It’s funny how names repeat – we’ve had three cats named Jasper, all with very distinct personalities. Sweet tabby Jasper was a front courtyard boy; Jasper II was a friendly black cat with Feline Leukemia. Our third Jasper came into our care something over a year ago. We were told that he was picked up as a stray on Bird Road – the lady who reported him to RAPS said that he came to her door and seemed to want attention, but that he didn’t really want to be petted. A trap was set, and Jasper went to the Shelter.
Initially he didn’t do very well there; like a lot of newly arrived cats, he was overwhelmed by his surroundings, and refused to eat for a while; with time and kindness his appetite returned, but his manners didn’t. Quite often a newly neutered tom-cat calms down quite noticeably, but the surgery had little or no effect on Jasper’s behaviour, and his aggression made him a poor candidate for adoption.
He was transferred to the Sanctuary and popped in a cage in the DoubleWide so that the Kitty Comforters could have a go at socializing him a bit. We’ve had our share of cats who have come in with a bad reputation, and have learned better ways of interacting with humans – Chimo is a prime example. Jasper seemed to crave attention, but he did it with biting and clawing; you turned your back on him to your peril, and ankles were a favourite target. Once released into the general population, he turned that aggression on other cats, and had to be repeatedly placed in time-out.
We were having similar problems with a black cat called Spades – also a stray, brought in by a lovely lady who continued to visit her buddy every Sunday. In the interests of the other cats, we decided that these two needed to be segregated together, and they were placed in the “kitten room” of the Moore House – now that we no longer have kittens at the Sanctuary, it’s a good space to put cats who need room to have visitors. The Kitty Comforters continued to visit the pair faithfully. For the most part, the two avoided each other, and though there was the occasional clash, both were able to establish their own space – Jasper usually inside, while Spades preferred being out on the deck. Ankles continued to be targets, and though both cats learned to enjoy using wand toys with their visitors, humans had to be careful about allowing their hands within reach.
Recently we found an adoption home for Spades, living as a stable cat where he would receive food and attention, but have space to roam and hunt as he used to. We were sorry to see him go but we knew it was the best thing for him. And rather than leave Jasper living alone, it was decided to try integrating him into the general population again. This time, he was placed in the front courtyard, so he wouldn’t encounter any of the cats with whom he had previously had confrontations. For the most part, he has become a loner, not interacting much with other cats – though we keep an eye on how he acts around the more dominant cats like Iris and Puffin. As you will have seen in last week’s blog, he’s currently making his mark as a gatecrasher, hovering hopefully beside the front courtyard gates. He doesn’t want to escape – he just wants to be on the other side, and if he’s not in the mood to be picked up and returned, he can usually be coaxed into a transfer cage and then relocated.
Jasper is finding his place with us. Having been less than a year old when he arrived, he’s starting to mellow out of the terrible feline teen years and into adulthood. He’s not a cat to take lightly, but he’s discovering the humans that he can love and with whom he can relax, and he can often be found riding the shoulder of summer student Karen, who is his sponsor and his favourite person.