When Elise moved to Bendigo one of the first things we wanted to do was visit the RSPCA and let a cat choose her so she would have company as she settled into the routine of living in a different house and town. Friday was the day and we went with high hopes of finding the perfect companion. Our theory was that if Elise choose a kitten that needed to be desexed (which is done as part of the adoption process) that she could possibly pick up the kitten on Monday and therefore only have one night in the house on her own.
At the RSPCA in Bendigo the cats and kittens are housed in different rooms depending on their ages. Kittens in one, four months and older in another, senior cats (7 years plus) in another then adult entire males in separate smaller rooms. We were told if they put these entire males in with the other cats or kittens they end up fighting over the females and there could be a bit of hanky panky going on if you know what I mean.
Elise first checked out the four month old and older kittens. They were cute. Really cute. Big enough to be a bit independent but still small enough to need lots of care. Only one appealed but that kitten had already been adopted.
Next was the younger kittens. Again – super cute. Little tiny bundles of fluff – some younger than others but all toilet trained and weaned. Again a very difficult decision but she finally thought one had possibilities.
The RSPCA lady that was cleaning some of the rooms, encouraged Elise to check out the older cats. As she said – “The right cat will choose you and you won’t have any say in it.”
So we looked at the older cats. They were lovely but also came with a world weary air of “Oh joy………another human. Why can’t they leave us alone?” No possibilites there even though Elise went to each cat and stroked their fur and talked to them.
Finally we looked at the entire male cats. A big ginger tom looked interesting. Think of a large orange rug and you pretty much have a picture of him in your mind. He was nice – but no bells were ringing.
Finally the Lady said “Check out our Ralfie. He’s been here a long time and is such a sweet boy”.
Elise walked into his small room and started talking to him. Ralf sat up and took notice. Then Elise sat on the floor and Ralf hopped down and wandered over.
The RSPCA Lady was in tears. “He’s never done that before. I managed to get him to come out of his room once – about two feet beyond the door but he dashed straight back into the safety of his bed.”
Elise kept talking to Ralf and petting him. He crawled in her lap then he started eating (the dish was very close to Elise).
Again the RSPCA Lady was in tears. “He has never done that before for anyone!!!”
By this time Elise was in tears also.
“So Elise what do you think” asks me who by this time is crossing her fingers that Ralf is The One….and James was trying not to hop up and down with excitement at the possibility that Ralf would be coming home with us.
“There is no way I’m leaving him here” said Elise. ” He is my cat.”
The RSPCA Lady and Elise hugged. Honestly I think they would have done the happy dance if it wouldn’t have frightened Ralf.
Some history on Ralf. Not that there is much. He was picked up by the Animal Ranger several months ago and it had taken lots and lots of work from the RSPCA staff to get him to trust anyone and even then he was very, very wary. At some stage they think he had been badly traumatised or frightened but by who or what they didn’t know. Elise and I are working on the theory that another cat or cats may have beaten him up as he has no fear of humans but was obviously stressed at being in the company (even though they were in separate rooms) of other cats. He has one eye that has strange markings in it but the vet had said there is nothing wrong – just the way the pupil is coloured. Elise has noticed though that the iris doesn’t contract as much as the other eye but it doesn’t seem to worry him.
We went and told the Boss of the RSPCA that Elise wanted Ralf. He looked at Elise and said “You know that he will take lots and lots of love and patience and kindness to get him to trust you don’t you? He’s a favourite around here as we have had him for so long and we want him to be happy”.
Elise just smiled and said “He’s my cat and he will be happy and safe and loved.”
We had to go and get paperwork from the Real Estate Agents to say Elise could have a cat as she was renting. We bought food and an Igloo (enclosed cat bed) for him to hide in and more kitty litter and a collar with a bell – purple cause only the best cats get to wear purple collars with a lovely jingling bell, plus Ralf is manly enough to be able to get away with wearing purple.
Back to the RSPCA so Elise could fill in all the paperwork and I could pay for Ralf – he was an early birthday present from all the family for Elise. He was already desexed, had his vaccinations, was microchipped and is now registered with council.
Ralf was put very gently into the carry cage we had for him and taken home.
Any time you walked into the lounge room on Friday you would see one of us lying on our stomach talking to Ralf as he hid in the carry cage and gently petting him.
Any time you walked into the lounge room on Saturday you would see one of us lying on our stomach talking to Ralf as he hid in the carry cage and gently petting him. It got to the stage that Mick said the cat would never come out as he just had to wait five minutes and someone would be there to talk to him.
Saturday night after the boys had gone home Elise put Ralf and the igloo on the couch beside her and petted him and talked to him as we were watching TV. Ten minutes later Ralf was out and cuddled up next to her.
The next day he was checking out the lounge room and that night (Sunday) he and Elise were fighting over whose pillow it was on the bed.
By the time I got to Bendigo Thursday Ralf was in the lounge room waiting to greet me and dropping huge hints that he was hungry and that there was no way Elise could be feeding him right. Yeah as if I was going to believe that!!!
Now he rules the house. Elise isn’t allowed to shut any doors as he wants to explore and gets quite cranky if he can’t get where he wants to.. His latest feat is checking out the contents of the kitchen cupboards and seeing if he could open drawers. He announces what he wants to eat by sitting in front of the fridge (canned food) or in front of the microwave ( dry food). The bed is shared between them and he expects Elise to be sitting on the couch at a designated time (not playing on the computer) or he will get grumpy and go and sit on another chair.
Never once has he hissed, or scratched or bitten anyone. Purring is the main way of communication or meows, which get louder if you ignore him.
I have to admit that when Elise first started talking about getting a cat (a few weeks before she knew she was accepted into uni) I looked on the RSPCA Bendigo Website and saw Ralf then. I had mentioned him to Elise but she was sure she wanted a kitten. An older cat didn’t fit into her plans. Ralf is only five and I think at the absolute prime of his life and I was sure when I first started looking that he was The One but Elise had to make up her own mind.
And she did.
I wasn’t sure about love at first sight – but now know it’s real.
Elise and Ralf – a match made in heaven.