On March 25th, I called my mom to ask for a ride to some cat shelters in a nearby town.
CORINNE: Should we take the cat carriage?
MOM: Nah, we’re just looking for now.
We drove up to Zaandam during rush hour, which meant one shelter was closing just as we arrived. We checked out the other one, which I’d checked out beforehand online. One of their cats, Misty, appealed to me in particular. For one, she was already an adult, and was described as being fearful and requiring a lot of love and attention. Since I work at home and live on my own, my apartment is the perfect place for a Project™.
For another, she’s got a tiny spot on her nose.
When we arrived, she watched us with huge eyes–well, eye, since she was hiding–and we made soothing sounds at her. “It’s all right,” the shelter lady said at one point. “You can pet her.”
I opened the cage and she bolted to a different box. I reached out. Misty cringed. I very carefully stroked her head.
MOM: Take the cat.
CORINNE: Wait, what?
MOM: Listen to that purring! Take the cat.
CORINNE: I thought we were just going to look. We don’t even have the carriage with us.
MOM: Shelter lady! Do you have transport boxes?
SHELTER LADY: Affirmative.
MOM: Take. The. Cat.
I took the cat.
MISTY: *stops purring*
Misty’s description on the shelter website had said that she’d been there for about half a year after being dropped off because she couldn’t get along with the other cats in the house. A different family adopted her, then returned her within two weeks because she wasn’t social enough and stayed in the same spot in the house 24/7. Anyone who adopted her would have to provide her with a quiet, stable environment, and not expect her to be a lap cat straightaway.
The first day, she actually did better than we’d expected–she wandered around the house sniffing and rubbing up against absolutely everything, and even allowed very brief cuddles before finding a hiding spot in the bathroom and surgically attaching herself to it.
The hiding spot was behind a bucket. It was deeply cute.
I tried to mostly ignore her that first day to let her get settled in at her own pace. I cleaned up, sat at my computer for a while, watched some TV.
MISTY: My own pace is lap time. RTFN.
CORINNE: The shelter lied!
CORINNE: This cat is well-adjusted! False advertising!
CORINNE: I can live with it tho’.
She made herself fairly comfortable over the next few days and weeks, and did not particularly seem to mind my dubbing her Terra rather than Misty.
I’ll wait till you’re done squeeing, and yes, that is a little cat tongue in that third photo. I know. I know.
Unfortunately, for all her endearing sleeping poses, high-volume purring, and insatiable love of cuddles, she’s not as well-adjusted as I initially thought. At night, she’s clingy. I don’t let her into my bedroom, so she spends forever scratching at my door and yowling. During the day, though, I can only approach her when she’s on the couch, and then only if I make eye contact and talk to her in a soft voice. The rest of the time, she won’t let me come near. When I walk through the apartment, I have to give her a wide berth or she’ll scramble out of the way. Anything within three feet is risky.
I can live with that–though I hope it improves, since this can’t be relaxed for her. Worse is her reaction to–well–anyone not me. One or two visitors, and she’s behind the couch. Not scared, but very, very cautious. If there are more people than that, like when I had my family over on Sunday, and she’s genuinely terrified. Crouching in a corner, ears flat, pitiful mewling.
Even the sounds of the doorbell or the neighbors coming home send her into hiding:
CORINNE: You are not very good at hiding.
TERRA: I am invisible!
CORINNE: Your tail. It’s like. Right there.
CORINNE: I feel like you’d be waggling your eyebrows right now if you had any.
TERRA: They would be invisible eyebrows.
It’s only been a little over a month, so I’m giving it time, and hopefully she’ll learn that there’s nothing to worry about. If any of you happen to be cat experts, though, I welcome advice.
In the meantime, we’re both enjoying our evening couch cuddles.
Lastly, I should point out that–as obsessed as I am with my apartment and color-coordination–I did not select Terra purely because she matches my sexy floor.
… but gotta say, I like it.