I don't know how much of this I've ever mentioned around here, if any of it, so a quick summary: In about November 2011, violetcheetah and I started volunteering at a private, no-kill cat shelter. (Late in the summer, we were brought onto the Board of Directors as well.) We have too many cats, but folks do come in seeking cats, and on good weekends we send one or two cats to a new home.
It's hard, sometimes, because it's easy to get attached. I've only adopted one cat from the shelter (so far; I will be strong!), but I've had several favorites leave, and I miss them quite a lot. It's the right move, and they're almost certainly happier in a home with a family, and I'm happy for them ... but.
Around June of last year, Sophie was surrendered to the shelter. The story I've heard is that her elderly owner was on a blood-thinner, so when Sophie scratched her, she or the family decided the cat was too much of a health risk and dumped her.
She reminded me a lot of my Winry, the cat in the icon I've used for this post. A black cat, female, young, and apparently socialized only to one or two people. She was traumatized by the shelter, by the other cats in the room, by the strangers she had to deal with every single day, and I couldn't help but worry about her. I kept wondering how Winry would cope with the same situation, and I suspected she'd be the same way: clearly upset, lashing out for minor irritations, miserable.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, Sophie started to eat regularly, to calm down, to accept small doses of affection when carefully persuaded with treats and gentle approaches. But it took months, and it took time that I'm lucky enough to be able to offer. (I'm not saying I was the only one working with her, of course, but not many volunteers did or were able to.)
Eventually she let me touch her without immediately scratching or nipping. Eventually she let me pet her. Eventually she started to seek out petting.
Over the past couple of months, she started nosing forward. I tried putting my leg on the shelf in front of her cage, to see if I could get her partly on me, and she soon took to sitting in whatever lap I could create by that method. She started letting me pick her up, which meant I was willing to let her explore a little. She turned out to really like exploring the room (though not to be thrilled with the other cats there) ... and to love sitting in my lap for five or ten minutes immediately after being let out. She started chirping for my attention the moment she saw me.
I lavished attention on her, of course, and we both loved it. If I didn't already have seven cats she wouldn't get along with, I probably would have adopted her myself.
The last weekend of January, I spent time with her on Saturday, but not as much as I would have liked. We had a room to clean, and I was slower than usual because I'd been bitten by another cat off-site and my hands weren't happy. I figured I'd get plenty of time with her on Sunday, but Sunday morning we had a board-and-medical meeting to get through, and by the end of that meeting I felt terrible and other volunteers were telling me my hand looked bad enough to merit the E.R. Rather than giving me antibiotics and letting me go back, they were super-delayed (the "Quick Care" unit transferred me over to the main section of the E.R. after an hour, when they determined that the main E.R. would at least be able to get to me sooner) and the hand surgeon who eventually evaluated me about four hours after my arrival took one look and proclaimed it would be surgery.
(It wasn't surgery, ultimately, but that was only because the operating room was too backed up. In the end, they admitted me for what turned out to be two nights of observation, with IV antibiotics throughout and repeated "Good work. Sleep well. I'll likely
Blah, blah, medical stuff, the upshot is that I didn't spend nearly as much time with Sophie as usual. So this past weekend I made sure to go to her first, and she was frantic to see me. She sat all over me and kept coming back. She demanded my attention, and I was happy to give it to her.
Sunday was much the same, and I didn't mind at all. But then a couple came in looking for a cat, and while Sophie would have met their criteria, they seemed more interested in others ... but when they went back to her room for one last look around, she sought their attention and sat on each of them. They had particularly wanted a cat that would greet them; they were sold.
They were great people; they were good with all the cats, and they connected with Sophie. I think she'll be very happy in her new home, where she will be the only cat and she'll get plenty of attention from two people and she'll be able to watch birds from a window as often as she wants. I'm delighted for her.
But I miss her so much. Love you, Sophie.
Originally posted at Dreamwidth | Comment | comments