This story picks up from where we left off previously… Opie and Jake are now in their new home. Though they were freed from their crates to do as they pleased, they chose to hide or to stay in the crate instead. DH and I left them alone for several hours, only looking over our shoulders a few times to check on them. Elmsford Animal Shelter had already advised us to expect this behavior from them.
The next day, Jake stayed under the dining table (a picnic table covered with Longerberger linens made this a cozy spot), while Opie hid in the nearby coat closet. I gave them breakfast in the morning. After several attempts to interact with them, by late evening both of them allowed me to pet them on the head. I was careful not to make much eye contact with them except when I was giving them food, water, or toys to play with. Before I knew it, I was greeted with head butts, drops onto their backs to receive tummy rubs, licks on my hands, and kisses on my face from Jake. I didn’t expect positive responses from them so soon; yes, I was a happy girl!
Jake and Opie had really warmed up to me a lot in 48 hours; however, I noticed a problem brewing between Jake and Opie. Every time Opie approached Jake and I (while I was playing with Jake), Jake would become stressed and hiss at Opie and sometimes even at me. I felt badly for Opie since he seemed to not understand the change in Jake’s cattitude towards him. When this happened, I could tell Opie became somewhat withdrawn and less playful towards me. I didn’t know what to do to repair their relationship or why this problem came about in the first place. They were the best of sheltermates and I was saddened to see them like this.
I consulted a cat forum friend regarding this problem. Heidi had spent many years caring for feral cats and helping them to convert to domestic life. She explained it could be “redirected or misdirected aggression and that these two cats who have been removed from their familiar place, are now in a new situation and ‘things’ that just aren’t the same…different sights, different sounds, different smells, and that is why [Jake] was getting stressed and seemed not ‘recognize’ his buddy.” She encouraged me to be patient and to allow them some more time to adjust, to try to get them near each other and have “good things” happen when they are in sight of each other; like food-treats, petting, playing with simple toys like feather-strings and stuff that I could control and keep the cats playing or interested in being near me.
Heidi was right. The next day came and by late evening I saw Jake and Opie best buddies again to my relief :). Since then, there has been daily progress. As they have become more relaxed with their surroundings and with us, they have blossomed into two great boys who can finally enjoy their new home. They have also been very well-mannered towards their older dog sister, Stella (who’s a third of their weight). Via supervised meetings, both cats have shown curiosity towards her by little sniffs here and there but nothing more. Yet another hurdle crossed… phewww…..