It’s been a custom to end the old year and begin the new one with a Neko-RAPS retrospective focused on those cats who have passed – but I just can’t do it this year. We lost a number of well-loved characters in February and March and I paid tribute to them at that time; and then we marked a Rainbow Bridge day in August and shared more sad memories.
No – this needs to be new hopes for the New Year, and a focus on a couple of the cats who are getting a new lease on life with us.
|Little John (MW)|
Most of the cats that come to us, come because someone has given up on them. They’ve been deemed unadoptable for some reason – they’re feral, or they’re pee-ers, or aggressive… And here, they discover that they can just be what they want to be; they can stay distant or allow human touch, they can live inside or outside, they can be a loner or cuddle up with a whole bunch of other cats.
|Enjoying attention (JS)|
In the fall we welcomed a big Siamese mix from Kamloops – and I mean Big! This guy is a good 20lbs of solidness – not obese, just large. His owners had given him the quirky name of Little John (for those that don’t know, this was Robin Hood’s big sidekick) but I’m also hearing people refer to him just as LJ. Sadly, he’s a biter, and apparently always has been – and it’s not just love nips; this guy bites down, and we don’t know what sets him off. It’s probably something that over-stimulates him.
|“helping” with the cleaning (KN)|
We saw this with Benji and Mango (next week’s blog) too – when caged, everything was intensified for them, and a visitor preparing to leave the cage was particularly at risk. In this situation, it’s perfectly acceptable for a volunteer to ask a staff member to deal with a cage; many of our volunteers are experienced cat-people, but for those that aren’t, we don’t want to make them feel at any sort of risk. Cages of newly-arrived cats are often initially marked for med-staff attention only. Little John liked to have visitors – especially Assistant Manager Valerie, who already knew him well – but even she came in for the teeth treatment occasionally.
|Out and about in the gardens (KN)|
In a regular shelter, this would not be a good situation; he’s too big a cat to keep caged the rest of his life; he couldn’t be offered for adoption because of the biting; he would probably be put down. But with us, once he was past his initial cage-stay, Little John was given the freedom of the back courtyard, and visibly relaxed. If we are ever allowed to have visitors again, he will probably be one of the cats that has to wear a warning-collar, but for now he is happy to wander, to investigate every open pen and to interact minimally with other cats. We’ve not seen signs of aggression with them, but he’s so imposing that not even Jasper and Gizmo (our usual troublemakers) are getting in his way.
|Big paws mean big claws…. (KN)|
He can’t be offered for adoption, but that’s not to say that he might never find a home – many of our staff and volunteers are suckers for a cat with personality like LJ, and though he’s not part of the cat-crowd, we know that he tolerates them, and that he lived with and loved a dog-friend.
|You may admire me…. (MW)|
Our other Big Boy has just come to us. Nishka is a pure-bred Maine Coon cat who was kept by his breeder for stud services. At the age of 3 he was retired because of stomatitis – they didn’t want to risk that in the bloodline – and most of his teeth have been removed. Maine Coons often have an “angry” face (I have a friend with a T-shirt that says “I’m not angry; this is just my Scottish face”) and Nishka has a formidable presence that was interpreted as aggressive – hence the surrender to RAPS. We are delighted to welcome him.
|Interested in conversation (BC)|
Obviously, he is not entirely happy about being here, and about being caged. But he has quickly realized that he can have a rotating stream of volunteers coming to visit him, and has accepted some lap-sitting and gentle petting. Sadly, he doesn’t much like being groomed, which he badly needs! He lives up to the Maine Coon nickname of “gentle giant”, and can occasionally be heard talking to himself in that characteristic chirpy voice. We’re looking forward to having him out of the cage and interacting with the SingleWide population. Because he was surrendered for aggression, he will not be going to the Adoption Centre, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t find a home with a volunteer or staff member.
|Sometimes I sits and thinks…. (BC)|
Both Big Boys have another chance for a good life in 2022. A very Happy New Year indeed!