Mason, a feral cat, was rescued by Shelly Roche, founder of TinyKittens, who never considered adopting the cat herself.
Roche found Mason on a feral cat colony in British Columbia, Canada. He lived with other cats, so volunteers from TinyKittens, a feral cat rescue organization, trapped Mason and the other cats in order to spay, neuter and give them medical treatment.
“We ended up bringing in about 26 cats one weekend, including Mason,” Roche told The Dodo. “He was one of our special ones because he had a massive growth on the bottom of his right paw. His tail had been broken multiple times. He had a bunch of infections. He needed extensive dental surgery. He was a senior cat who had no vet care basically his whole life.”
Roche estimated that Mason had been feral his whole life, not having any interaction with humans, who he perceived as predators. After treating Mason, Roche intended to return the cat to the colony, yet after running some tests, she reconsidered.
“We ran some blood work, and found out that he had advanced kidney disease,” Roche said. “We thought, ‘We can’t return him because he’s not going to survive the winter like this.’ We had gotten all his other stuff fixed up, but his kidney disease means that he needs a special diet and meds.”
Because many of the TinyKittens volunteers feared Mason’s defensive nature, Roche decided to foster him herself.
“I didn’t want him to be under any more stress than he needed to be,” Roche said. “We kind of developed a rapport where he knows when I’m going to give him meds, and he swats and hits a couple times, but he recovers pretty quickly.”
Soon, Mason grew accustomed to living under Roche’s roof. “I started coming out my bedroom in the morning, and I would notice toys all over the place and pillows off the couch. That’s a sign of a fairly happy cat who’s up all night playing and acting like a normal cat,” Roche said.
Roche then decided to foster five kittens: Scrammy, Moo Shu, Florentine, Hatch, and Fabergé. Though Mason was still not approachable, Roche was unsure of how he’d respond to the kittens.
“He has a little spot under a chair that he likes, and I put the kittens down and they started climbing all over him and invading his personal space,” Roche said. “I was right there in case he got upset — I was expecting him to hiss or growl or slink away. But then one of the ginger kittens started licking Mason’s ear, and Mason sort of leaned into it and closed his eyes like it was the most amazing thing ever.”
Roche was shocked at how Mason relaxed around the kittens. “There was pure bliss on his face, which was really amazing. It seemed like the one thing that was missing for him was contact with another living being. And while he definitely didn’t want that with me, he must have been missing it from his own kind,” Roche said.
Roche soon started letting the cats interact on a daily basis. “He’s like Grandpa,” Roche said. “The kids come over and they play and they get away with all sorts of shenanigans. If they got really, really obnoxious, he would put his paw on them and just hold them for a minute.”
“He really just came alive when they were around,” she added. “He would play and snuggle with them. If they were all sleeping on one of the beds, he’d come over to them and climb on top of them, and push his way down to make room.”
Though Scrammy, Moo Shu, Florentine, Hatch, and Fabergé have gone on to live with other families, Roche intends to foster more kittens to interact with Mason. “We will have more kittens for him,” Roche said. “In the meantime, he gets along really well with two of my adult cats, and so I made sure that the adult cats and he all played together.”