One of the first blogs I wrote, back in the summer of 2014, introduced a number of the front courtyard inhabitants as The Garbo Cats, who want to be left alone by other felines, though they may more readily accept human attention. The back courtyard and double-wide cats seem to tolerate each other much better, but there too we have our share of loners – cats who prefer to avoid the company of others.
The queen of these antisocial felines has to be Jingles. When I first came to volunteer at the Sanctuary, I was warned about one cage in the double-wide which was labelled as Jingles’ home. It had formerly been the med-cage until our medics got moved to a much lighter, slightly more spacious area, and then it became the safe haven for (and from) an angry little black cat. Claire introduced her in 2009 as The Cat Who Hates Everybody, and she had herself quite a reputation for lashing out at the unwary.
These days Jingles no longer confines herself to a single cage, but she still remains a Cat Who Walks By Herself (or more accurately, lies – she’s not a very active girl!). She’s much more accepting of petting from human passers-by, but you have to keep an eye open for other cats who think that it’s their turn for attention – at a moment’s notice Jingles will decide that someone’s in her space and she’ll swat whatever is nearest.
New volunteers are routinely warned about orange Baby, in the tea-room. He’s been labelled a Jeckyll & Hyde cat, because his personality can change on a dime, and when Baby bites, he bites hard. Interestingly, I don’t think he’s a nasty cat; he’s very wary around other cats, and his personal space is important to him. Most people, he just ignores, but he’ll accept careful petting from the humans he likes. It’s been a while since he’s actually attacked anyone, and we’re hoping he’s grown out of it, and is more accepting of his surroundings. But we all read his body language very carefully!
Baby shares the tea-room bathroom space with two other antisocial cats, and it’s amusing to watch them jockeying for space on the three shelves by the sink. Piper, who is usually at the top, is quiet about her dislikes – she just removes herself from the space (unless occasionally she comes face-to-face with another cat). Much more vocal is elderly Jody, with her worried face, often found on the middle shelf. When there’s a vocal protest going on, it’s usually Jody telling someone to get the h*** out of her way. She adores human attention, however, and loves to lick the caressing hand.
My own favourite Garbo cat at the back is Emery. This tabby Manx boy probably has a bit of Bengal in him, with the same long legs and athletic build as Lucky. He avoids all contact with other cats and prefers not even to look at them if he can help it. I find that he’s quite often one of my greeters at the gate, if it’s quiet, and he will occasionally ask to be picked up and cuddled. More often, you will find him tucked away on a shelf inside an open cage, where he will often reach out and climb onto a shoulder.
If he’s in a particularly relaxed and loving mood, he reaches up to put his paws on my shoulders and snuggles his head into my neck – totally guaranteed to melt the heart!