Ulysses the Feral Cat Found Haven

cute black rescued cat

Ulysses being cute

Written by ©Linda Hill.

“Ulysses” is the name I gave my black rescue because of the trials he had been through, separated from his home and family by having, probably, been thrown away at the side of the freeway and having to keep himself alive amid constant dangers of freeway traffic, extreme weather, no food or water, and predators, such as dogs, coyotes, and hawks. (The legendary hero, Ulysses, faced 20 years of trials and attacks and danger trying to get back home to Ithaca from the Trojan War. I figured this kitty had been through just about as much.) The veterinarian thought he was about two years old and had likely survived on his own for that long.

I saw him on the side of the freeway at dusk on March 1, 2009 when I was traveling home from California visiting my mother. He was on a grassy spot on an exit-ramp cloverleaf, apparently hunting for his supper. This was in a rural area, with no houses nearby at all. I turned around at the next exit and returned to him; he was still there, but when he heard my car door open, he ran. I saw the direction he went, and prowled around to find him, but couldn’t find him…of course, he knew all the hiding spots, and they had to be good ones for his survival. I walked around and peeked into bushes and trees,, with no luck, and dashed across the overpass to another leaf of the clover and searched there, but I didn’t find him. I got back into the car –it was cold and windy– and was about to give up and drive away when I thought See here, he can’t have gotten far, so go look again. I walked to the top of a steep hill in the direction it seemed he had first run to, and peered over the side, and there he was, at the bottom, just peeking up out of a hole in the ground; I think he figured I had gone and it was safe to come out. I didn’t imagine I could get near him, but I did realize that I had found his home: a hole in the frozen ground, about two feet from the edge of the freeway.

cute black rescued cat


I continued home, about 75 miles, and the next day got out my live trap and resolved to go back to try to capture him. I couldn’t bear to leave him there in that dangerous place alone. I beamed thoughts to him, Stay out of the road, stay safe, and I will come to get you. I bought some cans of tuna and drove back to his cloverleaf and set the trap just outside his hole, and covered the sides and top with brush and debris. It was cold and windy. I went to the public library in the nearby town, about three or four miles south across a large river, and spent the day browsing, reading, and people-watching, grateful to have a warm place to spend time; I returned to the trap every few hours, and by sunset I had not caught him. Instead, the tuna was gone but the trigger was not sprung. I thought I had set the trap properly, but it is possible that I didn’t, and that he just walked in and ate the food and left. But it is also possible that the trap was set properly and he was just careful enough to get the food and not spring the trap. I drove home and came back the next day with more tuna, set the trap in the same spot, covered it with brush and debris, and went to the public library; as before, I returned every few hours, and by sundown I had not caught him…again. The food was gone and the trap had not been sprung. So I went home and came back the next day with more tuna, set the trap in the same place, covered it with brush and debris, and went to the public library; I returned every few hours, and at sundown I found him in the trap!! Hallelujah! I talked to him and told him it was going to be all right. We drove home.

cute rescued black cat stretching


The next day I telephoned my veterinarian to say I had rescued a feral cat and would they be able to examine it to see if it is a lactating female, for it if was, then I needed to return to the hole to look for kittens. The vet’s receptionist –get this, where I had been going for 20 years– said they had an opening for an appointment five days later but nothing earlier, and I said But any kittens will be dead by then, and they said Do you want that appointment or not? I said no, and telephoned a new veterinarian in town to whom I had never been. They said, Come right over! So I went, and learned that he is a boy, so we anticipated no kittens back in the hole. It was during that examination that the kitty broke loose from the people holding him and ran around the clinic in a panic, found the exhaust vent pipe and climbed up into it, headed for the roof. Fortunately, one of the veterinary assistants acted fast and reached up into the pipe in time to grab his tail before he got beyond reach. The doctor said that they usually don’t give a cat the whole new-cat treatment all at once, that is, neutering, deworming, Feline Leukemia test, and four or five vaccinations, and eye medicine to take home, but the veterinarian said that it was so traumatic for him, being handled, that we should do the whole works at once and not put him through the stress of coming back for more again later. So we did. At one point the doctor said You know, you might never succeed in taming this cat.

