My one and only feral experience.

imageAfter a few sad attempts by Asha to join in the fun when Pip and Maxi were playing, it became clear she was going to be a mummy’s girl, lonely for feline fun. Pip had so much energy he was just a bit too rough, and Maxi couldn’t bear to be near Asha. This would never do! I started considering companionship for her, because really, once you’ve made the leap to three cats, what difference is one more? But if I got another, it would have to be a black kitten because I love little black kittens to bits.

I contacted CARA and as luck would have it, the President of the group had picked up a black street kitty just the day before. He had been wormed and de-flead but not much else; they were loosely calling him Blackie but he hadn’t been there long enough for that to even stick.

When I arrived to visit the shelter, I could hear the wailing before I even went through the gates. It was not only loud, it was a imagemulti-tonal bellow that sounded like a teenage boy with a breaking voice. He stopped as soon as I got him out of the cage and started up again when I put him back much to the disappointment of the cats in neighboring cages – they were all looking a bit stressed! He was very skinny and his coat was coarse, at 4 months he was much bigger than baby Asha (now about 2 months) but still small for his age – on par with Pip when I brought him home. The big difference between Pip and Kai however, was that Pip had spent 3 months at the shelter so was accustomed to people. Kai was not.

Into the carrier he went and GOOD GRIEF he wailed all the way home. I had never heard anything like it. I couldn’t wait to get him into the guest bathroom at home where he would be quarantined for 2 weeks. Don’t believe how bad it could be? Click on this audio file!

I left him alone to adjust for a few hours with dry food and water and when I visited him with fresh food, he was gone! I was on imagethe 30th floor and the window didn’t open. Not in the bath, not in the basin, not in the cat bed or the basket. I was frantic! How had he escaped? The door was still closed. Eventually I found him. Under the vanity, behind the pipes was a small hole and he had wedged himself in there. I tried to coax him out but he was terrified. I stayed in the room for a while but I knew that was causing him more anxiety so I left, with the food just under where he was. I checked in on him every hour for a few hours before coming to the conclusion that he was stuck.

Trying to extract him from the hole was awful for both of us. He was so, so frightened, and I had to really work hard to get him out without hurting him. Once out, he dashed behind the basket, giving me time to stuff the hole with newspaper. Over the next few days he kept getting into that hole and I kept extracting him and stuffing it with more and more items that he kept removing. Paper, clothing, cushions went in that hole until I managed to stuff it full and then barricade the whole area under the vanity. Poor little frightened boy. I named him Kai, which is a popular name in many languages, meaning food, water, bridge, but my favourite meaning is strength. I named Kai in the hope he would overcome his fear and be happy in my home.

I don’t have a lot of pics of Kai when he was little. Black cats are hard to capture, they tend to just become black blobs. It took imageme a long time and a new camera before I started to get decent pics of him.

When Kai came out of quarantine, we had another few mishaps which were unsettling for him. My floors were marble, which caused great hilarity as the cats went slipping and sliding on the floor. But Kai’s first experience terrified him – he couldn’t run away fast enough and just kept skidding around. He was also very rough with Asha – mummy’s baby girl – and he was on the receiving end of the water spray a few times, which really wasn’t the right thing to do to a little frightened feral. If only I knew then what I know now.

His coat was so coarse it felt like it was deeply ingrained with dirt. I didn’t really like touching Kai much in those early weeks, his fur felt so unpleasant, which was just fine with him because he was terrified of me. Over time, he became more accustomed and enjoyed being stroked, purring super loudly, but if I picked him up (to this day), he meows his complaints even though he doesn’t struggle. After a month or two of good quality food, I noticed that Kai had developed a beautiful sleek and shiny coat – he had blossomed into a stunning young house panther without me noticing!

Asha and Kai became fast friends even though she (and all future kitties) simply adore his super long tail with the trademark right angle kink at the end. The two grew up like siblings, sleeping together, playing together and making wonderful yin-yang, ebony & ivory photo opportunities for me.

This video shows Asha dancing around, with a great appearance from Kai – slippin’ and a-slidin’ on the marble floors with his fantastic tail!

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