Nevada came to RAPS over a decade ago from a feeding site at the BC Packers cannery in Steveston. When the cannery shut down and the site could no longer be used, roughly 20 cats were trapped and brought to the sanctuary. Of the original number, by 2010 only a handful remain.
I first met Nevada when he was in a cage in the double wide recovering from a dental with a whopping 12 extractions. He normally lived in one of the back pens, so I wasn’t surprised when he glowered and hissed at me any time I went into his cage to bring him fresh food or water.
And then one day I saw Janice in there sitting with him. Far from hissing or swatting, he was clearly enjoying her company. Me, I still got hisses. I wondered what I could be doing wrong. Janice said that Nevada could be particularly threatened by eye contact, a concept I’d been aware of before but not realized that for some animals avoiding eye contact means avoiding even the briefest glance.
And so today I went to visit him. As long as I didn’t look him in the eye, he’d knead his bed, rub against the side of the cage and let me stroke his head and back. If I forgot myself and our eyes locked for more than a fraction of a second, he’d back into the corner and hiss if I moved too quickly. Look away again and it was quite quickly back to rubbing and kneading…. Odd – especially since I’m more used to cats who take it as a major affront if I don’t look in their direction while I’m patting them.
Nevada is still in his cage, at this point to continue the effort to socialize him as much as anything else. But when he’s let out, he’ll return to his old friends in what we call The BC Packers Pen, where they’ll no doubt be glad to have him back.
Updated December 10, 2010: Nevada was indeed able to return to be with his friends in the Packers Pen for some time. And then his health failed at last. Today I have to report with considerable sadness that we have lost our boy. He will be sorely missed.