Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tribute to Trickster

The first time I saw the scrawny yellow kitten, a "teenager" really, walking near the edge of the woods, I thought of this painting, very popular in the 1970s.

Even though my husband had issued an edict that we wouldn't be feeding any more strays, I could resist taking him a little something. After all, our three spoiled-rotten cats demanded fresh dry food three times a day, so the leftovers that were just a few hours old would go in the trash. At least he'd have a little something in his stomach to help him through the cool autumn night.

A couple of days later, my husband admitted it.

"I took some food out to that kitten," he said sheepishly.

"So did I."

Of course, we adopted him.

It took a long time to gain his trust. The first time I fed him, I just poured the food on the grass (so as not to leave any evidence behind that others might see). Once the secret was out, we take it out in an old aluminum pie pan. He'd see us coming and run a few feet away, and he'd wait until we were back in the house before coming over. Soon, we didn't even have to get around the corner. Another few days and he stopped running, as long as we didn't try to touch him. Eventually, we could pet him, just a little, while he ate.

Finally, he realized that he liked petting. He'd purr and flop on his side and wriggle around.

Then, he attacked. He'd grab and hand or an ankle, all teeth and claws. That's how he earned his name: Trickster. He couldn't be trusted.

I wanted to give up on him, many times, but my husband felt particular sympathy for him. They both have really bad allergy issues.

Today, Trickster is fairly well adjusted, though he's still somewhat of a punk. He still has allergies, and his gums are bad, possibly because of living in the wild as a youngster. He usually doesn't scratch and claw when we're holding him, and he does like to be held. He was the first one to welcome Kali and play with her when we brought her home, and he chases little Petra around the house, too.

He's just one of our "feral cat" success stories. We have no idea if he'd ever had human contact before or how he was treated. Living with him hasn't always been easy, but it definitely has its rewards.