It’s been several weeks since the barn cats were set free, and I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of two of them. Only Hannah, the braver of the three, remains, although she rarely allows herself to be seen.
With winter ahead, I worry about Hannah being by herself. With the disappearance of Gracie and Chloe, Hannah has become more reticent and fearful. I can tell that she yearns for company, but she just can’t get past her fear. Cats are “hard wired” to live in colonies, and the harsh reality of life in the country favors animals that are not alone. She must sense her vulnerability.
It’s possible that Gracie and Chloe will turn up unexpectedly when the weather becomes cooler. That’s not an uncommon occurrence, according to the cat ladies at the Sanctuary. But for now, I have to decide whether to bring another couple of barn cats in–which of course means starting the acclimation process all over again.
Enter Max. Max (previously known as “Paintball” as a result of his unfortunate experience being used as a target) is a handsome orange kitty with bright green eyes who came to the shelter covered in purple paint. One day last week when I found Hannah in the barn, I seized the opportunity to lock her inside, later returning with Max.
Max quickly made himself at home in the hayloft. Surprisingly, he showed no fear and within minutes began following me around, purring in the hope of having his head scratched. All of this obviously horrified Hannah, who watched with amazement from behind the plywood.
Max has had a wonderful influence on Hannah. Within days, Hannah was following his lead and spending more time out in the open, at times venturing within a few feet of me. She finds it fascinating that Max can be so relaxed and watches with consternation as I scratch the back of his neck and he purrs with delight. Max has a big appetite–I mean a really big appetite–and it quickly became apparent to Hannah that if she was going to get anything to eat she’d have to come out of her hiding place and assert herself.
It’s been only a week and a half, and I’m pretty sure that I could let Max and Hannah out now and they’d both stick around. I’m going to wait, though, mostly for Hannah’s benefit. I want more of Max’s relaxedness to rub off on her and for the two cats to become bonded.
~By Lisa G.