The Early Years:
Kiki originally belonged to a family living next door and holds the official title of "outdoor cat". Kiki and I got off to rough start in our relationship because she had it in her mind that the bird bath I placed in the back yard was put there to attract her dinner. She would hide in the small bushes planted below the birdbath and grab the doves as they arrived in the early morning and late afternoon. It was becoming a full time job keeping Kiki away from the yard. I started with small toy rubber balls and reached an all time low by setting rat traps along the fence, covering them with small wooden planks (intended more to create noise and scare her than cause injury). Liz continued setting out food, hoping a well fed cat would think less about hunting birds. Nothing seemed to work, and within a year the birds stopped showing up and Kiki would run for the hills when I stepped out of the house.
Eventually, the family next door moved away and left Kiki behind to search for new providers. Liz informed me that under these new circumstances Kiki was going to become a permanent member of our family and changes were going to take place. The order came to cease and desist all rubber ball and rat trap operations and make peace with Kiki. This change was easy enough for me; after all there were few to no birds showing up at the bird bath and Kiki was an excellent mouser. Without the rubber balls and noisy rat traps, Kiki was in no mood to forgive and forget.
The Formative Years:
Kiki was already an adult cat when we assumed responsibility and was set in her ways. We discussed the possibility of converting her to indoor status but realized the transition would probably be next to impossible because Gus would attack her at every opportunity and given their size difference, it is likely he would kill her and wreck the house in the process. Kiki is truly a street wise feline already familiar with the territory and knows the many hazards of the environment, including the Coyotes that visit from the canyons. Kiki is a survivor.
The Mature Years:Kiki maintains her outdoor status and enjoys a peaceful existence as a member of our small family. Liz has always had a close relationship with Kiki and usually has no problem approaching her with the intent of picking her up and holding her. Kiki and I have finally made peace and on those special occasions she will let me approach and pet her. For the most part though, I am still nothing more than a can opener with legs.
When the weather turns cold or the rains begin, we make a special attempt to bring Kiki into the garage where she will be safe and warm. She is seldom thankful for this gesture of kindness and prefers to be left to her own devices for securing a dry place to wait out the stormy weather. For all the times we have taken the extra steps to bring her in from the cold or rain, she has never raised a claw in anger. She knows we are not out to do her harm, she only prefers to be left alone and supplied with fresh food and water.
The Senior Years:
Kiki's status has been upgraded to an indoor cat where she may enjoy the comfort and safety not often found on the streets. Mind you, she still must contend with Gus who possesses serious risks found nowhere else on Earth. We discovered early on that Kiki and Cindy enjoy one another's company and with their combined numbers they are nearly able to keep Gus in check.
We have provided a cage for Kiki to seek refuge. It was originally intended for introducing Kiki into the household, but she slowly learned that this cage was her best form of defense after a few attacks from Gus. Initially, Kiki tried to stand her ground and fight back, occasionally launching her own counter attacks. This was a loosing proposition (not to mention a messy battle) and eventually she learned that the safest way to survive and remain healthy was to avoid Gus at all costs, a tactic that has served Cindy for a lifetime.
When bedtime approaches for the humans, Kiki will voluntarily enter her cage and bed down for the night. We placed a large blanket over the cage to provide additional shelter and privacy because Gus was reaching through the cage to swat at the sleeping princess. In the morning, we would discover not only has Gus pulled the blanket from the top of the cage, he has systematically shredded it with his claws and teeth. This behavior has slowly diminished in ferocity, but occasionally we will awaken to a tattered blanket, one scared feline and another who stares at us like he can't figure out why we are abut to snare him for committing acts of cruelty.
I, like Gus, am not to be trusted by Kiki. I continue to take great effort to become Kiki's trusted companion, yet she has reservations about whether or not my friendship is genuine. Perhaps, in her mind, any friend of Gus is simply not to be trusted. Liz, on the other hand, is a true and valued friend. Perhaps I will never achieve that level of trust, but I will continue my efforts.