Who says cats don’t love? Especially feral cats. I have formed an amazing bond with my two girls, Momma and Little Black spend the majority of their day sleeping in the house we built for them, they come running down the sidewalk when they hear the overhead garage door open, as they know it means I am coming home. They have even followed me down the alley when I go to feed my little guy down the street. Nothing like walking down a streetlamp lit alley with two cats trailing you, except perhaps following two cats as one runs and one trots, tail held high, back to the yard. A parade of cats and Katie.
For awhile I was afraid that I was becoming overly bonded with them. I clearly love them, and they clearly are attached to my yard, but is it just the free food they like or do they actually have some bond with me? Little Black has gradually been showing her attachment, arching her back and rubbing on things just out of touching distance. She even lets me touch her sometimes. Of course there is a massive meow of protest afterwards, and she swats at me, but she doesn’t actually move away. Even little Momma is starting to show she likes me. The fact that she followed me down the alley was a huge vote of confidence. Lately she has even stayed on the deck, within 3 feet of me. A HUGE step in the right direction. These could all just be signs of trust though, as opposed to love. It was only recently, over the summer, that I got definitive proof that they care. They started leaving presents for me.
When I say they started leaving presents, I don’t mean the type normally found in a litter box. No they have been bringing me their prey. So far I have received three dead cicadas, one “something which might have been a mouse but I didn’t look too closely” and one attempt at a baby bird who fell out of his nest. (This was actually their first attempt at a gift and resulted in a big scolding from me, and me searching out a bird rescue to save the little guy. The cats have not tried birds again. Thank God!)
Cats bring presents to people they like, it is a way to show they care for you. I read somewhere that it is their way of saying they want to feed you, but I don’t know how accurate that is. I do know that my inside cat, when he was younger, would always bring his toys upstairs and put them in my room or just outside my door and look very proud of himself. I would have to tell him what a great boy he was, and give him lots of love. He would purr and snuggle into bed with me then, clearly content with himself. It is a little harder to praise the girls outside, one because it is always a surprise to find dead creatures (or in the case of the bird, very much alive creatures) sitting right in front of the door, where I generally step on them. Great way to start the morning. Second because I hate cleaning it up, and I HATE dead things. I am especially disgusted by cicadas be they dead or alive. But like a good cat person I thank them and talk to them in sweet tones. Thankfully they don’t understand words, so I can tell them how disgusting it is, but as long as I say it in a sweet thankful tone, they think they are being praised.
There is a fascinating article on Catster.com about how cats show affection. My little girls outside show me at least four of the listed items, and there are even more signs for a feral cat. Simply allowing you to get near her is a huge sign she probably is bonded to you, at the very least that she trusts you. Knowing that my feral girls love me is enough to keep me going through the rough days, the difficult neighbors and the stress of life. It makes my heart happy. Because it is difficult to win the love of a wild animal, but when you do, it is a wild untamed love, just like her.