As with the adoption of humans, the adoption of cats involves follow-up visits to confirm that they are compatible with the household. So this morning a very pleasant lady from the RSPCA came to carry out an assessment. However – unlike the potential for tragedy and joy in expanding a human family – this was slightly farcical.
After the recommended few weeks to change Jasper and Una’s definition of home from the shelter to our flat, we started letting them out to explore when we get up in the morning. So that they could be assessed we were asked to not let them out; by the time the inspection occurred they had been complaining that the magical force field was still up for several hours, with the expected degree of deviation from their usual mostly calm disposition. Not an ideal state to show that they were happy in their new home, but probably not insurmountable on its own.
However, they were also both mistreated before they reached the shelter so do not like strangers. The progress they had shown at being not too far away from my mother was erased by the necessity of the vet examining them to prescribe flea and worm medicine; now they associate strangers with being grabbed and held down while a foul unguent is applied to their neck. Much like a alien abductee hearing a high humming they flee the doorbell. Denied escape into the garden, they folded themselves behind the sofa and pulled the shadows in after them.
In hopes they would emerge I sat down with the inspector and discussed their history. Some 10 minutes after her arrival, Jasper slipped his head around the side of the sofa to peer at her then retreated. After another five minutes he slipped out slightly further. Twenty minutes into the assessment, with a partial image of Jasper and no sight of Una, the inspector suggested that I let them out into the garden.
In the end the assessment was based on the sight of Jasper and Una fleeing as fast as possible from our flat. Not exactly the image one might choose to portray contentment but still overall a better state than when they were first taken into the shelter.
While I understand the need for a personal visit, I am amused that a clearer picture of their condition might have been achieved by adapting a staple of the thriller: sending the shelter a photograph of the cats asleep on today’s newspaper.