A few weeks ago (last week of May) START II rescued Tessa and Beans from a high kill shelter. They were owner turn-ins and we assume that they are brother and sister, because of their color and markings. When I first met Tessa and Beans, both were horrified. They hid under their rugs, curled into the corner of their cages. Tessa and Beans cringed away from my hand when I tried to pet them.
By the second day, they were still frightened. I get it. They were used to living in a home (and they looked well taken care of), were dumped at the city shelter (so who knows how they were treated), and then brought to us. Some cats take longer to adjust to surroundings. And I didn’t want to force them to be “chummy” with me when they weren’t ready.
Every day I was at the shelter, I spent extra time with Tessa and Beans. I would give them deep blinks and talk to them softly. If needed be, I’d stuff the upper half of my body in their cages so they had human contact. I would tell them that I loved them.
After a few days, I earned their trust.
It is interesting to see the different outcome between the two cats while I performed the same rituals.
Tessa came out of her shell first. When I finally earned Tessa’s trust, she popped her head out from under her rug and put her head in my hand. Soon, her whole body came out from under the rug. Now, she knows when I enter the shelter. When she hears my voice she’s at the front of her cage meowing and sticking out her paws. I’ve dubbed her “Princess Tessa” because she looks so prim and proper. Her markings are gorgeous, and I especially love the pattern on her face. Tessa rolls around for belly rubs and makes biscuits on my face (and pretty much everywhere else in her cage). When I’m cleaning cat cages, I leave her door open so she can see what I’m doing. I tried taking her out once, just holding her and walking around the rest of the shelter. But I think she wasn’t ready for all that yet. She crawled up my shoulder and tensed. When I put her back in her cage, she was fine. Tessa started making biscuits and giving me kisses.
Beans, on the other hand, had a completely different reaction. He remained under his rug until the weekend before father’s day. However, prior to that, he still let me hunker down under his rug with him and pet him. Beans finally came out and was a little nervous. I calmed him down with lots of pets and kisses. And Beans showed the belly. And made biscuits on my face. Even though his name is Beans, I have gotten in the habit to calling him “Mister Beans.” He responds to both. Like Tessa, Beans responds to my voice when I enter the shelter. He pops his head out from under his rug and start meowing at me. Beans’ confidence made strides of improvement after we gave him a stuffed mouse toy. He loves to play, and can play for hours. This past weekend, Beans hopped out of his cage on his own. This was such a big deal, that Jodi and I were gossiping about it on Monday! He didn’t go far. He just explored the office where his cage was located. Yesterday Beans came out into the main cat area, and ironically, during a thunderstorm with thunder rumbles so loud, the other cats were a little on edge. He explored for a little while then went back in his cage.
I love both these cats to pieces. I wish I could take them home with me. Often, I think about them when I’m not at the shelter. (Sometimes it feels like I’m cheating on my own cats.) They are available for adoption through START II. Adoption info can be found here.