When I wrote my first post on her almost two years ago, Shayla had gotten to the point where a few people could occasionally "make contact," as Marianne put it, but I never heard of her enjoying contact of any kind with anyone but Marianne.
In the past little while, that seems finally to be changing. A few members of staff have reported being able to stroke her a few times while she sits in one of the cat beds in the doublewide. I tried too, and was permitted a stroke or two, but Shayla looked so horrified by the fact of me having a hand on her that I didn't push the issue.
Today, though, a breakthrough: Shayla not only let me pat her, but she actually liked it! So much so that she got up while I was stroking her and did a couple of bum-in-the-air circles around her bed and, though I can't guarantee this absolutely wasn't some other cat nearby, she even purred a little.
Unfortunately, the offer of friendship did not extend to my SLR camera. And my sudden transformation into a scary black box faced monster lost me any further petting privileges for the day.
So if you want to try for a little Shayla love, put the camera away for now. And know that Marianne will still and always be this girls special human... though she seems finally to be willing to give some of the rest of us some small bit of room in her heart.
Update July 2012: Shayla surprised us all twice this year, once by turning out to be in fact a boy, and once - much more tragically - by growing ill and taking a downturn much more quickly than could have been imagined from even a short time before. He has now very sadly left us for the Rainbow Bridge.
I asked Marianne, who loved him dearly, to write a few words:
"I still haven’t come to grips with losing him so unexpectedly. No other cat there has ever been more special to me and it was an enormous privilege to have him choose me as his person. I got to the vet just in time to hold him before his heart stopped beating. I hope he felt my love right up to the end. His death was due to severe, chronic kidney failure. His condition deteriorated very quickly after that diagnosis. It’s some consolation to know that he didn’t have to suffer the stress and indignity of the treatment that he would have had to undergo for the rest of his life if his condition had been diagnosed earlier."