Cuddles? Is that your real name?
Seasoned cat handlers always know to proceed with caution. Animals-love-me type individuals insist on reaching for petting immediately.Your sign says “surrendered for aggression”. Quite a conundrum.
On first impression, she looks like a bright-eyed tuxedo cat waiting attentively for visitors. After entering, she’s over eager for physical contact. She’ll want pets, even nudging your hand for them. Sit back for a moment and she will body rub everything in the vicinity. Even the litter box! A brief brushing is welcome, too. Sometimes, she’ll even give a happy tail shake. (The same shake some other cats make wet sprinkles with. Thankfully, hers is dry.)
So far, it seems the latter group won.
At this point, Cuddles will either face the door or jump into the tree. Now is the ideal time to entice her with toys, grass, or a treat. Beef flavours and liquid foods are her preference. Once satisfied, she’ll groom and hop to the top of the tree for a nap.
Here’s the strange part: Touch her again and there’s a 75% chance you’ll get hissed at. Persist and you’ll get swatted. I’ve spoken to a few people and she consistently gives the same reactions. The cautious group was right. The latter group can pick their pride off the floor and leave. You can still use a toy to pacify her.
She desires human attention and plenty of playtime. Toys hold her attention for 5-10 minutes. In a way, she’s a large kitten who needs to flex her hunting skills and relieve her cat instincts. If the prey is your hand… well, good luck.
Cuddles gets over-stimulated from physical touch easily. An analogy to over-petting a cat would be rubbing your hands together. Doing it briefly can be comfortable or soothing. Continuously rub your hands and they will get hot and irritating. The threshold is different for everyone, and any number of reasons could be the cause. Cuddles growls and goes on high alert if she sees any nearby cats. Competition and lack of resources can turn sweet cats into sourpusses.
All these habits make her hard to befriend. I feel her dream is to have a human who understands her, spoils her with cat luxuries, and stands at her beck and call. After all, Cuddles won’t chase you out like other aggressive cats, nor wedge herself in a corner.
If a feral hisses from a distance, we think it’s a normal “stay away!” sign. If a cat hisses in breathing distance, it’s considered extra offensive, even though the intended meaning is the same. A misinterpretation on reading cat body language, and hissing became the efficient means of telling humans “no”.
While it’s too easy to blame problems on the victim who can’t speak up, or in this case, the cat, it’s actually quite difficult to unlearn things. An average human takes 2-3 times longer to ditch an unwanted habit than to learn it. With cats, it takes months, even years. Cuddles is learning our routines here. There is a race against time on our part, as we have to make her feel confident enough so she doesn’t feel threatened by other cats when it’s release time. She’s already brave to interact with strangers and the items we gift her. We just have to keep up the momentum, so she can finally be happy and cuddly.