When I arrived at the shelter today, I was planning to spend all my time with the cats. There was one new hamster in the Room, but otherwise the Room was pretty calm, and I wanted to do a photo sweep of all the cats. To my surprise, however, there was a sign on Adoption Room 2 declaring it was "Closed".
I asked the staff if there was a sickness going around - the typical reason for closing an adoption room.
"No, they're healthy." The staff replied. "It's a bunch of cats from Etobicoke...they're semi-feral."
"What, all of them?"
"They're not really feral." The staff amended. "But they're super shy and scared out of their minds. They need a little time to cool down before the public gets at them."
I decided to do their photos anyway, so they'd be all set once they were opened to the public. The staff weren't kidding - most of them were incredibly shy, but they were also mostly sweet, and the photos didn't turn out too wide-eyed.
This pretty girl was the first one I did. Her name is Ayela and she's a year old. She was huddled in the back of the cage, but she's not really that shy. She was very vocal about wanting me to stop with the photos, though!
Barry, on the other hand, was just as scared out of the cage as inside. He is a lovely boy, but so very scared. He was physically shaking while I took his photo, which is a first for me. I took the shot quickly and left him alone; hopefully some time will put him more at ease.
Lizzy is not actually that shy, although she wasn't a huge fan of the camera. She was really affectionate, especially in the cage where she felt safe. She's a big fan of head scratches.Benji came from, because he is not shy at all. He must have a really fabulous personality to come from the same situation as the others, yet maintain such a loving, outgoing attitude. This guy just wants to curl up in your lap.
He looks a little stoned here, but in his defense, I think that's just the way he looks. It's a style.
And then sometimes, in groups like this, you have surprises. Goldenrod here was completely hidden beneath her blanket in the cage. I thought there was no way I was going to get a decent photo, but I had time and figured I might as well try. I put her on the chair and she immediately calmed down and happily accepted head scratches and rubs. She's scared of the shelter, but she is completely comfortable with people.
There is this perception that a cat has to be perfect to survive a public shelter. There is some truth to this. Cats get the short end of the stick simply because there are so many of them. As a shelter that is required by law to take every cat given to us, TAS South has to make decisions, and a hard-to-adopt cat is going to be more at risk than a hard-to-adopt dog or even small animal.
But on the other hand, the staff know cats. This group from Etobicoke came from a hoarder situation. They're shy and scared and not particularly socialized, but they're not aggressive. I think a lot of people would assume that these cats wouldn't stand a chance in the shelter, but that's not true. The staff deal with situations like this all the time. They know they need a day to calm down after the transfer; they know that they need some TLC to bring them out of their shells. They know that there are good pets in there. I think these guys are going to be fine.