It started as a typical Friday morning. I went outside to serve breakfast, a can of wet food to the three cats that spend most of their time in my yard: Midnight, Charcoal, and Pork Chop.
And then, as I was approaching the food shelter, a new cat darted out of the old wooden cat house.
At first, I thought it might have been Morris, the ginger cat that lives down the street.
But alas, it was a cat I had not seen before.
The skinny cat had a crabby meow and didn’t approach me. Instead, it ran further away and hid under the deck.
I checked the trail camera, which showed the cat had come for a drink of water (we have a heated water bowl for winter) the day before.
I looked in all the extra cat shelters (the regular three stay in the shed) to make sure there were no kittens.
The weather was cold, perhaps a little too cold for a cat that didn’t appear to have been living outdoors long enough to have the thick winter coat that outdoor cats have for winter.
Friendly Stray or Feral Cat
After a day or so, the cat approached me when I was out in the yard to see the regulars.
I reviewed the Ally Cat Allies checklist for determining if a cat is feral or stray.
The cat checked all the boxes for being stray after a few days. It seems he was scared at first.
He meowed a lot, would come up to me, allowed petting, and purred.
I was able to determine that the cat was most likely a not neutered male cat.
Someone on Instagram suggested naming him Chester. So, I started calling him Chester, which seemed better than “new cat.”
I checked the Humane Society’s website, and no one had filed a lost cat report for him.
There was another cat that looked similar from about a mile away. The owner came and looked at him and said it wasn’t her cat.
Too friendly to be an outdoor cat
At first, it seemed like the other cats were very nice and welcoming Chester. But then it seemed like something must have happened as Charcoal began to avoid him.
I think eventually, the other cats would have accepted Chester into their colony.
But if a cat is friendly, I feel they should have an indoor home.
I contacted our local no-kill Humane Society, and they had room for him.
With the weather getting colder and snowier, I moved Chester into the playpen in the garage. And having him contained would make it much easier to be on time for the drop off appointment.
The garage is not heated but seems to stay about 15-20 degrees warmer than outside during the winter. I lined a cat carrier with Reflectix (affiliate link) to help him stay warmer.
And fortunately, even though it was around 31 degrees in the garage at night, his water didn’t freeze. If it had, I would have used my way of delaying water from freezing before we got a heated electric bowl for the outdoor cats.
And, I wanted to see how he would do contained as the Humane Society would assess him. They need to make sure he would be okay in one of their cages and friendly enough to be adopted out.
I was able to pick up Chester without any problems and place him in the playpen. He was scared at first.
But by the next morning, he was doing quite well! When I visited him and took him wet food, he came right up to the playpen door. I was able to stick my hand in and pet him.
I am happy share that the Humane Society took him in, and in less than a week, adoption is pending for him!
What didn’t I do this or that
So, you may be wondering why I didn’t try harder to find an owner for him. Here’s the list:
- Chester was scraggly and thin. I think he gained a pound or more after finding the unlimited food in the feeding station.
- He had been coming for food for a few days. So I didn’t think he was out just for a snack somewhere else I the neighborhood.
- He wasn’t fixed, so it was doubtful that he would have a microchip.
- No one seemed to be looking for him. There wasn’t a “lost cat” report for him with the Humane Society. And no “lost cat” posters in my neighborhood.
- But the biggest reason was, I didn’t have the energy for tracking down an owner. I was still grieving the loss of Lina. Helping him get into the Humane Society was the best I could do. They are better equipped for finding owners or deciding if placing the cat up for adoption is best.
Why didn’t I put him in my bathroom or an extra room?
It was cold outside, but not extremely cold, and he seemed to be doing okay in the cat house in the yard.
After we took in Rocko and had Rocko not work out long term, we decided to break from cat rescuing. Ted (my husband) wants to keep every cat that stays in the garage.
We only have 1 bathroom, and in and outs can become difficult with a friendly cat, and some of the indoor cats would be upset by having a guest cat.
In the end, I did the best that I could for Chester. He was rescued from the yard eventually and will soon have an indoor home.