Eli is the second of the cats surrendered recently for “aggression” reasons. Like Jobie, he was originally acquired by his owners as a purebred Rag doll, but there appear to have been some tensions at home, because he was brought in to us – the ostensible reason was an allergy of a family member, but there were reports of occasional re-activeness. Being a very handsome boy, it was not long before he was adopted out again, and his new family obviously gave it a good try for more than a year, but Eli was not happy, and acted out with bathroom habits and some growling/swatting – and finally was returned to RAPS.
We’ve all heard the stories of so-called “shelters” where a cat would not be allowed to return, or where, having been returned, would have been put down as a non-adoptable cat. RAPS rejoices in the ability to accept any cat, no matter what the behaviour problem, and to give it a home at the Sanctuary as long as it lives. For years volunteers tiptoed around the late Buster-Baby, whose aggression problems verged on the psychotic, and who had to be locked up while visitors were around; in his aging years, Baby mellowed somewhat, and was more accepting of attention.
So the arrival of Eli was not a concern, and though a warning was posted on his cage door, it wasn’t long before the Kitty Comforters were reporting happy encounters with this beautiful boy. Eventually the cage door was opened, and with the inevitable feline visitors taking over his bed, Eli set out to explore the territory.
It wasn’t long before he discovered that the med cage was the source of many tasty treats. Cats who need meds in their food are sometimes picky – the tuna that was yesterday’s favourite is not interesting today – and a cat who is on the ball can sometimes get some left-overs! Eli has joined the club of door-watchers, hoping that an unwary human may leave the door ajar.
He’s not very cat-social yet, though he tolerates most of them as long as they’re not where he wants to be – he doesn’t display the aggression we see between Gizmo and Chester, for instance. He enjoys human attention, especially if a feather toy is offered, and he’s venturing further afield, exploring into the back courtyard and the tea-room – though he and Jobie haven’t come face-to-face yet, since she prefers the safety of her higher cage area.
Rag dolls have the reputation for being sociable with humans; many like to be handled, frequently going limp when picked up. RAPS gets the ones who didn’t get that memo, and we do our best not to force them to change, but to learn that this is a safe place for them, where their defensive swatting is unnecessary, in the end. We hope that for Eli, as for Jobie and many others, we can truly be a safe place, a Sanctuary.