Muffin arrived with us through the Adoption Centre – she had been surrendered for aggression, and a short stay was enough to show that the description was warranted! The Adoption Centre, nice though it is, was not her preferred home.
She was caged in the DoubleWide for her settling-down period, with a big notice to volunteers on her door, warning us of her explosive temperament. Screaming, slashing and being generally unpleasant were all in her behaviour vocabulary, and at least one volunteer came away with lacerations. But many of us spent time in her cage, just talking to her, not attempting physical contact at all, but letting her hear gentle voices, and within weeks she was soliciting attention and touch – though we were always careful to leave her wanting more.
When her cage was opened, it became obvious that part of her tension was the presence of other cats. Often caged cats remain in their cages with open doors, by their own choice, but an open door meant that all the confident cats came visiting, and that was not an experience she approved of. A lot of bad language was exchanged with Eli, Jasper and Bentley, and Muffin decided she needed to be OUT.
She can now be seen regularly around the back pens. She’s not found a particular hidey-hole, but nests up wherever she can avoid other cats. Most frequently, I find her in Pen 3 – there’s a lot of feline company there, but they’re very easy-going and don’t bug her. When it’s warm, she can be found sunning herself on the roof of the litter-station, and glaring at anyone who encroaches on her space. The cat who produces the most hissing is usually Princess, who doesn’t much like other cats, either, but likes to feel she can go anywhere. She and Muffin share a mutual antipathy.
As far as humans go, Muffin’s mood swings like a pendulum. There are certain people that she will follow from pen to pen, watching curiously, not approaching too closely, but definitely interested. In the right space, she will advance and accept a little petting – occasionally a little lap-time, though one needs to be careful not to over-stimulate her. She’s well in advance of the other grumpy girls there – neither Princess nor Darla wants to be touched at all. And when she’s had an encounter with a cat she doesn’t like, she doesn’t like anyone at that point, and all you can do is to leave her to cool off.
She’s quite young – just two and a half years old – and we hear that for the first two years of her life, she was very loving, until something switched in her brain, producing this snarky persona. The fact that she has calmed down so much in the last few months is very hopeful; we’d like to think that giving her quiet surroundings and allowing her to pace herself will give her space to become more approachable once again.