Two years ago this month we accepted a young black cat into the Sanctuary – his name was Slim. He had originally come to RAPS as a stray, and was adopted out from the 5 Road Shelter, but was returned within the month with concerns about his aggression – concerns that were initially borne out in his first days with us. Only the med staff handled him for the first week or so, and when the “med staff only” notice was removed, volunteers were reminded to proceed with caution as they cleaned out his cage and offered food.
As with most new cats, he remained caged for about a month, getting used to the attention of new people, and the sight and smells of a whole lot of strange cats. Often in this period we have to cover the bottom of the cage door with a towel, so that the visual stimuli are not too much for the caged cat, and so that passing cats don’t pee into his territory.
Again, as with most new cats, when his cage door was opened, Slim remained inside for some time, taking comfort in surroundings that had become familiar to him. We all remember what it’s like to be a new kid in school (further back for some of us than others!) – it’s rare that a new cat will acclimate quickly, though some welcome the human attention, though wary of the felines.
Finally he started venturing out. We warned visitors to let him be, but both Kitty Comforters and cleaning/feeding volunteers gave him lots of attention, and though initially wary, he soon began to respond, and to look for petting.
Nowadays Slim is very much a member of the Connor House colony. He enjoys visits in the front courtyard, but doesn’t venture very far afield. His name has ceased to suit him – he’s become a very chunky, solid boy, but an affectionate one. Like many of the cats who come in with an “aggression” label, attention to his body language, and allowing him to settle at his own pace, has produced a cat that is quite easily handled, with awareness. Eli, Puffin, Lumi and many others have taught us that the label is often a product of ownership that didn’t respect the cat’s space and need to be alone; just as with some humans, there are many cats that don’t want to be touched too much, get easily overstimulated, and certainly don’t want to be picked up. We have to remind visitors of this, and it’s one of the reasons we no longer allow young children to visit on Sundays.
With people who respect his space and timing, though, Slim is a sweetheart, and might be a candidate for adoption, to the right person who could offer him a home alone – though it’s likely that we wouldn’t put him through the stress of a move to the Shelter. In a place he knows, with people who love him, he would probably do very well.