The blog this week comes to us from Sanctuary Manager Lisa Parker
In Oct. 2018, I was privileged to be offered a position as manager of the RAPS Cat Sanctuary.
This was a dream come true for me. Of course this new position meant that I would have to meet, and get to know a tremendous number of purr-sonalities – my new staff, a ton of volunteers and, of course, literally hundreds of cats. This is definitely something I consider a perk of my job. As I was settling in, and setting up my new office, I learned that I would be sharing my office space, and my work days, with three old lady cats with extremely strong personalities. This space had been re-purposed several times when an area was needed for special cases (such as difficult old kitties that really don’t get along well with other cats).
Two of my office mates are different versions of tortoiseshell and one is a calico. Tortoiseshell cats are a breed that is commonly known to have what is called “tortitude”. Anyone that has gotten to know a tortie knows exactly what “tortitude” means. Little did I know how interesting they would make my work days.
Mindy is a dilute grey tortie, meaning her colours are faded, as if she has been in the sun too long. She came to RAPS from another rescue in July 2017 and was exhibiting signs of arthritis and some bathroom issues. It became obvious that she did not like other cats so the decision was made to keep her in the room that would become my office, as it was quieter and had fewer cats to deal with.
She was estimated to be 13 years old, but I can honestly say that she is most definitely older than that. With rescue cats we’re never really sure of their true age. Mindy is also most likely suffering from dementia,as she has exhibited behaviour that is symptomatic of such a condition. She seems old and fragile, but she is probably the toughest of the three.
Then there is the beautiful pale calico girl Kitty. She is tiny and has the sweetest appearance, but isn’t thrilled with other cats or most people for that matter (unless, as I discovered, you share your lunch with her). Kitty was surrendered to the sanctuary by her owner in the fall of 2017 after becoming aggressive when her owner had a baby. She is 15 years old and lives in my office because she was bullying other cats where she was originally placed. She and Mindy have a strong dislike for each other which is most often settled by staying away from each other. Occasionally there is an encounter that is very noisy with a lot of swatting, usually when both are trying to access the cat door to the patio at the same time. Most of the time they are sleeping and ignoring each other.
Since I have become a regular in their lives, Kitty actually appreciates my affections and tries to be close to me whenever possible. She will likely never be a cat to sit on my lap or let me pick her up, but her desire to be close to me tells me she has accepted me.
The third old lady – Tammy – is very special to me. She is a small, gorgeous traditional tortie with big green eyes. Tammy was surrendered to the sanctuary in Jan 2017 by a RAPS volunteer on behalf of her great grandparents that needed to go into care. We were told she was 17 years old at that time. During one of her escape-artist adventures back in 2004, she was hit by a car, and ended up requiring a pin in her leg. After being at the sanctuary a little while, Tammy went to a foster home with my aunt as an alternative to being at the sanctuary. She was unhappy and quite anxious at the sanctuary which causing her to be quite volatile. She developed some medical issues and was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease which sadly is not uncommon in older cats. Because she requires IV fluids and can be a bit…..difficult, she had to return to living at the sanctuary.
I instantly adored her upon meeting her. And I am pretty sure she knew that, because she quickly became my best buddy. We have a bunch of little daily routines and I have been told she can hardly wait for me to arrive everyday. She is my lap cat and I often have to try and type around her. But I don’t mind. Her purring and slow blinks are worth it. Recently, she needed to spend a couple days at the RAPS animal hospital and I was lost without her.
In the last couple of weeks another very sweet old lady cat named Kelly has been vying for a permanent position as office cat. She is almost 13 and isn’t nearly as grumpy as the other three. She mostly just ignores their unwelcoming hissing and growling. She just wants to sleep in the sun on my deck and know that I am nearby. Kelly and I bonded early in her time here because she was so small and fragile looking compared to the 3 other cats she came with. She also has the herpes virus and her little face needs to be washed regularly, which makes her think of me as a mother figure.
Sadly the three other cats that she used to live with have all passed. You have undoubtedly heard the story of Mme. Hooch and Mr. Bojangles. They were Kelly’s housemates and they all came here with a handsome all white male named Legolas after their human passed away suddenly. Kelly is a heart breaker and sits outside my office door waiting for me when I am not around. So the volunteers send me pictures to pull at my heartstrings.
I was unsure how this was all going to play out with all of us sharing this space, but I truly look forward to seeing my grumpy old ladies every morning.