Funny how life works out. A few days after I lost Doris, I was at the tattoo parlour getting my memorial tattoo updated with a new, small, black and white butterfly which was added right next to the mummy butterfly. I found it strangely cathartic.
Whilst there I was told about a 3 year old cat that needed to be rehomed. A long story but there was tension in the house with one of the dogs who had, at one stage, had poor little Rocky in his mouth. The cat had been living upstairs in the house, unable to come downstairs. I was told he was a very loving cat and his owner just wanted him to have a loving home, free from the danger of any dogs in the house. I agreed to go round and meet him, which I duly did and ended up bringing him home with me.
I can honestly say that I’ve never had such a fearful cat. He seemed fine initially and was very curious about his room, explored and sniffed all around instead of doing the usual thing of scuttling under the bed and hiding for a day or two. He did go under the bed after he’d explored and was quite happy to have a cheek rub but not particularly inclined to come out.
Two days later he finally started eating properly and I had my first meeting with his claws and teeth. He was out from under the bed and I receiving gentle strokes from me when he decided to sink teeth and claws into the hand that wasn’t stroking him. Having had cats for a number of years, I rarely react or shout when this happens and I patiently waited for him to let go, which he did in short order and I exited the room, leaving him to scuttle back under the bed and hide.
I realised that this cat was much more worried than I had originally thought and, in retrospect, I’d failed to notice the fact that the hackles at the base of his tail were raised.
My second encounter with his claws and teeth came about a week later. Again, I was sitting on the bed stroking him and he had rubbed himself against my legs and was rubbing the sofa that I was sitting on when he suddenly spun around from his standing position, wrapped himself around my hand and wrist and sunk his teeth in. Quite hard. Again, I didn’t shout or yelp but calmly told him that he needed to let go, which he did fairly quickly and scuttled back under the bed again. As the blood ran down my hand and arm, I decided I needed to rethink my strategy.
Since then, the wounds have healed nicely and my relationship with Rocky has progressed. I realised that I needed to limit my sessions with him to a couple of minutes at a time – mentally he simply couldn’t cope with anything longer. The routine settled into him coming out from under the bed, having a rub, accepting a few strokes and then, as soon as he went back under the bed, I’d make my exit – any more fussing on his second exit would result in his hackles coming up – he’s even growled at me a couple of times. I try and keep myself as close to his level as possible although having my face anywhere near those claws isn’t really an option for me!
Someone remind me why I keep doing all this?