I got a new cat! — the full Fluffstory (thanks to @affoGATOcatcafe)

Mom was in town last week, so we hung out on Friday…and obviously had to visit Cleveland’s new cat cafe.

I wasn’t committed to getting a cat that day, but I was generally in the market for one, with these criteria:

  • A shy cat, maybe one that was rescued from a bad situation, who specifically needed a quiet home with one patient human + few visitors + no other pets
  • Any age, so long as it was housetrained
  • Any breed/appearance/coat length, so long as it had a distinct appearance from all the other cats I’ve lived with
  • Any gender, so long as it was spayed/neutered
  • Had all its shots in general, and no health issues that would put its care out of my budget

So we show up at the cafe, the staff give us a quick rundown of how to behave inside, they usher our whole group into the Cat Room…and there, curled up on a wall shelf across from the door, is Fluffy.

He’s of the cats they specifically called out beforehand, saying “don’t approach him in large groups or you’ll scare him, just go up one at a time, and give him a chance to get used to you.” I walk up slowly and give him some gentle skritching. After cautiously tolerating it for a bit, he leans into it.

I did check out the rest of the room — petted/hugged/played with various other cats — but at the end of the hour, I put a hold on Fluffy.

(There was one other “shy cat, needs patience” described on the board, and she put up with petting when I checked her out, but never showed any sign of indulging in it.)

And by evening, he was hiding in my bathroom!

Fluffy

Living up to his name, he’s a long-hair mix. Instead of totally renaming him, I’m making “Fluffy” a nickname for a longer full name TBD. (The realtime Twitter thread has a bunch of the possibilities.)

He’s mostly white-furred, with cookies’n’cream black spots (Fluffies’n’Cream!), and chronically-suspicious green eyes.

The Fluffmeister was an “on-site surrender” in a humane incident, meaning his original home got reported to the Animal Protection League as unsafe, and a team went to pick him up. (Along with one other cat, who was more sociable, and got adopted earlier.) At the time, he was underweight and dehydrated — the APL shelter put him on a special diet at first, to get his weight back up.

Fluffy

Even now, he only weighs 6 pounds. The fluff looks even fluffier because his actual frame is so tiny. And he’s 2 years old — gotta wonder if this was always his potential full size, or if he was underfed going back to kittenhood, and it stunted his growth.

(My aunt’s cat weighs 12 pounds. My parents’ last cat weighed 18. Not because of obesity or anything, either, he was just big.)

On the first night, April 5, Brave Sir Fluffs-a-lot tried a couple of different hiding places, ending up under the daybed in the living room:

Fluffy

Fluffy

Along with some boxes of Leif & Thorn books, and other convention merch.

In the bathroom I’d petted him and coaxed him to eat some treats. Here I put his food bowls under the end of the daybed, and he ate while he could see me in range to see him. So far, so good.

Then on the evening of the 6th, I did one last check-in before going to bed…and he wasn’t there! At some point he’d made a break for my bedroom. Managed to get there without me even noticing.

Fluffy

(The white stuff on the floor is bits of styrofoam, from when the bed was unpacked. Until now, I had no reason to try to get under there and sweep it up.)

Also, he’d done his business there, instead of in the provided litterbox. Sigh.

So that night we both slept in the bedroom — me on top of the bed, him underneath. It’s the only room (other than the bathroom) with a door that closes, and I kept him shut in there for the day. At this point he was only eating when I was out of the room, so I held off on any further petting.

Tempting though it was.

Still no use of the box, though, and on the afternoon of the 7th, Floofatron 3000 went and peed on the bed. I did some cleanup work, and then, since the mattress was too big to offer any chance of hauling it out of the room, I managed to upend it against the wall.

Ooh, he did not like that. The mattress was by itself on top of the slats of the bedframe, so it was the biggest part of his shelter, and having it removed was a Terrifying Ordeal.

I briefly planned to relocate him to the bathroom. At the cat cafe he’d been incredibly easy to scoop up and pour into his carrier, and he was quiet and docile throughout the car rides, even during our stop at the APL for microchipping. Should be easy to move him again, right?

…yeah, not so much. Not right after the Ordeal. (I like to hope he also had more energy from getting regular meals — the crowd at the cat cafe might’ve intimidated him away from his bowls.)

I did finally corner him, got a hiss and a scratch, and started formulating a new plan based on leaving him in a cat-proofed bedroom.

…and it’s working pretty well so far!

Fluffy

The Terror That Fluffs In The Night finally started using his litter by the night of the 8th, once I squeezed the box into a corner where he’d peed before (and removed the mattress as an alternative). Here he is under the de-mattressed bed.

The boxes/suitcase are positioned to keep him from climbing into the under-bed drawers. There are some thinner boxes under the under-bed drawers, to keep him out of that narrow space. Cleaning supplies are on-hand.

(And I’m sleeping on…the daybed. It’s fine, I spent the first month at this place with no furniture.)

His new favorite place is up on the windowsill. It’s about the height and size of that shelf he had at the cafe — and part of it is sheltered by the upturned mattress.

Looking real suspiciously at his food in this shot, but it still disappears when I’m not in the room, so it can’t be too bad.

His other favorite place is the new highest point in the room…the top edge of the mattress itself!

Fluffy

I’m not putting his food up there. Sir Edmund Fluffery will just have to venture back down when he’s hungry.

We had our current routine established by the 9th. I check in a few times a day, to refresh his food, clean his box, maybe leave some treats, and say calming things while standing at a safe distance.

On the 10th I called the APL, just hoping to chat with a worker who’d handled him during the 2-ish months he was at the shelter, get some insight…

…and had a lovely talk with someone who said “he was one of my favorites, I would’ve adopted him myself, but my home isn’t the quiet space he needs.”

New insights:

  • At the shelter it took The Fluffington Post about a month, with consistent routines, to start feeling comfortable and letting people pet him. Longer than I expected based on his first-night performance, but not longer than I’d bargained for.
  • Sounds like he hissed/swatted at them on a more regular basis until he adjusted, so he’s at least starting on a better footing here than he did there.
  • Took him that long to start playing with toys, too. And he’d stop if he noticed you looking.
  • He’s not picky at all about food — and will work up to being very food-motivated — but in the beginning he only felt safe eating at night. Which I had noticed, but was getting the data muddled by thinking “maybe he doesn’t like this flavor” instead of “oh, shouldn’t have put this out in the morning.”
  • He does have this weird way of eating, very slow, one piece at a time. Someone at the cafe speculated to me that she thought he’d lost some teeth. The person from the APL couldn’t confirm or deny that, but she did say they didn’t find anything to be medically concerned about.
  • He always sat on the highest shelf in his kennel at the shelter, too!

So it might be a while before he does anything worth sharing new photos of. Unless people (other than me) would be excited to see “aww, look, he’s sitting on his shelf some more!”

But now that we have a routine set up that covers all the basics, he’s going to get all the time he needs to get comfortable and come out of his shell.

In the meantime, I’m leaning towards Marshmallow Fluff as his full name, so I can make jokes about his great shelf life.

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