The next feral to appear was Patches. I first saw him in December of 2010. He was a long brown and black swirled cat with a raccoon tail. He did not look skinny so I assumed he was an owned cat. I did not see him again until the spring of 2011. He began to appear a few times a week to grab a bite to eat. Yet if he caught a glimpse of me he would not return for days. During the summer, the routine continued. At first I believed this cat was a female and I called her Peaches. A few weeks later I saw small fuzzy male parts so I changed the name to Patches!
All summer he came and went. In mid August he began to come numerous times each day and stick around on the deck for awhile. He and Shadow were mostly friendly with each other. As summer wore into fall, Patches was becoming a permanent fixture on the deck. The only exception was that he did not stay the night. He left every evening before dark and did not reappear until mid morning the next day. Just before November we put up the winter shelter. I would be moving the loveseat into the shelter along with some outdoor heat pads. A few days before moving the loveseat I looked out and Shadow and Patches were snuggled together. A few minutes later and Shadow was grooming Patches. This was the start of their wonderful friendship.
I knew Patches needed to be neutered, but I decided to wait until Spring. Shadow had been around now for over a year and his progress was amazing. He liked to be pet and brushed. Patches would watch and watch. One day in early November 2011, Patches decided he wanted to be pet. He just loved it and could not get enough. After a few days, it was apparent that Patches had most likely been owned at one time. Yet his time living on his own had made him wary of humans and feral like.
Patches and Shadow spent the winter together and did so well. Beginning in February 2012, Patches began to disappear. At first it was a day or two, then a week or longer. I had no idea what he was doing and often worried he was dead. It finally dawned on me that he was beginning to look for a mate. I knew he must be TNR’d right away. I decided to tell him about it in hopes it might make the process easier. Even though I could pet him, I could not pick him up and decided a trap was the best.
On a Friday night in late April 2012, Patches disappeared. He did not come back until late August 2012. I was beside myself. When he reappeared it took him a few days to acclimate to me, but he was once again wanting pets. The only difference was that he wouldn’t stay. He would come for food and some pets and then leave. It made trying to trap him very difficult. This behavior continued all winter. I tried a few times to trap him, but he would never even go near the trap.
Finally in March of 2013, I decided to try something different. Shadow and Patches often liked to come just inside my sliding door. I had to leave the door open, but they would hang out with me not venturing far at all. I decided to try the trap inside the house. My heart was beating so loudly as I enticed Patches into the trap with tuna. I was even dropping it into the back of the trap. It worked and I trapped him. The experience was traumatic for us both. He thrashed and thrashed. I had to keep him in my basement in the covered trap all night. The next day he was neutered and then he had to spend another night in my basement in the trap. He was a mess. He had tried to claw his way out. There were broken nails and blood all over. When I released him, I had an awful feeling. He shot so fast out of the trap and never looked back. It was the last time I ever saw him.
He left a hole in my heart. For a long time I truly regretted his neuter. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I broke his trust which resulted in him never returning. I always called him my Gentle Giant. I would love to think that someone else cared for him, but deep inside as time went by I felt he was no longer living. I did my best, but often wonder if my best was good enough. Rest in Peace sweet Patches. I miss you each and every day. Additional pictures of Patches are available on my Flickr site.