You may have seen my blog post, Lessons From Stray Cats, on the cats that I’ve been rescuing here at our house. I thought that I’d share an update with you. I already have a beautiful black cat with green eyes, Natalya, who I adopted from a cat shelter in Belton, Missouri, several Christmases ago.
I’ve been feeding about 4 stray cats (intentionally) since spring 2023 (other stray cats may be sneaking around here, too). My husband Ray would joke that the good news spread, and we began seeing more cats hanging around to beg food from us.
My heart went out to them when they would meow at me. Ray bought me a coffee cup with the inscription, “You had me at meow” and a cute graphic on the other side of a woman and her black cat looking out at the sunset, with my name and Natalya’s on it. At Christmas, he ordered another cup with a graphic of a woman representing me and ALL the cats that I’ve been feeding and taking care of, looking out at the ocean, lol!
Silas is a Main Coon-tabby mix, male cat with a bushy tail and green eyes, about 2 years old. He was friendlier than the other strays who were semi-feral, so Ray thought that he had been around humans before and was possibly someone’s pet. He joked that some little girl was crying about her missing cat that I now had inside my house. It turns out that Ray was right – Silas had wandered away from his owner one day and didn’t return!
Recently, Silas was returned to his original owner, Lesslee, who lives here in Butler, Missouri, not too far from our house. I was posting on the Butler Facebook page to try to find a home for the other two stray cats that I’d been feeding here, Nichodemus (a male, Main Coon-tabby mix with green eyes and a bushy tail like Silas has) and Marmalade (a male, orange tabby).
Lesslee publicly posted under Nichodemus’ picture that I had posted: “That looks like my cat O’Malley who ran away forever ago!”
I sent her a private message and she sent me a picture of her “O’Malley.” I looked at it and replied to her, “That looks like our cat Silas, who we have inside our house now!” She asked if she could come see him. I told her yes.
The day she came, Nichodemus just happened to be outside on our back patio eating. When she walked quietly to the steps where I was sitting, watching him, she shook her head and said, “No, that’s not him.” As usual, Nichodemus (who is more feral and gets scared easier) ran off into the bushes. I didn’t think that he was her cat, from her picture. Although they resemble each other, Nichodemus has darker markings on his face and his back than Silas does. Silas is also bigger and more territorial (aggressive).
When she came inside our house, I called Silas. He came walking up to us both in the utility room. As soon as Lesslee saw him, she began crying. While he had gained a LOT of weight since she had him (he loves to EAT!), she thought it was her cat O’Malley who had wandered off over a year ago. Silas came right to her and seemed to KNOW her, letting her pet him. She was shocked when I asked if she wanted him. My heart was aching at the thought of him going, but I felt it was the right thing to do.
While I love Silas and didn’t want him to go, I didn’t feel that it was right for me to take HER cat if he was hers and her children’s cat. She showed me videos and pics of O’Malley on her Tik Tok account, climbing up in a tree, chasing birds, and on her shoulder. I looked at them and thought, yes, that IS him! He was a lot thinner then (and when I first had him).
She and I agreed to a week’s trial with him at her house to see if it would work out. One concern I had was that she has a big dog (German shepherd mix). I didn’t want him to hurt or kill Silas (O’Malley)! But she said they used to be friends and hung out together. She did promise me to not leave her dog and him alone for awhile, to protect Silas (O’Malley). The dog and he have gotten along fine and she said he seems very happy to be back with them, and she and her entire family are so happy! Praise God!
I think the only thing he will miss is Natalya, maybe me, and our sunroom! He and Natalya used to love to go in there in the spring and summer, watching birds and squirrels outside. I call it their TV entertainment room. She has a place set up in her bedroom where he watches out the window at them now. She did promise me that she wouldn’t let him outside again. (This worries me for cats –too many dangers, FIV/FLV, fleas, ticks, other sicknesses, etc.).
After Lesslee first saw Silas, she went immediately with her friend to the store to buy a cat carrier to take him home that day. (She had waited 6 months to put away his belongings when he wandered off! She said that she and her kids cried and cried.)
To my shock, Silas (O’Malley) went right into the carrier to go with her! I said to her, “It’s a sign!” (God!) I gave her an unopened bag of IAMS Healthy Adult dry cat food and a bag of the Sheba wet cat food that I’d been feeding him and Natalya. He loves the wet food (most cats do!).
When she took him home, she said her kids cried too and said, “It’s O’Malley!” To me, this was even more confirmation that this really was their MIA cat.
She told me several times this was the happiest that she’d been in a long time. He’s now back with them, reunited. I still check with her to make sure he’s okay and she’s going to let me visit him sometimes. He’s doing great! Praise God!
