Faking Feral: Big Ed's Story

Two years ago, in the throes of a frigid New England winter, the Kitten Street Team (KST) trapped a large tabby. This cat made quite the impression on the volunteers and staff at Dakin, weighing a staggering 15 pounds and causing the KST to question in jest, "Are we wildlife trappers now?" Big Ed, as he was aptly named, barely fit inside the trap.

After his neuter surgery, he was returned to his outdoor site where a local caretaker in the neighborhood resumed feeding him and the other cats in the colony. A few months later, the caretaker brought him indoors.

KST volunteer Anna shared in an online Dakin group, "The first night he went inside, he immediately began rolling on the floor, obviously loving the sweet indoor life." After that initial night with the caretaker, Anna continues, "He never went outside again", except to occasionally enjoy the sunshine on the patio.

Big Ed’s friendliness toward his caretaker is very uncommon among feral cats. His behavior revealed that he likely had been socialized and handled by people during his early developmental months where he learned that people are good.

In the summer of 2022, Big Ed's caretaker reached out to Dakin's KST team again. This time to inquire about Dakin's assistance in finding an adoptive family for the newly spoiled housecat. There was still some uncertainty about whether Big Ed was, in fact, a friendly indoor cat, or if he had bonded with this particular caretaker. After discussing options, Anna recommended that Big Ed stay put.

With the shelter nearing capacity in the height of summer, Anna asked the caretaker if she could continue caring for Big Ed until winter when Dakin’s animal population lowered. This would allow the opportunity for more specialized care. His caretaker agreed.

In February, Anna received the call. Big Ed essentially took up half the space of the small trailer and was so friendly that he became his caretaker’s shadow. The mix of this determined love bug and his caretaker’s use of a walker became a safety concern. Anna assisted with Big Ed’s move to Dakin, adding, "He's a total mush and the sweetest gentle giant!"

As the harsh winter season can be tough on feral cats, we are grateful for the compassion of the KST team volunteers. Their efforts to connect caretakers with Dakin's resources are saving lives. Every season, the team gathers to build winter houses for feral cats, giving them a special gift of safety and shelter when they need it most.

While Big Ed has discovered the luxury of life as a housecat, his story reminds us of the transformative power of compassion, and how even the smallest act of kindness can provide a brighter future.

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