These less-socialised cats are just waiting to be friends
My name is Nick and today is my last day volunteering at the JCN shelter. I wanted to share my love for Cat Room B and all the characters that live therein.
So here at the shelter we have three cat rooms, Cat Room A, Cat Room B and Cat Room C
Each room has distinct personalities, but Cat Room C is always known as the most playful and Cat Room B has on occassion been nicknamed “B for bad cats” as it has the cats that are the least socialised and most scared.
Well I am here to tell you that Cat Room B is actually the most fun and full of fascinating personalities just waiting to get to know you.
When we started two months ago, Martin "the recluse" would not come down from the shelf at the highest point in the room right in the corner. He would stay up there watching you very wild-eyed whilst you went around the room looking after the other cats. A lot of days he was found under the duvet cover and not even visible in the room and if you tried to lift the duvet cover and offer him a treat or talk to him he would run and then hide back at the highest point in the corner of the room.
Fay was a cat that we were advised to not go near. This advice seemed true, if you got within a foot of her she pinned her ears back, hissed and tried to swipe you with her paw.
The problem is that both Fay and Martin are incredibly cute. Fay looks like Grumpy Cat’s sister and Martin has got a cute, interested face...and is always watching. I wanted to be their friends.
So...with a little bit of patience and a few treats the campaign began. When in Cat Room B I would always move slowly, talk quietly and act calmly. On most occasions I visited the room I would offer treats to a few cats, gently throwing them towards the ones that would not let me near them.
I have sat in the room for long periods of time quietly reading a book, letting the cats relax around me and understand I'm a calm friendly person and not a threat.
Finally my patience began to pay off and Fay began to allow me to approach her (very slowly!) to give her a treat from my hand. This then progressed to me approaching her without a treat, letting her sniff my hand. Eventually as this sniffing and treat giving continued, Fay began to approach me. Walking up to me when I came into the room and sitting on the floor next to me, eyes pleading for treats! Finally she began climbing on me to get treats and would stay standing on my lap for a minute or so as she searched for or ate a snack. Today she even played with a ball, batting it back and forth between herself and a group of volunteers! She still does not like to be petted or handled, but we are definitely friends and she's come a long way!
Martin and I had a similar journey. I would throw treats up to him on his high shelf from quite far away. At first he ignored them, but eventually he started to eat them. I then began placing them on the shelf about a metre away and then backing away while he came forwards and ate. This escalated to me putting the treat on the shelf but keeping my hand there so he had to go quite close to it. Finally after weeks of practice and patience, he ate a treat from my hand. He is not quite as relaxed as Fay, but he rarely goes up to his high shelf anymore and in the last couple of days has begun to take treats from my hand at ground level. A massive success for us both!
If you have a chance to volunteer and stay in the shelter, or even just visit, please invest your time in Cat Room B. There are other cats in the room that would benefit from similar treatment. Rupert remains scared and unsure, I can get within about 10cm, but any closer and he gets scared and hisses. Judy remains very scared. She is not at all aggressive, but runs away. If you have a few weeks here, pick a couple of cats and make them your project. Decide to be friends, be patient, be calm, bring treats and enjoy the reward of helping these cats become used to people and essentially more adoptable.
Please continue to socialise Fay and Martin, they will take time to get to know you and will possibly be afraid at first, but offer them treats (from a distance at first) and you too can be their friend. I will miss them very much.
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