Just a Big Softie

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When exceptionally pretty eight-year-old Joanne—all white except for a streak of gray at the top of her head and again at the tip of her tail—arrived at Purradise, she was afraid of being touched, of other cats, of sounds…of just about everything. But the staff and volunteers at the shelter suspected—rightly, as it happens—that behind her defenses lived a lovable, trusting lady, and worked with her to let down her guard even while they respected her need to express her fears. In fairly short order, she is “turning into quite the snuggle-bug,” says Purradise staffer Jane. “She has come so far; we are so proud of her,” she added.

Because Joanne, who seems to like answering to the nickname “Jo-Jo,” is still afraid of the other kitties, she has been given her own large space, the enclosed porch known as the Sunshine Spa, to call her own, shielded strategically here and there with cloths hung to conceal the kitty condos on the other side of the connective glass wall to the shelter-proper. Jane came in there with me for some visiting time with Joanne on July 28.

Joanne immediately approached me to offer a head-bump against my legs and accept a head scratch, then sprawled against Jane, who joined her on the floor, and rubbed her head against her. Although Jane told me Joanne will sit on the lap of her colleague Cathy, not there at the time, she has not yet progressed to being so trusting other people to climb onto them and still doesn’t like to be picked up. But given those limits, Joanne returned to me periodically for more head-bumps, rubs, and scratches, as well as rolled on her back for us, demonstrating how safe and relaxed she felt with our being in “her” space. “Once she gets comfortable with someone, she’s just fine,” observed Jane.

Interested in her surroundings and playful—she even knows how to catch or bat back toys that are tossed to her, Jane said—Joanne occupied herself with several of the room’s many kitty toys, as well as climbed right into and tested out a cat bed I offered to her. The sound and activity of the birds just outside, gathering by the shelter’s several feeders, also drew her attention; she chattered excitedly at the sight of them, as well as meowed at us occasionally in a conversational tone, as if to join in our human-language discussion.

Joanne is rapidly approaching adoptability, providing she meets the right, affectionate person who will respect her boundaries and provide a quiet, safe home for her while working patiently to earn and further extend her trust. Even during the hour or so I spent with her, it was clear that Joanne wishes to make that kind of connection. Once she discovers the instant gratification of belly rubs, or perhaps spending the night curled up with her special someone, there’ll be no going back to the Joanne who initially entered Purradise as a scaredy-cat.

This series follows the special human-feline bond at Purradise, the Berkshire Humane Society Cat Adoption Center at 301 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230 (413-717-4244), berkshirehumane.org. Open Wed., Fri., & Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Thurs. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Sun. noon–4 p.m.

Iris Bass, coauthor of the Cat Lover’s Daily Companion, shares her Lee home with five shelter cats.

CAPTION: Joanne © 2017 Jane Burt.

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