So after my Gunnar died, just before Christmas, I haven’t felt up to taking on another pet of my own yet, so I contacted Pawsitively Cats, which is a no-kill shelter, and put in an application to be a foster home for a couple rescue cats. Last Wednesday I went to the shelter and brought home MaryJane and Levi. They both need more socializing than they can get at the shelter… which is an awesome place, btw. It’s a small house that’s been converted for a shelter. There are heavy duty shelving units covered in pillows and blankets and cats, literally everywhere!! It was fabulous, I thought I’d fallen into heaven. Only those new to the shelter and/or needing monitoring were in cages… the rest were wandering about, or snoozing on the various shelves and furniture. I wound up being there well over an hour, just because I couldn’t tear myself away! At one point I had 3 of the cats following me around for pets. And oh my gosh! There was this orange cat on top of a shelving unit that LOOOOOVED head boops, and he kept coming at me wanting head boops, and once when I was going to wander off (because my back was hurting and I needed to sit down), he actually reached out and grabbed my hair, and pulled me back for more head boops!!! I wanted to take him home SOOO bad… but I was there to bring home cats that needed help with socializing, and they needed me more. But I was in looooooooooove!!! I keep thinking of him, though, and maybe if, in a week or two when MaryJane and Levi have settled in more and not needing quite so much personalized time, I might go see if they’ll let me foster him, too, if he’s still there, because my heart just aches for a cat who’ll interact with me! Anyway… first things first, though.
MaryJane is a shorthair, white with black slotches. The poor kitty is totally freaked out; she’s only 3 but she lived all her life with an elderly lady, who then had 2 hip replacements and couldn’t get around on her own, much less take care of a cat. MaryJane doesn’t know what is this place and all these cats and all these people and she doesn’t like it, and when I looked in her eyes, I could practically see her screaming in denial… she just wanted it to all go away and be home in her home. She’s clearly just miserable and I feel so bad for her! She will hiss and strike out (with claws!) with zero hesitation, but she will let you pet her when you take the time to approach slowly (requiring about 10 minutes of being very still and talking gently, and inching my hand closer). Once she allows me to pet her, she definitely enjoys it, even going so far as to cradle her head in my hand, and stretch out her neck to get scritched in the right spot. But she also reverts to hissing and striking as soon as I withdraw my hand, and each time I have to start all over again. Today (Feb 5th) I actually got to pet her in less than 2 minutes of approach, and she let me pet her for almost 10 minutes before suddenly remembering I was the Scary Person. And she’s stopped hissing whenever I get within 3 feet of her; she waits til I’m about 1 foot from her. Progress! LOL.
The other one is Levi. He has a rather long, very soft and silky coat and the most beautifully plumed tail! He’s young, under a year, I think, but just in general scared of people. He’s actually easier to work with because he may shake in fear when I approach but he doesn’t run away and he lets me pet him, but he clearly only tolerates this, gives absolutely no indication that he likes it, and in fact, is clearly only not striking back like MaryJane because he’s too afraid to. I’d say his fear level was deeper, even though MaryJane will defend herself against a perceived threat (me). However, today I actually picked him up and held him while I sat in the rocker for about 10 minutes. He curled up tight in a little ball with his face hiding in the crook of my elbow the whole time I was petting him and talking to him. He didn’t struggle or fight, however, and as soon as he started to move like he wanted to leave, I let him go to jump down on his own.
Slow, tiny steps for both of them, each in their own way. It’s going to take time and patience. It’s anyone’s guess as to which of them will come around first. I have them in the guest room, on the basis that I can’t socialize them if I can’t get *to* them. So I spend hours every day just sitting in there in my rocker, reading my Kindle and talking to them. I moved my extra echo dot in there, too, so I have my radio station playing to them 24/7. I also um… well, um, I sort of…. read my manuscript aloud to them. Hehehe. I do! They need to get used to my voice and having someone around. I only actually approach them for petting a couple times a day at this point. One thing about cats, you do NOT push! Every cat I’ve socialized in the past has come to me, not the other way around. As they get more comfortable and less afraid, I’ll start petting them more.