While we are on the subject of feral cats, let me tell you about Sunshine. Some years back, this feral cat was cruising the countryside with another cat looking for food and shelter.  

They happened into a garage and hunkered down hoping for the best. It was their lucky day. The garage owners had a generous spirit and knew about feral cats.

Food was provided and devoured. Love was offered and rejected because, of course, feral cats suspect every human to be a professional cat skinner in disguise. Yet these two vagabonds stayed the night and the next and the next. They probably slept with one eye open and took shifts standing guard.

 The garage owner named the bold one Braveheart, and the shy, fearful one, Scaredy-cat. It seemed appropriate.

Sure enough, Braveheart was soon out and about, looking for greener pastures and finding them. With hardly a backward glance, she abandoned Scaredy-cat and moved on.

Gradually food, patience, and love moved Scaredy-cat from the garage into the house and a solid relationship with the Daddy human. The Mama human decided she needed a more positive name. Why call her Scaredy-cat if they didn’t want her to be one? Why not rename her Sunshine? That would give her something good to live up to.

Sunshine did not disappoint. When her Daddy human injured his foot, Sunshine slept between his ankle boot and his good leg, appointing herself as his on-duty nurse. I totally understand that. It’s a cat thing. We comfort, we watch over, we console. Sometimes we cuddle so close our humans are afraid to move for fear of squashing us.

Sunshine also picked up a playful cat habit, helping humans change the sheets on their beds. It’s great fun to romp in sheets and take charge of the process so our staff can’t tuck in the corners without our permission. We can always be brought to “heel,” so to speak, by the nerve-racking rattle of a paper bag.  Just saying.

A tense moment in Sunshine’s new life came the day her feral mother showed up.  It was a stare down, and Sunshine would not allow her look-alike parent close to the house. Her decision not to return to the feral lifestyle had been made, and the inquiring mother after several visits finally disappeared down the road, never to be seen again.

Sunshine seemed very happy until the remodeling of the garage began. Then she disappeared.  Her humans feared the worst. When they saw paw prints in the snow outside the back door, they mourned their loss and played the “if only” game.  If only they had guarded the back door more closely. If only this. If only that.

But their sadness turned to gladness when Sunshine casually strolled into the room, yawning and arching her back. “You were looking for me? I can’t imagine why,” she murmured with wide-eyed wonder.  “I was here all the time.”

 She was, of course, in her super-secret hiding place, the one that humans can never find. It’s a nasty trick we play on our staff, and it’s so deliciously wonderful to see them down on their hands and knees looking under, behind, and in everything. I love the masterful feeling it gives me.

The moral to Sunshine’s story is — a feral cat is a feral cat until it isn’t Sunshine proves my point. Braveheart has no idea of the good life she gave up when she walked out of that garage.

If you want to see a picture of Sunshine, check out my Cally Tales Facebook page. 

Cally Tales in its entirety is available at Reigning Cats and Dogs on Davis Street in Culpeper.

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