11-24-15 Tuesday

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Pardon any typos or grammatical errors in today’s post; I’m a little loopy on pain meds because I am a dummy who got too ambitious and hurt my arm yesterday. I’d like to be able to blame someone else for this, but it was my own fault. I’m sure a day of rest, snoozing, and putting my sling back on (so I’ll remember not to use my right arm in a twisty or pulling motion)(note to myself: STOP DOING THAT, DUMMY) will do me a world of good.


Claudia asked:

I was wondering if you could share some of Fred’s magic tricks to tame a feral cat. I’ve been trying with canned food for almost a year now, and Negrito keeps fleeing whenever we get too close. The only time I am able to stroke his cheeks is when I’m holding the can for him to eat. Otherwise, he’s “see you later alligator!”. :/

I asked Fred if he had any advice, and he said: if Negrito will let you touch him when he’s eating, then stay with him the entire time he’s eating, and feed him less at each feeding, but more often. Add treats – make it so that every time he sees you, he thinks you’re going to feed him. And don’t let him have the treat or food unless he’ll let you touch him.

I hope that helps (and of course, anyone who has other suggestions, chime in)!


Since any discussion of Fred and feral-taming should include pictures, here’s a list of them. This only includes the cats who ran off at first and then ultimately became friendly. The ones who were instantly friendly (Newman, Cletus, Dorothy, among others) aren’t included in this list.

Roscoe, who showed up in 2010. I’m including him in this list, BUT Fred isn’t the one who tamed him, I am! He showed up one day and wouldn’t let Fred anywhere near him. We were both outside one day, and we spotted Roscoe in the garden, and Fred was complaining about how Roscoe wouldn’t come to him. I walked over, stopped about 10 feet from Roscoe, and called to him. He immediately came over and flopped at my feet. (Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually TAME him, but he’s pretty much the only cat who let me touch him first, so I’m claiming I tamed him.) Roscoe tested positive for Feline Leukemia and was starting to get sick, so we opted to euthanize. We had him cremated, and his ashes were sprinkled over by the garden.

Coltrane showed up around the same time as Roscoe. Fred tamed him, he became an inside cat, splitting his time between our house and a home down the road. He was with us for about a year, altogether, before he was struck and killed by a car near his other home. Fred buried him near the garden shed, where Coltrane liked to hang out.

Alice the Mo. Showed up in December 2010. We had to use the trap to catch her, and she took quite a bit of taming. She was so small that we thought she was only about 8 weeks old. As it turned out, she was more like six months old. The vet said she wouldn’t grow to be more than 6 pounds or so. HA. She currently weighs about 9 1/2 pounds.

Rufus showed up in March 2011. He started coming around one day, but the instant we opened the door, he’d race off. We were going to take our time working with him, but I looked out one day to see him eating bird seed under the bird feeders, and I decided that he was starving and was probably a pregnant female (he was very floofy), so Fred trapped him. He was terrified at first, but it only took three or four days to get him sitting in my lap. He became a Challenger’s House cat, and we fostered him until room was available at Petsmart. He was adopted pretty quickly, as I recall.

Rupert showed up in April 2012. We were working towards bringing him inside the house, but before we got that far, he was struck and killed by a car in front of the house. Fred buried him in a flat spot behind the back yard where he (Rupert) liked to hang out.

Stefan showed up in early 2013. Like most of the others, he ran off the instant he saw or heard either of us, but Fred worked hard to tame him, and eventually he came around. He was a MESS when he first showed up, missing a lot of fur (due to a fight with another animal, the vet suspected) and with a rash where the fur was missing. Eventually he healed and became a permanent resident and spends more time inside than out.

Potsie showed up in October or November 2013. He was in really good shape and I suspected he belonged to someone around here, but no one seemed to know who he was. We eventually befriended him and had him neutered and vaccinated. He showed up a few more times, but we haven’t seen him since. I’m hoping that his people appreciated the free neuter (that we paid for) and decided he was better off inside!

Chachi showed up in November 2013ish. It took months, but he finally dropped his feral ways and let us pet him by April or May of 2014. We took him off to be neutered and vaccinated, and when we got him home, we put a collar on him along with a note (“Is this your cat? We want to make sure he has a home.”) We never saw him again, so hopefully his people decided he’d be better off as an inside cat.

Archie, of course. He showed up in November 2014. He was another one who would run as soon as he saw us, but with time and dedication (in the picture above that’s Fred in shorts, sitting on the driveway on November 18, 2014, when it was probably about 40 degrees out; that was the first time he was able to pet Archie), he was tamed. He now spends more time inside than out. If he’d stop hating Stefan so much and trying to pick fights, he’d be perfect.

