Monday, August 30, 2010

Ren (Renfrew Foster), My Third Cat

Ren came to live with me at the end of May, 2010. Like the other foster-cats I've looked after, his was an emergency re-location. He and his brother, Charlie, were living without problems in a nice couple's household, when Ren bit the woman who was caring for him. She was cleaning his rear end which, being that of a medium-haired cat, sometimes needs cleaning. I've no idea why he bit her. I doubt that his handling was rough yet he is hardly a naturally aggressive cat. Anyway, it was a hard bite and the couple decided that Ren had to go.

I can't say I blame Ren's former guardians. They had taken good care of him and to them, his action must have seemed an inexplicable attack. I can't blame Ren, either, for, having come to know him, I can't understand why he would have bitten anyone. The only thing I can imagine is that it was an accidental provocation which the woman didn't recognize as such, and which Ren felt needed retaliation. Under such conditions, the couple taking care of him considered it impossible for Ren to stay.

So Ren came to live with me. As is often (though not universally) the case, he was frightened and confused at the sudden change in his surroundings. He had been well cared for in his previous home and must have wished he was back there. I made him a hiding spot behind a bookcase and he used it immediately. But after a couple of hours of observing me, he came out, tentatively. Over the next week, he came out more and more, though he was quick to resort to his hiding spot when he felt frightened.

Relatively swiftly, though, he adapted to his new environment. I let him out to explore the apartment and meet his roommates. His energetic attempts to make friends did not meet with approval from the more reticent cats in my household. But he persevered. So did they. No one was going to make them become friends with any new interloper so quickly. He found me a more positive subject.

Ren is a big black and white boy with medium-length hair. It seemingly doesn't shed easily, but he leaves much of it behind whenever he lies on cloth or upholstery. He is gentle and passive with me, his sounds small for a fellow so big. His greatest protests come in the form of a drawn-out whine - and when I need to remove him from where he wants to be, he'll appear to add weight to his fifteen or sixteen pounds. He's as heavy as my Josie, but spreads it better.

Over time, Ren has managed to ingratiate himself with my first cat, Tungsten. I suspect it's because he respects the tiny orange one's dominance, retreating at a growl or hiss. One time, Tungsten dealt Ren a blow on the top of the head that, if converted to human terms, would have stunned a man. Ren is respectful but still tries to be friends. With Josie, he figures he can be a bit more exuberant. As a result, though I have seen them play, they also fight. Since Ren initiates the interaction, he gets the blame and is incarcerated in the library for a few minutes. Upon emerging, he immediately rubs up against me, telling me he's sorry and asking if I still like him. Unlike human prisoners just released, he means it.

Ren is a scientist. An empiricist, he likes to watch things to determine how they work, what they do, how they affect their surroundings. His favourite subject is water. He's taken to coming into the bathroom after I have a shower and observing the drops of water roll down the sides of the tub. And the sight of water running from the tap astounds him; perhaps he's never seen vertical water. He had to reach out and  touch it, try to draw it toward him. I've seen him examining a moth and a fly; unlike other cats, his first instinct was to watch them, rather than kill them. They were new and therefore interesting.

This characteristic impels Ren to meet new people. Countered by his natural timidity, it's a struggle for him when new humans appear. He will hide. He may hide for their entire initial visit. He'll listen, collecting evidence, determining if the visitor is friendly. He'll venture out the next time. And once he knows a person is friendly, he hides for a shorter period each time the person shows up.

But as well, he wants to meet people because loves companionship. He loves to have his chest rubbed, lying still, purring roughly and deeply. But when your hand is tired or you need it for something else, you may withdraw it, and Ren will remain, lying against you. I've seen him play with fuzzy toys, zoom through a nylon tunnel for the fun of it; I've seen him watch birds and falling leaves; I've seen him knead the air in joy while being petted. But his love of company strikes me the most about him. He craves it, and it brought him out from his hiding place when he first came to live with me. The way of "The Cat that Walked by Himself" is not Ren's way.


  1. YAY! I've been waiting to read more about sweet Ren!

    I've loved reading about all your kitties, of course, since I have met them all. I still can't help wanting more than just touching the tip of Ren's nose and paw though. :)

    I will be a regular reader!

    ~ Renee

  2. Very well put together, my friend. Entertaining but also gave me a deeper understanding of each of your cats. Now, if someone could explain my own cats to me....