When the Sanctuary was constructed more than 20 years ago, much of it was thanks to the generosity of devoted donors who sponsored the cost of building cabins and pens. As you walk around, you will notice signs memorializing the beloved pets of those donors.
The back courtyard is structured in an L shape, with one wing reaching east and another to the south. At the south end of the latter wing is a cabin that is labelled as “Tigger’s House – in Memory of Waldie’s favourite cat.”
Tigger is long gone now; Waldie is now in his 90s, and only comes occasionally to visit, but up to a couple of years ago, he held down a regular Saturday night shift at the Sanctuary, scooping the back pens, while his wife Barb fed the cats. The two of them have been devoted Sanctuary supporters since the beginning; Barb is still a regular volunteer. Their home is well known to their neighbourhood cats and they have been responsible for rescue and TNR around there for many years. When Waldie is visiting, he always seeks out Rookie, who they brought to the Sanctuary.
So “Tigger’s House” is actually known to most of us as “Waldie’s Hut”, and it’s the home base of a number of the shyer cats. Some of them have relocated from Pen 8 next door, when it had to be closed and refurbished for the colony of cats from the Kootenays. Pen 8 had been an open area – most of the cats living there were semi-feral – and the inhabitants were used to the courtyard space. Some, like hissy-Smithy, preferred to stay in the courtyard just outside, hiding out in the collection of boxes and shelves backing on to the SingleWide deck. Others preferred the shelter of a cabin.
Smithy’s friend Sprocket can often be found in Waldie’s Hut, high up on a shelf. When outside, he likes the company of his hissy pal, but at night, he prefers his comfort. His brother Rocket, in the New Aids building, has finally accepted attention from humans and enjoys being petted; Smithy’s touch-me-not attitude has rubbed off on Sprocket. He doesn’t hiss, but he prefers no-contact.
Princess, who was featured in the blog a couple of weeks ago, can also be found here. She also prefers no touch, but hovers hopefully if chicken tidbits are offered.
The real chickaholic in this area is sweet Selena. She was a feral mom who came to us more than 10 years ago, and joined the other tabby/white cats in Pen 8. Now she is aging, and with senility has come the loss of feral-fear – she loves attention (especially when food is on offer), and shoulder-climbs when I am cleaning in the cabin. She also no longer restricts her area, and can often be found visiting around the Tea-Room. Like Sara Lee, she’s starting to look a little raggedy, and lap-climbing is a little painful with her old-lady claws.
If there’s anyone who has picked up the hiss-habit from Smithy, it’s Magpie. This handsome boy prefers the bed adjacent to the door, which means that he can’t pretend that he’s not there when you enter, and he hisses until eye-contact ceases. He’s not a cat I have even tried to touch, and he’s not really food-motivated – he’s just one of those cats who will probably remain feral.
There are a few other cats who rotate in and out of the hut, depending on mood and weather. It was a favourite place for Cinnamon Bun Lincoln until a few months ago; now he’s very frail and prefers the comfort of the heater in the Tea-Room. His girlfriend/worshipper Dusty prefers the hut; Dusty is another who hisses early and often, but her hiss is reactive, and she does allow human contact when given time. She is a cat who prefers cat-company; her two earlier boyfriends, Salty and Ridley, have both passed, and she follows Lincoln adoringly – though mostly, he ignores her.
And let’s not forget the outside of the cabin – there are several of the back courtyard cats who prefer to have their secret cat meetings well out of reach, and have found a way to climb to the roof of Waldie’s Hut. We have to be careful that the fencing above them prevents them from getting onto the roof of the SingleWide. And in the heat of summer days, it can be very hot up there, and occasionally someone needs to climb up and make sure that all is well with the cats.
Like most of our back-courtyard cabins, Waldie’s Hut is showing its age – these cabins were not designed as long-term structures, and a coat of paint is a temporary fix-it for some of its imperfections. But it’s full of memories – if you close your eyes, Samantha and Eclipse, Chimo and PawPaw, Lucky the Bengal, and many others are still there for the long-term staff and volunteers who loved them.
Featured Photo: “Smithy and Sprocket are best buddies” by Karen Nicholson