My luck with integrating foster-cats has not been good in the past year. First, there was Luther, who, though a wonderful little fellow and very friendly to people, attacked my other cats on sight. He went to another foster-home where he was an only-cat, until he was paired with a kitten, Fortune. The two became good friends, though Fortune was, if anything, too rambunctious for Luther. (Luther will have to excuse a certain schadenfreude on my part.) They were adopted together a couple of months ago and are prospering.
Then came Rachael. A little aloof at first, she grew to be warm and friendly, and played cheerfully and snoozed on my lap. But she was highly-strung and the presence of other cats kept her on edge. She is now doing better in a single-cat foster-home.
Now, there is Bear-Bear.
This orange and white boy lived with a large number of other cats previously and did not display much of an interest in them. This sounded promising. I have begun releasing Bear-Bear from his back parlour isolation for an hour at a time, with Tungsten and Josie also free. The boys are put in the bedroom for that time. Tungsten, predictably, hisses and growls at the newcomer. She hates new cats. She hates anything new. I wonder where she got that from… Anyway, the surprise was Josie.
While Tungsten demanded to be let in the bedroom with the boys, away from the guest-cat, Josie remained outside, watching Bear-Bear. Twice now, she has descended from the cat-tree where she had been lying when Bear-Bear was released - not the action of a cat afraid of contact. Last evening, she came down again. The Great White lie under a chair and remained there even as Bear-Bear walked around her. For his part, he wasn’t that interested in her. Then Josie move over to a mat by the door and lie down.
“Come and meet me,” she seemed to say. I donned my oven mitts, ready for a confrontation, and watched Bear-Bear approach. (Please excuse the bad quality of the pictures; I was in a hurry to take them.)
At one point, my Chubs got up and settled in a cat-bed. That’s when Bear-Bear and she actually sniffed noses. Josie, not unexpectedly, then gave one of her cranky snarls and swatted at Bear-Bear. This doesn’t mean hostility: she does it when any of the perma-cats comes too close, as well. In other words, she let Bear-Bear smell her, then reacted as she always does. And Bear-Bear did not show aggression, annoyance or even disappointment. He turned to see what else there was to smell. When he eventually wandered away, Josie’s expression was one of chagrin and hurt pride.
Well, what did you expect, Chubs?
But what this means is that Bear-Bear’s integration may go well. He doesn’t bother Tungsten, for all my orange one’s dislike of his presence. The next step is to introduce him to the boys, one at a time, though this will not occur until he’s more used to the girls. Poor Bear-Bear is going to wonder where all these cats keep popping in from…
As for the guest-cat himself, he is a friendly little wonder, loving to be on my lap for extended periods, purring his throaty purr and scolding me raucously when I come home from not seeing him for hours on end. I hope not to jinx him, but I believe this may be a feline who will NOT need to be an only-cat, and may in fact be a perfect second or third pet. He uses scratching posts without fail, and always has perfect hygiene. A clean and affectionate animal, his only failing is not being accustomed to playing. We conquer that one next.