When we met Chimo he was NOT a happy camper! He arrived with us last August, and, as usual with new cats, spent a while in a cage to allow him to get used to the sights and smells of other cats around. Many of the volunteers were very wary with him even when the “Med staff only” notice came off his door; Chimo was liable to dive at an intruder, and legs were fair game.
Marianne wrote the blog about him in September; she heads up the team of Kitty Comforters, and she has endless patience with cats like this. As she said, it was obvious that though trapped outside, his was not feral-cat behaviour; he appeared to be eager to engage with humans, but just didn’t know how to do so in an acceptable way. She played with him gently, teaching him that feather toys and the like were fine for grabbing, but fingers were not!
Towards the end of September the door of Chimo’s cage was opened. Many of the feral cats in the Double-Wide head for the back deck, and a quieter life among other similarly wary cats. Chimo sat in his cage for a while and then made a break in the other direction, heading for the back courtyard. There was some consternation – the Sanctuary is as cat-proof as we can make it, but as little Amber taught us, a determined cat can sometimes find a way out. It was soon clear that Chimo had gone to ground behind the building we call Waldie’s Hut, and was hanging out with ferals like Quinn and Maureen.
There were several evenings when Leslie could be seen hunting round in the corners with a flashlight, and eventually reporting that Chimo would occasionally show his nose. And then he started appearing of his own accord; usually at the end of the day when things got quieter, he would materialize and have a little visit and then vanish again.
I was away for a couple of weeks after Christmas. On my first Sanctuary shift I passed though the double gates to the back courtyard, expecting to be greeted by the usual committee – Hannah, Fat Lucy, Emily and so on. My greeter was a little pale orange cat who weaved around my ankles, demanding attention. It wasn’t until I noticed his tail that I realized this was Chimo, totally comfortable with human contact.
Chimo has become a regular sight between the gate and the tea-room; he can be found holding court up on the table or doing his best deluxe cat-wriggle on the doormat. He’s occasionally a little pushy with other cats, but we have to remember that he’s still quite young and full of energy; he’s ready to play physical games, while the older guys prefer to be couch potatoes. With humans he still prefers the ankle-rub technique, though careful stroking is permitted.
There are few things as rewarding as watching a formerly wary cat relax into being a comfortable part of life at the Sanctuary!