Susan Kilgore’s love for animals led her to a life of rescuing strays. As a result, she spent a lot of time in animal shelters. That’s where she met Sting.

“He was the first feral cat I ever saw,” she remembers. “He was this huge black cat and he was making all these noises that I had never heard an animal make. He was meowing, wailing and growling. They were not happy noises.”

She says those unhappy sounds continued to haunt her.

“I couldn’t get that cat off my mind, no matter how hard I tried,” she says. “I couldn’t stop thinking about how nobody had probably ever loved him or cared about him.”

Kilgore eventually returned to the animal shelter and asked if she could adopt Sting. They told her he was feral or, in other words, considered wild.

“Back then, I was so naïve I didn’t even know what a feral cat really was, but I knew I wanted that cat, so I insisted that they give him to me,” she says. “They said if I could manage to get him out of the cage, he was mine.”

Kilgore did manage to coax Sting out of his cage and took him home with her, where she spent the next six months nursing and taming him.

“He eventually came to trust me, which I know now is a rarity in feral cats,” she says. “He would sleep on my chest and nap. We were best buds.”

Kilgore and Sting enjoyed another five years of shared catnaps and companionship, but Sting had contracted a disease while he was feral and it eventually caught up with him, taking his life. Kilgore is philosophical about his death.

“He died fat and happy. And I have the peace of mind knowing he had a good time while he was alive,” she says.

Sting also left a legacy. He inspired Kilgore to help other feral cats, and in 1998 she founded Feral Friends, a community rescue organization for feral cats.

“After I discovered what a big problem feral cats were, I knew I wanted to help them because these are the animals nobody even things about. Most were pets at one time, but for whatever reason they’ve been discarded. They’re like the link between pets and wild animals,” she says.

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