Back to Stories

Former "Feral" Fender
July 30 - October 15, 2003 — missing 75 days.
Sweet Fender was probably not a true feral before he began his cushy indoor-only life with Holly and her husband, but he did spend the first year of his life "making a living" in the woods outside their apartment. After Fender escapes through an open door, Holly is able to lure him indoors several times for a bite to eat, but he always manages to slip away before she can close the window. How does Holly manage to finally recover this kitty that already knows how to make a living outdoors?

Handsome Fender on his first day back home. . .clearly a happy kitty and "making bread" on the bed

Lost kitties who have experience living outdoors are some of the more difficult cases. On the one hand, they are more comfortable outside so they show their bodies and owners get good sightings. Also, the kitties know how to "make a living" so you don't have to worry about the kitties withering away like silly Sage. But the tool that we use a lot to recover indoor-only cats — humane traps — are not as effective with a cat that has experience outside because they already know how to get food elsewhere, and are less inclined to enter a strange contraption like a trap.

Well, the method that I thought would bring Fender home, House Trapping, was NOT the method that eventually KEPT him home, because while he did come home to eat, he kept slipping back outside. It was Holly's relentless hope and trapping that eventually brought Fender home for good.


Fender is home 1:30 last night after 75 days! There are so many details, but the short story for now is that to the nightly buffet and open studio window (complete with baby monitor), we added a trap. Yvonne, you said "...try everything, something will click!" And Jennifer, yesterday I reread some of your replies to Lori about trapping...last night I moved the trap back to the edge of the woods and added CD crunchies to the canned food (Fender eats both, but favors dry). Pauline, your ideas have been in every effort...I had actually observed a "cat highway" into the woods, so I went there and imagined the way out from a cat's perspective. I placed the trap like a tunnel on the way to the buffet...and that's the way he went!

It was so amazing to find him there. I checked the trap every 1-2 hours.. .nothing... nothing... then there he was! We brought the trap in through the studio window, then what a relief to close that window. When we lifted the trap door, he bolted to the window, got behind the curtain and cried and cried. We sat on the floor (door closed) and spoke softly to him. I put the food dishes near the window and after about ten minutes, he stepped out and ate first the canned food, then the crunchies. He drank a little water, then looked around the room. I mean, he just stood and looked.

Pauline, here comes your favorite part...he walked over and bonked his head on my knee. Then there was face rubbing and petting...he went back and forth between mom and dad for 45 minutes! I slept in the studio with him attached the rest of the night. He falls asleep quickly, but wakes frequently at any sound. He has about ten times normal twitches in his sleep. He is very anxious to come out of the studio (he does not want to be left alone), but I want the veterinarian to look him over first. Also, I think it will be like a new cat introduction...he needs to smell more like us and less earthy. Pete got one whiff of me when I came out, hissed and ran away! Fender is quite a bit smaller, but not thin. His feet and legs seem more muscular and his pads are thicker. He had remarkably few ticks and fleas.

Well, this is really putting the happy ending before the rest of the story. I do not know why it was so difficult to write about our efforts to bring Fender home...I guess that was all the energy I had left. But this forum has been an important part of my life everyday. By reading everything, I've gotten insight, information, and encouragement.

Thanks for all your kind and helpful words.



Read Fender's full story here.

Back to Stories

� 2000-2004 All rights reserved.