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Bandit and Will 'o' the Whisp - a lesson in patience

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thought I'd share with you all the story of the 2 Feral cats I have had the pleasure of being involved in the socialising of directly and indirectly

Bandit - Mid 1980's

"What's that ball of fluff doing on the lawn" my mum exclaimed looking out the window one day, then the ball of fluff moved this was not a ball of fluff it was a kitten. Straight away we rushed outside to try and grab it thinking it was someone's pet who had gotten lost or perhaps been dumped, at the first sight of us the kitten promptly bolted. The next day the kitten was back again, feeding off scraps on the lawn that my parents threw out for birds to eat. With commando like precision my mum somehow managed to sneak up on the kitten and attempted to pick it up. At this point the adorable ball of fluff proceeded to quite badly lacerate both my mums arms while urinating all over her. After that we sort of got the hint that this was no lost little house kitten.

The kitten (we eventually discovered he was a tom) continued visiting our yard and we started leaving out bowls of food and water. At first we could only watch from the kitchen window as he snuck in gratefully ate what we had provided and left again, that's of course if we even saw him at all. We ended up calling him bandit and bandit became a fixture on our lawn everyday, so much that eventually he stopped just sneaking in for food and running away but would often lie around on our lawn for hours on end. Now this didn't mean, at this stage at least, that we could actually be outside with him. At the first sign of human activity outside bandit would flee. Gradually though we were able to stand outside, still a good 20 metres or so away, and watch him as he ate or slept. Very gradually over a period of a few months he allowed us to approach ever closer. We, mum dad and me, would take turns would sitting outside reading a book or knitting pretending not to pay too much attention to bandit and ever so slowly over the weeks would move closer and closer to him. Eventually we managed to be able to more or less sit next to bandit as he ate, although any sudden movement would still cause him to up and away.

More time passed and by now bandit came at the call of his name, running happily into the yard but still not allowing us to get too close. More weeks passed and then our first glimmer of success, bandit cautiously reached out to my mum's outstretched hand and sniffed it warily. Not wanting to frighten him away; however, we did not attempt a pat at this stage. Our patience was eventually rewarded when bandit allowed my mum to briefly stroke his head. As time passed what had started out as a snarling hissing arm lacerating cat became more and more affectionate. We were able to pat him, scratch under his chin, rub his belly and give him a brush, which he came to love and would roll around purring contendly inviting more pats. If we were outside in our dressing gowns he would run and try and jump on the ends of them, hitching a ride and loved it if we sat down with clothing or dressing gown fanned out around us so he could cuddle up and purr away contentedly while we fussed over him and brushed him. Mind you we weren't exactly able to just walk up to him and start stroking, invariable this would result in a display of hissing and snarling, we had to sit or stand outside and wait for bandit to make the first move, once he had it was all ok and we could stroke and love him to our hearts content. He started trying to brave the prospect of entering our house and although on occasion he would allow us to feed him in the laundry, with the door open at all times for a quit exit, a few times in the kitchen and once made it as far as to take a step into the lounge he never became a house cat. When he was inside we had to move very slowly, almost holding our breath because unlike outdoors he would not allow us to approach him inside and ran at any sudden noise or movement.

We came to love bandit as if he were no different to a normal pet cat, obviously he was, but to us he was our bandit. Then one day he just disappeared, distraught we spent hours day after day calling for him, leaving bowls of food out hoping he would come for a feed but there was no sign of him, not in our yard or around the neighbourhood. As the days turned into weeks we eventually resigned ourself to the fact that this beautiful feral cat had for a brief time allowed us into his world but now had moved on. 18 months later we were to receive almost the surprise of a lifetime when standing outside with my mum one day a very familiar looking cat sauntered up the driveway. We looked at the cat and then at one another, "it's not is it, it can't be" but it was, bandit had come home. "Bandit where have you been" my mum exclaimed in utter surprise while Bandit proceeded to open his mouth and yowl as if to say well I'm home now where's my food. Despite an absence of over a year the bond we had developed with him was still there and it was as if he had never left, actually he allowed us to make a real fuss over him with extra lashings of affection, belly rubs and brushing. Our reunion was to be shortlived. 6 months later bandit disappeared again, we held out hope that he would return like last time but it was not to be. Eventually we found out, although we had no proof so could not do anything about it, that he was more than likely baited by a very meanspirited man in the neighbourhood. Although the story of a bandit has a sad ending, we are still so grateful that for a time we had the joy of this beautiful cat allowing us the pleasure of his company Now whenever I hear anyone express the sentiment that it is impossible to socialise or tame a feral cat the first words out of my mouth are..."wanna make a bet"

Anyway I will continue with the story of Will 'o' the Wisp (willow) next post, I'm due to take one of my current furr babies to the vet...stay tuned and keep up the good work looking after all the "untamables" out there
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry, I don't know what happened but I was logged out just as I pressed the post button and somehow after logging back in this was posted here and not in Feral Cat Rescue like I had meant it to be could someone move the thread to the approriate forum..thank you
post #3 of 5
Wonderful story about Bandit! I'm anxiously waiting for Will 'o' the Whisp's story!
post #4 of 5
so am i i even pictured him on your lawn xx
post #5 of 5
beautiful post
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