In the last while, we’ve had a sudden influx of tortoiseshell cats in the Sanctuary. And as anyone who has the honour of being owned by a tortie knows, they are ladies of decided purrrsonality!
I’ll look forward to blogging them individually in the future, but I decided that this was the week to introduce our back courtyard ladies. Most of us know that a group of cats can be called a clowder, (or a clutter of cats) but another collective word for them, particularly appropriate for torties, is a glaring of cats. Most torties are not exactly social with other felines, and there’s a lot of glaring going on right now.
Lunette (initially Luna) was surrendered to us because of aggressive behaviour, and the warning was borne out during her cage stay – enough that some people called her “Lunatic”. Being in a cage is stressful for a lot of cats (stressful to most creatures!) and we sometimes see that behaviour change on release. That was the case with Lunette – now she has the run of the place, she’s much more relaxed, and will enjoy a little cautious petting from time to time, though you need to read her body language carefully. We had her on medication for a while to keep her calm, but she now seems to be less aggressive, and the meds aren’t needed.
Beans is one of the Pen 3 cats from Alberta. Growing up with the group that includes Baby, Cornelius, Lucius and the others, Beans has never really learned the tortie mannerisms – she’s one of the crowd, sociable and good-natured. She’s still a little wary with humans, and not ready to be handled to any great extent, but it’s more the common wariness of that crew, rather than the “keep away from me; I’m special!” attitude of other torties.
Princess is a refugee from Iran; her sponsor arranged for her to come to us when the woman who cared for her was no longer able to do so. He visits her from time to time, and we know that she can be sociable when she trusts, but she’s not ready to trust most of us yet, and she really doesn’t like other cats.
However, she’s a foodie; she’s learned that some of us carry tasty tidbits, and she will follow around hopefully, looking for a handout. The trouble is that handouts bring other cats for competition! She seems to be basing herself around the Newcomers area, and will often emerge when she hears voices.
Timber (featured image, by Karen Nicholson) is our most recent and most beautiful arrival. Strictly speaking, she’s a calico rather than a tortie, but her dark coloring dominates. About 13 years old, she was brought in as a stray, and did well at the shelter, but neither fostering nor adoption worked out because of aggressive behaviour – not so much to people as to her surroundings.
When she was transferred to the Sanctuary, she was visited in her cage by many volunteers, and allowed herself to be cuddled and petted; but now she’s out and about there’s a constant stream of growls and muttering, mostly directed at other cats. There is a very clear don’t-touch-me boundary, and a lot of bad language. But it’s early days; she will probably find herself a corner or two where she can feel safer, and she’s still allowing the cage visitors to interact with her.
Behaviour problems come in all sorts of cat-colours; they’re certainly not exclusive to tortoiseshells. But when the behaviour leaves a cat unadoptable and without a home, it’s good to know that they can find a safe place with us.