“Princess Aries” lived with “Miss Parker” for the first nine years of her life. We don’t know much about her life before she met us, other than she is a purebred Himalayan, though not a show cat; she lived with at least one other Himalayan for part of that time; and she never bonded at all with her owner.
We learned about her in early December, 2011. Ingrid, the vet tech at Paws, Whiskers & Claws, called out of the blue one day to ask if we might consider taking in one more cat. “Miss Parker” was going into a nursing home, could only take one of her cats along, and it wasn’t going to be this one. In the note she had sent to Ingrid, she said “Princess Aries” was very standoffish and could only rarely be petted, and that she just didn’t know what could be done for her. Ingrid, though, had her suspicions that someone who understood shy cats might be able to do something and might just be willing to put forth the effort. Joyce Fetterman had, at one point, mentioned my affinity for Himalayans, so Ingrid called me.
At first we said no. But we thought about it. Within a few days we discovered that our Donovan was terminally ill, so we just let it ride until after he was gone.
About two weeks after Donovan’s death, Ingrid called again saying she knew it was probably too soon, but “Miss Parker’s” move was imminent. There was a place for “Princess Aries” with the local Persian/Siamese rescue group, so “Miss Parker” was coming that day to get her medical records. Ingrid believed that this rescue group was a very poor choice for this cat, and asked if we were still willing to consider her taking her in.
In the meantime, we’d considered very thoughtfully and, based on what little we knew, decided that we could certainly try to give this little one a decent home. So I told Ingrid to have her bring the cat in instead and we would come meet her. Relieved, Ingrid did so, figuring that if we wouldn’t take her, they could surely find someone.
I stopped by home after work to pick up Gary. He said that if we thought it might work, let’s go on and bring her home now rather than have her go through two moves. So Ingrid and Dr. G, expecting us there for a “meet & greet,” were quite surprised when we walked in with carrier in hand, but they understood once we explained.
She was so tiny for a full-grown cat!! She had a partially-grown-out lion cut, but you could tell from her tail that she was hugely floofy by nature. She lay there in the cage, curled up and fearful, and I knew that she would take work. But I remembered how Iris had hidden under the bed for six months, and I knew that I was so much more experienced now in dealing with cats and that we could provide a good, comfortable place for her, even if she never did truly adjust. So home with us she came.
And under the bed she went. Setting up the office as a “safe room” didn’t work because Sarah & Mr. Boots were used to the run of the place, so after three days the bedroom became the general “safe room” for everyone (apparently there is an unwritten feline rule in our house that under the bed is neutral, safe territory for everyone). Sarah, being Sarah, would have nothing to do with her, but Mr. Boots did his best to be friends, and eventually succeeded.
The next order of business was a new name for a new life. “Princess Aries” just did not fit! After several days of debate and trying out names, we settled on Tara. It sounded similar and seemed to fit.
Then began the task of socializing her, which involved dragging her out from under the bed at least once or twice a day for petting and cuddling, eventually adding crunchy treats to the mix once we discovered what she liked (Friskies Natural Selections, as it turns out). This went on for months, with very slow progress. But over time we got to the point where, after playing a little chase from one side of the bed to the other, she would come out with just a little push on her rump. Soon she started coming out on her own. Then she started visiting us in the “reading room” and coming close enough to touch. We’d occasionally hear a rusty-sounding purr. One day we were startled by an imperious “mrrow.”
Then the kittens arrived, but that’s another story.
Since then Tara has really come out of her shell. She demands attention in the bathroom and will jump up on the bed all by herself for her evening treats. She’s still quite skittish, but has thoroughly integrated herself into the family and knows that she is loved and cherished, at last.