If only he didn’t find his new roomies so, well, stimulating.
Let me backtrack a bit. We haven’t met many any cats quite like Max. He’s just about as gregarious and chatty as a cat can be, and has earned himself quite the loyal fan club here at Tabby’s Place. There’s just something about the big guy that immediately endears you to his “look-at-me! listen-to-me!” attitude and huggy ways. Max seems like the epitome of self-confidence.
But looks can be deceiving.
Put Max in even a mildly-unfamiliar situation, and you’ll see what an anxiety-ball our handsome tabby can be. What happens when, say, Max meets another cat for the first time, or moves into a new room? The hair along his spine stands at attention, his tail poofs out like a scrub brush, and, when the stress level really soars, Max will start to attack his own tail. Violently. In fact, prior to coming to Tabby’s Place, Max once attacked his own tail so viciously that he needed to have part of it amputated.
All of this has made Max’s transition to Tabby’s Place rather challenging. (Clearly Max takes the universal feline responsibility of “making human beans get creative” very seriously.) For the first several months, we kept our anxious boy secluded and happy in the on-site apartment (where he was the only tenant – and rent-free, too). He loved the enormous amounts of personal attention he received here in the first-ever “psychiatric ward” at Tabby’s Place…but we longed for him to be able to enjoy a semi-normal life.
So, it was unanimously agreed that the best friends for Max would be the gentlest, most cat-adoring crew in the building…none other than the sweet Dessert Kids.
When Introduction Day came for Max and his new buddies, it was Twinkie, the fearless leader of the band, who made the first move. Max hadn’t been in the room more than ten seconds before pint-sized Twinkie skittered up and offered him a happy head-bump, as if to say, “hello, my new best friend forever!!” (If this were elementary school, Twinkie would be the third-grader who would instantly throw her arms around the new kid, squealing, “I’ll show you your locker and you can have half my sandwich and all my cookies and you can even have my pink pencil and by the way my name is Twinkie!!!”)
Alas, Max was not ready for all this bonding. No sooner had Twinkie made her affectionate introduction, then Max began growling and spinning after his own tail, overwhelmed and overstimulated. We canceled the mission and whisked our big, bothered boy back to his private digs.
When we dared to venture a second attempt this week, things were very different…and it’s all thanks to Mozart. Over the last few weeks, Max has had the company of this mellow (“nearly-comatose” might be more accurate) fellow, his own personal “therapy cat.” As you can see in this video, Max learned to tolerate Mozart’s presence quite well. (For his part, Mozart came to senjoy these daily excursions to Casa Max so much that he’d howl at the door of Suite C each morning until we’d take him to Max’s room. Why? I have no clue. But, I don’t think anyone knows quite what’s going on behind Mozart’s sweet, vacant blue gaze. :-))
Suitably desensitized to the fact that other cats exist, Max is making his way with our Dessert Kids. It’s certainly not love, by any means (and, as Jonathan puts it, Twinkie is too proud to be rejected twice; she’s kept her distance from Max this time). But, there’s no violence, no self-injury, no screaming.
And, if Max decides he’s ready to tiptoe out of his own world into the realm of feline friendship, he’ll find eager snuggle-buddies in Twinkie, Trifle, Cupcake, Strudel and their friend Cypress. And you’ll be among the first to know. 🙂