Just as we have what I call the Garbo Cats, so we also have our share of cats who enjoy each others’ company. Sometime that’s no more than a tendency to stay in the same area; sometimes it’s obviously a family thing. For many years Mr Popularity in the Sanctuary was our beloved Mario, who attracted a large following of ferals who relaxed around him. We lost Mario to cancer a few years ago, and some of his ferals have followed him, most recently, Nellie, who I like to think about as being reunited with him at the Rainbow Bridge.
But Mario’s mantle has fallen to another gentle giant. When Salty came into the Sanctuary, he was deeply bonded with his sister Shelley, but the magic wore off, and the two now live independent lives. Shelley’s a roamer – you’ll find her all over the place. Salty, on the other hand, can usually be found in his favourite place on the double-wide couch, surrounded by a crowd of other cats.
Salty obviously gives off the pheromone that says “Love me! Trust me!” It’s not quite to the extent Mario had it – with Mario, sometimes everyone wanted to lie on him, and all you’d see of him in the cat-pile was a little orange and white fur at the bottom. Salty likes a little more space around him – but it’s often the same cats who are sharing the couch with him. Cinder is a regular occupant, as is Luigi, and Watson, who was adopted and who we will soon be hearing from, loved his cuddle-buddy.
However, the most favoured companions are Ridley, Colin and Dusty. All three are ferals and all three have become more approachable through their association with Salty.
Ridley can be distinguished among the black cats in the cat-pile by a little patch of white on his chest.
He’s still a little wary around humans, but with a not-too-full couch, it is possible to sit with the two of them and stroke Ridley without being swatted.
Colin’s one of our all-black boys, distinguishable mainly by the elegant lynx-tips to his ears. He has become much more friendly overall; he’s usually underfoot at feeding-time, rising on his back legs to rub against the feeder and make sure he’s not overlooked.
Dusty and Salty could be mistaken for litter-mates – especially now he’s put on some mid-life weight. She is very wary of human contact – especially when she’s alone – but like Ridley, petting is possible when Salty is around to give her confidence. She follows him around with adoration in her eyes.
Just occasionally, all this togetherness gets to be too much for Salty, and he has to go and sit on the top of a cat tree or in a corner somewhere where nobody else can lie on him.
A little time to himself – and then he heads back to the couch and to his adoring retinue