The next cat rescue that God and I did was with Phil, a male, Main Coon-tabby mix cat. He is also about 2 years old, but was much smaller than Silas. He was semi-feral and would often chase off the other stray cats, even though they were bigger than him! God did a miracle with him. I took him to the vet to get his rabies and distemper shots and neutered in order for a pet rescue place to accept him (a foster mom took him in for over a week after I had called places for WEEKS!) and then he was transported with three other cats to a cat sanctuary in Mena, Arkansas.
Unfortunately, he was diagnosed positive with FIV (a cat virus). But many FIV+ cats live long, happy, healthy lives. He’s now doing great at the cat sanctuary. Thank You, Jesus!
I knew in my heart that Phil would NOT survive a cold Missouri winter and was so thankful this cat sanctuary accepted him. He will live there for the rest of his life. They feed and water him, make sure he has regular vet visits, and he can choose to stay inside the building with other cats or go outside an enclosed area that has heated cat houses.
I cried in the car after driving Phil to the foster mom, Sandy, but praised God for this miracle! (I had many people praying about this!)
The next rescue cats are Nichodemus (male, Main Coon-tabby with bushy tail and green eyes – Ray and I think Silas, Phil, and Nichodemus are brothers from the same litter) and Marmalade, a male, orange tabby cat.
The Kansas City, Missouri area recently had a bad winter storm with single digit temps (and the wind chill was about 35 degrees below zero!). When I heard that temps were going to drop below 30 degrees, I was so afraid that these cats were going to freeze to death outside. I knew that I had to bring them inside our house somehow, even though they are semi-feral.
I’ve built enough trust feeding them since spring 2023, that they were letting me pet them when I took their food and water bowls outside. But how was I going to get them into my house without being clawed or bitten?
A few days before the storm, I wooed Marmalade to come inside our house through the back door with tuna fish (a pet rescue place volunteer, Terrie, told me this tip). Marmalade was a little hesitant (he knew that Silas used to live here, so he probably thought that Silas was still inside), but he voluntarily came up the steps and through the back door into our utility room.
I petted him as he ate. The third time he came inside our house, I quickly shut the back door. He panicked (not knowing what was happening), meowed loudly and ran to the front entry room, scratched at the windows through the blinds (trying to get outside), and ran back to the utility room, where the food was on a plate. I talked calmly to him and he ate.
Marmalade is a big tom cat (he weighs 15 pounds!) and can be a little unpredictable and intimidating. I didn’t know how he was going to react to being in a new environment. Although I was planning to bring both cats inside, I didn’t have the bathrooms ready yet for the cats with food and water bowls and cat litter boxes, and I wasn’t sure if he would bite or scratch me if I tried to pick him up to carry him to the bathroom.
I also figured that he just would come back the next morning to eat as he usually did. THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE! He was out in the winter storm for two days after this. I cried, kicking myself for letting him out (he wanted back outside after he ate, it wasn’t freezing cold yet, and was sunny), I frantically worried, and prayed and had others praying for his very life! I’m so happy to say that he is safe and warm inside our upstairs bathroom now! God miraculously protected him!
I took him to the vet, where he had a physical exam, checked for fleas, ticks, and ear mites (none), got his rabies and distemper shot, had a stool sample checked for worms and parasites (none), and was tested for FIV and FLV. Unfortunately, he tested positive for FIV (most non-neutered male cats who live outside have the highest rate of FIV and FLV, as they fight a lot and contract it).
He was neutered last week, and seems to be doing great now. I’m now praying for a safe, loving, good home or pet rescue place for him. Two ladies are working with me to find one for him. Marmalade is so sweet. He now jumps into my lap, which surprises me as he was semi-feral, but he’s used to me now and trusts me. And don’t we all just need LOVE?! Please pray for Marmalade!
With Nichodemus, he came up the back steps one afternoon where I had put his tuna fish on a plate, a couple of days before the winter storm. My plan was to grab him by the scruff of his neck (as he ate) as a woman at a pet rescue place, Jackie, advised me to do over the phone. She told me there would be NO CATS if I left them out in this winter storm and to act QUICKLY to save their lives.
So as he bent over to eat the tuna fish on the plate, I tried to grab him. Well, as usual, he RAN! Nichodemus is fast. This is probably the way he has survived outside. Then he came back up the stairs, too tempted by that tuna fish. I then grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, ran inside our house, and quickly shut the back door. My cat Natalya was already in the bedroom with the door shut to protect her from him.
Nichodemus seems to be the most feral and fearful of the stray cats around here. As I got him inside, quickly shutting the back door behind me, he slipped from my fingers, scratched my arm in fear, and ran downstairs to the “man cave” (Ray’s desk and computer and our TV are down there, along with antique furniture, books, and breakable glass objects!).
