When volunteers at a cat rescue group in British Columbia heard about a feral cat colony on a large, rural property, they began trapping the animals to spay and neuter them with plans to find homes for the friendly ones.
They brought in more than two dozen animals including Mason, a 10-year-old male with a growth on the bottom of his paw, a tail broken in several places, multiple infections, and a need for extensive dental surgery. It was tough to treat the very feral feline, but they managed to help him recover and eventually planned to return him to the farm, where the owner agreed to continue feeding the cats. But bloodwork showed Mason had advanced kidney disease, so the options were to euthanize him or hope he'd adjust to hospice care inside a home.
"We are a no-kill organization, and believe that any life is worth saving as long as we are able to alleviate suffering," writes Tiny Kittens founder Shelly Roche, in telling the cat's story. "Mason's many scars told us how hard he had fought to survive this long, and we were determined to give him a chance to experience comfort, safety and freedom from pain during his sunset months."
Roche took the cat into her home, and Mason eventually started to feel comfortable. He never liked to be petted or interact with people, but he began rearranging the pillows, moving the rugs and playing with toys — all signs he was adjusting to his new domestic life.
The day the kitten riot arrived
Then one day, Roche brought home some kittens she was fostering, and they quickly made a beeline for the crotchety, old cat.
"They swarmed over to Mason's lair, and started climbing all over him, just really invading his personal space. I was right there next to them, holding my breath and expecting him to hiss or growl and then slink away to hide under the couch," Roche writes. "When Scrammy (ginger kitten) started licking Mason's ear, and Mason leaned into it, I completely melted ... the one thing missing for Mason had been contact with another living being, and while he didn't want that from ME, he had clearly been craving it from his own kind."
Mason was protective of "his" kittens, letting them climb all over him, cuddling them and playing with them gently. He lets them play with his tail without complaining.
And he often gets trapped under a pile of purring babies:
Sometimes he takes a break from snuggling and shows the kitties his wild side:
When his first litter of little friends found homes, Mason found new kittens to take care of.
"His feral instincts remain strong when it comes to humans, but he has revealed a gooey, marshmallowey center to these tiny rescue kittens," Roche writes. "We are trying to be realistic and prepare ourselves that he likely only has months left, but we are determined to make those months the best he's ever had."