cute rescued black cat


Ulysses came home. He was thin –weighed 6 pounds– his fur was dry, rough, wiry, and thick, and he was very scared. He stayed in a kennel box, about 2 feet by 3 feet or so, in the living room. for about three weeks, so he could see and hear the rest of the family and learn that there would always be food and water and a clean litter box for him. When I finally opened the door to let him come out of the box if he wanted, he didn’t. I forget how long it was, but he did eventually come out. He felt the safest place was behind the toilet in the upstair bathroom, though he was perhaps also attracted there because of a large radiator, so it was very warm there. He snuggled up next to the radiator, in the corner, beside the toilet. I brought him food and water and talked with him and sometimes closed the door to the room so he could have privacy and feel safe. We went on that way for a while. He eventually let me pick him up and talk to him and pet him, but he was still quite unsure whether he was safe or not. It took a long, long time. He slowly met and made friends with the rest of the family, and I think they helped him; he could see that they were confident of their safety and were happy to share their food and water and litter boxes with him. I don’t recall any fights. You asked how we managed to tame him, and I think it was by his observing the household routines and the other cats’ calmness and having food and water and litter box. He ran from me for months, as I recall, not letting me get close, not willing to trust me nearby when he ate. I could only touch him when he was behind the toilet, and then only because there was no escape, I suppose. It took a long time. But there was constant, slow progress. And he made friends with other cats in the family and took cues from them. I think that helped him a lot.

cute rescued black cat

Ulysses relaxing and enjoying the day

It’s been a year and a half, and Ulysses has shown us what a sweet, loving creature he is. He is now 13 pounds, sleek, soft, and gorgeous. Curious about everything. Loves to be part of whatever is going on, especially in the kitchen! Loves being held and petted and told how wonderful he is. Loves meeting and flirting with human friends. Likes going outdoors into the enclosed cat pen to snooze in the sun with other family members. He loves to wrestle with the next-youngest family member; they play kitty games and chase each other endlessly around the house and curl up together for naps.

Ulysses is very, very smart, to have survived as he did in that terrible place. The veterinarian said in that first examination that he was in remarkably good condition for having lived where he was living for as long as he had. I am so grateful that he came to live with us, and that he kept himself safe and well in those horrible circumstances until I could rescue him. I thank him every day for going out hunting when he did that afternoon of March 1st so I could see him when I did, and for going into that live trap and thereby giving me the chance to give him a better life than he had. I love him very much.

Photos courtesy of Tsutomu (flickr: Wabisabi2015).

cute rescued black cat

cute rescued black cat

Ulysses napping with a watermelon

cute rescued black cat

Curious little one

cute rescued black cat

Supervising the room

cute rescued black cat

"This is my box! You can't have it!"

cute rescued black cat

cute rescued black cat

Adorable tail

cute rescued black cat

cute rescued cat black


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184 Responses to “Ulysses the Feral Cat Found Haven”

  1. Lashantina says:

    You are a VERY patient person and obviously have your calling in life. I admire you for that.

  2. Rose says:

    this is so sweet and wonderful….thank God for good people and animals !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. This made me teary and smile at the same time. Its good to hear how other people go out of their way for animals in need. You are a hero.

    I love this cat, He looks exactly like my NeeChee.

    • Linda says:

      Debbie, thanks for your comment. How did you find Nee Chee? How old is he? Are there photos of him on the Web? I'd love to see him.

      • Loizos Kyriacou says:

        Love him !!! Deja vu. I also took in an exactly identical looking cat that someone had abandoned as a kitty and raised him. Black, huge, dominant, magnificent… Lived with us, but was always a street cat, more than once he left and would return after a month, last time he never did… At least we see more black cats now in the neighborhood. Pls look me up on facebook, (i am the one with the baby horse), i’d love to send you some pictures of him…

    • Nani says:

      I got teary smile too :) This is absolutely an amazing story.

  4. Joanne says:

    What an amazing story! What a gorgeous cat! Thank you so much for having the patience to save this kitty and let his true self come out!

  5. siew eng says:

    he really is gorgeous. thank you for persevering in your efforts to save him. now see how handsome your reward is!

  6. Xaidiz says:

    @Linda, May god bless you for what you have done for this cat. May he brings prosperity and good fortune to you. <3 Cats.

  7. Barb says:

    What a great story. Thanks for being so determined. Ulysses is definitely one happy cat now.

  8. Amber says:

    I'm so glad that you saw him that day, and that your persistence paid off as it did. Ulysses is a beautiful boy, and he has such a wonderful mom who was willing to go to any length to save him and give him a fur-ever home!

