It’s a truism that every writer needs a cat, although not every cat needs a writer. Some of you may be aware that we’ve been fostering a cat from the local RSPCA for the last four weeks or so, with the ultimate aim of fully adopting him (of course, there is the viewpoint that says one cannot simply adopt a cat; one is merely tolerated by a pan-dimensional hairball of evil instead). That fostering period has now ended – and the boy is officially part of the household. Yay!
Meet Claus/Mycroft/Mr Nibs. Claus is what the RSPCA called him, Mycroft is what Rachel has called him, and Mr Nibs is me being daft (I used to call my parents’ cats, Mungo and Jerry, by the more fun names Biscuit and Flapjack – and eventually my mum called them that too…).
It’s a giant step forward in many respects. Most importantly from the cat’s point of view, he’s got a home he can learn to feel comfortable in. When we first met him he was, in the words of the cattery staff, institutionalised. He’d spent six months or so in the “quiet corner” of the shelter, where they keep the more nervous animals, those that are pregnant, those recovering from injuries, and for most of the time he wouldn’t come out from the travel box he slept in. Nervous, shy, wounded; that’s the little fella. He’d play around a bit at night when the lights went out, knock a few toys about, but otherwise that was it. Shutdown. Not the happy, mewing, “love me!” sort of cat that most visitors want to see.
Rachel saw differently. She saw a cat who could be loved, helped, and given a great home. He might not be a lap-cat, but that didn’t matter. This was a cat who deserved a chance.
Having completed the adoption paperwork and seen the full medical records, I can see that the poor chap hasn’t had a great time of it. I’d been told he was in an accident, but that’s not quite true. As chance would have it, he was found not too far from where we are now, hiding in a shed, one front leg overwhelmed by a massive growth that turned out to be a necrotic tumour. There wasn’t anything the vets could do for that limb but amputate it completely.
When found, he was “whole” and unchipped – probably born and raised stray then, which accounts for his nervousness and the almost total shutdown he went into at the cattery.
On his first day in the house, he found the attic stairs and hid at the top, wedged face first into a corner, confused and miserable. That was upsetting.
Over the last few weeks however, he has started to come out of his shell. Three-legged, maybe he feels a bit vulnerable – he shies away from sharp movements, skitters around the kitchen, almost fell down the stairs once while fleeing past me. When not safe in his travel box bed, he prefers to sit under the kitchen worktop, surrounded by wooden stools, like a kid sat in the middle of a climbing frame.
But he’s also learning to be social – he knows that when we’re eating, he gets fed too. If we go into the front room to eat, he’ll sit in the doorway and mew at us. And then he’ll leap into the kitchen and attempt to dismember one of his toys again. He’s very good at ripping the seams out of things, even with a front leg missing.
He still may never be a lap-cat, but in four short weeks he’s become a much happier cat. I’m guessing the pan-dimensional hairball of evil stuff comes later.