In January we said goodbye to our lovely old cat, Hermie or Hermione as she was really named. We adopted her 10 years ago when she was 6. She had been very arthritic for sometime and was getting quite frail. A very sad occurrence but, in many ways, better for her as she was beginning to suffer.
After about two minutes I realised that a house without a cat is not a complete house. So we started looking at the local cat rescue websites.
Did we want a kitten or an older cat? What colour should it be? All other similar questions were asked and left unanswered.
Eventually we narrowed it down to three, all on the RSPCA’s local website and we made appointments to see them.
Number 1 was Destiny, a pure black seven month old kitten. So absolutely gorgeous that we just had to have her.
Number 2 was Calico, quite a different beast altogether. She had be found in a shed with a small kitten and taken in by the RSPCA. However she was so timid. She was more than scared of her own shadow, in fact when we went to se her, her foster mother had to put her in a cat basket before we got there, or else we would have never seen her. She had been with the RSPCA for seven months and nobody appeared to want her, because she was so shy. She had obviously been so scared or mistreated when young that she really was a damaged cat. We wanted her. We wanted to give her back her confidence and her life.
We never saw number 3.
The two cats had never met each other. On the evening before we picked them up Calico was taken to Destiny’s home where they spent the night together for the first time – in their separate cat baskets. We picked them up and brought them home.
On opening Destiny’s basket she cautiously entered our house and, within half an hour, made herself at home.
Calico shot out of her basket and under the sofa in the music room. We didn’t see her for two weeks. Food disappeared from the plate and the litter tray was used, but we never saw her. Nothing would entice her out from her place of safety. By week three I was getting a bit concerned that we may have bitten off more than we could chew but then, one day, she appeared sitting on the sofa. If you moved, even very slowly towards her, she jumped off and back under the sofa again. However day by day she got a bit braver and she started to at least let you get a bit closer, and even touch her.
The music room had become her place of sanctuary. As she got a bit bolder she could be enticed out of the music room and into the hallway, as long as she knew she could run back and under the sofa if she got spooked.
By this time Desi, as she had now been re-christened, was ready to venture out into the big wide world for the first time. Which she did. Cat flap training was passed and she was a real cat now. Cali, also renamed, had just about ventured into the living room and conservatory, as long as she could get back to the music room, and safety.
Getting a collar on Cali was the next big step. Although she enjoyed being tickled and coaxed, she would not be lifted or held. A bit of deception and a small fight allowed me to get the collar on and that meant she could now also use the cat flap. She didn’t try.
Cali was still gaining confidence daily and was quite happy sleeping in the conservatory and the litter tray and food had been moved to the utility room. I was getting my music room back.
Then came one sunny day when, because of the heat, we needed the conservatory doors open. Cali found the outside again. Now was the time for cat flap training, only the other way round. She was outside and needed to be taught to come in.
That was it. The litter tray has gone and the cats come and go as they please.
In the nice weather Dessi sometimes disappears for hours on end and then pops home for some lunch. Like most teenagers she often doesn’t come home till the early hours of the morning. Cali stays much closer to home. She does disappear from time to time but spends most of her time close to home.
Neither of them have become lap cats yet. Desi pops up for a quick cuddle every now and then, but not to me. She is a real ‘mummies girl’ although it’s me that feeds her. Cali comes for a cuddle, but on her terms still. Not too close and she stays on the floor. But she does love having her tummy tickled.
It may still take ages for Cali to gain her full confidence but she has come miles in the last six months – and we will never give up on her.