  9. Chelsea says:

    I rescued my 2 year old black cat, Darby, from a bush along highway 7 in WA. He is so smart and clever. We recently got a second cat from a shelter and Darby became fast friends with him. This story reminds me of my time with my little man Darby. Thank you for giving your heart to this little guy! He deserves it! And you deserve so much praise!

    • Linda says:

      Chelsea, thank you for your comment. Have you thought of writing Darby's story and sending it to LoveMeow to be posted on the site? I'd love to hear it. How is he? Are there photos of him on the Web? I'd love to see him. Thank you for rescuing him. How old is he now? Who is his shelter-cat brother? Do you know his story?

      • Chelsea says:

        I have thought about sharing Darby's story, but, sadly, I don't have any great photos of him. He's a long-haired black cat and he's not so keen on socializing all the time. He's a great guy–very smart and inquisitive. He's also a great big brother to our new kitty Plato. Plato was born in a barn in Airdrie, Alberta (I now live in Calgary) on March 11, 2010 and was the last of the 4 kittens in the litter to be adopted because he's black. He's so playful and sweet, too! He'll start purring even before you touch him. Darby is 2 years old now. Plato is still a baby at 8 months. I love both of my boys. A lot of people think it's weird that both of my cats are black, but I just love them so much. They both bring me so much joy :)

  10. Starla says:

    That is a wonderful story and thank you for saving him. He is beautiful!

  11. Kathy D says:

    He's absolutely beautiful….what a fabulous story…your determination is admirable…

  12. Kathy says:

    It is so wonderful that you and Ulysses found each other and were patient enough to become family. How do you get such beautiful pictures of a black cat? It must be your patience again. I am inspired to practice patience and photography on my black cat.

    • Linda says:

      Kathy, write to Wabisabi at Flickr –these are his photos of Uly– about how to photograph a black cat. He says it is definitely a challenge. There's a link to his Flickr page at the end of the story, above. I forget if Flickr allows you to just write a message to someone or not, but you can open any photo and leave a Comment on it, and he will get it. He says the difficulty is that the camera's sensors, reading the cat's color, think it is nighttime! and so the photo ends up overexposed. So you have to shoot in Manual mode, and adjust the exposure. I'm sure he'd love to correspond with you about it if you want. And while you are on his Flickr page, you'll find more photos of Uly in the collection Animals, then Petsitting, then Yuriwaka, if you want.

  13. Marilyn says:

    Wonderful story and a very, very sweet cat!

  14. curator says:

    This is such a very wonderful story, and the photos – ah, even more. Happy Halloween to you and Ulysses, and happy days forever more.

  15. Parihan says:

    Oh this is an awesome story you r soo great and mercy person i know this feeling cuz i live my life me and my mother to feed and rescue animals.

  16. What a lovely story thank God you did'nt give up, what a beautiful cat he is,

  17. Beverly says:

    God Bless you for your determination to save this precious baby!!! He is just beautiful!!! I am so thankful for people like you with such an abundant love of cats… you are a true HERO!!!!!!! Many blessings upon your house and your furry babies!!!

  18. Carol says:

    What a wonderful story – a patient, determined human and a wild, beautiful, frightened cat who turned into a gorgeous loving animal! We all know the magic in a black cat!

    • Amen and Blessed Be! black cats are beautiful! my Luna is on my Facebook page she’s 4 years old now and I can’t imagine my life without her! I also have been volunteering at an animal shelter in Oregon for 6 years and have a tendency to favor the black cats! Right now, Luna has to have medication due to her mouth infection,but I’m doing the best I can to get her healthy again

  19. Laura says:

    We had a feral in our backyard. She did have kittens and we tamed the kittens and did a TNR on her. She lived in our backyard for a while, then decided inside was great and moved in. She's the biggest lap cat we have.

    A lot of people told us that you could never tame a feral adult, but we just gave her a safe, warm place with friendly humans. Eventually she figured out warm laps and pets were pretty good.

    Those ferals are very special.

    • Linda says:

      Laura, thank you for your comment. Bless you for saving the momma kitty and her babies. I agree that feral cats are tame cats just waiting for the opportunity. They behave as they do in the wild because they have to. What is momma kitty's name? Do you still have her? Are there photos of her on the web? I'd love to see her. Have you thought of writing her story for the LoveMeow site? I'd love to read it.

  20. janine says:

    so adorable

  21. Norm says:

    What a great story and what a handsome Cat he is. Thank you.

  22. Tricia says:

    What a wonderful story. Thank you for saving this sweet cat and giving him the such a loving home.

