Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Even Pandora Prefers Natives

A couple of years ago a starved kitten started coming by our place. It was as wild and as untouched by human hands as cats can come. It would raid the compost bin of whatever was edible to vanish at the first sight of a human. Sometimes it would vanish for days or weeks at a time. So wild was it, that I started calling it "Pan" after the Greek god Pan who was the god of the Wild.

The weather turned colder and Pan roamed less and stayed more. We had 2 old barns filled old hay and straw that do provide a haven to many a critter. But it was clear that Pan was starving and I began to leave food out. I would call "kitty-kitty" and shake the food container to let Pan know that the human left the food and it just didn't fall like manna from the sky. Pan came to know the call meant food but was very secretive about coming for it and often waited until the human vanished again.

This went on for months....a year. Pan came more and now would let itself be seen but would keep a very safe distance. My husband began occasionally feeding the cat. He began talking to it. And over the course of many months and numerous hours of patient waiting, he was able to touch Pan. Over the following months, he came to be able to pet our feral cat. The cat even changed its scheduled time for visits to match his schedule. My husband also came to realize the cat we thought as male (red cats usually are) was female. Pan had become "Pandora."

Now 2 years later, she is still wild but she loves to be petted. She often hangs around our deck not only for food but for pets. Even though we speak of her as "Pandora" she knows her name as "Kitty-Kitty" from those early days of being fed.

She loves my "woodland" native plant garden. My woodland garden is on the east side of our house under a huge, old crabapple tree. It provides the copious leaf litter and shade to grow many native woodland plants. I grow wild ginger, twinleaf, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, black cohosh, blue cohosh, solomon's seal, spikenard, goldenseal, wild geranium, ferns, white baneberry, ramps, bellwort, and more in this garden. Some of the larger plants (like the solomon's seal and spikenard in the picture above) make a nice place to bed under. I couldn't resist snapping a picture of her snoozing there - of course she woke as I was going to take the picture, but you get the idea.