Cat Sanctuary

Farewell, Bossanova

Having been away for five weeks, I was looking forward to resuming my Sanctuary cat blogging. But the planned one is on hold – usually I prefer not to write about cats when we lose them, but some of them are just too iconic not to memorialize.

In January 2012 a couple of adult cats were trapped on Mitchell Island – an area that is sometimes a dumping ground for unwanted pets. We didn’t know if the two came as a pair, and it became evident that though they enjoyed each other’s company, one was a stray who liked human attention, and the other we thought was more likely a feral.  The latter was given the unlikely name of Bossanova – a chonky unneutered male, about four years old at the time, this boy was no graceful dancer. He came to us with a crumpled ear, probably the result of a burst haematoma, sometimes seen in cats who scratch at their own ears because of mites or some similar problem. And he was one of those cats who was pretty unnerving for inexperienced volunteers, hissing and lunging when anyone approached the door of his cage.

Bossanova (MW)

But it takes more than that to put off our cat-whisperers, and Bossanova progressed from accepting scritches with a back-scratcher, through cautious petting to full-on belly-rubs. It’s possible that he had had human contact, and what we had been seeing was extreme fear-aggression rather than feral behaviour. Whatever his background, there is nothing as magic as having an initially angry cat accept your caresses. Once reunited with his buddy Meepos, he relaxed happily into mutual grooming sessions.

Bossanova & Meepos (CF)

It was decided to relocate the two of them to the Single-Wide. Both took the usual scared-cat route, and got themselves high up and out of the way. The SW deck has an upper shelf that runs all the way around, and Bossanova took over one corner and refused to come down. With an adjacent litter-box and obliging volunteers who brought him breakfast in bed, he decided he was set, and for most of the following year, he remained in his corner. He didn’t object to human attention – but on his terms. Early on, we established that his treat of choice was chicken, and he learned that I usually carried a baggie of tidbits when I visited. It got so that he would hear my voice, and I would find him perched hopefully on the edge of his shelf waiting for handouts.

Bossanova (KH)

Bossanova (JS)

Gradually the lure extended itself; he would venture down the ramp to chest-height, then all the way to the floor. He felt less secure there; he interacted better when at eye-level, and the back of the couch became his favourite place. In time, he would venture to the couch seat, to a paw on the lap, and finally to lap-sitting – though the focus was always the food. Weekend visitors were always amused when I called and Bossanova would come down the ramp for attention. He enjoyed being petted and fussed; when scratched at the base of his tail, he had a lick-reaction on his front paws or on the ramp in front of them.

All of us who have spent any time in the Single Wide will miss this gentle boy – the pleading eyes, asking for treats, the progress from fearful to friendly, the way he would perch on the back of the chair in the main room, so as not to miss anything being handed out. For Kim, Bev, Justin, Joanne, Margaret, Michele, Martyn, Debbie and many others – the room is a little emptier and our hearts are a little heavier. Bev tells me that she carried him around the other day for a while and he enjoyed that – we’d never have guessed, when he came to us, that he would be such a cuddle-bug.

Rest well, sweetest boy – you were well loved in our care. 


Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Claire Fossey, Kim Howe, Karen Nicholson, Justin Saint, Michele Wright
Featured image by Karen Nicholson