I have always heard that a Tom (unneutered male cat) living the life of a stray can be dangerous to a litter of kittens. I even read once that a straying Tom will seek out male kittens and kill them. I don’t actually know if any of that is true. What I do know is true in some cases with stray Toms is that they will fight each other. Unneutered male cats will fight with each other over food, territory, and unspayed females.
I only just blogged about Victor last Thursday. At that time, he had only been here a couple of weeks. I had him neutered almost immediately after taking him in so that he could go to the cathouse. I started him in a cage (in the cathouse) so that he and the inhabitants could get used to each other before he roamed freely amongst the current gang. He hated that cage. He cried and cried and cried. I have heard dogs become hoarse from barking. But Victor is the first experience I’ve had with a cat crying enough to become hoarse. When I was in the cathouse working, I would let Victor out to see how he interacted. There was never a problem. I did not ever hear him hiss. He did not show signs of aggression. After only a couple of days, I decided that Victor couldn’t stay in that cage any longer. Besides, it didn’t seem to be necessary.
After Victor had been living at large in the cathouse for a couple of days, I started noticing something when I was there working. The cats all made a detour around him as they went about their activities. Time and again, I would watch as Victor strolled through and cats quickly changed course to avoid him. Odd, I thought. Surely this had to do with him being new. I watched a couple of times as Maverick or Shiloh would encounter the nonchalant Victor and immediately crouch down. Still not even a sign of aggression from Victor.
Then early last week, I was in one room of the cathouse and I heard what sounded like a chase. I quickly peeked into the other room and saw that Victor had chased Shiloh up onto a cat tree. Shiloh is already a timid little guy. I went to give him comfort but he shot away from me. Victor looked innocent like nothing had happened. On Thursday, I was in the cathouse again when I noticed that Hershey Bear and Maverick were out on the kitty deck and didn’t come in to greet me. I called to them through the kitty door, but neither one came in. The next day, I was cleaning in the cathouse and Victor wouldn’t let Hershey Bear come IN - he was keeping Hershey out on the kitty deck. Well, it’s way too cold for that.
I put Victor in the cage, and FINALLY coaxed Hershey back inside. I cleaned and interacted with the kitties. Everyone seemed OK, but the three boys - Maverick, Hershey, and Shiloh were VERY skiddish. This wasn't normal, and I started thinking that Victor must be intimidating them. I let him out of the cage, and I settled down on the couch to observe. Victor scurried out of the cage and then just sauntered through. He sat for a while in the middle of the floor and gave himself a bath. Nothing seemed amiss. I would have to be diligent. It was too strange that the three young boys seemed so jittery. I would start paying close attention each day as I went about the cleaning routine.
Then, as I was leaving, I heard a terrible commotion in the room I’d just left. I practically tore an arm off getting back through the doorway. Victor had Shiloh pinned to the floor and Shiloh was screaming. As I was rushing at them, I was stomping my feet and yelling No! at Victor. He did not let up. I slid to my knees and was almost on top of them when Victor released Shiloh and Shiloh ran for the cat tree. I tried to offer Shiloh comfort, but he tore away from me and hid under the couch. I put Victor in the cage and sat on the floor to think.
I didn’t have a place to put Victor. He hated that cage more than any cat I’d ever witnessed in one. I realized that it was Hershey, Maverick and Shiloh who had been the most noticeably intimidated. But ALL of the cats in the cathouse had been steering clear of Victor. Now Shiloh had regressed in terms of interaction with me, Victor was crying nonstop in the cage, and I was without options. I knew I could do a Special Request post about a home for Victor on my blog, but actually getting a home for him without other cats or at least without other males would take a long time. I didn’t have a long time. I couldn’t keep Victor in that cage indefinitely, because as I said - I’d never seen ANY cat so unhappy in a cage. He is NOT a bad cat. This was NOT his fault. But I couldn’t put other cats in danger to keep Victor from having to live in that cage.
As you know, Older Daughter is the Vet Tech for the no-kill animal shelter in a town about half an hour from my home. I DO NOT send cats to the shelter. When I rescue a cat, I consider that cat mine to home. For one thing, I know the kind of love and care that cat will get here. I feel it is my responsibility to care for that cat like it was my own until I send him or her off to a forever home. The other thing is that the shelter is ALWAYS full. I don’t want to take advantage of the fact that my daughter works there. Also - there are LOADS of cats and kittens that don’t cross MY path, but need a place to go. I feel that the shelter is their chance. I don’t want to take even ONE spot that could be open for a homeless cat that needs a spot at that shelter. But after discussing my current predicament with Older Daughter, we came up with a plan. The next time the shelter is faced with a stray cat being brought in and no spot to put him or her, I will take that one.
Victor would be in an enclosure at the shelter (not a cage). He would be in with other cats, but the staff (including Older Daughter) would watch to see that he is with cats he gets along with. My setup doesn’t allow for isolation of any one cat unless I put that cat in a cage. And no cat has ever disliked a cage like Victor does.
Older Daughter has assured me that Victor will get a wonderful home. He is fantastic with humans. She will keep an eye out to see that Victor ends up with the life EVERY cat deserves. He went day before yesterday and moved into a large enclosure with all adult females. Older Daughter reports that he is having no problems at all and is lounging in the enclosure like he's been there forever. May the perfect home come along for Victor!