Cat Sanctuary


Don’t you just want to pet me?… (KN)

In the fall of 2018, a little stray cat was brought into the RAPS Shelter. Ariel won the hearts of the staff there with her friendly, outgoing ways;  they put the necessary hold on her to give someone a chance to claim her, and when no owner appeared, she was given all the necessary vet treatments and put up for adoption. Someone came to visit, fell in love, and by the end of December she had a new home.

Sadly, not the end of the story…

Early last year, her owner returned to the Adoption Centre to let them know that he would have to surrender her. He still loved her, and hated to do it, but after the initial honeymoon period, things had gone downhill. She had started to bully his dog – and her owner, on occasion – she became reactive and aggressive, and she began to use the “inappropriate urination” weapon. He was not quick to give up; he took her to the vet, he tried different diets, but the turning point was when she pee’d on him one night, with a clean litter-box right there.

Contentment…. (GA)

Back in a cage – and not happy about it (GA)

So Ariel returned to RAPS, and to some of the people she’d known four years before. Initially she settled well; she liked the staff at the Adoption Centre, she liked where she was, she didn’t much like the other cats, but she could roam the building during the day and avoid them. What she couldn’t avoid was being caged at night, and that turned into a major battle of wills. Finally the staff decided that she could neither remain caged nor roam freely, and that the Sanctuary was the only option.

She doesn’t much like other cats (GA) (though Christina and Hope are incapable of the mean-girl gossip this looks like!)

Guarding the top of the climbing frame from other cats (BC)

I dare you to walk through this gate… (KN)

There, she was initially placed in one of the large cages in the Connor. I remember going in to tend her cage, and having her scream at me – no ladylike hissing for this girl!  I think some of us got into the habit of taking some protective padding with us when we had to clean in there. Once the cage was opened, it made little difference;  for some time Ariel sat and defended her territory against both humans and cats.  And when she finally emerged, we learned to watch the space between ourselves and this demon girl. Shena tells me that when a private group visited (this was just before our spring visiting opened), Ariel sat in the gateway and drew blood from every single person that approached.

Lap time with a favourite volunteer (GA)

So, come visiting time each Saturday, some brave staff member had to find Ariel and pop her into her cage around noon, and she stayed there until visitors had gone on Sunday.  There was much growling and grumbling; she wasn’t happy in the cage, but she wasn’t happy with the cage opened, either. When visiting time ended in the fall, the need to cage aggressive cats, or to collar reactive ones, was not so necessary, and Ariel gradually relaxed.

These days, she’s allowing contact occasionally – with luck you can get in a couple of head-caresses before you need to start watching your ankles.  She’s more inclined to let you know with her grumble when she’s had enough, rather than just attacking. She’s even taken a leaf out of Cher’s book and indulged in a little lap-time with some of our calmer (and braver) volunteers; she seems to like the men best!  Some of the photos here are from Ariel’s best friend Graham, with whom she’s very relaxed. It looks like we’re starting to see the Ariel that first came to RAPS more than four years ago.

Ariel (GA)

But I think we’re all subconsciously waiting for her to revert to her old ways, saying, “Psych!  I fooled you!”

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Graham Akira, Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson