Meet Penny A Feral Cat Story
Knock, knock, knock Penny! Knock, Knock, Knock Penny! Any fans of Big Bang Theory out there? If so, then you probably understand the reference and see the humor behind our naming convention of my parent’s cat Penny. Penny is a special cat and I wanted to make sure to tell her story because it was truly the turning point of my families love for cats.
To start, Penny is a 4 year-old black, previously feral, cat. For anyone who is not sure what a feral cat is, it is simply a cat that has not been introduced to humans. Therefore, Penny was a wild cat and did not have any interactions with humans, until us. She was just a kitten when she was found so our family has been fortunate enough to be able to spend nearly all her life with her. The story of Penny’s adoption starts on Halloween with my brother and his friends actually.
My brother had invited a group of his friends over to hang out around a newly purchased firepit and roast marshmallows. This invite eventually turned into a marshmallow fight with the boys in which most of the marshmallows were not cleaned up. My poor mother got the unfortunate task the next morning of cleaning up the mess the boys had made when she saw her. A little black kitten eating a marshmallow! The kitten say her and immediately ran back into the trees.
The Start of Crazy Cat Lady
My mother then called me and told me she had seen a little black cat. In all honesty, we all thought she was a little crazy and tried to tell her she did not actually see a cat. Thankfully she did not listen and started watching for the cat, where she saw it again. Every time she saw the cat, the cat would run away. Nevertheless my mom persisted. She began putting food out, posting about a found black cat, and did every attempt known to find this kitten’s owner. We had a few individuals answer that claimed they had lost their black cat, came over to meet the animal but every time it was not a match. No one was willing to claim this cat.
One funny part of this story, my mother had thought it was be a good idea to trap this kitten, take it to vet and basically make it love us. She had bought a cat trap, put wet food in it, and covered it with a blanket to make it more appealing. Penny, being an EXTREMELY smart cat was able to figure out how to get to the food without setting the trap off. So she was still a wild, untrappable cat that was at least well fed at this time. Every morning, they would walk outside expecting to see the kitten safe and sound, and without fail they would awake to find that this kitten had bested them once again. This smart cat was only going to come to us on her own terms.
After a few months, and many failed owner find attempts, my mom was able to be on the same porch as this cat and was continuously putting food out for her. The weather was getting cold and my mom did not want this cat to be out in the cold. She went out and bought a heated outdoor cat house so this animal would have a warm place to sleep at night. It took a few nights for her to be comfortable with it, but eventually she was grateful for the house and began to become more curious about the strange beings living inside the box. (Us living in the house).
I still remember the day my mom sent me a picture of this little black kitten sticking her head into the house. I was all excited and told my mom to just grab her and keep her forever! She then had to explain to me, the cat still would not let her touch her but with getting more comfortable with the idea of humans. One thing that I think helped tremendously was we had a dog at the time that was able to go outside whenever he wanted. Penny was able to see the dog go inside and come back out, perfectly fine and happy. We couldn’t be too bad if he trusted us. In my head I like to believe they also formed a friendship outside too which helped but that is purely speculation.
Her First Indoor Experience
The first time she fully went into the house proved to us she was a truly feral cat, not a kitten that was dumped and wandered around to us. Again, she was fairly regularly peeking her head into the house interested but had not ventured her whole body inside. The first day she did, my mom closed the door slowly behind her so she could see that is place is not scary.
Immediately, Penny freaked out. The idea of being trapped scared her immensely and we believe that her first time seeing a ceiling/roof scared her. She ran around the house desperately trying to get out and ran into my sister’s room, who was sleeping at the time this was all happening. The cat darted into the room and my mom informed my sister “calmly” to not freak out but the cat was in the house.
Penny jumped onto the curtains looking at the window trying desperately to get out and she ran right back outside after we opened the door. The family felt horrible. We were just trying to show her that she could feel safe inside and that we were nice. So we learned that again, we needed to be very patient with her and let her come in on her own time.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
The holiday season was around the corner and I was home from college on break. My mom had updated me on the kitten’s information and excitedly told me that she was able to pet the cat but they were still not able to really close the door as the kitten still was stressed out. She also told me that they were starting to look for a home for this kitten as my dad was adamant that we were not to keep this cat.
