It's never a good day when I have to corner one of my semi-feral cats to give him medicine or take him to the vet or groomer. My beautiful long-haired, mostly white cat, Mikey, and I had such a day on Friday. He is generally a very calm (though cautious) cat and I thought I'd be able to gently approach him and scoop him up in my arms. When I've done it before, he's been cooperative and quiet. This time he was neither.
Mikey is not, nor ever will be, a lap cat. He doesn't greet me at the door as many of the cats do but he does mingle with the other cats and actually curls up with Elliot to sleep. He's not anti-social, just still partly feral. I doubt I'll ever be able to tame him completely. I've accepted that and try to meet him half-way. I can easily pet him if he's resting in a basket or cat bed but if he's under a table, I know to leave him alone. We have an understanding.
The sad thing about having feral or semi-feral cats is they can be so standoffish at times that it's easy to miss when one of them needs attention. Mikey's fur had looked a bit ruffled and I attempted to brush him when I found him sleeping inside a niche in one of the cat condos. Only then did I realize he had mats in his fur and I knew he wasn't going to allow me to groom him. I called a groomer and asked to have him shaved for the remaining summer months. I don't like doing that to him but for cats like Mikey, it's preferable to making them endure long grooming sessions.
Some cats have a sense of what's about to occur when it's time to go to the vet or the groomer. Mikey is one of them. The second he saw the cat carrier, he dove under a table in the cat room, then fled to one of the cat condos, went back under the table, and then to the condo again. He eluded my grasp for about 35 minutes. He slapped at me and bloodied my hand, but he should have known that would not deter me. I've been slapped by angrier cats than he, but I've never seen a cat with such quick reflexes. So there I was, dripping blood, towel in hand, still talking softly to him and moving slowly so I wouldn't frighten him even more. I finally put the carrier on the floor, blocking one of his escape routes, and he went right inside it. Hah! Success! Wait....no, I couldn't get the carrier door closed before he escaped and we went round and round again. I tried the carrier-on-the-floor trick again, that time making sure the door was not jammed against the table leg. I held a towel behind Mikey so he thought I was about to capture him, and gently nudged him into the carrier and closed the door. Whew. When he was in safely in the car, I thought I'd try to make up with him. He was peering out of the carrier door so sweetly I thought I'd reach in and pet him. Big mistake. He bit my finger HARD. I should have known better.
At the groomer, Mikey seemed to quiet down, even amidst the noise of barking dogs, running water, and loud drying fans. I told the groomer what a time I'd had with Mikey and that he was showing his feral side. I said he was scared and she could see what he'd done to my hand. She assured me she had experience with feral cats, and immediately opened the carrier door.....and out he went. What a circus! He ducked under grooming tables and behind drying cages, hissing all the way. She couldn't say I hadn't warned her. One of the groomers donned heavy work gloves and went in for the capture. It was odd how calm Mikey became once she caught him. I often wonder if I did the right thing by rescuing Mikey from my former neighborhood. He was born outdoors and was the only kitten that survived from who knows how many litters. I'd trapped him and his mother, Maggie, had them neutered/spayed, but released them before learning about a neighbor who was poisoning cats and wildlife. When we knew we'd soon have a barn in which to house cats, Glenn gave the ok to "round them up", as he put it.
Mikey was groomed, his nails trimmed, and we both lived to tell about it. He pouted for a day or so but is now back to being his usual semi-feral self. He's not running from me, nor hiding. Yesterday he napped in a big basket and casually looked up when I petted him. I don't know if I've been forgiven or if it's just that he thinks he won the battle. Either way, all is peaceful in cat kingdom again.