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Not such a good beginning! A pretty good middle! A sad end!
Semi-Feral, from what I know of him, he had been an abused kitten taken in by a young single mother and her kid. He was not very tame and trusted no one. She called him Brave Heart. A wildly optimistic name! I don't think she could handle him but fed him and gave him a place to sleep if he wanted it.
He was a small cat then and never grew very well. Soon I stopped seeing her and continued seeing him. I'm not sure she abandoned him, but I would not be surprised if he ran away at moving time.
Over the course of a year I saw him occasionally at the feeding station. Since he was not of the clan, others chased him away alot of the time. He also came to feed from Spot's dish on the garage. She was less aggressive and more or less willingly shared with him. Whenever he was around when I fed Spot I would bring out a dish for him. He was very wild and never let me get close.
Life is not kind to small tomcats and poor Chicken Heart (as I had long ago renamed him) lost more fights than he won. He had several serious bite marks which got infected.
He continued being elusive but at least managed to impose himself on the clan and they tolerated him at the feeding station. In the winter he managed to claim one of the heated boxes. I have several with low wattage heated pads. All the boxes have insulation and are dry and out of the wind. They never get warm but a cat can spend a cold night as comfortably as possible. Curled up in a nest box can be quite cosy. I have full house on cold nights.
Poor little tom cat never grew much of a coat. Seems like red cats in my hood are rather deficient in fur growing.
He was proving very elusive and hard to catch. Seems like abused cats are always wilder than true ferals.
Come late spring the season was taking its toll on Chicken. He was scrawny, covered in sores and scratches, had a couple of recurring infections, and had hurt his hind leg.
I had serious doubts on his chances of survival.
He was getting tamer and didn't run away when I came out to feed them. He even sometimes stayed in his nest box if I came out. This gave me a perfect chance to capture him. I prepared a door and one morning, I just closed the door to his box and caught him. It was a quick trip to the vet for the works. Big Snip, de-flee, ear clean, antibiotics, vaccination. I de-worm all the cats regularly and I did him for good measure.
By this time he had been renamed Ginger. It simply would not do to start a new life called "Chicken Heart". He took well to the ordeal. He was surprising calm in the cage and showed no fear. I had attached the cat carrier to the cage so he had a little private room to escape to. He was ravenous and ate continually for 3 days. I fed him as much as he would eat. At this point he was becoming active and feeling better. There was no point in keeping him in a cage. I took him out and released him. He sauntered out, greeted the other cats who were around for their evening meal, then took off for a wander.
He has been coming back and I expect to gradually see more of him as the boy hormones settle down. Already he is calmer.
I'm hoping he will take the summer to fatten up and enjoy life, at least now he has a chance!
At this point I can pet him if I'm slow and calm. He comes around about once a day and still looks pretty scrawny. He looks more relaxed and will sit around grooming. To be continued ...
Jump ahead a couple of years. Ginger has put on weight, filled out, and is a happy kitty. He willingly comes to talk to me and loves a pat and scratch. I can easily pick him up. He defends his yard and the clan that has adopted him. He has friends and colleagues. His fur is clean and fuller. He will never be a settled cat but he is a happy cat.
Skip ahead another year and Ginger gets hit on the road. He was always an explorer.
Trap neuter release works!
I have trapped neutered released many cats and have had a great deal of success in reducing the number of wild cats in the area. The general health of the clan has increased considerably. The number of fights in the area has also significantly diminished. As a bonus I have never seen a mouse around the area!! Cat numbers in my area have gone down from 14 regular individuals (including 4 breeding females) plus many occasionals to 5 regulars all neutered and 1 or 2 occasional visitors. Big Toms are not attracted because there are no breeding females and no one to fight with. This also reduces marking and spraying.
UPDATE: Skip forward a couple of years. Only 2 cats still remain from the over 20 original members of the colony. I moved to the Niagara area and trapped my 2 ferals, an aging Abbey and a half tame Mr. Red. I eventually released them by my new home along with their nest boxes. Red decided to become a somewhat timid house cat. Abbey never tamed, she eventually died aged well over 17. Quite a good age for a feral cat.
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