Cat Sanctuary

DoubleWide Divas – Act 2

It’s interesting how specific areas of the Sanctuary develop concentrations of specific personalities. I don’t think there’s any other area where there are so many temperamental cats – and of course their temperamental outbursts feed off each other. Of course, there are many semi-ferals who prefer not to be touched, and who wear a collar as a warning to unwary visitors – Little Cat in the SingleWide, Cuddles in the YellowDoor shed, Nyla in the Connor House – but in the DoubleWide there are so many more of them. Last week I introduced Jade, Darcy, JJ and Sophie;  there are more divas, and divas-in-training.

Parker guarding the entrance to the DoubleWide (MW)

Laundry only – and one particular cat! (JK)

There’s a very beautiful blonde girl who prefers the upper shelves of the laundry room, but has been venturing out onto the step to coax unwary weekend visitors within reach. Like the others, Parker wears a collar, but her long hair disguises it, and cries of “Oh, she’s so pretty!” are generally followed by “Ow!” Parker used to be exclusively a laundry room cat, but increasingly we see her surveying the courtyard and claiming more territory. When she’s in the laundry room, she claims the most comfortable pile of clean bedding – and you take your life in your hands to put further laundry away in her vicinity. Occasionally she will constitute herself the quality control manager at dinner time, if she can claim the space before Cole gets there. With Parker “helping”, the feeder learns to dish up quickly, keeping hands out of her reach.  She has her moments of being sweet – but they are well outweighed by the spicy ones.

A lot of people will never meet tuxedo Comet, who rarely ventures outside the doors of the DoubleWide. She’s not collared, because her reactivity is not tested by strangers reaching for her. She’s not really fond of most humans, but she keeps her strongest antipathy for other cats, who have learned to avoid her. The cage-tops are her primary territory, and she will ambush unsuspecting victims, chasing them off “her” space. If Comet claims a cage, other cats stay away! Even Delilah, who has her spicy moments, gets out of the way when Comet is looking for a victim.

Comet says “No closer!” (KN)

Gwen aspires to be a diva. Most of her temperament centres around her love for food, and her certainty that everyone she meets is withholding tasty treats from her; she follows volunteers and staff around the building, swatting at ankles, getting underfoot and taking sideswipes at every cat she thinks is in her way. She really needs some grooming, but doesn’t like it; she can occasionally be touched when there is food to distract her. So far, I don’t think she’s ventured outside, either through the laundry room, or from the back deck cat-door. I suspect most of it is FOMO – missing out on food, that is. Other back deck cats enjoy the gardens and fresh air; Gwen’s afraid she might be cheated out of something tasty.

Watching for treats and competition (KN)

I am including Bugle in the diva list, only because she might be a diva-in-training. “Diva” is a Latin word for a goddess; it has also become a pejorative term for a temperamental female – which covers most of the cats in these two blog entries. But it’s a term that’s applied mostly to singers – and that’s certainly our Bugle. This feisty little girl has learned who the people are who carry tasty tidbits, and she sings for her supper – a high-pitched and surprisingly long-lasting wail of longing for the next offering  of chicken or tuna. She’s still at least semi-feral, and wary of new things; her buddies Velma and Ryan (Ryanne?) have long since found their way outdoors and explored the back courtyard, but Bugle prefers to stay inside, though she’s doing some interior exploration, and has discovered the joys of the upper levels. But in spite of her feral roots, she takes food gently from the hand without snapping, and then she waits and sings for the next taste.

Bugle – “Anything for me?” (SM)

There are other cats in the DoubleWide who will shed blood if you come too close; unlike the ferals who just get out of the way, cats like Mitzi and Crinkle, on the back deck, DO want the attention and the treats – just not enough to tolerate any physical contact. But that’s not diva-behaviour – it’s just an  “I’m not ready yet” signal, and they enjoy each other’s company (as Bugle does with her friends). Most of the divas I’ve introduced here are anti-social with cats as well as with humans. They might be OK as a solo cat in their own home – but it’s quite likely that in other circumstances their aggression would have them being put down. Living at the Sanctuary, we can allow for the occasional psychotic episode, the preference for isolation – and be grateful when a cat like JJ or Sophie trusts us enough to ask for gentle attention.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Featured image: “A bundle of Gwen” by Karen Nicholson
Photos by Jennine Kariya, Selena Marchetti, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright