Zoe 2008-2014

It was a stunningly clear night on the coast. During the summer after the sun sets, the fog races in and blankets us in much cooler temperatures. But on some nights, such was this, not only were the skies crystal clear, but we also had a full moon. The kind that is so big and bright you can make giant moon shadows. It was a peaceful, gorgeous night. But I had a sudden chill. I immediately thought of Zoe. My little feral kitty who had considered me her main food source for over five years. From the beginning we had a deal:  she would have a safe meal at my home every night, but I would never try to trap or even touch her. Reluctantly I agreed.

She was dumped here during some very cold weather in 2009. A neighbor saw Zoe dragging herself towards her bird bath. The water was frozen so my friend had put out birdseed for the birds. Zoe wasn’t going for the birds, she was trying to share their meal since she was starving. It’s not the first time we’ve had to deal with animals being dumped here on the coast, left to fend for themselves. Many city folk bring their animals back to nature. Mainly because they aren’t cute and little anymore, but I digress….

We chose a vacant house that was several houses away where we had found her. I sat and told her one afternoon (from a safe distance) that her food would be placed somewhere new the following day. The original set-up wasn’t working. So in my mind, I sent her a mental picture of where in the neighborhood her food would be. The next day she showed up at the house I had showed her and enjoyed a quiet meal. This worked out great until the house sold and we were notified that we’d have to move Zoe again. But again, after a talk from a safe distance away, she showed up the next day on my front porch where she’d enjoy her meals once a day for the next 5 years. Some days I would forget and realize suddenly that she had waited sometimes for hours for me to feed her. She rarely announced herself, just patiently waited until I noticed her. But we stuck to our deal. She would trust me to feed her, but I never touched her, or cuddled with her. She had some really serious trust issues that I chose to respect those rather than trap her and terrify her in some well-meaning human’s home. And why is that a bad idea?

She had some really serious trust issues that I chose to respect, rather than trap her and terrify her in some well-meaning human’s home.

We have many coyotes that roam the back neighborhoods and even the downtown area in the early evenings and early mornings, searching for a “quick meal”. The kitties who live with me may go out during the day but never at night because it’s not “if”, it’s “when”. And if you live almost anywhere including the city anymore, you too are at risk for this trauma.

On that moonlit night in the summer of 2014, her bright white beacon coat shining in the night, after years of fighting the elements, escaping from the animals wishing to do her harm, my sweet aloof Zoe chose to give her body for nourishment to the coyote. It’s the predator/prey agreement. I know this in my head and let’s be real. It also totally broke my heart. And it was the cause of the sudden chill on a beautiful summer’s night.

We discovered after losing Zoe, many other neighbor cats also went missing. Since no one heard a sound, we believe it was a lone coyote. But I also think Zoe was tired of her daily fight. Her life was filled with anxiety, feeling only comfortable when sleeping in our back yard in the sun.

She had some really serious trust issues that I chose to respect rather than trap her and terrify her in some well-meaning human’s home. I chose instead to let her live her life the way she chose. zoe_blue_1 I worried about her out in the stormy weather and in the snow. And of course I worried about the predators. It’s a scary world for many animals whether they’re cared for very well, or if we have to make some adjustments for the way we love them. For Zoe I believe I made the choices for her (the few that I could) in a way that made her happy. I know I am blessed to have had her in my life. It gave me yet another angle for working with animal clients and their humans. There are those we love without a home. Yes. But for some, these are better lives. We need only listen to their choices and follow their leads.

I’ve rarely advocated for all an outdoor cat. It’s simply too dangerous, where ever you live. But if an animal comes to you young enough, there is really no problem with having an indoor/outdoor cat. But for some cats that are filled with too much fear – well we just work around that problem as humans.

My Sweet Girls

E&B_a1One spring morning I was living my life as usual. I had opened my store and walked to the bakery in front of our shop for coffee. And there under the bakery were two kitties. A mama and her 6 week old baby. Someone had cruelly dumped them and they were living on their own. The excited group of locals watching these sweet two convinced me within minutes that I should take them to our kite shop and they should live there. I don’t think I’ve ever made a faster decision in my life. Within 15 minutes I was headed back to my shop with coffee and 2 young kitties.

I would find through talking with the mama the trauma she had been through. She had been dumped on the busy highway with at least 3 kittens. She was only 6 months old herself and had a huge task at hand. A man, she told me, left her and her family sitting by the busy road that runs along side our town. She decided to try and move her babies, one at a time, from one safe place to another. Once they were hidden, she hunted in order to produce milk to nurse them. Sadly, while trying to move and keep the babies safe, she was outnumbered by predators and lost two of her precious kittens. So by the time she reached town, some 1/2 mile from where she was dumped, she only had one kitten left. And she wasn’t about to let this one go. E&B_b

Moving into our shop was a tough sell. I spent most of the morning with the tiny kitten inside the store, and the mama in the bushes outside. She growled at us, hissed, and was so overwhelmed with PTSD that she was terrified of humans and what we might be doing with her kitten. I finally picked her up and gently but firmly brought her into my office where her baby was waiting. I had set up a box for them to settle into. And FINALLY mama felt safe and relieved. They slept most of that day. Mama would wake occasionally to eat some food I had put out for her. One didn’t need to be an animal communicator to feel her slowly melt into the love and warmth of my office. I had two new kids.

So by the time she reached town, some 1/2 mile from where she was dumped, she only had one kitten left.

One of our helpful locals assured me that the kitten was a male. Turns out “he” was a “she”. I will say she has interesting markings back there. But by the time I took them to the vet for a health check, I had already named them. The mama I named “Breeze” and her “son” we called “Eddy”. They knew their names, so we didn’t rename Eddy. She loves her name even though it confuses everybody else. Continue reading