Story of a feral cat
|I’m not sure at what point I knew my name, not the one my mother had gently purred over me, but my new one.
Life hadn’t been easy for our mama, living wild, catching or pleading for food where she could. One day, mama walked away, harsh you say, it was her time, she’d taught us all she was able. Of course, she wasn’t far away, but helping us wasn’t on her mind, she had new babies on the way.
The early days alone weren’t so hard, food was easy to come by, the weather was warming up and I was able to mark out my own territory. It wasn’t long before I joined my mama in having a family of my own, four tiny crying waifs, it hardly seemed possible they were mine. So unsettling, how I was responsible for teaching them what my mama had taught me. Since having the babies I always felt afraid, lashing out at anything I thought endangered them, feeling my heart sink every time I had to leave our hiding place to find food. It did seem mama had taught me well, the babies were thriving, even though still so tiny.
One particular morning I was curled up with the little ones, just talking softly to them, calling their names, when I heard a disturbance outside, the pattering of tiny paws running through early autumn leaves; an animal making a constant sharp noise. I shivered, knowing I had to move us to another place, it was a risk, but our home no longer felt safe. When night came, I left silently and went in search of somewhere new, I was relieved to find another place made of sticks with grassy moss across the top, it was perfect. I had to find food and feed the babies before they could be moved, it had to be planned well or they would be found.
When the weather, the following day, was just right, I took hold of the first tiny bundle with my mouth, looked out, and carefully carried her across the garden, gently placing her into our new home. I stopped, waited, then returned for the next one. I picked him up, crept out, so careful not to be seen, hiding amongst the undergrowth on the journey. Halfway across I heard voices, footsteps, coming from the same direction as the animal I’d heard the previous day. I froze, waiting, things went quiet, I quickly, but carefully dropped the little one in with his sister, and went back for the other two.
It was a relief to be in our new home, I lay down, four little noses searched for their teats, automatically latching on to feed. I did this purposely; they would sleep when they’d had their fill, their silence was essential at this time if we were to stay hidden.
I lay still for so long, babies hushed as the same noises had come and gone several times. Eventually, all went quiet, I still waited, such a long time passed and hunger was now gnawing at me. I could smell food, I believed I was imagining it. Imagination or not, I needed to help my babies, without me finding food, they wouldn’t eat. Having been quiet outside for a long time, I made the decision to venture out. I crept carefully out, looking around, there seemed no threat; I could still smell the food, so I followed my nose, I was so hungry. I felt something cold underfoot, the ground was different, but the food was just there, so close. CRASH!
The noise vibrated through my body, my claws shot out, ears went back, and all thought of food was gone. My mind reeled, no concept of how my situation had changed, just the noise still rattling from behind me. I tried to go back, I couldn’t, there seemed no way, I was confused, then I heard it, a voice, followed by complete darkness. Where were my babies, I didn’t know, I cried out for them?