Athena and Neptune
Volunteer PAULINE CHIN has been visiting with the Leukemia cats…
Little Athena was originally part of the godly Pen 6 crew. A few months ago, she tested positive for FeLV, so off to the Leukemia playground she went. (The rest of the pen was quarantined for testing and it was only her results that showed positive.)
In the first few weeks, she tried very VERY hard at making a feline friend. As expected, her efforts were rebuffed by many of the cats – as we all know, cats loathe being forced into doing anything. Keanu would walk away. Dexter, Smoochie, and Bear are a tad too old for her taste. And Portia made herself scarce. Athena seemed to like Neko the most. She’d greet him with a headbutt or body rub. His reception was lukewarm at most. Does she like him for his coat colour? Or because he conveniently hangs out by the cat flap door?
After all her efforts, she was finally befriended by big black Neptune. Poor Neptune has lost so many friends in less than 2 years (Henrick, Voodoo, Zanda, Ooley, Chateaux) that it’s fitting he would welcome her. They’ve become cuddly buddies and constantly stick close to each other, like velcro.
With humans, Athena is vocal and demanding. She expects gifts, but is very finicky about them. She’ll take some small toys, catnip, grass, and the laser. Wands are little too scary for her. Unlike her feral brethren, she’s actually fussy about meat and treats. She could enjoy a flavor one day, and ignore it the next. Oh well… More yummies for the other kitties!
While we work on Athena to welcome human touch, Neptune is mostly pettable now and sleeps less. I look forward to petting his ultra soft fur. It’s similar to Ninja’s plush coat. Prior to Athena’s arrival, Neptune spent his time hiding in high places. He’d only hang out by the couch if one of his buddies was present, acting like a shadow of sorts and mirroring their actions. It’s funny to see him eating from the same bowl at the same time as another kitty.
Ironically, Neptune is the largest cat in the area, yet still one of the shyest. What does he have to fear these days? If anything, it’s FOMO on treats and playtime. I used to have to lure him out with food. If he didn’t appear fast enough, the other cats would devour his share. Nowadays, he’s often in the main room. If I pet him without an offering, he likes to nip my hand. Then again, if I don’t give him attention right away, he also nips me. (Did you learn that from Neko, Neptune?) Best thing is to leave a treat and step back. If he wants seconds and thirds, he’ll keep approaching. Same idea with pets.
Just like Athena, he’s a bit nitpicky on food and wands also send him flying out the flap door. Unlike Athena, I haven’t heard a single meow out of him. I have yet to find a toy he consistently likes. He’ll bat catnip toys around until he gets them wedged in a corner. Grass is worth a sniff. He has no interest in non-moving toys.
What seemed like an unfortunate surprise actually proved a blessing. Both Athena and Neptune wanted a cat friend. Their bond has made them happier and less hidey. Besides companionship, their confidence has grown. That extra courage means all the FeLV cats can gather simultaneously in the main room for a felicitous visit, like a big family reunion. Let’s hope this bond lasts a lengthy lifetime.