I’ve never actually seen Pauline – at least, not all of her.
The awkward picture is part of the point. She’s a petite black and white cat who spends most of her time in a little cardboard turkey-bacon box in a hard-to-reach corner of the Moore Trailer, and rarely comes out when people are around.
She’s been a hard one to get to know. When she first arrived at the Sanctuary, she was just an invisible presence behind a protective drape, apparently frightened, and quite withdrawn. At first, while she was in an enclosure, it was a little easier to interact with her, but she was extremely shy and very reluctant to let anyone touch her. She would either hiss, or sit passively, huddled in a corner, unresponsive and refusing eye contact. When she was let out of the cage, she found herself a secure hidey-hole and pretty much went to ground. Apparently, she comes out at night for food, etc, but she’s been leading quite a solitary existence ever since.
We know very little of her story. Apparently feral, or at least semi-feral, she was found in a warehouse in Surrey in the spring of 2013. Some of her teeth were worn down to nubs (as you can see in the picture). She had been spayed and tattooed at some point, but of course we don’t know by whom. She is estimated to be about 11 years old.
Because she is so easy to forget about, the kitty comforters have recently been making an extra effort to draw her out and this is no easy feat. To reach her, you have to lie down on the floor with a 2X4 in your ribs, support your head on one elbow, and reach around an awkward corner with the other hand to reach inside her box. This means your head is practically in her litter box (LOL).
She can be quite hissy, but seems to like treats, and has gradually come to tolerate a little bit of stroking. She does not quite have the “horrified-feral stare,” but her body language is usually an un-encouraging blank wall. She doesn’t actively shy away from a cautious hand, but neither does she do much leaning in to a stroke, or much chin-proffering or head-butting.
So I struggle with the question of how much to persevere. When am I actually helping her feel more trusting around people, and when am I invading her safe place and trespassing on her boundaries? She has made some progress, though, since being at the Sanctuary. I’m told that Catherine can cuddle her. And one day, Marianne finally got her to purr. Marianne sent me the following e-mail : “I spent a little time with [Pauline] today, rubbing her chin and ears, and she started purring. I could hear and feel it! She’s quite the cutie.” Not long after that, Pauline purred for me too. It was just the tiniest little rumble, and I felt it with my hand before I heard it with my ear. But there it was, a shy and barely audible sign that connection with her is possible.