It’s been a tradition to give the names of fictional detectives to cats that have found their own way to the Cat Sanctuary or been abandoned there. That’s how Kojak, Cagney, and Magnum received their names and now we have another new arrival, Watson. It’s elementary, my dears!
Watson is a small tabby boy who appeared in the Cat Sanctuary parking lot one day in mid-February, coincidentally on the same day that our beloved Kojak succumbed to feline leukemia. It’s comforting to think that Kojak’s spirit guided young Watson to us. Fortunately, he was quite easily trapped and brought to safety inside. However, he didn’t seem to appreciate his good fortune. He was one unhappy cat at first and for quite some time afterward, snarling and hissing at anyone who entered his cage and tried to befriend him. Animal Care Staff Leader Leslie suspected that inside that spitting little boy lurked a gentle soul and she was right! Soon after his arrival, Watson began to show interest in whatever was going on outside his cage or in the one next door to him, although no way was he willing to welcome any friendly person-to-cat interactions. Slowly, the aggressive attitude became a more passive one and he’d simply sit and watch warily when someone entered his cage. The day came when he would accept, and apparently even enjoy, some head and chin rubs with a long-handled back-scratcher.
Leslie discovered that he was more likely to tolerate visits and being touched if he didn’t have a cloth drape that he could hide behind. It’s taken months of persistence by several determined staff and volunteers but a breakthrough has been made! Provided that one approaches him slowly, for example letting him sniff a finger before gently touching his whiskers, he is happy to be petted and will even butt his head into a hand to encourage the contact. Watching a previously frightened and defensive cat become trusting and lovable, as Watson has, is just about the best thing about volunteering at the Cat Sanctuary. It makes all the scratches received during the previous attempts worth the effort!
However, I think there’s still a bit of detective work to do to completely understand Watson. The other day when I visited him, I picked up one of the catnip mice lying nearby and waved it in front of him. He definitely did not like that and gave me a swat to show exactly how he felt about it. Perhaps in his earlier days, something being waved near his face had an unpleasant outcome for him?
Unlike his fictional namesake, we’ll probably never be able to sleuth out the mystery of how and why Watson came to live with us but we’re happy that he did.
Photos by Brigid Coult, Moira Langley and Michele Wright
Watson has gone to live with volunteer Karen Yu; good luck to you in your new home, Watson!