A couple on months ago I published an article on this blog entitled Saving Fatface. Fatface was a stray, rather mangey looking black cat, that had been coming into our garden for some months, eagerly eating the leftover cat food we put out for the hedgehogs.
Fatface, (rather uncharitably named by my husband Andy, as he has a distinctive round face), didn’t seem to have a home, and would timidly appear at the end of our garden, only to run off if we attempted to get anywhere near him.
Someone commented on the post that it would take a lot of patience to gain his trust and it certainly has! In the last six months, he has slowly moved closer and closer to the house and we were eventually able to feed him just outside the kitchen door.
“Fatface” has become part of our family, without actually becoming part of our family. Countless mornings I woke up at 5am worried about him and hurried downstairs to find him patiently waiting by the conservatory door. The fur around his ears was all matted and sticky and we assumed he had some sort of nasty infection. Sometimes he even appeared with leaves sticking to his ear, presumably from where he was sleeping in hedgerows. It broke my heart to think about the pain he must have been in.
Although he was very nervous around humans, he seemed to be relaxed around our other cats, Buffy in particular. In the picture below, it’s Buffy in the background. Two peas in a pod!
Still, his appearance was worrying and a couple of weeks ago, after seeing him looking particularly shabby, and mindful of the coming winter, I vowed we would trap him somehow, get him to a vet and if possible, adopt him.
We tried luring him in to the conservatory, but he would run off at the slightest movement toward him. We devised an elaborate plan of tying string to the conservatory door, and retreating into the kitchen, with the hope that if he stepped over the threshold, we could pull the string and shut the door. I spent hours hiding behind the kitchen door, waiting for him to take a couple of steps into the conservatory, but he was far too quick and the conservatory door, being heavy, took too long to close.
Back to the drawing board. I had another idea. If I put a dish of food in a cat carrying basket, and put a piece of string on its door (and again hid behind the kitchen door), that would be easier to pull shut. The first few times were unsuccessful: Fatface would sneakily grab a piece of chicken out of the basket and then scarper. This went on for about a week and I was beginning to lose hope. Then, one morning, I put some chicken into the box, attached the string and went upstairs for something. When I returned and peeked through the door, my heart started pounding. He was right inside the box! Quickly, I pulled the door shut with a sharp tug on the string and he was trapped!
Pandemonium erupted. Fatface was desperately tried to get out of the basket making scary cat screaming noises, and hurling himself against its sides. I was yelling for Andy to come and help me, whilst still gamely hanging on to the piece of string, and my mum was shouting encouraging words from the shower. Andy stumbled into the conservatory in his dressing gown, and quickly sealed the cat basket door. He put a heavy blanket over the box to try and calm Fatface, (which worked really well), and we all sat down panting on the conservatory floor. Blimey! We had finally done it!
We called the vet who suggested we bring him in immediately. We explained we would like to adopt him after his ears had been treated, and we were told they would have to check him for a microchip, and keep him for 7 days in case someone wanted to claim him. Because he was an ‘entire’ young adult male, (interesting phrase!), they also said he would need to be neutered.
We went home and I must admit I felt really miserable those first few days. I missed him terribly. I looked around at his little food bowls scattered around our garden and wondered if someone would claim him.
Over the next 7 days, I followed the vets Facebook page (where pictures of him had been posted asking for his owner to come forward), with something bordering on obsession. The post was shared 50 times and there were lots of comments from people wondering if he was their missing black cat. Every time I saw a new one, I was convinced that he was about to be claimed.
I wrote feverish emails to the vet asking for reassurance that he would not just be given over to anyone, and they kindly kept me informed when 3 people visited him to check if he belonged to them. None recognised him and, as the 7 day mark crept closer, I started allowing myself to think we could have him.
The adoption procedure was explained to me and I was then also told that he would have to have a blood test for FIV and FeLV. (Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline leukaemia virus.) There are both highly contagious, untreatable and common in stray cats. If Fatface was positive for either, it was likely he would have to be put to sleep. This latest information was really hard to bear, especially as the surgery was really busy and unable to do the blood test until 2 days later. A tough 2 days for me.
When the phone rang last Thursday morning, my stomach was in a knot, but the news was good, his blood tests were clear, his ears were on the mend and the neutering was done. He was ready to come home!
So he is home now with us and has a new name. We couldn’t keep calling him Fatface … so he is now “Morris”
Morris has taken up residence in our spare room. We have moved the furniture out to give him some space and he has a new bed, climbing tree, scratching post, litter tray and a host of wonderful toys. Of course he is not remotely interested in any of these, (except the litter tray). Currently, his strategy is to sit under the desk or in the wardrobe and study us from afar. He is very timid and has obviously been through a lot recently. I have plugged in some Feliway spray in order to help calm him, but we are trying to give him a bit of space and have not introduced him to the other cats or to the rest of the house yet.
I took this picture of him this morning. It’s not easy getting a good shot when he is hiding!
