We are used to thinking of dogs as social animals, and cats as the opposite, and there’s some truth to it. But at base, like all sweeping statements, there are many examples of exactly the opposite. Just the way we describe a group of cats as a COLONY offers the reminder that many cats just love the company of other felines, and the fact that we have so many antisocial cats at the Sanctuary is not so much about the way cats are in general, and more about the specific cats who are here because they need us.
We do get cats who come in ones and twos, but as a Sanctuary, we are uniquely fitted to help when larger groups of cats arrive. Sometimes a cat-loving owner passes or has to go into care; sometimes another shelter asks us to take in ferals; sometimes it’s a hoarding situation. That was the case last year when we helped an Alberta rescue out by taking a number of cats. In our usual way, the moms and kittens went into fosterage, and the young adults came to the Sanctuary and ended up in Pen 3.
It was evident from the first that these were not all ferals, like the Pen 6 cats, and some had clearly been socialized. Several cats were easily identified as potential adoptees, and in fact, the first pair (Shimmer and Finneas) have already gone to a loving home, and others, like Lucius and Jenkins, will not be far behind them. But the guy who seems to be the ringleader of the bunch, Cornelius, is not quite ready for that.
Cornelius is a cat’s cat. He’s a social butterfly, making nice with all the rest of his buddies, and getting to know some of the other cats as well. It was Cornelius’s determination to explore outside the pen (he was a determined gate-buster) that got the med-staff to open it for the whole colony, and Cornelius has led the way in exploring the whole of the back pen complex.
He’s not adoptable yet – he allows select people to pet him, but is still wary. But he’s a flirt as well – even before he was allowing touch, he was walking in front of volunteers, stretching out his back legs in a sort of walking sploot, and rolling over as if to say “see how cute I am!” He is very food-motivated, and will come running from the back of the pens if he thinks there’s anything on offer. And he is the consummate ham; Lisa takes themed pictures for Valentines and St Patrick’s and spring – and Cornelius is happy to pose and play.
Many other social cats are social mostly within their own group – we think of the Pen 2 family, and the cats in Pen 5: mutually inter-dependent, but mostly ignoring the other cats. Cornelius is happy to make friends everywhere; I don’t think he’s ventured into the Tea Room yet, but I’ve found him in all the open pens at some stage. He can often be found with the other orange floofs in Pen 6 – though that’s tied in with being coaxed into a photoshoot!
I don’t know whether he has had any influence on our shyest boy at the back. Mercury would normally do anything rather than be around humans, but in recent weeks he has started to join the crowd when treats are on offer – mostly lurking on the edge, but darting in for his share when it’s offered. A recent video from Lisa sheds a possible light on his appearances.
There are some cats who seem perfectly happy to make the Sanctuary their home. For Cornelius, it looks as if he’s a kid who’s found himself living in the greatest summer camp – why would he want to be anywhere else? Party on, Cornelius!