Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life - Estelle

Estelle is an adult we're housing, but with our 6 other cats, we've housed her with idea that we're doing it until she finds a home.

In other words, she's up for adoption.

Estelle, tentative on the left. Grey on the right. Kitty in the middle. This is the post-fix-Gray but pre-shelter days, so October 2008 or so.

Estelle was always a bit shy out in the wild, darting away at the slightest noise. This is about as close to the food as she got while I was there under the building.

We trapped her during our "fix and release" sweep. The "release" part came hard for us - one cat was adopted out, Kitty (pictured above, her name given to her by the cremation folks) passed away suddenly, and at that time we never caught the one that ended up being White, the male.


Big pupils in light means intense emotion. And in a wild animal, it's usually fear. It could be love or happiness or trying to look at something but it's usually fear.

When we caught her in February 2009, her fur was matted pretty badly. We had her fixed, de-matted, and brought her home. The missus argued for keeping her in the house, I thought releasing her would be better, especially considering her quality of life under the desk (i.e. quivering in fear). Or the litter box, where she hid if we tried to get her out from under the desk.

Since the default was to tend towards sheltering her, we kept her in the house.

May 2009

At some point she came out of her shell, probably in late April. I actually asked someone with literally decades of feral cat experience about getting a cat to come out of its shell. He told me it just takes time, patience, and sometimes it'll never happen.

I had just about given up when, one day, she popped out from under the desk unbidden.

With this new Estelle, all social and stuff, we installed double baby-gates and left the door open; this way she could smell and interact with the other cats without losing her "home base".

Rubbing against the chair.

Then one night I woke up to find Estelle missing from her room. After a pretty intense full-house search, we found her tucked away behind some boxes of bike stuff. Estelle had figured out how to get out past the baby-gate so we left them open.

Within a few weeks she and the other cats were reasonably happy. Hal is her biggest fan, approaching her like a boy with a crush. He has yet to cuddle up to her since she runs away, but it's obvious he's fascinated with her.

Estelle, when she determines that you're not trying to pick her up, will walk up to you and rub up against your legs. Usually this happens when I'm sitting at the kitchen table or the computer desk. I also find her waiting outside the bathroom when I shower in the morning (and after rides/races) and near the bed when I wake up.

(I also find Hal, who wants to be in the bathroom and cries loudly if he's left out, and Bella, who sits patiently outside until I open the door - then she stands, tail quivering, wanting her back rubbed.)

Riley, at the top of the stairs, and Estelle.

Riley treats Estelle in a curiously aggressive manner. She doesn't do anything until Estelle tries to walk by, then she bats at her repeatedly, chasing her for a few seconds. Then they both pause and sit and pretend nothing happened. In the picture above, Riley is just waiting for Estelle to try and go up the stairs.

An alert Estelle.

Estelle yoga.

When a cat sprawls on its back, especially when it's near you, the cat really trusts you. Estelle is getting more comfortable around us, even when I'm holding a black gizmo called a camera that flashes really bright every now and then.

ph34r* me for I am fierce!

(*ph34r = "fear")

Either that or she's yawning. She mews quietly, kind of chirp like, when she wants to talk. Usually she's pretty quiet. When I was trimming her nails the other day, she actually growled at me. And let me trim another 7 or 8 paws worth of claws.

No ears.

Her fur is in good shape, very shiny, no mats. She's still recovering from her "fixing", so her underside is a bit barren of fur (you can see some pink in the above picture).

She's still shy about treats, but if you toss one her way, she "discovers" it, stares at it to make sure it really exists, then, after a sniff or two, pounces on it and gobbles it up. Then she looks around to see if any more treats will teleport her way.


No comments: