Written by one of Bear’s humans, this story illustrates well what we tell people about adopting a formerly feral kitten — please be patient and give the cat time to adjust!
We adopted Cassius (then known as Bear) in August 1998. He was a skinny little 4-month-old black kitten, part of a Chinatown feral colony, who’d been caught at about 8 weeks. We had considered several names for the next cat we would adopt, including Cassius, in homage to the boxer Muhammad Ali (nee Cassius Clay). But there were several other good names on our list, and it was only after we brought the rake-thin feline home that we settled once and for all on Cassius — no longer in homage to the great Ali, but as a tribute to the “lean and hungry” Caius Cassius of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”.
The Invisible Cat
Cassius was, however, intimidated by his new surroundings. Not long after we let him out of his carrying cage, he zipped under the couch. Nothing would lure him out, though he purred at an incredibly loud volume anytime we reached a hand out to pat him. The first night we had him, he meowed loud enough from the hallway to wake me from a sound sleep. After lights out the next night, he nibbled my toes. But except for those two “encounters”, and his regularly cleaned out food bowl, there was very little indication of a new cat in the house. We were beginning to wonder if he would ever settle in. Would he always remain somewhat feral?
There was progress by Day Three. If we dangled some string at floor level in front of the couch, Cassius would thrust his paws out and try to grab it. The next day, he did come right out to play, and even let us pick him up to cuddle him — albeit only for a second or two. Day Five, Friday, found Cassius brave enough to venture right into the living room. By week two, we saw him more in the open than in hiding, and ten days after we brought him home, he was running after a sponge ball we would throw for him — and bringing it right back like a dog. The couch was officially too boring, and we had ourselves a full-time pet.
Most Playful Pet Ever
That was almost five years ago. Cassius still fetches, though he has lately taken to a feathered wand that he carries all over the house. He is the most playful pet either of us has ever had. In fact, if you don’t play with him, he’ll swing from the curtains or bat at the blinds until you drop whatever it is you’re doing and pick up the wand, or the ball, or the stuffed Tony the Tiger. Sometimes, Cassius dives on us in the wee hours of the morning, hoping to get a nocturnal game going. At one time or another, I’ve had cat toys dropped on my lap, chest, and face. And while I’m sure Cass sleeps when we’re at work, he’s the first one up in the morning and the last one to rack out at night. Many a morning has dawned with a feline fanfare. That’s right. Besides fetching like a dog, he crows like a rooster.
That’s Cassius. The formerly fearful feral feline who, as my wife puts it, “would rather play than eat.” Neither of us would have imagined any of this when we first adopted him through the Annex Cat Rescue. Cassius was the perfect pet from the moment he came out from under the couch.
— Mark R