Spike, who showed up last fall. He came around for a while, then disappeared before we could befriend him (which actually makes it so that he doesn’t belong on this list. But I’ll leave him here because why not?)

This brings us to the latest cat to show up here. I don’t have a picture of him yet, and he bolts the instant he hears the door open. He’s bolting less quickly now, so I’m sure that eventually Fred will have a chance to tame him. He’s a black long-haired kitty who looks very much like a cat we had in the distant past, so we named him Fancypants, after that cat. I’ll keep y’all updated as the hoped-for taming progresses, of course.

(I really ought to put a page up of all the cats who’ve shown up here so I have that info in one place!)


Do you recognize this silly, sweet girl?

That’s Artemis, who was named Lilybet when she was our foster way back in February 2013. I was told she was pregnant, even though she never appeared so. After a couple of weeks of waiting, I took her to the vet, and it was confirmed that she was a FAKER. Can you imagine how gorgeous and goofy her babies would have been?

Chloe reports that Artemis is doing well and that she’s loads of fun, and a veritable cuddle-monster at times.

Thank you for the update, Chloe, and give that girl cuddles for us!


“I don’t always lay on this scratcher, but when I do, I bite pieces off of it first and ptui them all over the kitchen floor.”

Thanks, Newt. I appreciate it SO much, y’brat.


2014: “The better to slap you with, lady.”
2013: No entry.
2012: No entry.
2011: “Happy. Freakin’. Thanksgiving.”
2010: Have you ever seen a happier cat?
2009: “No! You go away! This are MY lap for snuggling in!”
2008: “Friends, Romans, countrycats, lend me your ears…”
2007: Awesome.
2006: No entry.



11-24-15 Tuesday — 33 Comments

  1. Oh my lawd . …i just laughed at that caption under newt’s photo so hard, I wheezed. Particularly at the word ‘ptui’. Thanks for the giggles,Robyn, I needed them 🙂

  2. Lilybet (Artemis)!! What a pretty girl. Looks a lot like my Laney!!! I love love love updates!

    Spike sure was a pretty boy. I think it would be hard when they just disappear and you have to chose to believe they are now indoor only kitties. I would worry so much. You two do such tremendously good work. You both make such a difference. Thank you!!!

  3. Oh my gosh with the cardboard chewing! My Leo does that, he chewed a large scratcher until it might now only fit half a cat.. but we can’t get rid of the whole thing, because then where would he get his daily allowance of cardboard??

  4. I had forgotten Alice Mo was a stray first! That explains her “reticent” behavior, ha! I feed strays, and since I’m in town, there’s always an assortment. Usually the “tame” ones (probably neighbor’s cats) come right up, want petting, purr, etc. There’s a little black female that’s been here five years; she’s never been pregnant (maybe spayed in the past). But she “chatters” at me, or “chirps”…yet will NOT get close at all.

    Thanks for all ya’ll do for the lost and wandering kitties, and the ones now living the good life at Crooked Acres.

  5. wow – we didn’t realize that list was so extensive. Go Fred!! (and Robyn)

    Newt must be distantly related to Daiquiri – that is one of her favorite past times as well

  6. I love the way you spell ptui (I use pahtooey but yours seems so much more fancy, like it’s a real word instead of a phonetic spelling of a sound)!!

    I greatly enjoyed reminiscing about the befriended stranger kitties, some of whom were smart enough to stick around at Crooked Acres. Such a fantastic variety of characters!

    I really really would love to know what Archie’s beef with Stefan is. It cracks me up. I’m assuming he’s fine with every other permie so why does Stefan rub him the wrong way when all Stefan wants to do is nap (and nibble on kittens)? I bet it’s something dramatic like in a Spanish soap opera, where they knew each other in their previous lives on the mean streets but no one else knows their secret past…

    What a nice surprise to see Artemis (aka Loony Little Lilybet)! She’s a very pretty girl!

    • I think that Stefan got the girl that Archie wanted in their past lives. Long standing grudge. I wonder if they were guy pals and he really feels betrayed by it!?

    • Well, it IS the proper French spelling. 😀

      Most of the time when Archie starts up with Stefan, it’s because Stefan is in a bed or particular spot where Archie wants to be. I think Archie’s trying to figure out the hierarchy, and Stefan… just wants to sleep. 🙂

      (But I have to admit that I prefer the dramatic Spanish soap opera idea!)

