The Last of My Feral Family


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.

Juju in her new digs, with Pishi looking on in the background.

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.

A little father/daughter time at Juju’s house…

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!

Juju pimpin’ it on the bed with her new siblings, Caroline (left), Lily (center),
and a bit of Mowgli there at the bottom.

(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.

Old school parking lot pic of Juju, waiting for a chance to
jump in there and eat with Momma (right) and Kathy (left)

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About Bobby Rock

Bobby Rock is a world renown drummer, the author of nine books, and a recognized health and fitness specialist with certifications in exercise, nutrition and meditation. He has recorded and toured with a variety of artists, released three CDs as a solo performer and is recognized as a top drumming educator. He is currently touring with rock icon, Lita Ford. Through speaking, writing and activism, Bobby remains committed to a number of animal and environmental causes. Bobby lives in Los Angeles.
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6 Responses to The Last of My Feral Family

  1. Heidi Michelsen says:

    I am not to good at writhing english but I am going to give it a try. Every evening I get a visit by a cat. A female. She has been coming here fore 3 years now. My cat loves her. If she does not come, he will wonder from dor to dor all throug the evening. After 3 years I still cant come to close to her. It is clear to both me and a friend who is a zoolegist, that she was born in, and has lived alle her life in the wild. She eats here all year round, she takes daily naps on my couch and she shows affektion to my cat and that is very BIG to me. To know that we has come this close to someone who, most likely, has a very good reason to not like people. I am honnerd to have her AS a visitor.
    Heidi, Århus, Denmark

  2. Dalton says:

    Thank you Bobby and your friends, for caring for all the cats over the years. I agree it takes a village and every human has a responsibility to care, donate, advocate and educate. Our fellow animals deserve our understanding and compassion. Bless you!

  3. Debbie says:

    I am down to the last feral as well. I had two colonies with only me willing to care for them. I trapped them all again and brought them with me when I moved to a different state, with a big house. They all became house cats. The hardest part was losing over 20 cats, one by one, over the years. I’m old and retired now, so I can’t afford to take on more. Maybe I will start fostering if the shelter will pay the vet bills, not sure how that works.

  4. Jenny says:

    I have a colony and the majority have been around for years and have been TNRd. I have new toms and maybe queens, so more trapping to come. Some of the ferals are very loving and I’m not allowed to go in or out of the house without petting those cats, nor am I able to walk my dog at night without my 3 little black cats.
    My now 7 year old cat is from my colony. I didn’t trap his mom in time. And my mom has made her favorite one a house cat.

  5. an says:

    we caught a cat and her 4 kittens a few years ago. Mum has been TNRd, kittens all found a home. When she was released and entered our garden she looked so shabby, bad coat, skinny. Winter was approaching so i decided to add a dogshouse (we had another cat come to visit us from time to time and we would leave him something to eat of in winter a nice hiding place.)
    We let Mum decide the pace. It took a lot of time to gain her trust.
    But now? when i am on the couch she is there too , head-butts and kisses. When I go to bed, she wants to lay on top of me to feel my breathing and she will fall asleep.
    Meanwhile we also became the parents of the other cat, his humans did not care and asked if we wanted him. He is so much larger than her, so we called her little girl (meissie in dutch).
    She is so trusting, we can even clip her nails, brush her.
    The 2 cats have a love-hate relationship, so sometimes he chases her and she is afraid. We will intervene then. But sometimes she even chases him in a playing tag way. because she is really gentle.
    I love them both to bits, both had a difficult life, she was ferral, he was abandoned.
    They have a very large cat pen, so I know they will be safe.
    Kind regards from An, Keano and Meissie.

  6. Leigh says:

    I am down to my last colony female also. 4 generations, before I was able to step in and spay, She lives on our porch in a nice heated dog house. I have 2 of her offspring inside. She only comes in when the weather is really bad. She hates every second of it, but she is safe and warm for a few bad days. I still can only pet her when she is eating breakfast ( can food) she is around 13 yrs old. Love her to peices.

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