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Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Taming the wild ones

Here's a heart-warming story from Cat World archives about the lengths to which one human went to help feral kittens. Cats Protection is an English charity that has saved thousands of cats. Thanks to amanuensis' friend Ken Wachsberger for sending this in! And do check out the header on Ken's web site, which includes a picture of Ken, his wife Emily, and their feline friend, as well as news about his books.
Marie Macauley of Falkirk was very scared of cats until May 1999, when her seven-year-old daughter wanted to get a cat. They ended up getting a cat and kitten from the Cats Protection Cardyke Shelter, near Glasgow and during the process, Marie found she really enjoyed being at the shelter and actually liked cats!
Then she heard Cardyke was looking for feral kitten fosterers, so decided to give it a try, as she had just finished a fashion design course and was not working.

Since becoming a fosterer, she has turned Cardyke's hissiest and spittiest kittens into gentle and affectionate cats that have been successfully rehomed into domestic environments. She has a real talent for this work and believes it to be her calling in life, despite her earlier fears about cats. Marie has also taught herself a lot about feral kittens by reading up about them.

She has kept for herself two of the six kittens she has fostered so far and thinks they are more loving and sociable than her domestic cats. Of these three pairs of kittens, two were eight weeks old when she got them and four were three months old.

Marie believes her secret is to give the kittens lots of time and to take things at their pace. She is not into hurrying or forcing their 'domestication'.

Things are taken a stage at a time, with the kittens kept in their cage at first, just getting used to her presence. She starts by sitting and talking to them and playing with a toy on a string, so they are not encouraged to bite or scratch her hands.

Then Marie puts her hand into the cage and strokes the kittens, before the next stage of lifting them out to hold them, stroke and brush them. Once used to being handled, they are allowed out of the cage to roam around.

This amazing 'cat-woman', as Cats Protection call her, has been given progressively more difficult kittens to foster and still manages to 'turn them round' in a week or two. She takes them back to Cardyke after about four weeks when they are then up for rehoming. Obviously going back to a shelter can be a bit traumatic for them but all her foster-cats have been rehomed very quickly. They even manage to integrate well with other members of her family and her two other cats.

Don't forget to donate to your favorite animal welfare charity!


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