Two years ago, the RAPS Cat Sanctuary was temporary home to a litter of kittens. “Kitten season” is a well-known phenomenon at RAPS, and as much as possible, when kittens are trapped, they are taken in by a fosterer who will spend time socializing them so that they are more adoptable when they finally go to the No 5 Rd shelter. Autumn and her kittens came to us instead, and both staff and volunteers sprang into action, spending time with Trick and Treat, Pancake and Waffle, Leif and Ariel, and getting them used to being handled. Their mother, Autumn, was placed in an adjacent cage, and took a very dim view of the whole procedure. The kittens quickly reconciled to their surroundings, and to the humans who made a fuss over them, but Autumn’s usual reaction was to put her ears down and look menacing.
All six kittens went to 5 Rd, and were adopted out, but Autumn remained with us. Released into the front courtyard, she quickly established herself as one of the shyer ferals, hanging out in the back corner of the Val Jones area. The favourite look was the typical horrified-feral-stare, and she was an expert at finding places to hide.
As she matured, she differentiated herself from most of the front courtyard tabbies by growing a magnificent mane with blond highlights.
She also proved to be something of an athlete, copying little Merilee in her liking for climbing up on top of the umbrellas in the front courtyard. On one memorable occasion, she managed to access a way onto the roof (that escape route now firmly closed!) and was not happy to be trapped and brought back again. However, following that, she seemed to be more reconciled to her life at the Sanctuary; though not exactly a friendly cat, she would allow the odd finger-tip to nose contact, and she didn’t immediately take off when someone was taking pictures of her – perhaps she knew how beautiful she is.
And then quite suddenly we noticed that Autumn had joined the crowd of gate-greeters, and was doing her share of leg-rubbing and bunting with humans, and flirting with other cats. It is SO rewarding when a formerly feral cat decides that people aren’t so bad after all, and comes looking for attention.