It took about a week, but Arthur Dent (our newly adopted cat) has emerged from hiding. He still likes to spend much of his day trying not to be seen by hiding under the sofa. Increasingly though, we find him in less hidden spots, such as on a dining room chair. He is waiting, waiting silently and patiently for something or someone. Maybe his is waiting for the other long dead cats that he smells to emerge. On the other hand, maybe he is just waiting to feel sufficiently safe to release a restless spirit that so far he has not chosen to manifest. Since he chooses to wait then we will wait too.
When he wants attention, it helps to listen. Unlike our evil cat Squeaky, he is not a shouter of a cat. He lets out plaintive and short duration high-pitched squeaks. We understand that means, “Does anyone want to pet me?” Mostly though he prefers silence and stealthiness. Having spent a year with thirty or so cats in a room the size of our living room, perhaps he is just enjoying the luxury of being alone.
He remains something of a peculiar cat. We are used to cats that are in your face. It is likely that over time, as trust is established, he will become one of these cats too. Right now, he remains skittish. He wants to be approached gently and quietly. If I lumber down the steps, he will go hide. If I sit down on the floor, call him in a soft tone, look him in the eye and then gently offer him my hand, he will approach me tentatively. Once I give him a quick pet and he turns into my love slave.
He loves to be gently scratched under his chin. He also likes me to use both hands and gently scratch both sides of his face at once. Like most cats, he demonstrates pleasure by kneading the carpet with his paws, licking me with his sandpaper like tongue and, when he is feeling very comfortable, flopping on his back and exposing his belly. I can rub his belly up near his chest, but not much further. In that sense, at least so far, he is a different sort of cat for us. My last cat Sprite was totally fearless in my arms. I could touch him anywhere, carry him anywhere, and put him in any position. The more outrageous the move, the louder he purred.
Perhaps in time Arthur will become this way. Right now, he seems to be in no hurry to sit on our laps. This seems to be something he does not do. He has not established enough trust with us to allow us to pick him up either. Nevertheless, when stimulated he certainly can be very affectionate, purring strongly and rubbing his soft fur against our hands and legs.
He is not much of a vertical cat. We are also used to cats for whom ascending vertically is as natural and walking. Thus far, he has not gotten above chair height. I am thinking that perhaps a previous owner trained him not to get up on the furniture. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We never liked our cats to think they could jump onto tables and countertops, and would shoo them off. Otherwise, we gave them free reign to ascend as high vertically as they wanted.
Nor has Arthur yet expressed an interest in the outside. Darkness and quiet are mainly where he finds comfort right now. We have tried to entice him to play with a number of toys. No dice. His one game is the paw game. He will reach out and pat your hand or finger with his paw. He does it very nicely and does not scratch you at all.
We have learned a few things about Arthur from his medical record. He is about three years old. He spent the last year in the Friends of Homeless Animals cattery. He has been to the veterinarian twice while he was homeless, once for an upper respiratory infection. He is current on all his shots and is neutered. He also once had mild conjunctivitis. He has an appetite and generally eats all the food I lay out for him. He is fastidious for a cat. He keeps himself well groomed, which I take as a sign that he is reasonably happy. Mostly he is a gentle cat. This is fine with me. I just wish he would come out more often. Every time he does, he gets plenty of positive attention. The good news is that we can usually coax him out now.
For myself, I am satisfied at present. Now that he is out, I am content to let him become adjusted to his new home at his own pace. If I can pet him once or twice a day, that suffices. If I can eventually coax him to jump on my lap, I will be happier. If he turns into a cuddle cat, I will be ecstatic. I think in time all these things are possible as trust is slowly extended and replied to in kind.
One thing for sure: our house now feels like a home again. Thanks and welcome home at last, Arthur.