Cat Sanctuary

You Are Permitted to Touch

Holland in “royal” mood – KN

Holland was introduced to life at the Sanctuary almost seven years ago – she came in May 2013 as one of a small colony of cats who all turned out to be FIV+ and located to the New Aids pen.

Perched on a high-up shelf, safely out of reach – CP

NewAids is an ideal space for spooked ferals – they can live entirely outside if they please, there are shelters to protect them from the weather, but also various levels where they can stay out of reach of scary humans.  Some of our FIV+ cats would rather stay inside on top of the cages; others prefer to be a little more inaccessible.

You can’t see me – I’m not here….  –  CF

Holland was blogged by Claire Fossey not long after she arrived, but most of the pictures featured a scared lump in the cage, and, once out of the cage, she wouldn’t allow any human contact.

Calendar 2017 – MW

In the next few years she showed very little inclination to change her ways; we discovered that she was fairly food-motivated, and our staff and volunteers continued to work on coaxing her to accept attention. Sanctuary photographer Michele visited regularly, and from her we have many wonderful pictures of Holland, who was Miss March in our 2017 calendar, and made the pages again in the 2020 edition.

You can admire, but no closer, please….   MW

We’ve noticed how often Holland’s immaculate grooming is spoiled by a soggy tail – the secret is out: Holland would rather have warm paws, and when it’s a bit damp she tucks her tail under and sits on it, to keep her paws dryer!

Paw-warming – KN

Karen began as a volunteer years ago, and is now a staff member – she also qualifies as a Cat Whisperer, and has been working her wiles on Holland. Dried chicken treats were eagerly accepted, but any suggestion of petting was met by an affronted paw. The style changed, though – from a determined swat, sometimes with claws, it became a firm slap, claws retracted, and more recently, an absent-minded push.  In the last while, Holland has begun to accept petting from Karen, rubbing firmly against the caressing hand, moving out of reach, and then back in for more pets. And having allowed it with one person, Holland is now discovering that other people give good pettings too.

We have our share of feral cats who learn quickly that it pays off to tame up and get those humans at your beck and call. But we also have the ones like Holland who take their own sweet time about the process. Almost seven years after her arrival, we are seeing a new side of Holland.  She’ll almost certainly never be a lap-cat, but for a cat in her situation to allow touch like this is a major triumph!

Blog by Brigid Coult


Photos by Claire Fossey, Karen Nicholson, 
Chris Peters, Michele Wright
Video by Karen Nicholson