|In December 2011 we adopted our first cat together (not the first cat for either of us, however. Merlin (we did try to change his name to a more Gaelic one but it didn’t take) came from the same woman who we adopted Sachairi from and who had returned for a visit and found that the situation he was in wasn’t as she had hoped. So despite Cùbeing very hostile towards cats, we figured, from what we had been told, he’d be a good shop cat. So we met again, Sach had some time playing with her, and we came home with the cat as well.
Supposedly he and Sach were great friends, but from the beginning Sach acted almost offended to see him. He was skittish and unfriendly, wanting nothing to do with us. As it was winter and the shop was closed, this was okay for the time but we were worried if we couldn’t win his trust hem might be gone as soon as we had the shop opened up. We still do not know if he did actually get out a couple of times and go back in as this outdoor winter shot may or may not be him, there are a lot of feral black cats on the hill. Obviously, from other animals that sometimes get in (and we’ll get to that), the place isn’t very secure. But the shop was warm, so despite his apparent feral nature, he was later in there.
We’d go into the shop, he’d go and hide, if we got close to his hiding spot he’d growl. We put a blanket in his favorite hiding spot, which got him to be closer to where we could look in. We would do so and talk softly to him, in hopes that he’d get use to us. We also hung a toy there and would try to get him to play by moving the string outside the hole.
It worked, for on January 10, 2012 I went in to get the horses’ food, peeked in and instead of growling or hissing, he meowed at me. I meowed back. I moved the toy we had and he grabbed it. He put his nose up to the hole a few times and then….he poked his head out! This allowed me to scritch the top of his head and…..after two times of this, he crawled out. There was much me scritching him and him rubbing against my hands and legs, so I am now his possession. He wanted to go eat, and actually stopped to see if I was going to follow before jumping up to eat. I was sitting on the freezer next to where we have his food up higher patting him when Aaron, who just got home, came in and Merlin bolted towards his hidy-hole. I went over to Aaron to try to demonstrate that he was a friend, but…he wasn’t convinced and retreated. However, Aaron’s quiet nature quickly won him over.
We could then get him vetted and for awhile he remained the shop cat and worked his way through our pest problem. We would sit out there holding him, often in front of the fire. This shop cat thing seemed to be working.
One of the benefits we hoped for in having a cat to get rid of the mice would be less chance of other small predators following the rodents and discovering the buffet of chickens. However, they were still getting in, as we found out. I discovered his face swollen, he had gotten bitten, probably something fangy rather than a rodent, and it was infected. I had a grand adventure getting him to the vet and back, which involved running over what turned out to be chainsaw blades and having damage to the underside of the car on the way home. (No, really, someone apparently lost a bucket full out of their truck, they were totally invisible on the road at night and this was followed by a real fun time explaining this to our insurance company.)
With the infection we didn’t want him to stay in the shop and we did have this whole other section of house (we live in the “in-law” apartment still) where he could be more comfortable. And he was. So that is where he has lived, with us playing with him when we went to the gym and me sometimes curling up on a couch to try to write or sometimes watch a video on the laptop. Gleann absolutely adored him, while Sach seemed to be still put out that he is here. Most of the time, anyway.
This also worked out real well, as that part of the house had a real mouse problem too. And he does like to hunt. He still loves to go outside in the summer, sometimes sits on the porch in the winter for a bit, but does not like to go into the shop…although he sometimes does do a rodent sweep.
Since we have lost Cù, we started bringing him in to the apartment while Òrlaith was leashed. She didn’t seem too interested, but we also didn’t want to stress her when she got sick so we didn’t make it often. However, since losing her, we have let him come in here during the day. He does have some issues with not respecting the shrines, which are much more cluttered than the small gym one, so we take him to the other side at night. As we are also likely to adopt another Greyhound, which will have to be more cat safe than past ones have been, there is a chance that he’ll only be over part time if the hound isn’t totally cat safe. But Gleann is quite happy to have Merlin in here, while Sach seems a bit annoyed.
When we adopted Gráinne it was with the understanding that she wasn’t proven cat safe, but did have “cat potential.” So Merlin spent his days outside or in the other part of the house when she first arrived, unless she was in her crate or on leash and muzzled. She showed no real interest in going at him. Or, really, any real awareness that he existed. In fact, this is much as he usually is with dogs, himself….he sort of seems to ignore them, seems almost unaware, even as he also seems to like to lie nearby them. (we did learn that this was all fake when we lost Sachairi and he sort of flipped out over it…as he later did when we lost Gráinne). It still took us a long time to completely trust that this wasn’t some sort of ruse or might be broken by a moment of speed from the cat that might set of her prey drive. But we slowly allowed for unleashed but muzzled, then unmuzzled as long as someone was here with them….after awhile we did leave her loose with him around when we ran outside (she was always crated when we were gone for any length of time due to being a walking stomach who might decide something dangerous was food like enough, even if it isn’t the cat). They actually got along really well, after awhile and when she died he was pretty upset.
His relationship with Nimue, however, is no quite so friendly, as she is pretty defensively hostile towards him. And he does seem to bait her, quite often. But I don’t know, sometimes I think they actually like each other but don’t want to admit it to us.
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