Visitors to the Sanctuary know that one of the favourite places for front courtyard cats, especially in the winter months, is the area just at the top of the steps to the Single-Wide trailer. At ground-level is a former paddling pool re-purposed as the Sanctuary’s largest litter-box; above it is a semi-closed area that holds a number of cat-beds surrounding a large papasan chair under a heat lamp.
|Debbie, Gilbert, Spencer, Petunia and Lancelot|
sharing the papasan
For ferals and former ferals who prefer not to be indoors, this is an area in much demand. Cats in the papasan pile on top of each other to keep warm and cosy on otherwise chilly days. Boxes and beds underneath it offer a range of comfy places to hang out.
Little Debbie is a regular inhabitant of this area. Her distinctive nose-spot makes her easy to identify among the other tabbies, and she is one of the most reluctant to accept human contact. Many of her buddies are not exactly easy with people, but when treats are offered, cats like Petunia are quick to gather round, even though they don’t want to be petted. Unfortunately, Debbie doesn’t even want people to look at her, let alone to get within arm’s reach. Thank goodness for Michele's expert handling of lenses, which allow her to take pictures without looking as if she's looking!
This wariness can lead to problems for a long-haired cat. Debbie is one of those that has fine fur that mats from time to time, and she then has to go through the stressful process of being netted so that one of the med-staff can deal with her coiffure. It’s not surprising that she’s wary of us.
Debbie’s a long-term Sanctuary resident; she pre-dates human Debbie, but unlike her human namesake, she is not friendly and sociable. Some ferals gradually come to accept us, even to allow gentle petting. Marilee is a prime example of a feral who is starting to feel comfortable enough to be touched – when cuddling with Little Orange or Gilbert she is quite prepared for contact, and is now allowing select humans (sometimes even visitors) to pet her when she’s sitting alone.
|Marilee snuggling with Gilbert - MD|
Debbie is hardwired for “cats good; humans bad”, and even a glance in her direction can sometime have her scurrying for shelter. This is where the RAPS Sanctuary comes into its own; under other jurisdictions a cat like Debbie wouldn’t have much chance as an untamable cat; with us, she is just one of many ferals that has a safe home here as long as she needs it.
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Melanie Draper (last one) and Michele Wright (all the rest)