One of the great joys of volunteering at the Sanctuary is seeing how certain cats relax into handling as they learn that we can be trusted.
Bossanova came to us six years ago as a feral cat trapped on Mitchell Island, and is barely recognizable now as the boy who first snarled and hissed in his cage. Claire’s blog of April 2012 introduced him and detailed his progress in the early days with us, culminating in allowing himself to be petted by volunteers brave enough to visit with him. A move to the Single-Wide followed, but when released, Mr B headed for the farthest corner he could find, high up on a shelf, and declined to come down to us. However, unlike Ringo on the Double-Wide deck, Bossanova didn’t mind being petted, so long as the petter was ready to stand on a chair to do it!
Almost a year passed, with Bossanova sharing his corner with his buddy Meepos. We know he could come down – but he always preferred not to, at least when humans were around. And then, slowly, slowly, he began appearing at the top of the ramp leading to the shelf, and venturing down into the range of head-scratches and gentle loving. We let him set his own pace – it must have been almost a year before he was found on a cat tree or the back of the couch, and he preferred to be petted only when he was off the floor. If you entered the deck area to find him at ground level, he would hastily scuttle for the ramp and safety – though he was willing to be touched once he was there.
The couch on the back deck is a favourite venue for cat-cuddlers, and more and more often, Bossanova would venture onto the back of it while someone was visiting. He joined the ranks of the chickaholics, and when chicken bits were offered, he was ready and waiting, getting closer and closer to lap-sitting. Soon we were getting reports from volunteers and visitors alike that he was enjoying lap-time, and even allowing himself to be picked up – though he’d still rather sit than be cuddled.
Sunday visitors are often amused when I take them on the back deck, and Bossanova hurries down the ramp when he hears his name. I think it’s probably less that he knows his name, and more that he knows my voice, and that I often have a little bag of tidbits. He’s often found in the main room with the other cats – especially at dinner-time.
Bossanova has a devoted following of volunteers who schedule their working shifts and their visits in order to have time with him – Kim, who took some of the photos here, hurries through her tasks so that she can sit out on the back deck for a little one-on-one time, offering the head-rubs he loves, and the bum-scratches that have him licking happily at anything within reach. Once the visitor has gone, Bossanova climbs up the ramp to be with his cat-buddies again on the shelf above. He has the best of both worlds!