I originally wrote a much longer post; in fact I spent an hour crafting a fabulous post on his progress. Then WordPress glitched out and deleted it. Or failed to save it. Or both. Cause when I went to publish, it was gone. So here is an even more abbreviated version.
Where to start. Those who saw my Wordless Wednesday post yesterday will know that I caught Marius. Handsome boy is safe and sound inside trying to get rehabilitated into a socialized cat! I caught him within ten minutes of waking up yesterday and I haven’t stopped moving since then.
Normal morning routine is to feed the outside cats before I feed myself. I fed the girls and set the trap. Luckily Marius showed up shortly thereafter. He checked out the girls’ food first, ate their leftovers then headed for the trap. When I saw him heading over to the girls food I didn’t expect him to go to the trap. Luckily he walked right in and this time he tripped the plate. Poor guy was so terrified. The way he was hurling himself against the door of the trap, for a minute or two I expected him to turn out to be feral. Then he let out the most pitiful cry I have ever heard. It wrenched at my heart and I knew there might just be a chance to socialize this guy.
A few hours later we headed over to the vet to get his bald spot looked at. Turns out it was all just a ploy to come inside. He had fur there, it was just SUPER short. Better than ringworm right!? So I opted to take the regular appointment time instead of doing a drop off so I could witness his behavior. He did great! He had a mild sedative to help with the stress but even with that he was calm as could be. Even with a mild sedative, if he wanted to freak and give the vet techs a workout he could have. Instead he just sat perfectly still on the table. Lucky for me Marius’ fear response seems to be to simply freeze. This should make it easier in the long run to socialize him.
As it became clear that he deserved a chance at a life as a house cat I admitted to myself he had to stay inside. Ok, who am I kidding, Marius is so handsome I practically begged him to become an indoor cat. He got a clean bill of health, including updates on vaccines and virus testing (negative all around!). Once I got him home we set him all up in his temporary new home-a dog crate in the basement. Poor love is scared but finally relaxing a bit. He has a soft bed of blankets in the back corner, including one that belonged to my first foster/hospice cat. I tossed in a few toys to make him feel more comfortable, though he is of course uninterested. I didn’t get to spend much time with him yesterday because I had so much running around to do (including a trip to the ER for what I thought was a broken toe.) What time I did spend with him was laying on the ground talking to him, trying to sooth him with the sound of my voice and explain what the heck was going on. I told him no more worrying about where the next meal was coming from or trying to find a good place to sleep at night. No more cold nights or wet toes. From now on he would be warm and dry and comfortable with soft places to sleep! I wish I could make him understand.
While he was clearly nervous last night, he didn’t have the body language of a terrified feral. His eyes were large but not with the petrified look of many a trapped feral I have encountered. They were more alert than petrified. He sat bolt upright in the corner of the cage for much of the day. When he wasn’t bolt upright he sorta laid down but not in a super relaxed position. Ever been to an adoption event with cats? Ya know how the cats are laying down in the corner of their cage but clearly quite stressed? That was Marius. This morning I got to spend some time sitting with him before I left for work and I really just observed his body language. His eyes were calmer, and he didn’t give off signs of being super scared or stressed. In fact, I almost got blinky eyes. Kitty blinks are the ultimate sign of trust! I blinked at him and he relaxed his eyes. Not quite a blink but a great step in the right direction. He still hunkers to the back of the cage whenever I stick my hand in to clean or feed him. I sneaked a little touchy touch yesterday. He told me this morning, in no uncertain terms (but without the use of his formidable weapons) that we were not at that stage of our relationship yet.
I sat with him just a bit this evening after I got home from work. He was very interested in a feather toy I had. I ran it along the sides of the cage and his head moved back and forth with it. He wasn’t ready to pounce on it just yet though. Actually, not entirely sure the watching was interested in playing or a fear that it was going to attack him. When I tried to touch him with it he got this “OH POOP” look on his face. It was comical. I can just hear him saying “NO! NO! DON’T LET IT TOUCH ME! OMG NOOO!” I backed off then. When I left him, he was laying down, a little more streched out than before. This is good. While he was not completely relaxed, he was in a more “vulnerable” position. More body exposed paws tucked under him.
He has eaten well for me. Ate all the wet food he has been offered, and ate lots of dry food over night. He isn’t using his bathroom facilities as much as I would like him too, hopefully that will change as he relaxes. He has a long way to go still, but he is much more relaxed than I expected him to be at this point. And he is safe and sound inside before the big snow storm hits. Which means one less cat to worry about outside. Speaking of which, I need to batten down the hatches for Mama and Little Black before the snow hits. More updates as progress is made and time allows!