In my efforts to offer as many Zoo Animal Ambassadors as possible the opportunity to participate in shamanic ceremonies, and for me to connect with them and listen, I make unofficial visits to a few local places regularly. On a visit to Cougar Mountain Zoo I met an African Grey parrot named Max who appreciated a good story.
As I was carrying the cat bowls filled with breakfast for my cats to their respective eating places I thought I caught a glimpse of someone at my front door.
I thought nothing of it, since the local squirrels often come by for their own breakfast at the Rose Café. On my trip back to the kitchen I was startled to see that it was the local black cat, the one who always growls at me when he sniffs me because of course, I smell like other cats. And if I try to pet him he can turn aggressive. So, needless to say, we’ve never developed a warm friendship. And for that indoor-outdoor cat Manitou is grateful, since he hates the sight of Black Cat and chases him off whenever he can.
Thankfully that morning Manitou had his face buried in his food bowl in the back of the house so he did not see the sacrilege of Black Cat sitting on Manitou’s front porch, staring intently in at my senior cat Sand while she enjoyed her high-quality breakfast.
For a moment I felt sorry for Black Cat. Even though I can see that he is well fed, the quality of his body tone and the dullness of his coat tells me that he is not fed a diet equal to my own cats. Most likely it is low- or middle-of-the road-quality dry kibble. I had to harden my heart and give myself a dose of reality—not only could the Wild Rose Café not afford to add this poor fellow to the daily buffet (it is a variety of really high-quality canned and freeze-dried raw food)—Manitou would most likely have a conniption.
And I needed to get Black Cat off the front porch before Manitou saw him. Just then one of the squirrels arrived for breakfast, and when I carried the nut container to the front door Black Cat looked at me hopefully. He moved off a bit, and the squirrel moved in to take his place.
As I poured a handful of nuts onto the ground the squirrel grabbed one and moved off. Black Cat came forward to check out the offering, but his hopes died with one sniff—it was not the bonanza he had seen in Sand’s food bowl.
I have to put my own cats first—much as I might want to, the Wild Rose Café simply can’t feed everyone.
Postscript: For those of you who might feel disappointed in my refusal to offer food to Black Cat, there are several reasons why.
One is that he is someone else’s animal companion, and for all I know he could have health issues or food allergies. It would not be appropriate. And if he goes home and eats less of his own food they might feel he is not well and take him to the vet. I don’t know his living situation and worst case scenario would be that he might decide he likes me better and not go home at all. I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve no room for another cat at this time.
Another really good reason (that I have learned from being a pet professional), is that having strange outside cats hanging out up against the house can result in indoor cats feeling threatened. They may then begin to mark territory outside the litter box to tell the interloper what it theirs. Cats are really good at defining territory and boundaries, and as the protector of my cats I need to look at this from their perspective. If I feed that cat I tell him it is ok to expand his territory—there is then no buffer zone around my house for my own cats’ territory.
Now, if he were starving and homeless (as Manitou was when he arrived in my back yard) I would deal with the situation differently. I would call in a local rescue and get him help.
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.