When we moved to Maine from Pennsylvania, we faced a dilemma — what to do with Sharpie, our feral cat.
I say “our” cat because we trapped, neutered and released him back onto our property after finding him several years ago. We set up shelters and a feeding station and took care of him.
He was afraid of us but he loved us, too. After all, we were the feeders. When we were outside, he would always hang around us, just out of reach, purring and kneading.
I’d read articles that talked about relocating feral cats when necessary, but none of them addressed an issue such as how to deal with a distance of more than 600 miles.
We didn’t feel right about abandoning him, however, so we decided to try it. We got the moving van loaded up and just let Sharpie do his normal thing. Then, early the next morning, when he was hanging around us, Sean grabbed him and tried to get him into a large carrier that opened from the top.
Sharpie freaked and struggled wildly to get away. After Sean let him go, we shared a look of disappointment and tried to decide what to do. Sean didn’t think we’d get a second chance. Nor did I.
But then Sharpie walked by me and I grabbed him. For some reason, he allowed me to hold him in midair without struggling. Sean reacted quickly, pulling the lid off the carrier and attaching it again after I put Sharpie inside.
Then the yowling began.
Sharpie rode in the front seat of the moving van with Sean, yowling for the entirety of the 12-hour trip. I drove my car behind the truck.
When we got to Maine, we put Sharpie in a large cage inside the garage so he could get used to the new surroundings. He responded well, kneading and purring when we came in to feed him or change his litter. After about three days, we gave him the run of the garage and I began allowing him outside for short, supervised time in the yard.
Before a week was up, I felt confident that he was ready to go out on his own. Things went well for a couple days. Then, one night we woke up twice to hear an awful fight. The next morning, Sharpie seemed a little skittish but glad to see us. We’re not sure who or what he fought with but we decided to try keeping him safe by putting him in the garage at night.
Surprisingly, this worked well right from the start. Sharpie knows feeding time comes at the end of the day and he will happily follow one of us into the garage at dusk. He sleeps on the seat of an antique sleigh we have in the garage and hollers in the morning to make sure we don’t forget to let him out.
I’m glad we took Sharpie with us when we moved. He’s thriving, secure in the knowledge that he still has a home.