A fine day in the Front Courtyard almost always sees the presence of two aging tuxies, enjoying the sunshine, and hoping for handouts.
Sylvester came to us as a full adult. He may have been TNR’d and then situated as a farm cat; he came to us when we had to bring the colony in. He was very shy from the beginning, but without the usual horrified stare of a feral, so he may have had some handling as a youngster. He enjoys the company of other cats, though he’s not really a cuddler.
He has been with us for 11 years now, and has some health issues that have the med staff keeping a careful eye on him. He used to be a regular gate-greeter – mostly in hope of treats – and was always on the lookout for volunteer Karen Yu, who would bring a pocketful of goodies. About 4-5 years ago, we were finding that there was a lot of Temptations-type throw-up after visiting days, and the decision was made to limit the treats. No more McDonalds-equivalent for cats like Sylvester; limited healthy kibble, and straight protein was the rule.
I’m sure the odd cat-candy made an appearance, but Sylvester has become a devotee of people carrying bags of chicken tidbits, and he hovers hopefully, looking for handouts. When I’m sitting on the bench by the gate he’s usually on one side of me, and on the other is handsome Miller.
Miller has been with us a bit longer than Sylvester, but he came as a half-grown kitten, so he’s probably very close in age – we think they’re both coming up on 16 years. Miller and his two sisters, Fiona and Schatze (both now over the Bridge), were trapped as kittens near the Massey Tunnel. The construction workers there were feeding them, but felt they needed to be somewhere safe, and the Sanctuary was the place. They were three little ferals with very different personalities: Fiona was friendly and ready to cuddle; Schatze did NOT like this place and kept escaping till we finally put her in Pen 4; Miller was shy – friendly enough with other cats, but slow to warm to humans. Some cage time with Schatze helped there, as they took confidence from each other.
Fiona shared the front courtyard with Miller, though the two of them didn’t hang out together very much. Gradually, he became more people-oriented and learned that cuddles were a Good Thing. In the right mood, a spell of Miller Time became a treat all round. Miller is one of those cats who like to be held upright, with paws making biscuits on the upper chest. He’s not always enthusiastic about being picked up, but he makes it very clear when he does want that attention.
These two will be among the enthusiasts when we open the gates to visitors again!