No One Knew What Would Happen When 'Feral' Cat Met Family's Dog
"He’s a different cat ... he is in love."
Running an animal sanctuary means that you hardly get any time off — there's always another (adorable) mouth to feed or belly to rub.
So when Kara Burrow — who runs Ralphy's Retreat Animal Sanctuary in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, Kris — finally had a night off, she planned to enjoy it with her husband. But the universe apparently had other plans.
Through the sliding glass door that leads from her kitchen into the yard was a pair of gleaming eyes staring her down.
"As I walked into the kitchen, I saw a little black and white face peering in through the sliding doors," Burrow told The Dodo. "The cat had scratches all over his face. When he turned and ran away, I saw his tail was very badly injured."
Burrow's rescue focuses mostly on rescuing and rehoming pigs, but she had to do something. "I contacted a local trap-neuter-release program and borrowed a live trap," she said. But then she didn't see the little tuxedo cat for two days. "I thought he had gone."
Thankfully, the gleaming eyes revisited her. "One night, while shutting up the shipping container [a storage space for the sanctuary], I saw two eyes peering at me!" Burrow said. "I put the live trap in the container and locked the door. By morning, Ralph was in the trap."
And he did not seem happy. "Ralph was wild, hissing and running at the side of the trap," Burrow said. "He was also badly injured and needed a vet urgently."
But the veterinarians Burrow called didn't want to deal with a feral cat who was obviously agitated and potentially dangerous. Finally, she called Purrfect Companions of Norfolk and asked for help. "Within an hour, they had secured an appointment at their vet for Ralph," she said.
Ralph's tail was so badly injured it had to be amputated. But luckily he was otherwise mostly healthy — he didn't have FIV and he just had a few rotten teeth that needed to be extracted. Then he was given shots and medicine and Burrow took him back to her house so that he could recover in a spare bedroom.
The other animals were noticeably interested in this new individual — especially Henri, a rescue dog — but Burrow knew that it was best for everyone to keep this wild cat away from other residents.
"For the first two weeks, he hissed at me and tried to attack me when I put food in and cleaned his litter," she said. But then something strange happened after Ralph started feeling noticeably better.
"One day he head-bumped my hand!" she said. "The next day he rubbed my arm as I fed him, and then he allowed me to rub his head!"
Perhaps it was the sense of security Ralph finally felt for the first time, being allowed inside a house and given food and love. Perhaps he was just relieved not to be in pain anymore. Whatever it was, the feral cat didn't seem at all feral anymore.
"I let Ralph out into the other room and he became a huge lovebug!" Burrow said.
Ralph particularly gravitated toward Henri the dog. And Henri seemed happy to let Ralph head-butt him with love.
"Three weeks after he came home, Ralph joined the rest of the house and he’s a different cat," Burrow said. "He cuddles with the other cats and he is in love with our rescue dog, Henri. They are never far apart!"
Ralph also shows his humans just how much he appreciates them through purrs and snuggles.
"He will sit on our knees and cuddle with humans too," Burrow said. "He’s done a complete 360!"
Because of his tail injury, Ralph needs some special care. And he even seems totally fine with letting his special kitty chiropractor adjust his joints.
"Ralph was very brave and allowed her to adjust him!" Burrow said.
Burrow hopes Ralph's transformation — from a wild feral cat to such a lovable member of the family — helps people see feral cats differently. "They can make wonderful pets," she said.
From the snuggle sessions on the couch, it would seem that Henri the dog would agree.