Former Feral

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My cat, Hee Seop (HE-sop), passed away in October 2018. His legs suddenly became paralyzed one afternoon, and he had trouble walking. We took him to the emergency vet immediately, where they told us his prognosis was bad and that he was in a lot of pain. (You can read about it here.) We knew what the right decision was, but it was difficult to make. He passed away that evening.

Hee Seop was formerly a feral cat, which means he was probably the offspring of domesticated cats who were abandoned (strays). They are hard, if not impossible to tame. Although these cats are wild, they aren’t considered wildlife. They are afraid of humans.

We first met Hee Seop after my husband threw out the results of a failed recipe. He set the bags outside the back door to take them to the dumpster later. That evening, my husband saw Hee Seop on our back porch for the first time, foraging for food in our trash. My husband called me, and when we peeked out the window, Hee Seop ran. It was February. This happened many times in the next few months.

I left food and water on the porch for him, and occasionally I spied him eating or drinking. By April or May, he was on the back porch every afternoon at 4:30, screaming to be fed! This was something he would continue to do in the future. You see, I had started giving him wet food once a day, in addition to his kibble. Eventually, he let me sit on the porch near him while he ate his wet food, as long as I didn’t watch. Whenever he saw me watching, he took off.

He was named after Hee Seop Choi, a former first baseman for the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who was supposed to be a huge big deal, but was basically a dud. Before that, I called him Portia the Porch Cat  because I thought he was female. Then one day, while the Cubs were on TV, I peeked out the window. Hee Seop went down the stairs and I could see that he had “wee sops.” Hehe. So I took him in to get neutered.

I borrowed a humane trap from a shelter and TNR’d (Trap Neuter Return) him. I took him to the vet to get neutered, and then released him back to the wilds of the urban jungle. Feral cats, who form communities, would rather live outside.

We already had 3 cats, so my aim was to bring him to a local cat shelter who had a room dedicated to non-socialized cats. I was hoping they would give him food and shelter for the rest of his life (because that’s what that particular shelter did), but when I called them, I was told that the socialization room was full. So, it looked like we were getting a 4th cat as soon as I could get him inside.

That didn’t happen for another 4 months, when the landlord decided to tear down and reconstruct the back porches, with only a 2-week notice. It was sooner than I had planned to get Hee Seop indoors, and the porch was where we first connected. Now it was being torn down.

I had 2 days left to get him inside. I locked our 3 cats in the bedroom, and made sure the cat carrier was wide open. I set out a bowl of tuna, and took my place on the porch, on the steps leading to the floor above. When I saw him, I threw a jacket over him, hoping to scoop him up with it. FAIL!!!!

I was devastated, but I still had one day, and finally, the next day I “captured” him! I was unable to pick him up with my jacket and he was running loose in the apartment. I panicked because I thought he escaped. I looked everywhere. Finally, I checked the cat carrier, and there he was hiding inside it! We took him to the vet for a check-up.

I hadn’t planned on having a 4th cat. He was about a year old when we adopted him, and lived with us for the next 16 years. He was 17 when he passed. RIP Hee Seop ❤️


Have you ever taken in a stray?

Author:

I hold an MFA in poetry from The Ohio State University. I'm a fiction writer, blogger, wife, pet mom, and Ohio State Buckeye!

17 thoughts on “Former Feral

  1. Wow, what a great story! I’ve never taken in a stray, but almost all of my guinea pigs I’ve adopted from shelters. Casper was found abandoned in a parking lot, but I was able to get her socialized pretty quickly.

    1. #adoptdontshop lol! I don’t know how people can just abandon pets. It makes me sad and angry at the same time. Thanks for commenting, Ashley!

  2. What a beautiful thing you did for this kitty, giving him a wonderful home for all of those years. And I’m so sorry to hear about his passing of your furry family member. My condolences, and reading the rescue story brought tears to my eyes!

  3. Beautiful story, Chic! How kind of you to take time and effort feeding and knowing him and finally taking him in. 💕🐾 🐈 🤗

  4. What a wonderful story even though the end, obviously sad. But you and your husband gave Hee Seop a life he wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for a bad recipe.
    You were such lovely parents to that little kitty, and I praise you for all you did for him.
    When I was a little kid around 9 maybe… we had a broken basement window and apparently it was rather inviting for a little calico kitty. My mother was doing laundry in the basement, and this little kitty jumped down atop the washing machine and scared my mother half out of her mind.
    Like you, my mother would bring food to her in the basement, and soon, she started following my mother upstairs. It just so happened that the little calico kitty showed up the week of Haloween. We all agreed to name her Spooky, and she was with us for over 17 years. To this day, I miss that adorable little black nose and her soulful eyes.

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