This big black cat came to us with an attitude problem! He still has attitude – but we’ve learned to work around it.
Cole arrived with anger management issues! He was not happy with his owner for bringing him, he was not happy with us for taking him in, he hated being caged, and he took out his frustration on everyone with whom he initially came in contact. The “Med Staff Only” label on his cage in the Connor remained for longer than usual, and when he was released, everyone working in the front courtyard was warned that he was a bit unpredictable.
The front courtyard has its share of cats with their own attitude problems, and it was finally decided that Cole might do better in the back, with less active competition. The trouble then was that Cole knew that there was cat activity on the other side of the gate, and he became one of our gate-busters. For a large, leggy cat, he has an uncanny ability to be “not there” until you open the gate; then he appears out of nowhere, and he’s though. This activity is why we have the double-gate system – the area between the gates become a cat-airlock, giving us the opportunity to vent it either way.
There are techniques for dealing with gatecrashers. You never attempt to pick Jasper up when he’s busted in; instead, you put down a cat-carrier, and within five minutes he’s usually in and you can carry it into the courtyard. Cole is not interested in cat-carriers. Nor is it a good idea to try picking him up if he’s in a mood – better to let him grumble and cool off for a bit, and then see if a treat will get him moving. It’s not that he can’t be picked up – but if he’s really miffed he’s quite capable of wriggling free and biting hard. Usually when he decides the between-gates area is pretty boring, he’ll go back by himself.
For those of us who have been bitten by Cole, it’s a little unnerving that he has mostly taken up residence in the Laundry Room. When I feed at the sink, I am occasionally aware of this looming presence – and I’m quick to give him his own plate to keep him busy. Volunteers and staff on Double-Wide cleaning duties know that when the stepladder comes out so that the cage-tops can be accessed, Cole will be there, either supervising the cleaning, or getting in the way on the steps.
But his favourite place, especially on cold winter days, is to tuck himself into the bedding shelves – preferably the stuff that’s just come out of the dryer and is still warm. Totally ignoring the notice that says “towels only”, he claims the shelf and blisses out, only opening his eyes enough to warn us that he does not care to be disturbed.