When she was a tiny kitten, Patches was delivered by her mother to Grant’s patio. He lived then in a ground level condo which had a patio enclosed by a wooden fence. There was no way in except over that fence and Patches could not have climbed it herself, so her mother has to have carried her.
There were so many stray cats around those condos. Sophia was another kitten found hiding under a car. With Grant they were safe but they joined an already populous cat family and they are both very shy cats.
Eventually, Grant and I “joined forces”, moving his cat group to the house I owned which was more spacious and where I housed foster cats.
Sophia and Patches and another shy cat called Bob took up residence in one of the foster rooms where we thought they would be less stressed. At Grant’s place they had befriended his “special” cat Buddah who seemed to look out for them, but sadly Bu died not long before they moved, so the three “scaries” were a rather forlorn group.
Patches had had two surgeries to correct problems in her knees so perhaps she had been more accustomed to being handled and of the three she was the one that was more approachable. With so many cats in my care and the fosters being in a different part of the house, it was difficult to make sure they all got enough hands-on loving. Bob and Sophia would not let me get near them, but I was able to pet Patches a little.
These three little cats lived at my place for three years. Bob (who it turned out was a female) finally decided she could trust me sometime in the second year and Sophia would at least permit me to drop off her food bowl!
Bob was such an endearing little creature and she crept into that part of my heart where I house an increasing number of “specials”. I know it’s foolish to place human emotions on animals but Bob always looked such a wise, ancient soul. I loved her a lot but she had some vague wasting disease that seemed to be uncontrollable and when it was obvious that she was starting to suffer we reluctantly had her put to sleep in 2016 which was the year when we lost 5 cats and my little bunny Macy.
Sophia was pretty well terrified of everyone except Grant. When, after more than two years I was finally able to take her food without causing her to flee, I would drop her bowl beside her and then let my hand linger. Eventually I could extend my fingers and gently stroke Sophia’s head. She actually loved to be petted and as long as I approached very slowly, she would allow me to run my hand along her back and fondle her ears.
We reached a point where Sophia seemed comfortable when I entered her room. She stopped cowering in her box and she was often in one of the windows enjoying the sun and watching the garden. It had taken three years.
This was the moment when I made the fairly shattering decision to sell the house and move 3,000 miles back to New York. Some friends encouraged me to find homes for many of the cats, but the reason I still had so many was because we had been unable to place them.
During the years when I ran the foster-home we had a couple of bad experiences with people who had adopted from us. In both cases we had felt very positive about the placements and it was a real shock to discover how bad my judgment had been. So I was very reluctant to hand over any more of the cats that were still in my care.
If you accept responsibility for an animal, in my mind, it is for the life of the animal, not just until it is no longer convenient to care for it. Most of my cats had been previously abandoned and I certainly did not intend to let it happen again just because my life was taking such a huge side turn.
So Sophia and Patches made the 3,000 mile journey by road with 9 other cats. It was very unfortunate timing, but it was the only option.
Moving the cats was the major worry of my big move but I am relieved to say that it went quite well. The 11 other cats (2 travelled with us by air) settled in quickly. We just let them loose in the house so they could check it out and find their particular corners, and we decided not to treat Sophia and Patches any different.
As before, Patches was the first to come around. In a matter of weeks she was out and about and doing well. Sophia took up residence under a large sofa so we put everything she would need close by and deliberately didn’t attempt to get her out. She took her time settling down but one day a few weeks ago she emerged and she is now finally living the life I wish she could have had years ago. She and Patches have a loving home where they are comfortable with plenty of windows and they both finally look content. It makes my heart happy to see them.