Cat Sanctuary

DoubleWide Divas – Act 1

The DoubleWide trailer is the practical HQ for the Sanctuary, being the centre of the med-staff’s activities and one of the two laundry areas. On Saturdays and Sundays, when we have visitors on site, the DoubleWide is kept closed, because there are generally cats caged for medical care who will do much better without people outside their cages. However, that also means that there are uncaged cats who rarely brave the cat-door, and prefer to remain inside when the main door is closed. Sometimes that’s a good thing – a number of those cats are temperamental, and not always good about people-contact. And when we have a report of a visitor being scratched, it’s quite often one of these collared cats who is maintaining an invisible don’t-touch-me barrier.

Cleaning the murder-mittens (KN)

The majority of these are spicy ladies; the only male that approaches their level of reactivity is grey Gizmo, who does his thing in his own way. Three of them don’t (yet) venture out at all, and remain uncollared; the others all carry the visible warning for unwary humans.

Jade holding court in the laundry room (KN)

The two all-black cats are Jade and Darcy – Jade wearing a red collar, and Darcy a green one. Jade, who has beautiful green eyes, usually hangs out in the laundry room beside the fridge. You approach Jade on her terms, which means that sometimes she comes and solicits petting, and is quite charming, and sometimes she smacks hard! My usual advice to visitors is “let the cat pet YOU”, and this usually suits Jade well. She can be surprisingly nice, placing herself next to the entry gate and asking for treats and attention – and then she’ll suddenly smack a treat away, and retreat to the laundry room. Jade’s behaviour has improved a lot since she first came to us five years ago, but she is not a cat that can easily be trusted.

Darcy out for a walk (KN)

JJ indulging her passion for beard-snuggling (BC)

Darcy is most often found trying to talk her way into the med-staff’s area; she is convinced that she should be taste-tester for all the best treats, and is an expert at gate-busting. Luckily, she is also better about allowing the med-staff to pick her up and eject her without shedding too much blood; she will lie on the floor outside the door and writhe dramatically, demonstrating the urgency with which she requires access. She occasionally ventures outside while there are visitors, but usually stalks through with an “out of my way, peasants!” attitude which generally makes people leave her alone.  We believe that Darcy is the daughter of sweet tortie Dazzle – she didn’t inherit Dazzle’s love for attention and petting, but at least she’s learned that attacking humans doesn’t really get her anywhere.

JJ divides her time between the laundry room and the TeaRoom. This elegant tuxedo lady looks as if she disapproves of everyone, and it is necessary to be careful with her – but a lot of it is a facade. JJ is missing her favourite staff person, Kasha, who has moved, and with whom she loved to cuddle;  she misses the cuddles enough that she has established a select group of people who are favourite substitute cuddlers. She prefers the men: Mike, Justin, Braden and Nick are “her guys”. Beards are particularly favoured – but she will come up on other laps too.  In a particularly trusting mood, she puts her paws up on the chest and butts her head below the cuddler’s jaw; it can be unnerving, knowing how reactive she can be, but there’s also a vulnerability to her that is very appealing. I find that like many of the touch-sensitive cats, she is more comfortable being petted above the collar – and when she’s had enough, she will just hop down.

Sophie says, “I’m so cute – NOT!” (KN)

Sophie is another one who’s a migrant between TeaRoom and laundry room. The former was very much her turf at one time, but is now dominated by floofy orange cats, so she can usually be found sleeping on the laundry room shelf or on the cat-tree by the TeaRoom door. Sophie really dislikes other cats, and has a very extensive personal bubble that tolerates no adjacent felines within it. She is vocal about her dislike – but she also likes to be where the activity is, so she walks a fine line!  Like JJ, she will sometime hop up on a lap, or walk from the table towards a seated volunteer; if you see someone sitting with a tabby in the lap and hands in the air, that’s probably Sophie you’re looking at. Light head pets are sometimes acceptable; but you take your life in your hands to pet down her back.  She never stays very long in a lap – her reactivity doesn’t allow her to feel comfortable with either people or cats.

She looks so sweet – but you can’t trust her! (KN)

More divas next week….

Blog by Brigid Coult
Featured image: “JJ – looking remarkably like the Dowager, in Downton Abbey” by Karen Nicholson
Photos by BC & Karen Nicholson