Happy Tail: Trixie (formerly Logan)

If I had known when I adopted her just how long it would take to socialize Trixie, I don’t know if I would have done it. I have lived with many cats over the years, and I understood that you can’t bring any expectations to a relationship with a cat. Like us, cats are individuals and demand our respect.

Logan with one of her kittens

But Trixie, despite her young age, was a born and bred street cat who had endured two of Toronto’s worst winters outside on Logan Avenue. And as it turned out, the tactics I typically employ when befriending a new cat held only so much sway with her. Sometimes, I think, it is better to be a little naïve about things.

Feral cats don’t communicate with each other verbally, which means they don’t communicate with humans verbally, either. In fact, feral cats might not ever vocalize. On an intellectual level, I knew this, but there is a shocking difference between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. In the early days, Trixie would slink unnoticed into the living room in the evenings when I was watching Netflix, her pure black body just another shadow in the dim room. Then, I would suddenly notice her staring at me, her enormous golden eyes seemingly disembodied, saying nothing. Honestly, it was terrifying.

One morning, while I was making breakfast, I heard a strange little squeak: “Meeeee.”

I turned around and spied Trixie sitting at the kitchen threshold.

“Good morning,” I said to her.

“Meeeee,” she replied.

HT-Trixie3

Since then, she has developed a complex array of meows and other noises with which she has become adept at controlling me, just like any other cat. It’s impressive when you think about it, building an entire language from scratch.

Recently, I sent a photo to Marina, who rescued Trixie and her two kittens from the street, and Alison, who fostered her. I am sitting cross-legged on the couch and Trixie’s front legs are hooked over mine as she lays in front of me. Taking on a feral cat is a long process – this is where we are after nearly two years together – but it is a process that is particularly rewarding.

Trixie staring at her new mom

Marina wrote back, “I can’t believe I am seeing her like that!”

“Wow, Les! Beautiful kitty has really laid claim to you!” said Alison.

Trixie may never be cuddly but that's fine with her human

I couldn’t believe it, either. At a certain point, about a year in, I accepted that Trixie and I might live forever like roommates who had met on Craigslist: civil, but not friends. She then sat beside me for the first time, as if to remind me that if I don’t give up on her, she won’t give up on me.

–Leslie Sinclair

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