Just as we tend to self-identify as extrovert or introvert, so many of the Sanctuary cats appear to be cat-social or loners – and all quite independent on how they interact with the humans around them. In the front of the Connor House, in the front courtyard, there’s a particularly bonded little group that centres on sweet Hope.
Hope has lived with us most of her life. She came in about 14 years ago with her family: mama Joanie, brothers GusGus and Domino, and separately, dad Hudson. The three kittens were past the easy socialization stage, and took a long time to settle with us – GusGus was one of my beloved sponsor cats, and shy in all his dealings with us. Hope came to enjoy human contact, and was routinely introduced to visitors as “the cat with the softest fur” – her coat is very smooth and soft, and especially now that she enjoys coming up for lap time, she’s a pleasure to stroke!
The Connor is Hope’s home, and in recent years she’s laid claim to the table at the window – so much so that we’ve all got in the habit of setting up “Hope’s bed” once everything’s been scrubbed down in the morning cleaning. She gets the best light, the view through the window into the porch area – and a quick way out when the window’s open – the first encounter with people entering the building, and the first chance at the plate at feeding time.
The advantages of this position haven’t been missed by a couple of other cats, and Hope usually has feline company. Interestingly, it’s usually an either/or situation – it’s rare that we’ll see all three cats together. It reminds me the trio of Capilano, Chinook and Walker, who lived in Pen 5 – Walker was attached to both his buddies, but Capilano and Chinook didn’t care much for each other. In the Connor we will often find Hope with Celine or Carly – but only rarely with both together.
Carly and Celine came to us from the same farm-cat situation in the summer of 2016; both were pregnant and had their kittens under fosterage, and then came to us in the fall. Caged in the Connor, when released they decided to stay in the area that had become familiar.
Carly (Carly Simon) was the more daring of the two, and explored her way around; Celine (Celine Dion) retreated to the cage-tops and lived with the shyer cats. Neither girl was much interested in human contact initially, but over the past seven years, both have opened up to us.
On visiting days Carly is frequently found out on the north side of the courtyard, and defends her place on the bench from other cats; she will come for lap-time, but doesn’t much like the competition. Given her reluctance to share bench-space with other cats, it’s interesting to see that Carly likes to share with Hope – I guess in this case, the space is clearly identifiable with Hope, and Carly can’t claim it, so she might as well share peaceably!
Celine is less social, but can often be found sharing Hope’s bed, and the petting from visitors that results from the position. She’s come a long way from the wary girl who used to peer down at us from the cage-tops; she will still visit up there from time to time, but now prefers being in reach for treats and attention.
All three are former ferals who are now “tame” – but not adoptable: Hope, because of her age and the fact that she has lived here nearly all her life; Carly and Celine because though pettable, they prefer feline company to that of humans, and a change in situation would almost certainly revived the scared ferals within. For these three Best Feline Friends, the Sanctuary is home.