A tomcat started prowling our property at night. He knew we left food out for Mama Cat and at times he would sit with us a while at a safe distance. We can never be certain if a cat has been abandoned (it’s so common in our area) or is roaming far from home (we have few houses near us). We decided to trap and castrate him, he’d then be released.
Once trapped and secured in my verandah catio I noticed a small face wound. Most likely a fighting wound but I could not get near him. He hid in a box with his face buried in the corner and, alarmingly, wouldn’t come out to even use the litter box for a couple of days. Eventually he came out for food and water at night, then started using the litter box. I would sit with him talking and singing (poor thing!) while staring only at my laptop or book for a couple of hours at a time. I’d put his food inside the box and gradually place it further and further out. After four weeks he became more accustomed to me and I was finally able to unceremoniously hustle him into a pink polka dot cat carrier. It really was was castration day with an insult!
He recovered well but the wound on his face still had not fully healed. So I decided to keep him another week or so. By then we were friends and I adored him! He was enjoying eating tasty meals including my own dinner of fried tilapia fish! Not wanting to keep him so confined I released him to be free. Most evenings he voluntarily returned, made his husky call to me and ate the food I put out. Then lounge around companionably nearby. I brought the food closer and closer and soon he was stealing my tilapia dinner from my plate as I sat with him.
I noticed the wound was now bigger with fresh scratch marks. Over four or five weeks I became increasingly concerned that his wounds were infected and increasing. If he didn’t turn up at night I was anxious! Despite being castrated he was obviously still roaming and fighting. So, with a tasty bribe of tilapia, I tricked him into the catio again. This time he enjoyed hanging out with me. The catio surrounds my bathroom window, it was time to bring him inside. The window was opened and he had access to the bathroom. As with the catio he spent a lot of time examining the ceiling day after day. It was as if he was not familiar with being inside a house. He also avoided soft cat beds, preferring to sleep on hard surfaces… maybe he had been abandoned when young?
After the weeks I had spent with him he showed his true very calm and friendly personality, and I could fit a harness and leash on him. He’d join my family and I at night, chilling while we had a chat over a glass of wine. He liked to tackle the end of the leash while lying lazily on his side, he had no worries and became a family favorite!
The wound was huge, down to the bone. He scratched at it making it worse but allowed me to apply antiseptic cream on it. A cone collar didn’t work because it blocked his ability to slip between the security bars on the bathroom window. So I decided to introduce him to my household pets – two nervous cats and Rosa, my very territorial rescue dog.
Using the harness method, over several weeks they all adjusted to each other without ever getting into a fight.
It took almost a year to get his wounds healed, mainly because I couldn’t use the cone collar to prevent him scratching it. When it formed a scab it irritated him and he’d scratch it off. If he had panicked in the house due to the cone collar blocking his movement then a fight would be guaranteed. My other cats and my dog would overreact and the situation could get dangerous very fast. I wanted them to become friends without a bad experience ruining that process.
Today he is part of the animal family in my household. He loves to go for mini-walks and sits patiently while I put on his special harness and leash. He’ll often lead me back to the house when he’s finished with his outdoor walk. His favourite sleeping spot is in my “television” bed, a spot that allows him to see me as I move around the house or relax on my sofa. It’s amazing, he’s not a lap cat but he now adores soft beds and comes running when I call out “Love Glove time!”. It’s a dog grooming glove that he loves. We sit on the floor and he purrs loudly for his grooming session. Every morning when I open my bedroom curtains he jumps on a ledge and purrs loudly for his early morning greeting strokes and scritches. He walks across my laptop purring loudly when he wants affection…. or more food!
I do know that infection would have killed him if I had not brought him inside again to be part of my indoor cat family. Still I wonder sometimes if someone is looking for him. I also know I couldn’t bear parting with him. He loves it when I sing out “BoyBoy, ToyToy, BoyToy, ToyBoy, BoyBoy”. That and singing out “LoveGlove, GloveLove” always brings him to me and I hear his husky little meows as I did when he’d call for me at night after I released him back into the big wide world.
Now Rosa on the other hand, does not see the charm of BoyBoy, at all. He hates dogs! For nearly two years Rosa patiently endured his hisses and mini-attacks. Fortunately, he’s softened to Rosa but she’s still a little weary of getting too close.
If there is someone out there wondering what happened to him, I can only hope that they understand the time, money, patience and loving home I’ve given him saved his life and that he is happy. I wish I knew…