We are getting to know the Pen 8 newcomers, and vice versa – they are getting to know us in turn, and learning that life is not really as scary as they had thought when they arrived.
This little clowder of 12 cats came to us all the way from the Kootenays. They had lived semi-feral, and when their caretaker died, the local shelter knew that they would be too much to manage, and reached out to us. Some of them are touchable, but most still shy away from contact.
When they first came to us, they were caged in ones and twos to allow them to decompress after a stressful journey, and to give us time to make medical and behavioural assessments. We were told they were ragdolls, but they don’t have the characteristic inverted V on the face; there’s more Himalayan or Balinese in their appearance.
Three males are at the heart of this little colony. Handsome blond Percival Snugglebutt is also known as Big Daddy, and is responsible for some of the kittens that have gone to the Adoption Centre. He is tailless – not Manx breed, but one of those cats that just have the genetic mutation for no tail – in fact, some of his offspring are also tailless.
Owen has settled well, and is starting to allow contact. He hangs out with Percival quite happily, but can mostly be found among all his darker girlfriends. He is easily distinguished by the little blaze on his face. He is playful and food-motivated.
Basil is paler in colour and his blaze is more prominent. He’s a little warier than Owen and not as easily coaxed by food offerings.
Learning who’s who among the girls is almost as hard as distinguishing among the courtyard black cats. Most of them have the characteristic dark face and dark stockings of a Himalayan. They tend to stay together by preference; a visitor entering the pen is often greeted by the scurrying of little sealpoint shapes.
Betsy, Cleo, Zoey and Skye have the classic sealpoint markings – with Skye possibly being the oldest of them.
Bailey is both larger and paler – bluepoint rather than sealpoint. She seems to prefer to hang out at the back with Basil. Myrtle is also bluepoint, but is currently under care for dental problems. The other cat missing from the photos is Kali, a very shy calico who is rarely seen.
The smallest (and probably the youngest) two are both lynxpoint – gold-eyed Curious and the longer-haired blue-eyed Sweetpea. Both arrived pregnant and had their babies in fosterage. At least some of the kittens were sired by Percival (we can tell from the missing tails), but there may be more than one father involved in creating a litter. These two have had home-care and are more comfortable with being handled than the others.
The Kootenay rescuers did valiant work in keeping this colony together, and getting them to us, where they can be safe. It’s rare that “breed” cats like this come into our care, but having lived feral for so long, it is likely that the Sanctuary will be their home for the rest of their lives.
Blog by Brigid Coult