Some cats’ names make perfect sense. Exhibit A: Mr. Grey.
Other cats’ names gleefully make zero sense. Exhibit B: Nuttin.
And then there are the names that fit the cat in one sense…and are a spectacular mis-fit in another.
At first glance, Cutie lives every inch up to her name. From her peachy face to that funny tail with just one white ring around the tip, Cutie is…well, a cutie-pie.
But, like Transformers, there is more than meets the eye to our tortie lass.
From her first day at Tabby’s Place this summer, Cutie was determined to prove that she was not all sugar and spice and everything nice. Truth be told, there wasn’t much “nice” about our brave staff’s experiences caring for Cutie in her early days. (There was, however, a good deal of “terror” and a generous helping of “scarring”.) Cutie wasn’t so much scared as she was angry, and she let her claws, teeth and scream do the talking.
It was quickly decided that caging Cutie only made matters worse. Normally, a Tabby’s Place cat spends her first three weeks at the sanctuary in a cage in our Quarantine area, so we can treat her for any infectious conditions, get to know her, and help her ease into Tabby’s Place life gently before jumping into the multi-cat fray of a suite. In Cutie’s case, the confined space only improved her odds of biting/clawing/mauling the hands that fed her. Even grizzled* veterans of caring for scary cats were downright terrified of the wrath of Cutie. Something had to be done.
That “something” meant, essentially, creating Tabby’s Place’s first-ever psychiatric ward.
Moving in right next door to Max (more on him and his “therapy cat” Mozart in a future post), Cutie earned her very own private suite. Now, at least, the human beans had a fighting chance of feeding and caring for the glamorous tortie without losing an appendage.
But there was exactly one human bean whose life was never in danger with The Cute One. Vicious as she could be with most of us, she reliably turned into a mushmallow in the presence of Jonathan. Far from the growl with which she’d greet the rest of us, Cutie serenaded Jon with happy chirps, and would rub up against him, roll on the floor, solicit a belly rub and become just about the cutest thing you can imagine in his presence.
This gave the rest of us hope. Hesitant hope, but hope nonetheless.
Finally, Cutie’s quarantine period came to an end, and we agreed, with some angst and agita, to see how she’d do in one of our regular suites…with other cats. Would Cutie’s thirst for human flesh be matched by a loathing of her own species, or would she feel more at home among the furred kind?
Last week, we moved Cutie into a large crate in Suite A and got our answer: Cutie did not find other cats cute.
For her first few days in the suite, Cutie screamed and yowled, banshee-style, frightening folks on the other side of the sanctuary. Our morning meetings included serious warnings to all volunteers: please let staff clean Cutie’s crate…if you know what’s good for you.
Ah, but dear friends, I trust you’ve guessed that the story doesn’t end in such a non-cute place. Just shy of two months into Tabby’s Place life, Cutie’s cuteness is starting - slooooowly - to crest. I’ve always believed that Cutie has her reasons (be they experiential, emotional, or…well, mental) for acting as she does, and I continue to believe that, as her life sweetens, so, too, may her personality. Maybe.
In fact, this morning we agreed that Cutie’s reached a major milestone: we can honestly say that she is no wackier than Jackie and Maggie. And we adore Jackie and Maggie. We know better than to pet either of them for more than six seconds at a time, but we love them the spunky, kooky, moderately-violent way they are, and we’ve learned to respect their boundaries (even if they’ll never completely respect our desire not to bleed). Like these two wacky roomies, Cutie now holds off on attacking unless provoked (which, in her case, means touched for more than a few seconds).
Will Cutie ever live up to her name on the inside as much as she does on the outside? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m told she was a major snuggle-bug in her previous home (from which she came to Tabby’s Place through the Exceptional Circumstances Program). In her wide, super-cute eyes, I want to believe I see a yearning to be a trusting cuddler again. I don’t know if, or when, we’ll have the privilege of seeing that side of Cutie at Tabby’s Place.
But I do know that we love her like mad already, and that we’ll do everything in our power to stoke her happiness and trust every day. She is a Cutie, and we’re grateful to have her as our Cutie…even if, in her presence, we need to keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.
*OK, no one at Tabby’s Place is exactly “grizzled”. But the best veterans are always described that way, and I wouldn’t deny our hard-working sanctuary associates the privilege of being honorarily “grizzled.” Cutie’s early antics were enough to grizzle us all.