It’s going to be a long road, but he has let us stroke him a few times, which gives me hope. I know it will take a lot of reassurance before we can think about letting the other cats see him… but we will get there. And every time I see his little round face and those huge eyes peeking up at me, I know it has been worth every step. ❤️
If you are interested in Morris, (AKA Fatface), please follow this blog as I will be posting regular updates.. If you have adopted a stray cat, and/or have words of advice for us, I would love to hear from you.❤️
Enjoy your new pet. I’m glad you changed his name! 😏
Yes Morris is more user friendly…. 😍
He’s adorable ❤❤❤
He is… and if I could just persuade him to come out from under the desk…! Maybe tomorrow… ! ❤️
Aw, I love this! I’m so glad you persevered to save this boy. I hope he adjusts soon with the knowledge that someone loves him! 🙂
Thanks so much. I have had a bit of a panic today worrying that perhaps he will never want to become domesticated… but he has let me stroke his head and he is eating OK so I think I just need to be supremely patient and see how this pans out. I am a firm believer that cats choose who they live with, so if he chooses to leave us after our best efforts, I guess that’s his choice x
Sometimes it’s hard to know. But at least his medical needs were taken care of. Even if he chooses to live outside or move on I think he’s better off than before; and knows someone cared for him. 🙂
Morris is a lucky cat!!
Thank you – I don’t think he realises that at the moment, but hopefully he will, eventually!
How lovely !
What a beautiful story about Morris, a beautiful cat! Thank you for visiting and following HoB. Much appreciated, Karen!
Thank you Herman x
That is very nice of you to go out of your way to help. I would caution that if he is feral he may never be a good housecat, although my mother-in-law has domesticated a couple of ferals, at least somewhat. They are now outside cats that come inside sometimes.
Thank you, he doesn’t seem to be feral, just incredibly timid. It’s ok, we are prepared to be patient! If he is going to be an outside cat, that’s fine, as long as he knows where to come if he wants food! ❤️
I hope it all works out well. I think if it is safe, having the option to come and go is perfect
It is such hard work. I admire your determination. There are many strays where I live. If I just look through a window they run away. Once a really baby kitty with puss-filled eyes was in my backyard. Because it was so little, i picked it up and it bit me practically right through my hand. then ran off. I couldn’t believe it would be that scared, but i had a learning curve. You can tell when cats have been “owned” because they don’t run off. I’ve taken my share to the SPCA locally when I can pick them up. We live in the country and people dump so many animals here. Anyway, good job with Morris!
Thank you so much. It is hard work and we will let little Morris be free and only come in occasionally if that suits him. We are going to keep him in for a couple of weeks so that hopefully he will at least know that he can come here for food and warmth!
ferals take a lot of patience, but he’s shown he’s willing. even for an adult, toys can be enticing. ones that require little motion on your part, such as wand toys and lasers, can get a cat involved and kind of ignoring you. then you can run the toy across your legs (or feet if you’re not sitting on the floor) and eventually have it rest there. another bit of advice i got was, if you get to the point of holding him and he wants down, hold a smidge longer and let him down. This shows it wasn’t his heroic escape and that you will let go. Great work and you’ve come a long way with him.
Ah thank you so much for the advice! I have tried toys and he looks at me as if I’m crazy!! He also won’t eat cat treats which my other cats go crazy for! Bizarrely though, he does not try and get out of the room he is is and lets us pet his head though he doesn’t look like he is enjoying it much! We have had to pick him up to get him in the cat box to go back to see the vet and he neither tries to bite or scratch which i found surprising.
You liked one of the blogs my “boys” wrote and that’s how I found you. I just read about Morris aka Fat Face and it really touched my heart. You did such a kind and wonderful thing by adopting him. He will come around. He’s not used to that much love and attention. You have provided him so much and before you know it, his personality will shine. Both of my boys were adopted and I have no idea what their early life was like but they are completely mine now and the love flows both ways. Good luck with Morris.
Pam, Hemingway and Steinbeck
Ah thank you so much! What a lovely comment! There are been more ups and downs since I posted so I will be writing about the latest news on Morris again soon.
We’ve had many adopted cats over the years and you’re doing a great job with Morris. Just continue with the patience. It will take another few months, but he will learn to trust you and then he’ll fit right in!
Thank you… when he is looking particularly miserable I do start to question if I have done the right thing… but remembering seeing him looking starving and ill in the garden in the pouring rain, convinces me I have!
A stray cat adopted us. Unlike Morris he was very affectionate to us. He arrived and stayed. I therefore do not have advice for you because the circumstances are just very different. This cat is very bright – he can say his own name (it probably helps that the children drivided to call him Miaau…). We we also manipulated into adopting another cat (long story). Your original name for Morris is applicable to this one as he is well… FAT and unfortunately not very bright either. Naturally I am not allowed to call him fat or dumb. I also got into trouble for referring to the cat with over-accentuated body and under-accentuated mind..
Good luck with Morris-face I am sure he will become a puppy (that probably does not sound right).
Oh, he’s beautiful! So glad you were finally able to bring him into the family fold.
So sad that it wasn’t for long …😞😞😞