Cat Sanctuary

Be Good While I’m Gone

The regal and demanding Cole (KN)

I’ve volunteered at the Sanctuary for more than thirteen years now, and being with the cats has been a big part of my life. Not only is the place Sanctuary for the cats, but it is also Sanctuary for many of the volunteers, staff and visitors who enter the gates. I’ve been blessed by loving much about my work life, but cat-time – even when it involves scooping poop and cleaning up cat-barf – is something else, and I have encountered many loves there.  So the prospect of being away from them for more than a month is hard to contemplate – even though I’m very excited by the prospect of a holiday.

I often arrive with a baggie of chicken tidbits, and there is a certain amount of cupboard love involved. But whatever the motivation, it’s hard not to be touched when you arrive and your voice is recognized; when cats start gathering and vocalizing.  Probably my favourite thing is to enter the back courtyard – to have black Cole asking to be picked up, and tabby Celeste looking for petting. Before I get around the corner Pumpkin is hurrying down the stairs from Newcomers, and Midnight is emerging from his hiding place and anxiously calling me.

Midnight (BC) – still wary, but increasingly comfortable with petting

Sylar, asking if there’s any more chicken… (BC)

Midnight’s very much a work in progress right now – he’s gone from being a touch-me-not feral to gently accepting food from my fingers, and ducking his head to solicit head scratches and full-body petting. He enjoys being groomed, but is easily spooked by the presence of other humans, and warned off by other cats. He is more vocal than many of the cats – and has been known to paw for attention when I have another cat on my lap.  I seem to be the only person with whom he allows this degree of contact, and I really hope that while I’m away, he will allow someone else to give him the pets that he craves.

Midnight can often be found with his grey buddy Sylar, who is officially my sponsor cat – Sylar will also accept food from the hand, but you need to watch your fingers; in his anxiety, he will not always aim well, and nipped fingers are a regular occurrence. Sylar does not allow contact that does not involve food – he is definitely a chickaholic. He will (reluctantly) allow petting when caged, and his body enjoys it, but his brain doesn’t – I’m not sure I’ll ever get him to where Midnight is…

Beautiful Leonardo diCatprio is a regular greeter when I arrive on Friday mornings, and is another who loves to be picked up and snuggled when it’s his idea. Karen is his person of choice, but he is happy to make do with me if she doesn’t arrive. He is one of those cats who drapes himself elegantly in his basket or on the courtyard table, and demands to be admired. Food is less the draw than a caressing hand for Leo.

The Elvis cuddlers – Vince, Daphne, Brigid

And I will SO miss my buddy Elvis, who follows me around on my Friday morning shift, doing quality control on all the bowls of dry food.  At break times, he likes to take a flying leap so that he can cuddle on my chest and offer kisses.  He and I are not exclusive – he will cuddle with other people, so I don’t think he’ll be deprived of attention – but Elvis-time is a very special experience, and I will miss it. I sure hope he can find a home with someone who can give him all the love – but I also hope it’ll wait till I’m back.

Scout (BC)

My own boy Scout is going to summer-camp with Debbie, where he will be loved and cared for – and the Neko-Blog is on a five-week hiatus while I am away on a largely cat-less vacation (my family are mostly dog-people!) Check at for whatever will take the place of the weekly blog – I’ll be back at the Sanctuary in August!


Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult & Karen Nicholson