      • It is unfortunate that one can’t reason with a cat and explain that Stefan has seniority!

    • do not discount talking to him. Tell him what you are doing and what you wish he would do. Complement him for being cautious, because it is very good that he is being careful.. but tell him that you are a friend so he doesn’t need to run, etc.

  7. Lilybet/Artemis the faker. LOL Love those torties and she sounds like my tortie Maggie always ready for a cuddle.

    I think I got to at least see most of those strays who came and went. I remember getting to hold Rupert once and so glad I did. I hope you can tame the new guy quickly so he gives up being out in the cold!

    Take care of that shoulder, dummy. 🙂

  8. I’m live in the Atlanta suburbs. I enjoy your page and Facebook posts and look for them everyday. I adopted 2 kittens last May and now I wonder why I waited so long because I’m completely in love with them! They are inside kitties. I’ve never commented or asked a question before but now I need some help. Anyway, since it’s gotten cold at night, I’ve notice 2 cats hanging around in our back deck. The deck has a 3 sides and a ceiling so it’s out of the wind/rain etc. One is a grey tabby with some orange on her and I suspect she’s either pregnant or pretty fat. The other is black, skinny and small…definitely still at kitten. I’m not sure if they are hanging out together. They are so wild that I can barely get more than a glimpse of them. As soon as they see you looking out the window or hear the door, they’re gone. What’s the 1st step to get them to trust me? Perhaps, put out some wet food and sit in a chair in the yard quietly so they can see I’m not a threat? I’ve been putting out dry food and they come around early evening (separately) and eat it. After that, I put out more and it’s gone by morning. I also made them a bed on the out of a styrofoam cooler but I can’t tell if they’re using it.

    • You’ve got it right – I would start out putting the wet food out, maybe at the same time each day (around dusk would be a good time; first thing in the morning is another good time). Once they’re hooked by the wet food and know when it’s going to be there, sitting quietly in the yard would be the next step. I would expect that if they aren’t using the cooler yet, they will be soon. Just keep checking – once you can see that one or both of them are using it, you can put something in there that smells like you, a sock or t-shirt or something similar.

      Just keep in mind that it’s likely not going to be a smooth progression from a to b to c – it’s very often two steps forward, one step back. And occasionally it’s a direct step from a to c. It all depends on how old they are, what their previous interactions with humans have been like.

      I hope that helps (and hopefully others will chime in) – please keep us updated and let us know if you have any other questions.

      • Thanks for helping those cats, Tandra. The only thing I’d add to Robyn’s advice is to have a fresh bowl of water for them too. (Who knows where they’re getting their much-needed liquid from?) And perhaps you have a nice fleece blanket to put in their cooler. Like Robyn and Fred, you’re a hero. May your patience be rewarded and everyone’s quality of life improve.

  9. I LOVE the word “ptui”! Did you know the Ancient Greek word for “to spit” is “ptuein”? True story!

    Feel better soon!

  10. Thanks everyone! I put water out also but they don’t seem to be drinking much. I put some baby blanket in the cooler. I just got a good look at the black one. She’s smaller than my cats, who are 9 months, so I’d say she’s 6 months or so. I’m worried because there’s something wrong with her tail. It’s looks normal on both ends then has a “skinny spot” in the middle where some of the hair is missing. I hope its not broken. I also think she’s been staying underneath my deck because when she saw me that’s where she ran and then I noticed there’s a bunch of muddy paw prints coming out from underneath. It’s a large ground level deck with drainage pipes from the downspouts so I can’t see underneath. Thanks for the advise! I hope I can tame her and get her to the vet.

    • Sounds like they might be Mom and Kitten? You can always cut to the chase and put out a trap, get them fixed, and vetted, and release them. Try and gain their trust after you know they are healthy and won’t be making any more babies.

  11. I wonder if Spike and Chachi are related. Both are so striking with their floof and white cravats.

    In ARtemis’ defense she never SAID that she was pregnant.

  12. Aw, Lilybet! I was just thinking about her because I saw a trailer for a movie called “A Royal Night Out”, which apparently is about Queen Elizabeth (before she was Queen) and her sister Margaret going out on the town on V-E Day. In the trailer, Elizabeth’s father calls her Lilybet. 🙂

  13. I have a huge old Maine coon cat that is indoor/outdoor. The ferals all love him and trust his judgement. When I put out food and they see he stays and puts up with me, they eventually get brave and stop running away. After a while, I can bend down and pet him first, then move my hand to a feral. Once they’ve been touched, they seem to tame faster.