  23. Ellie says:

    Ur amazing patience and effort is astonishing. Ulysses found his gardian angel and I could not be happier that he found a loving home.

  24. Vera Nathália says:

    Oh God! Black one!

  25. Brian says:

    That is such and wonderful story, it was just meant to be!

  26. sea says:

    Touching and beautiful story! I'm so happy for Ulysses, he is a stunning cat and you are an extraordinary person. Thank you.

  27. sara says:

    May God bless you always for been so kind and patient. For not giving up on him. For going back until you were able to trap him. Thanks and thanks!!!! You are a beautiful human being, I wish the world is full of people like you. A lil angel found by another angel =)

  28. Caroline says:

    I'm completely waterworks after reading this. Ulysses is very glad to have you, and the world is a better, more bearable place with people like you in it. I hope to find work soon so I can move out and have my own place to rescue/foster and vet the cats I see wondering around hurt, homeless, afraid. You are truly an inspiration.

    • Linda says:

      Caroline, thank you for your comment, and for your wanting to help abandoned animals. I feel sure that you will have the resources and the opportunity to do that. Bless you for feeling as you do. You can make a difference.

  29. andy says:

    wow!! you are admirable to be able to exude such great patience and love for the cat.. ulysses is very fortunate to have found a forever home in you.

  30. Bonnie Buckmaster says:

    He is such a beautiful cat. The way you introduced him into your home in a cage, then open is how i introduce cats here to. We have 3 cats, 2 dogs and a rabbit and i think the safety of a cage is the best way to go, letting them leave when THEY fel ready.

    • Linda says:

      Bonnie, thank you for your comment. And thank you for rescuing the cats in your family. I agree that the kennel-box works well. They feel safe, feeling that they have only to defend that much space, and soon they realize that others cannot get in, and so that space is theirs. They don't have to fight for food and water, or watch their back all the time. They can experience you as a provider of food and water, not as an aggressor, and can watch you from that safe place. Even so, it can take quite a long time, depending on their previous experience, huh? Have you thought of writing the stories of your rescued cats for LoveMeow? I'm sure others would love to learn their stories.

  31. I haven't cried to much in a long time. God Bless you for the person you are to have reached out to the extent you did and never gave up to give this innocent animal a safehouse in your loving care. You are a wonderful writer and if only there were more people like you! Somehow Ulysses had the faith and hope to survive until you found him. Somehow he was the right cat at the right place, and at the right time to find just the person who would love him as he so desparately needed. He's a beautiful cat with a beautiful human being as a parent. Bravo! God Bless you!!

    • Linda says:

      Karen, thank you for your beautiful sentiments. Yes, Uly was an innocent victim of someone's selfishness and thoughtlessness. I think he suffered a lot. How brave he was, and what it must have taken to survive as he did. I often try to imagine what it must have been like, living in that hole in the ground. He is now much loved and is a joy every day. I love seeing how healthy and happy he is, how much he enjoys what he now has: a warm, safe home, playmates, family, and loving friends, feline and human.

  32. Karol Ling says:

    Omg thats one gorgeous kitty. I admire your patience, the world desperately need more like you

  33. Marilia says:

    Own, a gorgeous black vampire!!!! Love!

  34. Jan says:

    Linda, I am crying HAPPY tears after reading this! Ulysses and you are both so fortunate that you found each other … he is such a beautiful kitty and you are absolutely awesome for all you went through to make him a part of your famiily! And so many kudos to the new vet that agreed to take care of him right away when the other vet wouldn't!

    (((Hugs))) from myself and my three Meezer babies!

  35. jennifer says:

    i love the pics. thanks for sharing. :)

  36. Zoesma says:

    Such and handsome and smart boy. You are both lucky to have each other.

  37. Alex says:

    You are truly great.

  38. theresa says:

    He is beautiful-i rescued a mom cat and her 4 feral kittens 2 were black and the sweetest of the 4 -made me appreciate black cats and you are so lucky to have found him -so glad he is inside and safe now!

    • Linda says:

      Theresa, bless you for rescuing the momma cat and her four kittens. You found, as I did, that they become wonderful, loving pets. And it makes you so happy to see them thrive. Do you still have them?

  39. Kristoffer says:

    Wonderful story! Ulysses is lucky to have found such a wonderful family to live with now… and I know Linda and her family feel the same way about Ulysses. He looks so at ease and content in the pictures. Again, makes me so happy to know that there are so many wonderful people that can't just drive or walk by a stray.

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