We Made The Wrong Choice.

by Allan J. Janke

Yes we made a mistake. Please read our story before you pitch rocks at us and yell that there is no such thing as the wrong cat. This little tiger was wrong, at least he was wrong for us.


We got a call from friends, would we like a kitten? They had been given a cute kitten they said, but were unable to keep it because of their new puppy and their parrot.

We told them that we had not been thinking about such a thing but they were very persuasive, saying we don’t have no pets and that having one would be so good for us. Eventually we agreed to come over and take a look.

They had him in a box, there were holes cut so air could circulate and all they would do is lift the lid a little so we could see. They would not let him out for fear he would attack their parrot. They were right he was as cute as a button, bright red with pale blue eyes. Cute but he was obviously not at all happy, throwing himself around in there and spitting.

Our friends worked on us some more knowing we were weak, we gave in. How we got him home without him escaping I don’t know.

At home we realized that we didn’t have anything at all for a cat and that we had better at least get him food. I left my wife with the kitten still in the box and drove to the store. I got back loaded with kitten food, a basket, bowls and stuff, didn’t think of a litter tray.

The kitten was now out of the box and my wife had a lacerated hand and leg OMG. The little tiger was now upstairs and throwing himself against the glass of a bedroom window. I attended to my wife and went up to get the kitten back downstairs, now I had a lacerated hand. He was going to hurt himself, I didn’t know the right thing to do so I threw a coat over him and got him downstairs and into the box.

Back to the store, got a kitten tray and plastic coated mesh. Built him a corner of the kitchen where he could not escape. We kept saying he is just frightened, he will calm when he gets adjusted to us. He was eating alright, loved his food but he was not calming down, no way.

then somebody mentioned shots. Shots? Slap me upside the head but I didn’t know a thing. We didn’t know how old he was, we should have asked more questions of our friends when we got him. They did not know for sure and the full story came out. Seems they got this kitten from some kid they didn’t even know, took pity on it and then realized they can’t keep it.

Somebody spoke to somebody else and that person knows a lot about cats. They called me, had a long talk and invited her over to see the kitten. It was her opinion that the little tiger was feral and had, for whatever reason, become separated from his mama much too young.

She explained that a feral cat could be coaxed into becoming a house cat but it took an awful lot of patience and best handled by those with experience. Not my wife or me had ever had any sort of pet. She suggested we let her use her contacts to place the kitten where he could be raised. whatever else he would not be harmed.

Didn’t take too much thinking about. We loved little tiger but knew that we just didn’t know enough to make him happy.

So you see we did make the wrong choice, wrong for us and wrong for the kitten. But we are learning about cats and at some point may adopt a grown cat from a shelter, I think we can give that cat a lot of love and that will be the right choice.

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Mar 22, 2012
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The taming of the Feral
by: Rick from Rom River NJ

I understand your frustration with that minature Tiger your friend dropped in your lap. I have a feral cat that bit scratched, growled, hissed,and spit at me many times, actually to many to count. I now own three cats. My feral female Lizzy, and two very gentle domestic male cats named Ace and Butchey. It took nearly eighteen months of being patient with her agressiveness, and I took the cat to work, and back home again hoping the large amount of time I spent with her would help. She even sctatched my eye one day, and I had to go to the eye clinic for repairs. Of course I had to blame myself for putting my face to close to her. Cat's were fairly new to me, but years earlier I raised and trained German shepherds, and some were agressive because of lack of training as pups, but all that did not prepare me for the fierceness of a feral kitten. I read books, and spent much time on the internet learing about ferals. Lizzy started out as a sickly, stiff legged mal-nourished, flea, and worm infested wild animal. She now follows me around, and in work sits on my desk watching me and sometimes purring loudly filing my paper's that sit on my desk. (Cat filing that is). I was determined to win her over, but I must tell you I don't think I could take on another cat with this much agression in her. I was also told at one time that after 6 or 7 months if she doesn't calm down she probably never will. I fully understand your decision to give the kitten to somone who can work with the cat. I commend you on your responsible actions. And by the way, there are meany cats that are just big lovers. My two males are the most gentle cats you could imagine. Don't give up on owning a cat. My cats bring calmness to my hectic life. Good luck on your future cat companion.
Rick

Feb 07, 2012
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Kitten Background Affects Temperament
by: Teresa Borden

Hi there,

I agree with Larry and the others who said you did the right thing by getting someone in who knew about cats to rescue the feral kitten and get him the help he needed. Good for you for understanding the limits of your knowledge and lack of ability to handle the situation!

In my limited experience, I've seen that a kitten's first few weeks in life can have a huge impact on how he or she develops. My daughter rescued a very young kitten whose mother had died and fed him kitty formula to keep him alive. To this day, he is a weird-acting cat with skin/fur problems, and though he's in a good home and loved, he has some social interaction problems (with other animals and with humans.)

