In August 2019, CAS was made of a feral cat colony breeding out of control in a back garden in Tooting. It has been one of our most involved trapping jobs to date and required a large amount of our time and resources during an already overwhelming summer.

In total 2 pregnant cats, 10 feral kittens, 2 tom cats and 3 nursing mums were trapped from the garden. All of the cats and kittens required socialising, with some still currently in foster.

If left for another year there would have been a total of 13 breeding females in 2020!

Tara was just 1 of the 10 kittens trapped from the colony and, after spending some time with one of our experienced fosterers, found her forever home.

Tara’s owners have since passed over this loving update.

We came across Tara’s profile when searching for an adopted sibling to our ten-month old rescue kitten, Hope. Aware that introducing two cats was not something to be taken lightly, we’d put a good deal of thought and concern into making the right choice.

Five-month old Tara was an exciting find as she came from a colony and got on very well with other cats. CAS only wanted to home her to a household which offered her feline companionship. Her fosterer Rees assured us she was friendly but needed help to build her confidence and was prone to the odd hiss if startled. As a calm household of experienced cat owners, this was a challenge we were happy to take on. We had the time and inclination to work with her over the long term.

When we brought Tara home, things did not go smoothly! We’d set aside a quiet room for her and weren’t surprised when she hid under the bed. However, we did become worried when she hadn’t eaten or used her litter box for almost 2 days. We called Rees who explained that ex-feral kittens could suffer setbacks when rehomed, and helped guide us though the process of resettling her.

First of all, we had to get Tara eating, so Rees advised putting food out after it got dark, when she’d feel less threatened. A week later, she was sneaking out to eat every night but still effectively living under the bed. Having chatted with Rees again, our consensus was that we needed to get her out from under the bed before we could continue making progress with her. As gently as we could, we shepherded her out from under the bed using a broom.

With the bed blocked up, I began sitting in the room with Tara at mealtimes, to get her used to my presence. I edged slightly closer day-by-day until, another week or so later, I managed a tentative stroke. Much to my surprise, she jumped up excitedly for more patting.  Just as Rees had said, she was an affectionate little thing, hiding behind a nervous and hissy façade!

Now we were ready to start introducing Tara to our other kitten, Hope.  We followed advice and kept the process very gradual, slowly exchanging scents between the two to begin with. We hoped to build up to a low-key introduction through a cracked door. However, Hope was too cheeky and curious to wait for that to happen. She took charge by breaking though the door of Honey’s room to have a look at her new sister. Despite the prior scent-swapping, Hope was startled and expressed her fears with suspicious growling. Worried now our careful introduction plan had fallen apart, we contacted the ever-patient Rees. He reassured us as to Tara’s social skills with other cats, so we ploughed on with supervised interactions.

We used toys to distract from any confrontation by Hope, and treats to reward neutral or positive interactions. However, it was Tara who did the main work. She remained remarkably calm and good-natured – the sociability she’d picked up from the colony was really winning through. To our delight, the two kittens slowly graduated from watching each other to showing off to each other, to play-fighting, then sitting companionably together, then grooming each other. Having a confident big sister was making Tara blossom – there was no more time for hiding under beds as she needed to see what Hope was up to.

Tara is now exploring and playing confidently around her home, greeting her new family members with happy noises and even peeping curiously at visitors. She’s an integral and loved part of our household. Thank you Rees for making this possible with your invalable guidance and support.

Tara, on the day of her intake at Croydon Animal Samaritans