A few years ago, it was usual for visitors to the Sanctuary to ask for the Dryer Gang, who hung out in the Single-Wide trailer. Just inside the door, the lid of the dryer made a well-loved place for the cats to hang out together – usually some combination of Simone, Bantam, Chickadee, Zoe and Little Mama. The warmth coming up from below, and the vibration, combined with its situation just inside the door where everyone who entered offered attention – it was the favourite place to be. (Search “Dryer Gang” in tags for more pictures!)
Things have changed in the SingleWide, though. As our cats age, the faces change; all the core Dryer Gang members have now passed, and so has the dryer, which has been replaced by a stacked washer/dryer – too high for comfortable cat access. Instead, the big chair in the middle of the room has been taken over by the cats, and the Cuddle Crew has evolved. As with the Dryer Gang, this is not a fixed combination, but there is a core group that is usually present. Most of them are cats that were too shy in earlier years to interact with humans, and now they can’t wait for attention.
Dodger is probably the central point of the group – the Simone figure round whom the others gather. She’s always enjoyed human attention, but usually from a shelf or the floor; now she has become a lap-cats, and loves to have petting and belly-rubs.
Usually Marty is present. He is probably the oldest and most frail – he’s the last of a group of cats that came to us in 2008, and he is under medical care for an eye condition. He’s a climber – either up from the floor or down from the shelves behind the chair and over the shoulder – and loves to have hands on him.
Tabby Merran came to us from the same trapping operation as cow-cats Kirsty and Mya – but he sure doesn’t have the same genetics in terms of colouring! He took a long while to become comfortable with us, and was an expert in finding all the hiding places available; he’s still a little wary, but he loves snuggles with the other cats and is willing to tolerate human attention.
Mr Pink is probably the closest thing we have to a Salty/Mario equivalent in the Single-Wide; they were the cats in the Back Courtyard that all the other cats loved to love. Pink is also something of a cat-magnet; he gets on with everyone (except perhaps BeeBoo), the shy cats are relaxed around him, and he just loves having visitors.
I have known Bossanova since he first came in as a very angry feral, and watched his progress as anger became timidity, and then as he gradually became braver. I think those of us who know him back in the early days would have found it hard to imagine that this boy would become a lap-cat – less for snuggles than for the prospect of treats, perhaps, but the end result is another member of the Cuddle Crew.
Other cats swing in and out of this group – Presley, Nova, Shaggy, Sarah Paylan, Kirstie and others – and it changes when they move out on the back deck. But the core group can usually be found together.
I am fascinated that this sort of consistent gathering has always been a feature of the SingleWide – and it doesn’t really exist in the DoubleWide. There are usually cats in the DW that like being on the couch, and when there was a cat-magnet like Salty, there was competition to be with him. And there are cats on the DW deck who like to snuggle together, but do NOT want human attention. But the SW Cuddle Crew are a very cooperative bunch, enjoying each other’s company, as well as all the attention they can get from the humans around.