How the Colonel Went From Chicken Killer to Mr. Cool
(reprinted from the November 1998 issue of Best Friends Animal
By Kristi Littrell
"What's the matter? Cat got your
tongue?" Marco asked with a Cheshire cat grin on his face as we
entered WIldCats #15.
No, actually it was like The Colonel had my
brain. Here I was petting The Colonel on his belly no less!
The Colonel had come to the Sanctuary as a wild
alley cat. He'd been killing chickens on a farm hence his name
(apologies to Colonel Saunders). He was very large, very mean, and thus
not very happy with being brought to Best Friends. We tried to explain
to him that his only other alternative was to be shot.
This was how I first met him in our isolation
ward on his third day here as a growling, hissing,
lunging-at-the-door-when-you-walked-by-cat. I could understand that we
had upset his whole world filled with chicken delight. But once he gets
into the WildCats Village and doesn't have to actually work for his
food, he'll be much happier, I thought.
The next week I was assigned to feed him and
his group for the first time, and thus it came to be that I entered
WildCats #15. The Colonel's Home. I looked around. Two purring black
cats swirled my legs with there tails till I set the pans of cat food
down. Otherwise there was silence.
I went to straighten the blankets in the cat
cubbyholes and carefully lifted the roof off of their favorite
emerald-green wooden cathouse. A dozen cats instantly flew out every
which way, except for one. The Colonel, who held his ground until just
the right moment when he decided to fly by just missing my nose.
"So, what do you think?" Marco asked
me as I stared at him in disbelief.
"How?" was all I could say.
Marco explained that the cat staff had decided
to try a flower essence remedy,
Feral Cat Comforter, donated by Anaflora.
The cats were going to be moving into their wonderful new WildCats
Village very soon, but moving feral cats is always stressful. The drops,
we'd heard, might help them on moving day.
So the staff had started putting drops in all
of the cats' water. "I didn't believe it would work,"
confessed Marco, but I thought it wouldn't hurt," he added,
scratching behind The Colonel's ears.
Marco followed the directions on the bottle
homeopathic type drops, putting
"exactly seven drops with love and a prayer into each bowl of water."
Two days after they had finished the last of the drops, the changes
On that day, as he was setting the pans of food
down, The Colonel promptly walked out and slid underneath Marco's hand,
wanting to be petted. Then he began to greet Marco daily as he entered
the run and promptly rolled over for his belly to be scratched.
Transformed into Mr. Cool, no hint of The
Colonel's old fierce feral self shows today. He was calmly rolling over
for me to scratch under the chin and on his belly.
The other cats started following suit as Levi,
Miss Maui, Hunter and kitty after kitty slowly blossomed each day and
grew more trusting and relaxed than they had ever been since they
entered the sanctuary.
I've also noticed that it is not just The
Colonel and his troops who have changed recently. Marco has changed,
too! This great feral cat lover kept to himself and had been known as a
rather quiet and subdued individual. But here in front of me, with his
eyes glowing afire,
he was giddy with excitement over these
newest events that would have normally taken months, even years, to
accomplish with a group of feral cats.
I'm no doctor or scientist, so I can't say for
sure if it was by accident that these events happened, or whether it was
Anaflora drops, or if something unseen
had suddenly helped a group of unfriendly feral kitties to feel very
much at home.
But I certainly know love when I see it and I
do know that love played a major factor as I see Marco cuddling The
Colonel in his arms.