Sophie has now been living indoors for three months. For the first week or so, she rarely emerged from the closet in her safe room. Introductions with Sadie and Sally proceeded at a glacial pace. I followed all the recommended protocols to ensure the kitties would be friends, or at least tolerate one another, for years to come. I proceeded very slowly and with great caution. I kept the door to Sophie’s safe room closed and let them get used to one another’s scents by swapping kitty pillows and toys. I gave them treats (Whiskas Temptations, salmon, poached chicken, etc.) within sight of each other to establish that with new friends comes good things. I got Feliway diffusers and plugged them into Sophie’s safe room, and my bedroom, where Sadie and Sally spend most of their time sleeping. I slowly began leaving the door open and let Sally and Sadie sniff around Sophie’s room while she sat high atop her new cat tree. There was hissing. And growling. Lots of it. And then came the charging and chasing.
In the beginning I was discouraged. All the experts said the introductions could take days, even weeks. Days? Weeks? Who were these cats? We’d passed the days and weeks marks at my house, and didn’t seem to be making much progress. The experts must deal with cats much less set in their ways than mine. (Like mommy, like kitty?) It’s been three months, and still we are working toward cat peace.
So back to little Sophie. She emerged from the closet sometime during week two. I then spent lots of time in her room petting her. She loves petting. She did quite a bit of drooling in the beginning. I’ve since come to realize her drooling occurs when she’s feeling pleasure, but she’s nervous. She swatted me exactly twice during petting in the early days, drawing a little blood, which caused me to be quite wary of her for a time. Now, I generally don’t give it a second thought (except when displaced aggression might be an issue). She lets me hold her, but not for long. She loves playing with her Catit Senses cat ball track. She’s obsessed with it. And she’s ambidextrous. She’s a clever little cat.
A month after I began leaving her door open, I was able to lure her into the hall with treats. Eventually she’d make quick little forays up and down the hall, and then run back into her room. In the morning when Sadie and Sally and I were downstairs getting coffee and breakfast tuna, I could hear her running up and down the hall, sounding like a little elephant. How one tiny little cat can make so much noise is beyond me. Eventually, she turned ninja, and would peer between the balusters at the top of the stairs, watching us in silence. I’d turn around, and she’d have moved down a few steps toward the landing, her slanted golden eyes following our every move. Moments later, she’d disappear from sight.
During month three, she began making quick trips beyond the stairs, beginning to explore the living area. Much to my relief, Sophie isn’t the slightest bit interested in any of the exits leading to the great outdoors. I’m convinced more than ever she was an indoor cat who somehow got outside. This explains why she was so very frightened and skittish while outdoors, but began settling down once I managed to get her indoors. But Sophie has a mind of her own and refused to be rushed.
Today, it’s been three months since her first night living under my roof; a full six months since that first night I found her, tired and hungry—so hungry she forgot her fear and approached me, rubbing against my leg and allowing me to pet her. That first night when I gave her food in my garage, she ate for a full fifteen minutes, hungrily, greedily, without pausing. She followed up by lapping up much of a bowl of water. Once I began feeding her tuna every evening and her hunger was sated, it took many weeks before Sophie came close, allowing me to pet her again; three months to earn her trust enough to get her into the cat carrier. I spent time each night outdoors, waiting, patiently, for her to trust me. That trust was hard-earned. But there was never any thought of not rescuing that fluffy little girl.
These days, Sophie comes downstairs from her safe room (now dubbed “the baby’s room”) in the evening, and sits with me on the sofa, soaking up the petting and purring contentedly. Sadie sits on her fur throw on the back of the sofa, purring, kneading, and refraining from hissing (most of the time), now that she has made it apparent to Sophie that she is queen and has no intention of ceding her throne. Now that Sadie has reaffirmed her position and has no need to engage with Sophie (most of the time), Sally has decided to take on the number two spot. Currently the two of them participate in frequent altercations, consisting mostly of hissing, and at times yowling and chasing. Sally does the chasing; Sophie runs off to her room. I’d noticed Sally’s aggressive behavior getting worse of late, and then realized the Feliway diffusers were empty. I replaced them with refills, and things seem to have calmed down considerably. I’m fairly certain that stuff is working wonders.
I’m also fairly certain that Sophie, the nutty little adolescent, has not yet taken the prized number two spot. She has, however, begun to join us in the morning for breakfast, in addition to the evening petting. The first time she gave up her ninja appearances and came all the way down the stairs was on the morning of my 50th birthday, nearly a month ago now. She ate tuna from her own little plate, within sight of Sadie and Sally. It was then I knew we would succeed at becoming a fully integrated family of four—me and three fluffy black cats named Sadie, Sally, and Sophie (in size order).
- Kitschy Cats (unconfirmedbachelorette.com)