Finding Faux: Saving a feral cat from certain death to life at Lake Tahoe
The feral kitten was destined for a burlap sack and a watery grave when a guardian angel stepped in and rescued her, along with 20 or so other kittens.
Idana Davenport was living in El Dorado County 10 years ago, before moving to Lake Tahoe. A neighbor kept cats around the house to take care of the rodents but he would not spay or neuter them so periodically he rounded up all the kittens and drowned them.
Idana learned of this and offered to pay to have the cats sterilized but the neighbor was not interested. However, he did allow her to take all the kittens.
The local SPCA would no longer accept kittens, and Cat Rescue nearby was full so Idana found homes for the lot of them herself. One wild kitty captured her attention, so she kept her and two others, naming her Faux because she had unusual coloring. She was pink.
This was a completely wild kitten, eyes not yet open and covered with fleas yet no amount of coaxing would bring her closer so Idana decided to let her live with her brother and sister on 10 acres, along with two Australian shepherds that protected the house.
Faux and siblings were called in every night to the garage by calling “Sheba,” their favorite canned food. They all came running to take advantage of the meals, then hid in the garage until sneaking outside again.
One day, Idana returned from some errands to find Faux by the house, bleeding profusely from beneath her chin. She managed to throw a blanket over her and whisked her off to the vet.
The vet determined that Faux had been bitten by a rattlesnake and would require copious amounts of care and may not make it through the night due to excessive swelling which may cause her to suffocate.
The vet allowed Idana to sleep on the floor at the pet hospital the first night to massage the cat’s neck to keep her breathing passage clear. Faux survived the night, bonding woman and cat forever so Idana opened her checkbook and told the vet to do whatever it takes.
Miraculously, Faux recovered from her ordeal, racking up a $2,500 vet bill. The only record of her injury is a scar on her chin and hopefully a healthy fear of rattlesnakes.
Six months later, Idana was walking down the driveway, the three skittish siblings and one of the dogs following, when an enormous owl swooped out of the sky and plucked Faux out of the group and up into the sky they went.
Faux was not going to give up without a fight — Idana saw Faux twist herself around until she could claw at the owl. The owl, perhaps surprised that its prey actually fought back, dropped the cat.
Faux survived the fall to the ground but she had large patches of skin torn off her sides, requiring another trip to the vet.
A mere $1,500 later, Faux came home. Idana lectured the cat on the way, telling her that from now on, she had to live inside as Faux’s credit account was now closed.
It took some time and careful monitoring of the doorway, but Faux eventually became an indoor cat, while remaining hidden and elusive. After 10 years, Faux will occasionally crawl into Idana’s lap and purr, as long as no one tries to touch her.
Idana married and moved to Lake Tahoe. Faux thought she had moved to Cat Disneyland as the first night in her new home a chipmunk appeared before her. Outdoor cat skills kicked in and the chipmunk fell to Faux’s prowess.
Her new husband also had a cat, named Charlie Tuna. Faux, independent and determined to be solitary, refused to allow even Charlie, a peaceful cat, into her inner circle (consisting of just herself) and periodically they fight, instigated by Faux, much smaller than Charlie at only six pounds, yet she always wins.
A household with a cat or two in it is rarely boring, sometimes a little too exciting, but most certainly rewarding. Though Faux has been an expensive cat — and to this day, after 10 years of domesticity, still refuses to be touched or cuddled — Idana has no regrets.
There are many of these interesting creatures waiting for homes in shelters around the lake and in Reno at the Nevada Humane Society. Take the plunge, adopt a cat and enter the realm of their mysterious ways.
Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. Visit saveourplanetearth.com to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.