Irene got mean. She was a terror in a cage. Tooth, claw and rage. She hissed and spat at anyone who approached her cage and thus she was slated for euthanasia. I'm a sucker for a hard case.
Irene is an approximately 8 month old, short coat black female. She came to me already fixed and fully vetted but was essentially feral. And she was mad. She'd been in a cage for a *very* long time and she was super pissed about that life.
I arrived to pick her up. The staff person looked at my paperwork and said "That one? Really?". I said "Yes, that one". The staff woman sighed and headed off, looking like the was readying herself to do battle. Fifteen minutes later my carrier was brought back with what sounded like a demon inside. I really never had heard such growling from a cat before.
The shelter was loud. It smells funny. There's people and animals just everywhere. People kept grabbing her to take her blood, or do surgery, or give her medicine, or stick her with needles... and she was just done.
I took the carrier out to the car and put it on the passenger seat. Inside, there was a towel with a small lump in the center and silence. I got in the car and started driving. Figuring this kitten could use some down time, I didn't put on the radio. Instead, I sang. A few slow and quiet songs later, a nose and pair of eyes appeared from under the towel to regard me.
Upon arriving home, I took her to the Bathroom of Isolation so she could have a couple of chill days realizing that no one here wanted to murder her. After a few days, I just stopped shutting the bathroom door. Irene was going to live in my closet. That was that. She'd come out to cautiously eat and then would be gone again, shimmied under a shoe rack or jammed behind a sweater box. For about a week there was no change.
Then she moved under the bed, displacing Kit and Allen Quatermain, which was actually good for both of them to get more socialization time. Since then, under my bed has become her den and she guards it well. If any other cat attempts to enter, they are quickly shown the headboard. If my feet venture too far under the quilt while I am making the bed, I receive a swat of warning or occasionally a light nibble.
In the last few days, things have started to change. She ventures out around the house. She's learning how to lounge about on the furniture and steal the warm spot on the sofa. Irene has discovered her great passion for squishy food and watching things on "Cat TV", also known as through the screen on the back porch. She's approached me for a sniff and does not run from me when I go about the business of filling food bowls. She still has zero interest in having my hands on her, but she'll sit companionably beside me and Quatermain to eat her plate full of cod in cheesy bacon sauce.
Irene Addler has lost her hate. Now we'll just see if she can find some trust. Until then, she'll be savaging this stick toy. It's hers now.