Thursday, October 25, 2012

no exit strategy

Like an army that has invaded Afghanistan, I find myself in a difficult situation with no good exit strategy.

Several months ago I returned my foster cats, ready to go up for adoption, and the head of my rescue asked me, as a favor, to take a cat home for a weekend.  "He just needs a little work."  The cat in question was gorgeous, a large kitten, but not friendly.  It was very difficult to get him into a carrier, but since he'd already been in foster care and had been returned as being deemed ready for adoption, I assumed he just needed a few days.

The days, weeks, and months have gone on, and the cat still isn't ready to go up for adoption.  When he arrived, he was never seen by anyone, spending all his energy on avoiding any encounters with people.  But "Coconut", as the children re-named him (he was previously referred to as "Bandit"), has slowly adapted to life in our house and has become very happy.  He loves our other kitten, Zorro, and he enjoys watching the parrots.  He even loves our company, following us from room to room.  He'll sleep at the foot of our bed or with Lola; he'll follow me into the bathroom and watch me put on my make-up.  He has absolutely no interest in going outdoors and is a happy, playful indoor cat.

So what's the problem?  You can't handle him.  He'll happily sit or lie near you, but if you reach out and touch him, no matter how stealthily or gently you do, he'll tear off.  Recently, after he asked me for food, seeking me out, making eye contact with me, meowing, and leading me to the dish,  I looked down at him as he trustingly ate from a freshly-opened can.  "Our relationship has come so far," I thought to myself.  "It's time to pick him up."   I bent down and grabbed him.  Coconut struggled.  I held on.  He whipped his head around and sank his fangs deep into my right hand.  I let go.  Coconut was not seen for most of the rest of the day, and my hand hurt like hell.

After that, I gave in and confessed to the rescue that I have failed with this cat.

The head of the cat rescue found a solution of sorts:  the woman who owns the yard in which Coconut was trapped is willing to have Coconut put back in her yard.  He'd be fed then and expected to become a feral cat again.

I can't bear to do that.  Coconut has no interest in going back outdoors.  He is truly happy and healthy as a pet, so long as no one touches him.  And he is a very attractive, decorative cat.

The Sober Husband is bitterly opposed to Coconut remaining on the premises.  "That would make two cats adopted this year.  If you kept rescuing cats for ten years, then we'd have twenty cats!"

I easily countered that argument.  "I HAVE been doing this for ten years, and we don't have twenty cats!  We just have three, and one visiting cat."

"Visiting cat with no plans to leave!"  The Sober Husband returned to his prior point, even after I'd debunked it.  "Imagine a house with ten cats in it," he said sarcastically.

"It would be like heaven," I said sincerely.  "Cats everywhere!  All the cats you'd want."


Claire M. Johnson said...

Coconut might take a while. We had a cat who took five years to learn how to purr and who also didn't like to be held. He was also a feral cat. He's going on 12 now and he is TOO affectionate physically.

Silliyak said...

SH has not factored in the expected lifespan in his equation.
We have had a couple of cats that were only friendly when we were naked.
Lastly we are currently devoid of a lap cat. Neither likes to be picked up, although they don't go feral. Lenora squirms, Lily gets an air of resignation.

Kerry said...

I had a long term foster called Sidecar who did not like to be touched by me after I had medded him several times as a kitten (I never hurt him! He was just smart, and lithe, and had a great memory!) THe only time he would be affectionate was when I was in bed for the night and he'd jump up and nudge my hand with his head. During daylight hours, I wasn't even allowed to think hard about him.

Silliyak is right--over the years several cats will die and you won't have 40 cats. SH needs to project the amount of cat poop or something for a truly terrifying vision of the future.

Dread Pirate Davi said...

My girl cat is just a little bit better. She loves to be affectionate and snuggle - - on HER terms. She cries out like a tortured soul when we pick her up and snuggle her, but when you're sitting and reading a book or drawing or what have you, she loves to come and kick you with her back legs until you acknowledge and pet her, or just sprawl across whatever you're working on to get attention. Brat...