This is the third post on the first few weeks of newly-acquired (and very nervous) cats.
Step three: Relax around us. See that we’re fine.
Last night Nina surprised me again. I went into the bedroom around 6 but, instead of reading Pagnol out loud which worked on Nina but not on the less cultured Sasha, I sat down on the floor near the window. Nina was sitting on the bed, day dreaming. I decided to try a game but she’d need ‘warming up.’ So, at some distance from the bed, sitting on the floor legs out, I started rolling a rubber ball which makes a pleasant sound and which bounces nicely back to me. Cato loved that ball, and Nina watched me mildly intrigued for a while.
When I upgraded to a long piece of shoe string with some soft gift paper hanging off the end of it and started to make it fly up in the air and crawl snake-like she was all ears and neck cranked up high.
And I continued like this for about ten minutes. She was properly warmed up by then and I went and sat on the floor near the bed (a short distance from her) and the blue thing came flying on the bed and that was it, she was hooked. No more scary thoughts in her head – she was in full game mode. Our first game together — oh was I sad Sasha was still in his cupboard only a short distance away, surely hearing it all but unable to come out yet.
Then Gareth returned home and she bounced back into the cupboard (just like a rubber ball, actually).
Later that evening she and I had another string game downstairs while Gareth was lying down on the sofa and she managed to forget all about him. That’s when I saw that my little female vampire was pear-shaped. We were told she was overweight but had not been able to see it – and it looked like she was heavily pregnant! For the past two weeks I had had the strange impression that she was eating 1.5 portion and Sasha only half a daily portion.
always eaten 1.5/0.5 like this? That’s the difficulty when there is little history to hold on to, but we’ll hopefully get a better picture soon.
At one point she followed me upstairs (for the first time!) to continue playing on the bed. That’s it, she’s reached step 3 and is starting to relax around us a little. But I doubt she would let me approach her or touch her yet.
Things are slowing down as our little vampires still prefer night to day. Nina gets out of the cupboard as it starts to get dark – which is now around 4pm. She now accepts that I lie on the bed with her if I do so in very slow motion and we play a string game. But on her terms: ‘don’t approach me or try to touch me’. She is starting to relax a little though. She is quite beautiful when she is relaxed head upside down of the bed and is almost napping if we don’t move. Sasha is still waiting for us to go to bed to roam the house and do his night acrobatics at 4am though. I caught a glimpse of him at the top of the stairs one night and talked gently to him (as I’d done to Nina) but he is not interested.
For some days I have been thinking that he is actually refusing this situation, rather than being really scared of it. Nina is somehow trying to make do with the situation, but that he is refusing to accept it – just waiting for an opportunity to run away.
It is possible if he was very attached to his old home and is hoping to return to it and his human friend. If that is the case, how hard this must be for him, poor thing.
Or perhaps these two cats have not had much affection in the recent past – or none much at all throughout their whole lives – and that the cupboard routine is a lifestyle rather than a reaction to a new environment.
I feel the enormous hole our old super-cuddly loving cat has left when he died. I remind myself that I wanted to give a good home to these two very unhappy cats.
I find myself in a dilemma: either let them take things slowly and stay most of the day in the cupboard until they are ready to come to us.
Or shut the cupboard door and force them to get used to this new house.
The second option feels cruel to me: Sasha would panic completely – at least for some time. But is this less cruel than letting them simmer in that state of anxiety for weeks?