When you try to care for with animals that have been abandoned or had little human contact, relentless patience coupled with lots of love is the only strategy. Pat, a friend of SNAP and long-time animal protector in Atlanta, knows this very well. When she took in a tiny, 5-week-old gray Manx kitten that SNAP had trapped behind a Sonic Drive-In on the Atlanta outskirts, she knew she’d have to take her time gaining the kitten’s trust.
In fact, the kitten was truly feral; there was no expectation that she would ever become a “friendly” cat, much less a house cat. When SNAP transferred the kitten to Pat’s care, the thought was that she be an outside cat, but cared for by Pat.
Pat renamed the tiny kitten Angel, and to help Angel get used to her new surroundings, installed her in a new, spacious home: a huge elevated cage, with a bed, blankets, food and water, that faces a fishpond and is surrounded by trees. The cage had doubled as a rabbit hutch (from an earlier rescue adventure) and is so large that Pat could climb into it. Tiny Angel’s coat was a silvery gray, and her eyes glowed a bright green-amber
Despite Pat’s best efforts, Angel remained terrified of her during those early days. That first day, Pat carefully place Angel’s carrier inside the large hutch, opened the door, and let the tiny kitten explore on her own. “I would go out and check on her every hour or so but she was still terrified,” Pat said. Although Angel allowed Pat to change her litter box and bring her food and water, she still shrank from direct contact and was clearly afraid.
“As time went on,” Pat said, “I decided that if she was not going to come to me, I would go to her. I would get up in the cage with her and just sit and talk gently to her. This went on several weeks and one day she decided to sniff my hand. Then, she began to let me pet her. My husband would say when he could not find me he knew where to look. I would be in the cage with Angel. It was Spring when we got Angel,” Pat remembered, “and my husband and I used to sit outside and just talk to her.”
Eventually, the time came when, encouraged by a SNAP volunteer, Pat knew it was time. She would set Angel free and let her choose whether to stay with the humans who had grown so attached to her, or live in feral isolation. “About 5 pm one quiet day when my husband and I were at the pond, I knew it was the right time. I opened her cage door and quietly sat down to watch. After about 5 minutes, she came up to the door, looked out and then jumped down and ran into the woods.” Broken-hearted, Pat imagined that she had lost Angel forever.
“I called to her with tears in my eyes, and begged her to come back,” Pat said. An hour later, Angel reappeared. “We were so happy that I cried,” Pat said.
After that, Angel explored during the day but returned every night to sleep in her cage. “Then,” Pat continued, “she found her way into the trap door that comes into our sunroom. I have other cats, but no one tried to harm her.” So very slowly, the feral cat that became a friendly outdoor cat began to transform into an indoor cat.
Today, four years later, Angel is a full-fledged member of Pat’s household, and comes and goes as she pleases. “Now she is one of us in the house and makes herself at home. Our sunroom is a place all the cats love. During the day they come and go, but at night they sleep in the sunroom or the house.” And not only does Angel get along well with the other household cats, but enjoys spending time with the domesticated bunnies whose home she borrowed in the early days at Pat’s house
Volunteers and fosters, like Pat, are the backbone of what makes SNAP special, and allows the organization to continue to grow and flourish. SNAP salutes our volunteers, and thanks Pat for her big heart, endless patience, and helping Angel truly find her way home.