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Feral to friendly: love is all you need (even if you're a cat)

Ginger kitten sits on laminated floor cat-happy
© Shuswap Paws Rescue - Facebook

A stray kitten discovered among the machinery and debris of a saw mill refused to be handled, but the patience and professionalism of shelter volunteers eventually paid off. 

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 19/03/2019, 16:30, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:50

Last week (w/c 11/3/19) Kelsey McKnight was contacted by employees of a saw mill in British Columbia who had found two stray kittens. According to the caller, the kittens were angry and feisty. 

Ms McKnight, a volunteer of Shuswap Paws Rescue Society in British Columbia (Canada), rallied her colleagues and left straight away for the mill. 

By the time she arrived, a mill worker had managed to entice one of the cats into her arms and had claimed it as her own, but the smaller ginger kitten refused to budge. 

McKnight makes a move

As McKnight approached the kitten (that would later be named Oscar) it exhibited the sort of aggressive behaviour typical of a cat in distress; spitting and hissing at McKnight in an attempt to defend itself. 

 ‘I'm pretty experienced with feral cats and kittens, so I wasn't scared to hold him,’ McKnight told Love Meow.

Predictably, once McKnight had Oscar in her arms he struggled and tried to free himself with all his might, but within a few moments of being held confidently and firmly he stopped wriggling. 

Once I got him in my hands, he realized I wasn't afraid and didn't have anxiety about handling him, so he did calm fairly quickly,’ McKnight said.

Shuswap Paws Rescue Society looked after Oscar and nursed him back to health, and over the next few days and weeks the kitten's anger was well and truly exorcised. What was once a feral cat was now very much a lap cat that enjoyed snuggles. 

After some time, he learned to trust people,’ McKnight added. ‘He was eventually neutered and adopted into a loving home.’

Some other signs of a kitten or cat in distress are: growling, swatting, biting, scratching, back arching, tail and tail swishing.