This Thanksgiving, Lakeside Animal Hospital is excited to introduce Iver Tails, the true story of a rescued feral kitten who is grateful for his newly found family. You’ll see the world from his perspective, learn a few interesting facts about feral kittens, and, hopefully, fall in love with him just as much as we have.
Exploring the Big, Bright World
Curled into a tiny ball, surrounded by the comfort of his fur brothers and sisters, little Iver slept. He was dreaming about the day before and his adventure out into the big, bright world with his family – it was their first time stepping out from underneath the deck. Fourth in line, Iver followed his beautiful calico mother and siblings. His little sister – the only other calico in the bunch – stumbled behind.
“Come on, runt! You’re holding us up!” His persnickety eldest sister scolded.
“I’m trying my bestest,” she said.
“It’s okay. I’ve got you,” Iver told her. “I’m your big brother.”
They trailed through the rows of carrots and cabbages, tall, bushy Asters, and Morning Glory vines. They sipped water from a puddle. They paused at the sight of a fluttery Monarch.
“Stay focused, little ones,” his mother demanded. “You need to learn some basic skills before it starts getting too cold.”
Iver’s blue eyes fixated on a towering fence ahead. “Mother, are we jumping over?” “We are, my sweet orange boy. Only for a short expedition – we’ll need to return home soon so you can rest.”
*Note: Did you know that you probably won’t see feral kittens until they are roughly 5 weeks of age? It is at this stage that they have eaten solid foods and don’t depend so heavily on their mother. To learn more about how cats start exploring the big world, click HERE.
Preparing for Outdoor Dangers
A week had passed. By now, Iver was catching mice on his own. His mother told him that she was most impressed with his hunting skills. “Every kitten learns how to hunt in his or her own unique way – and you’ve really got a knack for it,” she smiled and groomed the top of his head. “I think you’re going to be just fine this winter, my orange boy.”
“How cold is it going to get?” Iver asked.
The eldest, once again, took the stage. “Very. It will be so cold that you just might freeze to death.”
“To death?” questioned his little sister.
“You’re all going to be just fine,” their mother assured. “My hope is that you stick together, look out for one another, and find warm spots to huddle up. The cold is one of many dangers for us feral cats.”
“What else can be dangerous, mother?” asked Iver.
“Well, we need to watch out for moving vehicles, strange toxins, and other animals that may want to cause us harm or fight for territory. Please, my dear ones, avoid getting into any fights. If you get separated, you might not recognize each other, so you could be picking a fight with family.”
“I’ll always recognize you, mother,” Iver said as he yawned and stretched his body.
“You have such a sweetness to you, young one. The truth is, we’re not pack animals. Should you choose to go your own way or get separated, even a little time apart could make us forget one another - unless you recognize the other’s scent - but, scent tends to fade over a short period of time.”
“But, I don’t want to forget you...” Iver said.
“Well then, imagine me as your lucky charm wherever and with whomever you travel, my sweet orange boy.”
Note: We’ve compiled a list of the possible dangers for outdoor cats, which also includes everything you need to know about acclimating a feral kitten to your home. Contact our Hospital Administrator for a copy at Penn.Engebose@nvanet.com.
Iver Gets Lost
It was another day, out and about, fence-jumping, tree-climbing, mouse-catching, and more, all accomplished in an hour’s time.
“You’ve all gained such confidence,” his mother smiled. “I suppose it’s time to explore something new today. I’ll need you all to stay close, though – I sense a November storm coming.”
The kittens followed their mother, tails high in the air, making a lined pattern of calico, black, orange, black, orange, and calico. They were a focused tribe of feral cats, that was until Iver spotted a tiny white moth.
“Look, little sister! Look at this thing hop around in the grass! What is it?” They bounced after it with curious amusement. “I think I got it!” Iver said. He opened up his paws and the moth flew up, up, up into the sky. They once again chased after, until it was no longer in sight.
“Hey…where did mom go? Where are the others?” his little sister panicked.
“Um…I bet they went this way...”
“But how can you be sure? What if that storm comes?”
Iver knew he needed to hold it together, for himself and for his sister.
“Well, here’s the thing, little sister. Mom said she’s our lucky charm. Whether she’s with us or not, she’ll keep us safe. Plus, you don’t need to worry about a thing. I know the way back home.”
“I do. We just need to take this back alley, cross by that old truck...” Iver started to lead the way when he felt the first few drops of Autumn rain.
“My coat! I’m getting wet!” his sister cried.
“We’ll be back in no time – you’ve got to trust me!”
And they were. Iver skillfully led the way back to their home, underneath the deck, where they were protected from the storm. The two kept each other warm while waiting for the others to return.
Note: Want to learn how a litter of kittens can be a rainbow of colors? Click HERE to read "The Fascinating Facts Behind Cat Colors."
A Family for Iver
Two days had passed. Iver’s family had not yet returned. He tried his best to keep his sister occupied with jokes, like, “What did the cat say when the mouse got away? You’ve got to be kitten me!” or “Why don’t cats play poker in the jungle? Too many cheetahs.” While she was amused, the distraction didn’t last long.
“You know what, little sister, let’s go out into the sunshine. If they’re not coming back…”
“What do you mean if they’re not coming back?”
“If they’re not coming back, and that is a possibility, we have to be brave kittens. We need to be able to take care of ourselves,” he said.
They peeked their tiny heads out from underneath the deck, did a small scan of the landscape, and trailed through the familiar rows of carrots and cabbages, tall, bushy Asters, Morning Glory vines, and jumped over the fence. And, that is when Iver saw her – a beautiful human lady, only a few feet away. To his surprise, she saw him, too.
“Stay brave,” he thought to himself.
“Christopher! Christopher! Come here! We have kittens,” the lady cheered in a whisper.
“Where is our family? We can’t find our family!” Iver’s little sister cried.
“Oh, my goodness, Christopher, do you hear this tiny kitten’s meow? Look at those big purple eyes. What a darling.”
A man with a beard slowly approached the scene as the lady cautiously bent down.
“Look at how brave they are – they’re not running away. Do you think they’re hungry? Do you think they need shelter? What do we do?” she asked as the bearded man knelt down beside her.
“I think we take them home,” he replied. “I think we make them part of our family.”
Note: Curious to learn how to acclimate a feral kitten into your home? Our Hospital Administrator would be proud to share some tips - email her at Penn.Engebose@nvanet.com. And, if you’re up for more cat jokes, you can click HERE to find out where Iver got his!
A Grateful Feral Kitten
Little did Iver know that this would be the start to some of the happiest, warmest, days of his life. He would soon be an indoor cat, and his pet parents would introduce him to his newest fur siblings, endless snuggles, bad cat jokes from the bearded man, and his first Thanksgiving ever.
*Note: Stay tuned for the next episode of Iver Tails where Iver and his sister are officially adopted and learn their names. Iver is also introduced to Winnifred, Stella, and Maxwell, and you won't want to miss out!
About Iver Tails
Iver Tails was inspired by Lakeside's Hospital Administrator, Penn Engebose, who has a special place in her heart for feral kittens. Our author, Katy Corey of Filament Communication, is the proud pet parent of Iver. These co-collaborators can't wait for you to hear more about this sweet boy's adventures.