He was going CRAZY, running and jumping onto stuff. It reminded me of the wild cat in the cartoon series with Pepe Le Peu. (White paint had spilled onto her back and he thought she was a female skunk, and he was in love with her, chasing her everywhere.) I was so afraid that Nichodemus would break something made of glass and hurt himself. I was trying to talk calmly to him, while still running to get him.
He then ran UP the stairs into our kitchen and dining room, meowing loudly. He jumped onto and scratched the dining table with his claws. The table wasn’t the priority! I was praying the ENTIRE time: “God, You got the animals into Noah’s Ark! Please lead Nichodemus into the downstairs bathroom!” I knew that he was just scared, not knowing where he was or what was happening to him.
He then ran downstairs straight into the bathroom. Thank You, God! I had prepared both bathrooms by that time for both stray cats to keep them safe from the ice storm. I quickly shut the door behind him! Jackie from the pet rescue place had told me that once I got the cats into the separated bathrooms (we still had a half bath with a sink and toilet for us to use), to keep the doors closed and let them decompress for 24 hours…to NOT let them out again. I said I wouldn’t let them out and this is what I did with them both. I had to carefully open the door each time going in and out, to feed and check on them, so they wouldn’t run out.
Since then for several weeks now, I’ve been feeding and watering these precious kitties, checking on them often, and petting them and talking to them often. I put Natalya into the bedroom with the door shut, just in case they were to get out. (Marmalade has escaped twice, so we got a more secure door knob!) This is to protect her from either of them trying to mate her (Silas used to try, even though she’s spayed!), and to protect her from Marmalade’s FIV.
At that time, I didn’t know if they had FIV, FLV, fleas, mites, ticks, or what! The vet told me that it was a smart idea to have kept them isolated from her to protect her from anything. This wasn’t my first rodeo with stray cats. I had done this “bathroom isolation” idea with both Silas and Phil for weeks. It is NOT easy. It is stressful on us and it is like a full-time job for me, caring for them. Ray misses “his” bathroom and takes one at work now. But we’re surviving and the kitties are alive and doing well! That’s what matters!
I’m happy to say that Nichodemus is still in our bathroom downstairs, warm and safe. We all survived the winter storm, thank God. This week the temp is in the 50’s and it’s been sunny – yay! I took him to the vet this week to get an exam, his rabies and distemper shot, tested for FIV and FLV (negative for both, praise God!), and bathed and professionally groomed (he had mud mats in his fur, especially around his neck). He looks so much better and I’m sure he FEELS much better! His coat is so shiny!
I had already planned to keep him as our pet if he tested negative for FIV/FLV. I want to keep Marmalade, too (he’s so sweet and loving!), but I can’t risk it with him being FIV+ and having my cat Natalya. I know that God will help me and the other two ladies find Marmalade a wonderful, safe, loving home!
Nichodemus’ neutering surgery is in a week, so he’s still in the bathroom until after the surgery (so he won’t try to mate with Natalya and spray our house with urine, which non-neutered male cats do!). I will then slowly introduce him and Natalya to each other in short doses of time, like I did with Silas. She knows that Nichodemus and Marmalade are in the bathrooms (she can smell them and hear them meow).
Although I ordered large, soft cat beds for Nichodemus and Marmalade, they both prefer to lay and sleep in the bathroom sinks, lol! Terrie with the pet rescue place said it’s probably their “safe zone” because it’s a small area and fits them just right! (Sometimes Marmalade does lay on the floor, too. Today I saw him get IN the cat bed and LAY in it – hurray! Maybe Nichodemus will, too!)
I’ve bought them both toys – a soft toy squirrel and cat wands. They both like the squirrel now, rubbing against it. I think it’s so cute and hilarious! Marmalade has a window to look outside at the birds (who haven’t flown south for the winter) and I put on videos of chirping birds and squirrels on an iPad for Nichodemus.
Please keep both cats, Marmalade and Nichodemus (and me, Ray, and Natalya!) in your prayers. I believe that God hears our prayers, even for cats. He created and loves them, too. I’ve laid hands on them both (and Silas, Phil, my cat, and our daughter Leah’s two cats, and prayed long, healthy, happy lives for them all.
I’m SO thankful to Jesus that both cats are safe from the winter storm, and the other dangers outside. I never foresaw myself rescuing cats (even though I’ve had kittens and cats for my whole life and my kids, too), but I couldn’t bear the thought of these sweet kitties dying from the cold winter storm. Ray and I have never had stray cats at our house before. Now they’re in our house! Those are my latest cat adventures, haha!
Have you ever rescued a cat, a dog, or another animal? Please share your comments below.