There’s a Feral in My Family!

Some of the folks helping community cats through TNR also help by providing homes. One family  found Big Tomcat (BT) while managing one of their feral cat colonies and had him neutered at a SpayHR clinic in March. Despite his size, BT always waited in the wings for the others members of the colony to eat first. Initially, he seemed pretty scary and had some injuries, which is common to see in unaltered outdoor male cats. The family members were slowly able to become his friend, though, and after they were able to get close to him, they  discovered BT had been declawed. Aha…now his waiting to eat made sense! With a little more time and trust, they saw that BT wants nothing more than to sit in their laps and is very affectionate. He’s a keeper with his own family again!

In cases like Big Tomcat’s, a cat who has had a home but been alone or part of a colony for some time can re-learn house cat rules: Read the story of Calypso (“Sympathy for the Feral Cat” by Karen Lauderback) in the December/January edition of Pet Tails.

In other cases, a young cat from a feral colony (or undefined group of community cats) can learn to become the best cat in the family: Read Picaboo’s story, reprinted from a recent ART newsletter:

Margie M. was helping a resident off Cromwell Drive in Norfolk with three abandoned kittens: two females and one male. The resident’s neighbor had moved, leaving the kittens behind and without a mother (she had been killed in the road). As Margie puts it, “And of course those kittens grew up and started having their own kittens.”


Picaboo (pronounced peak-a-boo) is the daughter of one of those kittens. Margie trapped her at about eight weeks old, along with two of her siblings. In addition to these three, four younger cousins were found in a lawnmower bag attachment. All seven kittens were removed from the property and sent to foster homes until the Norfolk SPCA had room for them. Mine was one of those foster homes.

We already had Thor and Scratches, just two of many kittens  resulting from pregnant cats dumped off at a friend’s house on Knott’s Island. Two cats were enough for our home, and I was afraid that if I fostered Picaboo, I would want to keep her. Since she had a guaranteed spot at the Norfolk SPCA, though, I felt I would be able to let her go.

Picaboo had a rough start with us, crying at night, hissing continually, and hiding under the furniture. I let her work it out, making sure she had the essentials and that the other cats did not bother her. After a few days, she was in standard kitten mode. She became cuddly and affectionate, and once she was big enough to jump on the bed, she joined Thor and Scratches there at night. Picaboo was a lot of fun, too. She knew how to fetch, returning with toy mice in her mouth after we threw them for her. She was a foster, but she was our favorite.

When I took Picaboo to the Norfolk SPCA, I saw the many other kittens available for adoption. Even though I knew she would be well taken care of and eventually adopted, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her. She’s now a happy, fatter-than-I’d-like housecat who still sleeps on the bed every night.

I’m so happy to have Picaboo with me. Now and then, I look at her and wonder where she would be (and IF she would “be”) if not for Margie. I wonder about her siblings and cousins, and if they are as loved as she is.        

– Meagan Storey



One thought on “There’s a Feral in My Family!

  1. What a good story! One of the first feral kittens I fostered stole my heart. She was a very tough little cookie and she had a rough start with me for a while, displaying a lot of the same behaviors that Picaboo did, but she eventually learned to trust me. She’s now a very happy, healthy, much-loved part of my family.

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