Lessons from a Feral Cat Father

From Christina: It’s my pleasure (I think) to have Liza O’Connor as a special guest today as part of a Father’s Day weekend celebration.  She’s here to tell us about her “feral father”.  Enjoy!

Liza O’Connor—Yes, I was raised by feral cats.

Feral Cat Dad

However, I loved my Feral Dad Cat (FDC) and wish to share a few valuable lessons I learned from him:

1) There’s no shame in frugality

My dad was the cheapest cat I ever knew. He’d buy large bags of bread, past the expiration date, meant to be sold as chicken food. To ensure humans didn’t buy it for consumption, someone would jab their hand in the middle of each loaf. While Dad once retrieved a partially eaten grapefruit from the trash and made me scrape all the flesh out better, thankfully, he allowed me to toss out the bread slices that had been finger stabbed. Even feral cats have their limits of cheapness.

2) Expect to work for anything you get and value what you earn.

Like all small children wandering through a store full of toys or candy, I would ask my feral cat if I could have something. He’d say ‘not unless you have the money to buy it.” That would provoke me to follow behind him saying ‘cheap, cheap, cheap’ like a baby chick. You might think it unsafe for a baby chick to taunt a feral cat, but he just laughed at me. However, I NEVER got the item I asked for.

Finally, after six months of chirping, I took his advice and asked for a job. He grew flowers for a living and it turns out even tiny children can carry small potted plants from one place to another. (I was paid a penny for relocating a pot to wherever my dad or grandmother said to put it.) Trudging through a hot humid greenhouse during summers was hard work. I soon learned that money could be had, but it didn’t come easy, and thus I became very selective on what I bought with my money.

3) Love can be said without words

My Dad Cat worked all the time, but since he worked ‘at home’ in the green houses, when I tired of carting pots, I would crawl upon his big foot and wrap myself around his leg and let him cart me about while I bonded with his ankle. He soon nicknamed me ‘Bug’. When I challenged my new name, he said it was short for ‘Sweet potato bug”. I loved sweet potatoes, so I became ‘Bug’. Even as an adult, he called me that. It was his way of saying he loved me. Because, let’s be frank, you have to truly love a person to let them sit on your foot while you drag them about as you try to do your work.

4) Be adventurous and brave

My feral dad cat had no sense of safety precautions. NONE. He once let me climb into the bucket of his tractor so he could carry me about. (I had gotten too old for his foot; I was about twelve). I get in the bucket, he says something, but I can’t hear him over the noisy tractor. So I look over the top to ask him what he said—just as he raised the bucket. Split my chin wide open. BTW: He’d tried to tell me to hold on tight because if I fell out of the bucket, he wouldn’t know and I’d be run over. (And still he was going to let me do this.)

He once had me walk the 6” beam across the top of the green house, dragging along thin rope, so he could attach it to the heavy plastics and pull it over the beams, creating a new roof for the greenhouse. If I had fallen, it would have been a 30’ drop.

Each summer we would go to Buffalo River. We couldn’t afford a raft, so, he taught us to ‘walk the rocks’ in the rapids. (You keep your feet out in front and walk over the rocks you meet as the water rushes you downstream.)

Having survived these adventures, I learned not to fear danger, which explains why I kayak, raft, fly planes, hand-glide, sky-dive, scuba dive, shark dive etc.

Love you, Feral Dad Cat from your kitten, Liza

These are just a few things my feral cat dad taught me. I could go on for pages. Yes, he was a flawed parent, but you don’t have to be perfect to be greatly loved by your kittens. You just have to love them and give them moments of happiness. And that he did.

Love you feral Dad Cat!







Having been raised by feral cats, Liza is a certifiable nut.  She has no manners, loves to make people laugh, and works very hard to make you laugh.

You can find her books at Amazon.


Liza O’Connor was recently featured in an Author “Quick Chat” at ABC Author Book Chat.  Check it out!

Author Quick Chat – Liza O’Connor


12 thoughts on “Lessons from a Feral Cat Father

  1. Awesomeness! You’ve done it again! 😀 All the guffaws aside, those are very valuable lessons indeed. My jaw hit the floor at how adventurous your hobbies are. Excuse me while I feel sorry for myself because I’m such a wimp that I don’t even know how to ride a bicycle…

      • And I have pictures doing many of them. When I went to Australia and New Zealand (and Fiji) I kept a long winded diary which I then put my pictures near the proper page. The result is a 3 inch binder.. (Unfortunately this was the time just before digital film, so these are actual fading pictures. I would mail my film back to my ex-boyfriend, certain he’d be curious and develop it for me. He did. He might have broken my heart, but he was/is a thoughtful fellow.

      • Any time you want to share photos of your adventures, I’ll be glad to find a spot on one of my blogs. Those of us who aren’t brave and fearless can live vicariously through you. 🙂

  2. If you were raised by feral cats you would brave too…or dead. And I like being fearless. It’s much easier to enjoy yourself if your every thought isn’t ‘Oh God, I’m going to die!’

  3. My older (by 10 yrs) sister kitten read this post and wanted to add her own experiences as to how Feral Cat Dad had no safety sense.: These are her words: George is our feral cat brother.He was truly feral and a safety hazard to us both, since he wished to be an only child, but that’s another story. My sister was a gentle, sweet, mothering kitten. I received all maternal care from her.

    Take it away older kitten sister:.

    I love the Feral Cat Dad blog. Those stories are so true. One of my memories is of going mountain climbing with Dad in Oregon. He had his friend. Jim. along. At first I would get to go with them without George; later George came along which made my life very stressful. You were just a baby so you got to stay home. One time we were exploring old mining towns. We came to a bridge (actually two large log/boards across a gully). We all got out of Jim’s jeep. He drove the jeep across the logs, and Dad walked across leaving me on the other side. When he got across, he called to me that it was safe to walk across, “Come on.” I was so scared so I crawled across one of the logs, inching along too slow for Dad. He yells, “We are leaving you if you don’t hurry up.” LOL

    One time George was along and we went to Rooster Rock. There was a trail (not really a trail) but Dad started walking and climbing over rocks. I, of course, had George who would not follow instructions. The rocks were slippery because we were walking under a waterfall.
    George was jumping around, pushing me, and acting crazy. Dad just left us to our own climbing abilities. We met him coming back down the rock and he told us to come on because we had to
    get home. No wonder I am not very adventurous. I was left in charge of a small child in dangerous conditions quite often. I was probably 11 and George was 6 at the time. Who leaves kids that age climbing around on wet rocks at dangerous heights?

    It is just how we grew up.

  4. Liza, I loved your nickname. It’s cute how parents shorten names for children. My daughter was always Peanut and eventually became Miss P and sometimes P. I imagine some families thought we were calling her names like urine but she was our peanut. Now I couldn’t use that for my son, so he became Pumpkin and finally stinky butt… of course the first time he met my father, my son’s diaper exploded all over my dad and his chair and the floor. 🙂

    I can see that your dad loved you very much. It sounds like he gave you some wonderful values. 🙂

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