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The Gift

25 Dec

This year, for me, Christmas came a few days early in the form of a feral cat named “Momma”. She gave me a gift I will never forget!

Momma is a fixture in this South Tampa Neighborhood. Many guess her age to be somewhere between 13 and 15 years old. She has long outlived all of her colony mates. Although she has seemingly blown through her nine lives, she still manages to rule the neighborhood. Her feisty independent spirit has served her well.

My parents moved into what was the heart of her territory. They would find her sunning herself on their patio furniture or sneaking into the house to steal food out of their own cat’s dishes on more than one occassion. My mom soon found herself feeding Momma and her small colony of TNR cats on a daily basis. Eventually she would solicit attention from my mom regularly, even sitting on her lap from time to time.

A year after my parents moved in Momma disappeared for more than several days. When she returned she cried painfully outside their back door. Having been attacked by a dog, Momma was in rough shape. She allowed my mom to move her into the guest room where my mom nursed her back to health. Then one morning, after nearly a month of living inside, she yowled at the front door. My mom opened it and off she went to reclaim her territory and go back on her rounds.

This pattern has continued over the past 10 years. Whether Momma is injured or weather takes a dangerous turn, she will yowl at the front door seeking shelter and safety in the guest room. Once the storms have passed or injuries heal she will one again announce the time for her departure and return to her kingdom.

Wednesday was no different. A big storm front hit Florida causing high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. Had I known the cause of all the turbulence on my flight down I may never have boarded my plane. Arriving at my parents home I went to greet my roommate for the next 48 hours. Yes, I had to share Momma’s room!

Over the years Momma has put up with my comings and goings with little interest. She would no longer run but she always remained aloof. This time it was different. Instead of taking note of each other from a safe distance outside, this time it would be in the confined space of my parent’s guest room. So I entered into her room with a little trepidation. This little feral is not one to warm up to people. The relationship she has with my mom is a special one.

She watched me with interest from her cat bed on the desk. I sat quietly on my bed and talked to her. Before long she would step out of her bed to great me with some chirrups.

Later that night she would wonder onto the bed chatting away. She would investigate and even began to knead the blankets at my feet. By morning she began head butting me for attention. I met them with short scratches behind the ears.

The next day I was met with Momma winding around me while chatting away in greeting each time I entered the room. That night, as I lay in bed reading, she snuggled up next to me on the bed.

Snuggling in bed!

The next morning I was treated with more chatter as she head butted me for pets. Now she leaned into me for pets and rubs as if she had been my constant companion for years! To be blessed with this level of trust and affection was truly a gift. A gift from a cat who trusts so few.

As the sun came out and good weather returned Momma was soon at the bedroom door crying that all was safe and it was time to return to her domain. With the front door wide open, she made her departure off into the sunshine to survey her kingdom without so much as a look back.

The greatest gift we can give Momma is to understand and respect who she truly is, a feral cat.

Kitty Time

12 Jun

Kitty time. The time it takes for a cat to do something is what I call kitty time. It is important to understand that cats do things at their own speed. When we try to force them to conform to our time frame we can create problems.

I heard from a new adopter that their new cat was very stressed. It turned out that the new cat was simply turned loose in the house and expected to adjust immediately to both the resident cats and dogs. Cats are not dogs. Even a new dog should be given an ajustment period before being thrown in with the rest of the animals. For cats this even more important.

When I explained that the cat needed to be slowly introduced into the household the adopter said that they would try. The new cat was returned only a few days later. They wanted a cat to adjust during their time frame and not the cat’s.

Even I have to remind myself they are cats and everything will be accomplished in kitty time!

Handmade Critters for Cats

10 Jan

I first saw these handmade Critters for Cats on Hauspanther.  I immediately ordered a catnip filled snake from Patti Haskins’ Etsy Shop.  It came in just a couple of days.

When I went to open the package my two catnip loving cats, Adi and Ari, came running to investigate. Obviously it it was stuffed with quality catnip. I have never seen them running when opening a package before. The snake came nicely wrapped in pink tissue paper. I barely had it unwrapped when Adi had the snake.  Ari decided that he wanted to play with the obviously catnip scented tissue.  Then they traded the snake back and forth for almost an hour. They loved it!

In the morning I found it tucked into my bed! I can guarantee you I will be ordering more of these wonderful toys. Thank you to both Patti Haskins and Hauspanther for this great find!

Scratching Posts

15 Nov

Scratching is one of the biggest complaints people have about their cats. Cats need places to stretch and scratch. Unfortunately most furniture is more desirable! Why?

Most commercial scratching posts or horizontal scratching pads are too short. The other day as I cruised the aisle of one of the big box pet stores the average length or height was 14 to 18 inches. They may work for a young kitten but not an adult cat!

So follow these guidelines for finding the right post!


Looking for more great tips? Check out The Catington Post!

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Biting Me?

7 Nov

My newest endeavor is answering training problems for readers of The Catington Post. This week Christine wanted to know how to stop her cat from biting her. It seems to occur when she was either petting or grooming her cat. You can read my answer here.

Never Underestimate a Cat

5 Nov

A blog from my dear friend and trainer, Lena Skov, about her training experience with a cat. To me this is what sets apart a great trainer from just a trainer. When you truly understand how others learn it can be applied to any species. And that is what allows incredible things to happen!

Never Underestimate a Cat



Kitten Basics is Here!

1 Aug

Kitten BasicsKitten Basics is here! After thinking about it long and hard I finally decided to jump in with both feet and offered my first Kitten Basics Class. This class is designed for kittens between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Not only do they get to play, which is half the fun, but they and their people get to learn too! The buzz has been great so far! I was thrilled to be featured in the Akron Beacon Journal and then learned that the story went national! I have heard from people all over the country and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Come join us!

Walking a Cat on a Harness and Leash

6 Aug

Shira is an active cat. When she gets going she can circumvent my livingroom without ever touching the ground! I wanted her to be able to get out and explore without the dangers of just letting her out the door. So Shira has been learning to use a harness and leash. Continue reading

Of Cats and Dogs

21 Jul

Ahhh… my apartment is quiet. Only the sound of the fan can be heard. Shira is curled up in my lap sleeping while I doze off in my big chair. Meanwhile, my dogs, Asher, Shay and Tova are asleep on the floor. Continue reading

Charging the Clicker

12 Jul

Charging the clicker is when you condition your pet that the “click” means a treat is coming. The “click” then marks the exact moment that your cat or dog (or any pet for that matter) does the right thing and earns a treat.

When you are working with dogs this is very easy. Most dogs will stand on their heads for a treat if they could. This is not quite the same with a cat. The first two weeks Shira was with me I just let her settle in. I was also trying to figure out what she even liked to eat. At the shelter she did not eat well. They told me that the first week she was there they had a hard time getting her to eat anything. Continue reading

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