Delilah came to us about a year ago, having been trapped and found to be pregnant . She went into fosterage with one of our staff, and produced the “C” litter of kittens. They were all (including Delilah) adopted from the City Shelter, but Delilah was subsequently returned to us for being a pee-er. Her owners did all the right things – got her vet-checked, changed litter, and so on – but this quirky girl wasn’t about to cooperate. She’s proved to be not only bathroom-challenged, but also a girl of considerable mood-swings.
Some of the cats that come in with an “aggressive” label settle very well at the Sanctuary – nobody here is going to pick them up and try and snuggle if they don’t want it, and most of us understand cat body-language well enough to tell when an approach is welcome, and when the cat is in “leave me alone” mode. We have often had cats who are aggressive in a cage, and who relax into being pussycats once they’re free to run around. Delilah, unfortunately, is not one of those – she’s wired to be on edge, and both humans and cats need to be super-aware around her.
Delilah mostly hangs out on top of the cages in the Double-Wide; she will occasionally come down and investigate on a lower level, but the top is her preferred stomping ground. And I use the phrase deliberately – a quiet time in the Double-Wide is often interrupted by the thunder of feline feet as Delilah chases an unwise cat away from her vicinity, or from whatever she is claiming as her own.
Volunteers and staff who have to climb up to clean or to medicate a cat learn to keep an eye out for Delilah, to gauge her mood or to distract her attention.
Like her fellow cage-top cat, Lumi, she can be friendly, begging for petting – but the line between “enough” and “too much” is a fine one. It’s one of the reasons we no longer allow young children to visit on Sundays; there are too many visitors who don’t understand that the presence of strangers is a stressor to some of the cats, and who may get swatted for petting a cat like Delilah, because they can’t know how many earlier visitors may have pushed up her stress levels.
On her good days, Delilah does enjoy attention, though she’s not a lap-cat, and not one of the Double-Wide couch crowd. Fellow-blogger Pauline, who is the Double-Wide Ambassador on Sunday afternoons, describes Delilah as the little kid who just learned how to run, but has no etiquette and no sense of boundaries. She will literally stick her face into anyone and anything. She gets away with it because she’s young and cute. This week she has taken on a new habit – run up to a human’s face and scream. When she’s overstimulated, she can lash out without any typical warning signs. I’ve seen her attempt to bite, scratch, spray, and dash off within 5 minutes. Delilah and Comet clash frequently and they usually end up chasing each other around the catwalks until the chaser loses sight of the runner. On the plus side, she responds to her name and will sit on people… when she wants to. Toys are the easiest way to get her attention and she’ll seemingly appear out of nowhere with her eyes locked on the target.