Zola, successor to our late and sorely missed cat Sugar, arrived here today. Here’s how it went…
We brought him here around 11:30AM. He was quiet as a church mouse in the car from the rescue center, a pretty startling contrast with Sugar who hated car travel and made almost constant distress sounds when subjected to it.
We showed him his litterbox and the food bowl, then left him with them in the basement to chill out a bit. He had accepted a little petting but not really responded to it – his mind was clearly on other things. We know it’s best not to crowd a cat when it’s trying to cope with novelty.
After a while Zola came up the basement stairs, found our master bedroom, and poked around in it. While doing so he found the crawlspace under the waterbed headboard where Sugar occasionally hid when she felt stressed out. He promptly dived into it. There is no way to get a cat out of there if it doesn’t wanna, not without disassembling the waterbed.
He hung out in there, thinking and/or napping, for about three hours while Cathy and I tried not to worry. (Well, I tried not to worry. Cathy asserts she wasn’t as concerned.)
Then Zola came out – and, basically, love-bombed both of us. Purred up a storm, head-butted us, rolled over on his back to be played with, and generally looked completely blissed out about having these!!! wonderful!!! humans!!! paying attention to him.
Maine Coons. They’re like that. We always suspected our Sugar was carrying a bunch of Coon genes under her generic shorthair-tabby coat. In Zola’s case it’s not even a question; he’s either a pure-bred Coon or as close as makes no difference and could be a reference example of the breed traits and appearance.
It’s now about six hours later and Zola’s acting like we’ve been his people for years. He oscillates back and forth between Cathy and me politely requesting attention and being so sweet to us it’d melt the heart of a stone statue.
Sugar was like that; in some ways it’s like having her back again (Coon traits, which see). But Zola has a subtly different personality. He’s more relaxed, mellow, kind of unflappable. Sugar wasn’t really high-strung in any absolute sense, but that’s how she’d seem by comparison.
Zola is also visually striking in a way Sugar wasn’t. This picture doesn’t convey it very well, but he’s got luxuriant fur in ginger/pale-honey/orangey-gold shades and golden eyes. Sugar was a beautiful cat in a simple girl-next-door way but not the glamor-puss Zola is.
It’s also already clear that Zola is as good-mannered and well-socialized a cat as Sugar was, which is pretty remarkable.
A few hours ago I called out PALS contact to let her know things were going excellently and find out who had done such an excellent job of fostering Zola, so I could send whoever it was a note of thanks. She said, and I quote: “He bounced around a lot. To be honest, I don’t think our people had much to do with it; he came in good.”
She thinks Zola must have been raised early by humans and somehow lost his owner, rather than being truly feral, but PALS has no history past the point one of their volunteers rescued him from the Cumberland County SPCA (which would otherwise have had to euthanize him shortly therafter).
I feel almost like we rolled two 18/00s in a row, first with Sugar and now with Zola. But the truth probably is that we made our luck by knowing how to look for the traits that would suit a cat to us, and (hugely important!) knowing how to be aware when a cat wanted to be ours.
The only serious remaining unknown is how Zola will deal with houseguests. We hope he’ll be as friendly as Sugar was, and at this point believe it’s pretty likely.