Monday, October 14, 2013

Can You Pick the (Formerly) Feral, Domestic Shorthair Cat Out of This Lineup?

And while we're on the subject of picking, did you see the oxymoron in that title? There's only one, by the way. (Yes, in spite of the rumors - cough - pet cats truly are domestic animals. :)

Feral cat:
<> (Wikipedia): A feral cat is a domestic cat that has returned to the wild. It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats are born in the wild.
<> (Alley Cat Allies): A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with people or her contact with people has diminished over time. She is not socialized to people and survives on her own outdoors. Most feral cats are not likely to ever become lap cats or enjoy living indoors.


Okay, before I show you the kitty lineup, would you indulge me in a little storytelling? Yay!

On the Way Home From the Store, I Found a Cat

Once upon a time, on a Saturday afternoon last spring...I dragged myself out of my favorite "designer" discount store (because I'd already "window shopped" down every aisle for a solid two hours, and my husband's hard-earned money was searing a hole through my past-season wristlet). Eleven minutes later, while driving home on a familiar, busy suburban highway, I spotted a slight something (a leaf, perhaps) moving around in my lane, up ahead, near a stoplight. With cars whizzing by, both in front of and around me, it took several more feet of driving before I realized - in horror - that the "slight" thing moving in the road wasn't a leaf at all, but a tiny tabby kitten, stranded, terrified, and desperately trying to make it to safety (its mother? siblings?) across six lanes of traffic. 

Miraculously (and I mean that in the literal sense), the cars ahead of me breezed through the intersection (and past the helpless kitten), leaving me - saved by a red stoplight - to use my car as a barricade between the kitten and its impending doom. But the moment I opened my car door to get out (and grab it), the kitten - in a panic - bolted into a strip of grass on the nearer side of the road.

As I made my way into the parking lot, out of my car and over to that strip of grass - where the terrified kitten still hovered, frozen solid - I hoped there'd be a second miracle...that I'd get to him in time, before he got spooked again and ran into the path of a moving vehicle. 

Little did I know there'd be a third miracle that afternoon, as I pressed the anti-bacterial wet wipe into the fresh bite wound on my thumb*, wondering what the heck I was going to do with the feral kitten I had just trapped (with my bare hands, in a Starbucks parking lot) and tossed into the secure backseat of my car. 

The End**

Whew. What say I lighten up the mood a little and post that kitty lineup I told you about? ;-)

Okay, here you go! Can you tell which one(s) of these images belongs to the multi-miracle, feral kitty I snatched off the side of a busy road?





Answer: B. & D.
(Note: A., Tigger, is quite sweet, actually; she was just slightly annoyed at her nemesis, Jon Farleigh, in the photo.)

Did you pick correctly? Of course you did, right?! It's Bobby Flay O'Fish, who, over several weeks after getting him home, we tamed, so that he would be adoptable.*** (I was lucky to have captured him weaned, but still only a few weeks old.) We could not have done it without the support, guidance and online resources of our local, feral cat caregiver community, the Richmond SPCA and Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy program dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. 

This Wednesday, October 16, is National Feral Cat Day. 

In honor of my beautiful, healthy, good-natured and hilarious, former feral kitty, Bobby Flay O'Fish, I hope you remember this:

Feral domestic cat is an oxymoron. The only difference between a feral cat in the Starbucks parking lot, and someone's cherished pet kitty, is the someone. Sure, most feral cats can never be adopted as household pets, but that doesn't mean that, under better birth circumstances, in another place and time, these perfectly domestic animals couldn't have been some other person's Bobby Flay O'Fish, too.


* Yes, the kitten bit the crap out of my thumb (that was the first clue that he was feral), but after much pressure and flushing with anti-bacterial solution (that I thankfully had in my car), it healed up without incident. If you ever find yourself bitten by an unfamiliar cat, my advice to you is to seek medical attention (I was very lucky not to have gotten an infection).

** Of course the story doesn't really end there (in fact, it's still unfolding in my house every day). If you have specific questions about how we cared for and tamed Bobby Flay, please ask away in comments or send me an email!

*** My intention (after talking with some local feral caregivers) was to tame the kitten and then surrender him to the Richmond SPCA for adoption into a permanent home. Bobby Flay, however, had other intentions. ;-) (I'll be happy to elaborate on those intentions, if you find yourself in a similar situation.)

Meow, y'all!


  1. I absolutely aDORe Bobby Flay. And you for saving him.

    His face in those two pictures is squeeeeeeee. (And I was going to ask if he ever opens his eyes before I saw that last picture. Thank you for letting us know he does in fact have eyes. ;)

    1. Well, I ♥ you and yours, too, Leslie! :) He is a stinker (literally and figuratively. gas.) and thankfully, includes eyes!

  2. That is just the best story. Well done you and it definitely was meant to be. Bravo to you. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. My gal's parents had a feral mom cat and her kittens hanging out by their house and fed them for a year until they moved on. Too cute.


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