Animal stories TNR projects

The Adventures of Marco and Polo in Brianland, part 1

At the beginning of December, I received one of the usual enquiries: “I’ve found a kitten, what shall I do?”

Polo just after being rescued

As he was going to the shop that morning, Brian found a kitten in his car’s engine.  A found listing was posted for good practice, although we suspected the kitten to be feral and probably abandoned by his mother.  Nobody claimed the kitten and Brian decided to adopt him.  Polo was brought to the vet and spoilt by Brian.

Polo enjoying the comfort of his new home

A few weeks later, Brian contacted me again: Mom and the other kitten had moved in his garden.  Brian wanted to get more information about TNR.  His plan was to get Mom spayed and adopt Polo’s sibling, whom he had named Marco.

I thus called in with the trap and within 10 minutes, Mom walked in.  However, Marco was really shy and refused to move from his hiding spot behind the bushes.  We left a feral box there so that he could protect himself from the elements.  While Mom was at the vet for her operation, we kept trying to trap Marco, but unsuccessfully.  TNR requires patience and Marco certainly tested ours.

Mom after her operation

On the day Mom came back from the vet, Marco was nowhere to be seen.  We had set the trap in case Marco would be around and, relaxed by Mom’s presence, would walk in the trap, but Marco wasn’t around.  When we released Mom, we released a transformed cat.  Instead of running away, the way ferals usually do when released, Mom decided to enjoy a big meal before going to look for her kitten.  She even let Brian approach her for the first time and we had to stop her from walking into the trap again!

Brian kept feeding Mom, slowly gaining her trust.  His patience was rewarded when Mom finally accepted to be fed in the kitchen.  However, there was still no sign of Marco.  As Mom would only come around for her dinner and then leave, Brian suspected that Marco was hiding in a different spot.

Mom in the kitchen: she'll come into the kitchen for food but won't eat from my hand. She'll tolerate me standing up and moving around the kitchen though.
Polo chasing poor Mom out the door! He's not that impressed at all that Mom comes to visit. Although, he's getting a lot better about it... his tail isn't nearly as spiky as it was the first day.
Just a pane of glass between them, Polo and Mom enjoy dinner "together".

Yesterday, the good news came in and I received a text from Brian: “Marco is back!”  And Marco was not only back in the garden, but he also ventured in the kitchen, joining Mom for dinner.  Today, Marco even ate from Brian’s hand and licked the sumptuous chicken-tasting hand!

Marco joins Mom in the kitchen!
Marco no longer has to hide behind Mom
Polo checking on the new arrivals: Marco and Mom were in the kitchen again, Marco explored a little but Mom was a bit more nervous. Polo wasn't helping to give an air of calm acceptance, the kitchen door was shut and he was in the hall, crying like I had a secret kitty torture chamber, but he just wanted in to check out the new arrivals (and chase them out of his kitchen).
Close-up of Marco

It looks like Brian will have his own little family pretty soon…

The world would be a much better place if everybody were to act like Brian.  What does it take?  A bit of compassion, love and patience…

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Questions??? (guest post)

After months of having lieutenant Dan in my care and after all the poor cat has been through – he is a true fighter, always scratching and biting at every chance – he stills hangs on to his feral background to the best of his ability.  This morning while having my coffee and smoke, Dan came to me and sat by my shoes.  For the first time in many months I could finally pick him up without him trying to run away, scratch or bite me, it was one of the most rewarding experiences that I could have ever been given.

As I set out to drive to work, just 500 yards from our house I found the mangled body of one of our oldest feral cats that was killed on the road.  Her poor body was just dumped there like it never had any meaning.  Its days like this that I find it very hard to see the reason in doing what we do.  MooMoo our feral was with us for more than 7 years, every morning she was waiting for her food and back again in the evening.  The numerous attempts at socialising her went in vain as she was a true spirit.  Only a few weeks ago she finally relinquished her pride and moved into one of our feral homes.  The only time I ever got to hold her was to carry her mangled body off the road.

RIP Moo Cat