.”
I laughed, imagining Goldie’s reaction: This man can reach through windows and walls! And once again, she proved to us that she has absolutely no interest in coming into the house, even though we swear time and time again that she seems to want to.
Later that night, she was back on the deck. Dave, ever optimistic, opened the door wide and invited her in. He didn’t realize she’d brought her boyfriend, Mr. Big, along. Mr. Big (who lives up to his name) must have a sugar mama somewhere, and he is not afraid of coming into a house. He started to stroll through the door (inducing mild panic in Dave, who isn’t ready to have an intact male cat wandering our house with four female cats in residence). Goldie, however, reached out and smacked Mr. Big on the head, giving Dave time to shut the door.
Yes, I’d say she’s doing just fine. Silly little girl.