Shelly Roche had no intention of keeping Mason. Roche feared the 10-year-old male cat would be unhappy living inside a domestic environment since he was wild and rather violent against people.
Roche, the founder of TinyKittens, discovered a wild cat colony on a private property in British Columbia, Canada, in October. So Roche and a few volunteers began catching the animals in order to spay, neuter, and treat them. And if any of them were kind, they’d try to locate them places to live.
“We ended up bringing in approximately 26 cats, including Mason, one weekend,” Roche told The Dodo. “He was one of our unusual ones due to a big growth on the underside of his right paw.” His tail had been broken a number of times. He was sick with several infections. He required considerable dental work. He was an elderly cat that had had no veterinary care for the majority of his life.”
Mason, on the other hand, was going to be difficult to treat.
“He’s been wild his entire life, so he’s never had any nice contact with humans,” said Roche. “Essentially, he sees humans as predators.”
After providing Mason with the necessary medical care, Roche intended to return Mason to his colony and just leave food out for him each day. But then Roche discovered something that altered everything: Mason was urinating far more than he should have been.
“We did some blood tests and discovered that guy had severe kidney illness,” Roche explained. “We reasoned, ‘We can’t return him since he won’t survive the winter like this.’” We have all of his other requirements met, but his kidney illness requires a particular diet and medication.”
Mason frightened the other TinyKittens volunteers, so Roche took him home to live with her.
“I didn’t want him to be under any more stress than he had to be,” stated Roche. “We kind of formed a relationship where he knows when I’m going to give him medicines, and he swats and hits a couple times, but he recovers pretty fast.”
Mason did get more at ease in Roche’s home after a while.
“I started walking out of my bedroom in the morning and saw toys all over the place and pillows off the couch,” Roche explained. “That’s an indication of a reasonably contented cat who has been up all night playing and acting like a regular cat.”
Then Roche came home with five foster kittens: Scrammy, Moo Shu, Florentine, Hatch, and Fabergé. Roche wasn’t sure how Mason would respond to the kittens because he hadn’t been nice with her, but she planned to cautiously introduce them to see how he’d react.
“He has a favorite area beneath a chair, and when I put the kittens down, they started crawling all over him and violating his personal space,” Roche said. “I was right there in case he became agitated — I was expecting him to hiss, snarl, or slink away.” But then one of the ginger kittens began licking Mason’s ear, and Mason leaned into it and closed his eyes, as if it were the most lovely thing imaginable.”
Mason had never relaxed like that with Roche, and Roche couldn’t believe it.
“He had a look of absolute pleasure on his face, which was really fantastic,” Roche recalled. “It appeared like the only thing he was lacking was touch with another live creature.” And, while he didn’t want it with me, he must have been missing it from his own species.”
She opted not to put Mason and the kittens together since they had distinct medical and dietary needs, but she began bringing the kittens to visit Mason every day.
“He reminds me of Grandpa,” Roche remarked. “The kids come over and play and get away with all kinds of antics.” He’d put his paw on them and just hold them for a minute if they were really, really irritating.”
“He simply seemed to come alive when they were present,” she continued. “He’d play and cuddle with them. He’d walk up to them, get on top of them, and push his way down to create room if they were all sleeping on one of the beds.”
Mason is still suspicious of Roche, but she has managed to pet him when the kittens are there.
“I called it the Trojan kitten approach,” said Roche. “I could walk up and slide my hand under a kitten and pet him that way if the kittens were cuddling with him.” And we’d all act like it was the kitten. Mason would be aware of what was going on, and the kittens would say, ‘Oh, we’re doing this again?’ OK.’”
“The adorable part is that he enjoys being pet,” Roche remarked. “He enjoys ear rubs and having his head caressed. He just believes that humans are predators.”
Scrammy, Moo Shu, Florentine, Hatch, and Fabergé have all been taken into permanent homes, but Roche intends to take in additional foster cats.
“There will be more kittens for him,” Roche promised. “In the meanwhile, he gets along pretty well with two of my older cats, so I made sure they all played together.”
Scrammy, Moo Shu, Florentine, Hatch, and Fabergé, on the other hand, played an essential role in Mason’s life, assisting him in adjusting to a new existence inside a house.
“He was kind of lonely and in a situation where he had to relearn everything he thought he knew, so having these kittens kind of pile on him and give him love, and also just play with him, it was the most carefree I’d seen him since he arrived here,” Roche explained.