On the other hand, my husband and I rescued a kitten just down the street from where my daughter lives, who had been able to stay with his mother and litter-mates for the first 5 or 6 weeks of his life and who had had a little bit of human contact before we whisked him away to his new home up in the foothills.

3 1/2 years later, he is a happy, healthy adult male, an indoor/outdoor cat who is very affectionate and a good hunter and gets along with our dogs quite well. To see more about him, search Fidget on this site. (I think that searching is possible, not sure!)

Anyway, my point is that the first few weeks of a kitten's life (or a dog's or a person's for that matter, but that is out of the scope of this web site) are very important in terms of development. With a feral cat, it's hard to know when they've been separated from the mother and litter-mates, though I imagine it's noticeable whether they've had any human contact or not.

In any case, I admire those with the patience to work with feral cats, whether kittens or adults, and my heart goes out to all those kitties out there who don't have people to provide them with the security to develop into amazing, confident though aloof, grownup cats.

Chao,
Teresa

Feb 07, 2012
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That's Not Wrong, It's Unprepared That's All
by: Kat

A feral cat is a LOT to take on, even for experienced cat owners. For a first-time cat owner it's not likely to be seen as a positive experience because they may be aggressive to humans because they fear them. They can be domesticated, but it takes a lot of time and patience, and usually only kittens under 6 months can be fully domesticated.

A calm adult from a shelter sounds like the perfect choice for you as a first kitty. :) Plus it will save its life. I wish you good luck finding him a loving home.

Random Side-Story:
I know someone who 'rescues' adult ferals and tries to keep them in her house and domesticate them, but I can't say I condone that, either.

To domesticate a full-grown adult is near impossible and to be honest I think it's very cruel to keep ferals inside. That's like locking a wild raccoon in your house and saying you can make it happy. To them, the forests are their home. Kittens, on the other hand can get used to and learn to love people and being inside. It's what they grow up with. But I don't think adults should be harmed, either. I think kittens should be rehabilitated and domesticated, and the adults should be TNR'd (trapped-neutered-and returned to their original outdoor location). I might consider feeding an outdoor cat and getting it medical attention/ build a shelter in the winter for it, but I won't bring ANY cat outside that is an adult in our house, only because if it's not wild, it probably has a home and is allowed out, and I would never take someone's pet.

Feb 07, 2012
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Right choice.
by: Jobaputra

I am saying you made the right choice not the wrong choice. I am always thinking that people should know, just a little about cats before they have one to look after.

A feral cat too might not want to live inside. I have friend who leaves food for a feral cat on decking. The cat comes every day to eat and my friend can pick him up when he has eaten but will not come in the house. Foe three years he has been feeding him and built a shelter. When is the weather bad the cat will sleep in shelter but not in summer.

People have feral cats but it is very hard. When you have your adopted cat you will love it very much.

Feb 06, 2012
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Respecting the wild ones
by: Anonymous

I once took a cat in from someone who was going to get rid of a whole litter of kittens at the cat shelter. This was about 1984. The person said that the one hiding under his sofa was wild and bad tempered and not to try to pick it up. I laid on the floor to see it, it was a tiny ginger ball of claws and teeth, but I realised straightaway that it was frightened.
I brought it home with another cat from the same litter, and called him Pythagoras (Pie) for short. He lived to be 9 years old and he calmed down after a week or so. I just left him alone and talked to him if he was near. He was clean and used the cat litter. He eventually met his ending because he had followed me one night when I went out and I didn't know till he was hit by a car while walking behind me. His sister Poppy lived to 20 years old.
With cats you just have to realise that they are intelligent and will settle down if you treat them with love and respect.
Among the many cats I have rescued was one very nice feral black cat who I called Gollum. He was rescued from a factory which was closing. They were finding homes for as many kittens as possible and destroying the adults and the kittens who couldn't be homed. He was wild as anything but I used to have him sit on my lap and he was a nice personality. I gave him to a couple who lived at the seaside because they made a special visit to me to ask for him after seeing him when they had called in previously. He left there after a few weeks to live in a factory close to them. They were taking him food for a while but he was obviously feeding himself quite well having been taught by his mother to hunt.
Once I read a story about an American Indian taming a fox. He just sat and looked at it and never approached it and he waited until the fox eventually came to him once they had established trust and understanding.

Feb 06, 2012
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No rocks.
by: Larry (editor)

Hi Allan,

There will be no rocks coming at you from me.

I have no experience with feral kittens but I have every reason to believe that what your cat expert friend told you was spot on.

It takes much patience to domesticate a feral kitten, mostly because of their unfamiliarity and fear of humans, and results are of course not certain. For someone with no experience of animals I would think it would be a most difficult task.

Yes, perhaps you should have asked more questions of your friends, but I hope you don't mind my saying - they should have been more open with you.

I can't say that you did the wrong thing at all Allan. Good for you for wanting to learn about cats before adopting and adopting an adult cat is a splendid idea.

As I said, no rocks from me, you made a mistake and I'm glad the kitten will be found a suitable home. Thank you very much for sharing your story.

Larry (editor)

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