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rzan the feral cat tamer

A guest post from my friend rzan about when she was a young girl. I was so touched by this story that I asked her to do a tinyblog guest post

..: Erik the Cat :..

It was cold in the backwoods of northern Maine. So cold. The kind of cold that bites through to your skin despite the thickness of your snowsuit. There was snow and ice most of the year, but also the prettiest blue sky you ever saw-we seldom get that pure, brilliant, frosty kind of blue here in Seattle. Sunshine is SO much brighter there, gleaming on snowdrift and sparking frostfire off icy treelimbs.

I was very young, probably about eight or nine when I met Erik the cat. I named him Erik for the hero of my favorite viking tale, Erik the Red. His long orange fur was always scruffy and tangled with burrs. I guess my romantic little girl heart decided that was what a viking was like, all wild and tough and shaggy but so sweet inside.

He was feral. Completely feral, not just a housecat gone wild. His mama had birthed her litter in a shed, and raised him in the forest. I'd glimpse him in the thickets, peering suspiciously out at us kids while we played.

I've always had a secret communication with cats. It just comes naturally to my hands, how to pet them in the perfect place-different for every cat. How to be still and calm, or frisky and playfull, or just radiate love and friendly intentions.

There was this old stump at the edge of the forest. Erik would perch on top when he felt brave enough to watch out in the open. I could feel how attracted he was, and how scared. So I began sitting for him. I'd just sit there, as close as he'd let me. I'd sit for a long time, freezing my butt off. Every day I got the chance, I'd sit. Closer and closer. Little by little I made my way right up to the stump. The day he actually had the bravery to sit there next to me I knew he'd probably let me touch him, but I stayed my hand.

The next day, he was waiting. I sat down carefully and slowly, slowly lifted my hand and held it up. He was so wary, ears sharply alert for danger, but he just couldn't help himself, he moved closer. He let my hand brush against the side of his face and the matted orange fluff of his body. Then he spat and bit at me and scurried back to the woods.

It had begun, our little dance of taming. Every day he came to me. I gently, slowly introduced him to the sweetness of human touch. He'd take it untill he couldn't, then snap and run. At last he gave himself up to it, revelling in the love. Pressing his whole body against my hand as I slid my fingers over him. And oh how he purred! It was a rough purr, almost a growl, but so full of pleasure. He'd push himself against me, pass me, turn and push back the other way.

Frequently, just to let me know he was still wild, he'd swerve in the middle of our petting session and bite, hiss, or scratch. Then he'd hightail it back to the woods and look back at me fearfully.

I never minded. I knew we were friends. I knew he'd be back for more, soon.

I have a photo somewhere, of him sitting on that stump, looking so shaggy and hungry.

Erik, my wild feline friend, tamed by true love.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!


As a total cat-person, I loved this post. Beautiful stuff.

This post sent me down memory lane, so in true Daniel spirit, I must share. When I was born, my parents had adopted a neighborhood stray named Big Red, a big old hurkin' hunk of orange cat. He was really sweet and pretty tolerant of me as a little kid. He had to be sent to Valhalla when I was about 9 or 10. I always thought Big Red was kind of a stupid, unimaginative name...like naming your dog Spot. Well, in the early 90s (I think?), they used to run this commercial on Saturday Night Live for a toy called "Big Red", which was a plastic Viking doll that spun around squirting red paint out of the points of his Viking helmet horns and ruining everything in the house. It had a jingle that involved chanting "Biiiiig RED" in a deep voice. I must point out that this was well into the dark slide of SNL into semi-mediocrity, and it was a dumb skit, but I always liked it because it reminded me that my former kitty was named after a kickass Scandinavian warrior and not a stupid cinnamon gum.

Reminds me of some people I know, and also a little of me. What a great and sweet and beautiful little story. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Thanks for the nice comments!

i love the Big Red story, how funny and sweet. Cats are awesome, I've been catless for a long time (due to ex's allergy/animosity towards all things feline) I'm so excited to be able to have a new one in my life again- i wonder who it'll be?