When a feral cat becomes transformed to domesticity, we see certain changes. We believe our home is Paladin’s first home. The vet who neutered him believes he is four years old. That’s a long time for a cat to sustain himself with a roaming life.
Signs of a feral cat transforming to domestic status are wanting to be around humans, desiring to be in a home, exploring his home room by room, and engaging with humans and toys. Playing with toys is indicative of home life. Feral hobos don’t pack toys. They wander from porch to porch seeking to be fed, not looking for toys to play with. Feral cats fear opening doors because they fear the doors will close behind them and trap them.
Paladin began his life with us a few months ago. He came to our porch for food. He would come for one, two, or three meals–morning, afternoon, or evening, almost every day, and I worried about him if he didn’t show up at all.
At some inexplicable point, I became attached to Paladin and gave him his name. Paladin seemed to attach himself to my husband and me, and we to him. We wanted him to be in our house, but first he would need to be neutered.
Paladin was neutered March 22, just a bit more than two weeks ago today. Our cat Effie accepted him graciously. Paladin took to his new litter box immediately, with no mistakes. He loves his food. We gave him a box to hide or sleep in, and he used it for both. He now sleeps under our bed. Effie sleeps with us, and I don’t think she’ll give that up.
Following the neutering surgery, the vet told us to keep Paladin indoors for ten days, and two weeks before getting him wet. It was a happy day for Paladin when he could finally go out!
Paladin spends his outdoor time in Effieland, just as Effie does. They are sometimes outside together, and sometimes individually. Effieland is fenced all around and overhead to exclude predators. Eagles, hawks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, errant dogs, and other cats abound on and around our 2.4 acres. Roaming free is no longer an option.
Paladin now roams freely throughout our house. At first I carried him through rooms he had not yet entered on his own. Now he considers every room to be his to visit or nap in. He has mastered his indoor and outdoor territory, including our laps.
And we have begun introducing Paladin to toys. He hasn’t yet taken to chasing toys, but he likes to tackle bobbing things suspended over his head. The toy shown in these photos taken by my husband cost exactly nothing to make: a scrap of fabric attached with fishing line to a yardstick. Paladin’s engagement with his toy tells us he is home.