Do Feral Cats Remember Their Caretakers?
The following appeared both on the Best Friends website, and in the most recent issue of Best Friends Magazine. People who dismiss animals as not having memories, or not being capable of feelings and emotion need to spend some time with a cat like Monkey....
I Remember You
For any parents who have ever slaved over a hard task for the benefit of their kids, only to wonder afterward if their efforts were even noticed, take hope! They notice four-legged kids as well as two-legged. Monkey the feral cat (pictured above) is proof.
Monkey used to be part of a feral cat colony in northern Utah. Ken Kemp, the man who looked after Monkeys colony, did everything he could to make sure the cats had a good life. Then the authorities pulled the rug out from under everybody: The colony was ordered to leave. This happened three years ago. Ken hustled and found homes for as many of the cats as he could, but Monkey and four of his siblings couldnt find homes. Luckily, a spot opened up at the sanctuary, so they came to Best Friends.
Now, Monkey has always been a recluse. He perfected a grumpy scowl that he would send down from the rafters of his cat room. This look said one thing: "Leave me alone!" Caregivers gave Monkey his space.
For a time, Ken visited the cats every six months or so. Then he moved out of the area and couldnt come as often. Not long ago, however, one of Monkeys siblings passed away. When Ken heard the news, he knew he had to come back and visit.
Remember, Monkey was the poster boy for cats who dont want to play with people. Well, seeing his old friend Ken changed something inside. Monkey came over and allowed Ken to pet him. Somehow, the connection with his old pal gave Monkey a confidence hed never shown before.
Gerri Kadlec, one of Monkeys caregivers, walked in on that jaw-dropping scene. "I never thought Id see the day," says Gerri. Neither did anybody else. But they werent going to waste an opportunity! Before Monkey could slip back up to the rafters, his caregivers sneaked through the window that Ken had cracked open.
And guess what? Monkey was OK with it. Yeah, he acted a little reluctant at first, but he didnt run away this time. And the really crazy part is how fast things moved along from there. Within a couple of months, Monkey transformed into a leg-weaving love junkie who meows for attention whenever a person shows up. He even lets visitors pet him!
That should be reassuring to anybody who cares for feral colonies, kindergartners, or any other kids. They notice what you do for them. And their lives are all the better because of it.
Story by David Dickson
Photo by Gary Kalpakoff
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