Volya - originally intended as a diminutive of the Russian word
Volshebstvo (Magic), though Volya is a Russian word in its own right,
which means 'will', or 'liberty, freedom.' Considering this moggy's
background, that seems appropriate.
Volya - seen here sometime in the spring or summer of 2000, when he was
perhaps a year old, was born and grew up a feral. We believe that he is a
brother, from a different litter, of Boo and The
Wench, which makes him an uncle to Saki and Vodka. He was friendlier than
most of the wild cats, and always endearing, thanks to his tabby face, and
an infirmity: He limped, favoring his left front. Obviously, he'd been
injured at some time before he became a regular in my driveway.
Volya's bad day: April 13, 2001 found Volya in my trap. Here, he is
still in the trap, shortly after having arrived home from his first
visit to the vet. He is still groggy from the anaesthesia. At this
time he was fixed, innoculated, and a nasty injury to his left front
leg stitched up. This injury was recent... only a few days old... and
was not the cause of his limp, which he'd had for as long as I
had known him.
I wasn't sure this one could be tamed. He seemed very wild. I had tamed
a few ferals and rescued strays before, but they had all been kittens.
Conventional wisdom says that adult ferals can not be tamed or
socialized. Volya was tough, but I've since had tougher. My
'taming' room is my home office. It's vital to keep a new cat isolated
from the other cats in the house, and since I spend a lot of
time in my office, I think it gives the tamee a good opportunity to
get used to my presence. And since it's a mess, there are plenty of
places for a shy or frightened animal to hide and feel comfortable.
Volya used just about all of those hiding places. He also stood at
the windows a lot (when I was not present) and cried, which is
always heartbreaking to hear.
After about two and a half weeks I was seriously considering that I may
need to release him, since he was responding so much more slowly than
my earlier kittens. I went looking for advise, and the denizens of
rec.pets.cats.rescue strongly encouraged me to
persevere. In the weeks that followed, Volya began to emerge from
his hiding places.
The next step was to gradually allow him to begin meeting the other
cats. His first meeting with Boo was actually
a reacquaintance; they had played together as ferals, before Boo was
rescued the previous fall, and both seemed to remember the other. Here
volya spends some time in the august presence of
Minstrel, who looks quite at ease. Volya,
on the other hand, seems less than comfortable...
Progress after that was steady. I began to leave the office door open
after about six weeks, and after about eight weeks, Volya was living
in the house at large. After observing him closely, it became apparent
that his infirmity actually involves his entire left side. Both front
and hind legs are lame, and he is missing his lower left fang,
suggesting that he at some time received a fairly severe trauma to his
left side. I also found that there was a hard object embedded in the
loose flesh under his lower jaw. This is the brass BB that the vet
removed from Volya's jaw in 2004. Was being shot the source of his
infirmities? Are there more projectiles embedded in him anywhere?
One day we hope to have him full-body x-rayed, to find out.
Volya has since turned out to be an excellent house cat. True, he
is skittish, doesn't like to be picked up, and is an absolute terror
when it's time to take him to the vet. But on his own terms he is a
playful and affectionate moggy. He has filled out nicely and is now
about 14 pounds.
I'm very proud of what I've been able to accomplish with Volya. Today,
November 14, 2004, is three and half years since his rescue, and
Volya is now about five and half years old. It is safe to assume
that he, like all of the the rescues, would be dead by now, had
he remained feral. The average life-span of a feral cat is two to two
and a half years. At age two, Volya was reaching the edge of that
envelope. It's possible that the injury to his leg, which was cleaned
and stitched up on the day of his rescue, might have soon killed him.
Instead, he's fat and happy, and one of the coolest cats I know.
Looking at this picture, its hard to believe that this cat was once