So the other day I met another cat, the most recent feline to be added to the enormous collection of cats at my friend’s new house. And this young female cat, who must have been born into and initially raised in a situation with far fewer cats, was terrified of the group situation she now found herself in. And she’d been attacked by one of the male cats who was recently neutered (but who apparently still remembered how to act frisky with females).
So when I met this cat, she was hiding in the cellar, in complete darkness, in the area underneath the lowest staircase. I expect that cats have better low-light vision than humans, but I had to approach her with a key-light pressed on to even see her. Literally she was in the furthest place possible for her to go in the entire house. Had the stairs wrapped around again to another level down, she’d have gone further. But as it was, she was stopped by the cold concrete floor. I can’t imagine how alone and terrified this cat must have been to hide herself there. Really broke my heart, knowing that in every minute there she was probably reliving the pain she was in. She came to me easily enough, as long as I remained in this under-area. I petted her for awhile, as she was not afraid of humans, only of other cats. And I found a blanket to put down there to protect her from the cold floor, in case she insisted on being there. Today, the next day, she had moved or been moved to an upper floor room where she could remain isolated from the other cats, but without all the cold, damp, and sad feeling that the basement created.
I suspect the hope is that the remaining hormones of the male cat who picked on her will eventually dry up and she’ll be able to integrate, but perhaps not. There’s a chance it is also a pecking-order fight, with the attacker trying to assert itself over the new one. But it may simply be that this cat needs to live in a home where she is the prime and only cat, among humans. So they may give her to one of the contractors who are finishing the house. If they put her up for adoption I’ll mention it here, too.
“There’s always some nut who’ll tell you that dogs aren’t conscious. But he hasn’t met my dog. Of course the higher animals are conscious.”
— John R. Searle, Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language,
University of California, Berkeley