It behooves the Simians to think, from time to time, about what would have happened if things had turned out differently. Simians are capable of entertaining such abstract thoughts, whereas Felines usually don’t bother with anything beyond the now. But sometimes, very rarely but it has been known to happen, a feline denizen of the House of Chaos can be caught doing such an un-Feline thing. Freya for instance: She still has her days of feral living firmly etched in her memory, and sometimes she walks around in the House of Chaos, rubbing herself almost desperately against the simian denizens, as if to ensure herself that -yes- these love her and -yes- she has a place here. Warm, well-fed, dry and safe. This sets The Mistress to thinking herself, about the fate that would have befallen her beloved Feline babies, had they been forced to survive as ferals.
Loup-Garou would have been doing fine, one can suppose. He’s always been master of his domain and capacities. Together with his brother Zorro he has in the past been seen hunting in tandem, and he often came home with freshly-caught prey – one time even a partridge. But now, starting his years of decline at age 11, we can not be so sure that he would be able to fend for himself much longer. His older body would start to betray him. Already has he been bested in battle by such young upstarts as Almost Franky (who has by the way killed Zorro not so long ago). Already does he show signs of creaking joints and stiff muscles when he awakes from a long nap. Already has his pelt lost some of its luster and softness. He’s aging. And amongst ferals that’s a death sentence.
Bean Sidhe might have become King Of The Hill. He’s bigger and bulkier than most of his age. Had he not been spayed he might have become a formidable he-cat, but in the House of Chaos his more lazy nature has been given ample opportunity to develop in full. We can only guess what he could have done had he been feral. But obviously anything that would render his life more comfortable would have been seized upon, and we can easily imagine him leading a pride of females catering to his every whim and need. He’d been the Lion of the neighbourhood, that’s for sure… pampered by his pride.
Hrimnir, the Peacemaker… now there is a challenge to the Simian fantasy. His injuries during the past months have shown that he would not easily cower to the bullying of a dominant tomcat. He would have become one himself had we not taken him to the Man In White for emasculation. Would his cheerful demeanor have had time to develop in a feral environment, or would his better-developed musculature (thanks to his Norwegian Forest Cat dam) have allowed him to become top-cat ? In either way, we can not envision him being at the bottom of things. At the very least he would have diplomated his way to a secure spot in the local hierarchy.
Frankette, now there is one who would have become utterly lost in the feral scene. Petite and dainty as she is, and fearful and timid besides, she would not have been making many friends or allies – in fact scaring off anyone who could have helped her because she would trust no one at all. She would have been doomed to die young and miserable because of her small size and lack of courage. Her sisters are actually living as ferals, one even having survived a hideous wound in the neck, and have given birth to several litters already, but can only do so because there is a powerful tomcat in the neighbourhood (their brother Almost Franky) who protects them against other toms. But Frankette would not have been able to survive for long. Her character wouldn’t let her.
Freya has shown her mettle as a feral. She’s managed not only to survive, but to raise a kitten on her own as well before finding a Forever Home in the House of Chaos. She’s wily and smart, cunning and very very resourceful. Even now, when she has access to an ever-overflowing bowl of food (3 of them in fact) does she go out and raid for food elsewhere. Often we find gnawed-on bones and bits in the Garden of Chaos, discarded by a successful huntress after having sated her desire for food. She’s still very pre-occupied and enormously obsessed with food, but she has stopped jumping into our dinner plates when we’re eating. That, at last, we have been able to discourage. Raiding other Simians’ waste bins, alas, we could not stop. Her courage goes unquestioned, because you have to be very brave indeed to enter the territory of a strange tom (Almost Franky is NOT the sire of Isegrim – of that we can be sure when looking at the definitely not black-and-white kitten who is a darker shade of grey than his dam) and strange females (who might welcome her as an ally, but could as well have chasen her as the interloper that she was). The fact that she lives with us has greatly enhanced her status in the local Feline population. She walks about unchallenged.
Isegrim has been taught well by his dam. He’s a proud little tom-kitty (although since his recent castration no longer technically a tom) and is developing well. His dam teaches him all her tricks in fighting and hunting. He’s learning from a pro. And the way he evades the Big Bully who’s been terrorizing the House of Chaos recently you can imagine he would have stood up against Almost Franky soon. But would he have won ? He does not have the impressive size of Bean Sidhe, nor the solid muscles of Hrimnir, and certainly not the wiry experience of Loup-Garou. He only has the wits his dam has endowed him with, and which she is very busy at the moment with nurturing. But the sheer brazenness and malevolence of a tom in his prime would prove to be too much for him. And so he might be forced to leave the terrain and carve out a territory for himself elsewhere. Or be killed.
All in all, the prospect for feral cats is always bleak. Even in the rare cases when one can prosper and thrive, it is only temporary because there will always be a contender or would-be successor to fight and overcome. There will always be the daily struggle to find enough food, and the yearly struggle to drag oneself through the gruelling cold months of winter. At least in a Forever Home a cat can devote oneself to the development of one’s finer capabilities, the pleasant sensation of dozing at a warm and soft place, the luxurious grooming at ease knowing one is safe, the gastronomic delights of eating all you want in constant variation of possible foodstuffs. And the endless stimulating games one plays with the other Felines or with the Simians.
I feel that as Simians we have a duty to other animals… to make for some life as pleasant as possible.
Picture below: Almost Franky, in the Kitchen of Chaos, as frank as you please