Every day it was also a very real fear that she would not come back to us, whether it be getting lost, trapped by animal control, or attacked by another animal. To regress, at this point in time my mother was getting up every morning around 4:30 looking for the cat, feeding it and praying that it would come back each day.
All of this news just broke my heart. I had never had a situation where I was worried about seeing an animal again the next day. So I offered to help anyway I could. My mom then told me that the cat wanted to come in during the nighttime but again, could not close the door as she was scared. So it was pretty much cat comes in, cat goes out. Five minutes pass, cat wants to come in again then goes out in five minutes. My poor poor sleep deprived mother! So I said I would do that one night I was home. It took a few hours for the cat to trust this “new human” that suddenly appeared but by bedtime she was trusting of me and willing to come inside with me there.
My First Night With Penny
Nighttime came, and I stayed in the living room watching for the cat to come inside and began the inside, outside dance. As the evening went on, I began laying on the hardwood floor to be close to her (and because I was exhausted). The cutest thing happened, she rubbed up against me and semi-cuddled with me. I started crying. I was so sad that this cat could end up dying not knowing she was loved. I kept whispering to her that our family loved her so much and no matter what happened she was so loved.
Eventually I fell asleep, and surprisingly she did too…for about a half an hour. After which she was ABSOLUTELY ready to go back outside and informed me that the door needed to be opened way more in order for her to be able to get out. I let her out and she was gone until 4:30 that morning.
Welcome to the Family
That small progress made so happy and as time went on she began to trust us more and more and made leaps and bounds with us. She finally would let us close the door behind her, so long as she was let back outside too. That time too, our family had completely fallen in love with her. The idea of adoption was no longer an option. Of course, as people would come over to our house and see this gorgeous, loveable, kind cat they would began offering to look for people to adopt or take her themselves; but our minds were made up. This was going to be our cat and we were going to learn how to be a cat family.
We were now tasked deciding on a name for the cat. My sister’s favorite show at the time was Big Bang Theory so they wanted to name her Bernadette, and call her Bernie. I was not a fan and objected strongly on it. My brother also had suggestions on the naming of the cat, all of which were horrible and rejected immediately that I do not even remember. Finally we decided on Penny. A happy compromise of Big Bang Theory and a cute pet name.
Penny continued to develop into the sweet loving cat that she is today. I strongly believe that a large part of her was our dog at the time, Norman. I believe that seeing Norman run in and out of the house was the reason she started to trust us. I believe that she was okay being inside because she saw Norman go inside and outside.
And in my heart of hearts, I believe that Norman served as a big companion for her. Imagine being outside, cold and by yourself and then seeing another creature that kind of looks like you. Everyone needs someone. Penny has now become so comfortable in the house that she lays by the fireplace when it is cold out and will sleep on her back legs sprawled out for the world to see. We still let her outside and she
Adding Family Members to Penny’s Family
Sadly, Norman has since passed and she has been the animal welcome to all the other pets that have come into our lives, including Phoebe and Wobbles. She has wonderfully stepped in as the role of ‘Mommy’ and been very patient with both the cat, and my parent’s puppy Lola.
The family knows that Penny is an anomaly as many domesticated cats are not even as tame as she is. We partly believe it is a combination of her personality, the patience we gave her, and the difficulties she had to face outside. She has brought so much joy, laughter, and craziness into our lives that we are so grateful every day that we decided to keep her.
My family is so thankful every day that my mother ignored us when we called her crazy about seeing a cat, and proceeded with so much patience to earn the cat’s trust. Penny was the starting push that really opened the families’ eyes to the love in which a cat is able to provide. Before she came along, my family had only ever had dogs and did not understand the joy and differences that a cat could bring into our worlds.