Head-butts and kisses from a feral? I’ll take ‘em… especially when they’re from this little lady: Juju, my only remaining “direct descendent.”
Juju was part of a feral colony I looked after for nearly ten years, which was based in a parking lot near my drum studio in LA. The colony—with a core group of five or six—was TNR’d in 2008 (trapped, neutered, returned), and lived large through the years, enjoying a lifespan far longer than most feral cats. But one by one, they all eventually graduated to that “great kitty paradise in the sky”… except for Juju, who was the last one standing in the spring of 2017.
It was tough to see her living by herself through the summer months, so we made a decision to relocate her that fall to what is perhaps the ultimate home for cats: that of my BFF and brother-in-law‘s house. (I live alone, travel all the time, and would probably make for a substandard full-time guardian, so my place just wasn’t an option.)
I am happy to report that Juju has adjusted well to the indoor/outdoor environs of her new home, with “outdoor“ being 24-hour access to the gigantic catio they have there. This relocation has given her a previously unknown sense of security, stability, comfort, safety, and, of course, an even greater variety and consistency of her favorite food and treats. (And I thought WE spoiled her when she lived in the lot… sheesh!)
I have always been the only human Juju would allow to get close enough to touch her, and such is still basically the case today. So whenever I go and visit her, it’s a lovefest, and we enjoy our father/daughter time together. She loves to grind her head against mine, and occasionally groom my face with her precious little sandpaper tongue. I am a lucky man.
True to her nature, she has remained somewhat of a loner in the house, preferring to keep to herself… even though all of the other cats have warmly accepted her. But that’s fine: like father, like daughter. That said, she has been seen lounging around the master bedroom with several other cats nearby more often these days. And she’s even let my bro-in-law, Jackson, brush her. (He is the Cat Daddy for a reason.) This is all progress!
(Special acknowledgment to Jeorge Tripps who, along with Doug Polin and various studio staff members, helped to take care of Juju and the rest of the colony through the years. It takes a village, folks!)
A Community Issue
Taking care of our community cats is a responsibility I believe we all must step up to the plate for at least once in our lives. If you notice a group of ferals in your hood or near your work, establish a consistent feeding pattern for them, then see if there’s a local cat rescue group who can direct you to the necessary traps and local veterinary facility for spay and neuter. TNR is an essential part of the process! HOWEVER, only enlist the cat rescue group for advice; expect to do all the heavy lifting on your own (or with other help): rescues tend to be under-funded, under-staffed, and overwhelmed year-round, hence the “step up to the plate” thing I mentioned.
Ferals deserve the same right to live and thrive, just like all of the “tame” homeless cats who get adopted from rescues and shelters. Please help if you can, even if it just means throwing a few bucks at an organization who champions the cause. Believe me, these groups can always use more moolah.
Caring for a colony through TNR and consistent feeding not only improves the quality of life for the colony cats, but ensures that literally hundreds of other “future cats” won’t have to endure the oftentimes dire conditions that ferals typically have to deal with.
Juju and her former colony mates—Momma, Kathy, PJ, Lulu, and Natasha—all thank you in advance.