Monday, January 16, 2012

The Royal Lotus

Good chilly afternoon!

The freezing temps (welcome back, Vermont) last weekend didn't stop a slew of adoptions on Saturday, with seven animals going home that day alone!

Another influx of kittens helped boost our adoption numbers for the week. Congratulations to Auggie, Bridget, Hudson, Alaska & Pacific, Caspian, and Arabian--all of whom emerged from foster care only to immediately find new, loving families to take them home for good. 

Four dogs are no doubt enjoying the heat in their new digs today! Daesyn (Bichon Frise), Ava (Wheaton Terrier mix), Bronx (Boston Terrier mix), and Annie (Chihuahua) are all living the good life.

On to cats! I mistakenly reported Lyndi as adopted in last week's update, but that must have been a moment of prescience--because she went home on Thursday! She and a cat named Merlin--who went home on Tuesday--were two of the 20 animals taken in from the family who'd been evicted.

The third cat adopted last week is our featured adoptee: … LOTUS!


Lotus was here for what felt like FOREVER. In fact, he'd been at the shelter since mid-July, relinquished because his owner had to move into housing that did not accept pets. A six-year-old male with a distinctive white ring around his tail and humongous green eyes, Lotus was reported to get along with other animals, but had a history of being fractious with his vet.

We saw a bit of that here, too. Staff found him initially hissy and somewhat wary, but friendly enough when given attention. As he settled in, his spirits seemed to rise, and staff declared him "sweet."  We still weren't quite sure what to make of this cat, but his behavior was deemed safe and predictable enough for a home. The feline supervisor rated him a "black diamond" cat, and he was made available.

I bet many of you are thinking, "What's a black diamond cat?" Though we've used our feline personality rating system for years, it seems to be largely overlooked.

Each available cat is placed into one of three different categories based upon the cat's history and our observations of his or her preferences and temperament.

A "green circle" cat is ideal for a first-time cat owner or families with small children. These cats are usually highly adaptable, laidback, confident, very tolerant, and gentle in their interactions.


"Blue square" cats are great companions for those with basic experience with typical feline behaviors. These kitties may have mild handling preferences or sensitivies, and they may exhibit shyness or reserve at first; but with patience and encouragement they tend to come out of their shells and prove loyal friends.


And then there's Lotus' category: black diamond cats. These finicky felines are best suited for those with considerable cat experience and an appreciation for distinct feline personalities. They are quite resolved to live life on their own terms, and unreserved about saying so. If their boundaries are respected, black diamond cats will bond closely with people they trust, and allow interaction they likely wouldn’t with "just anyone." These cats tend to do best in mellow, low activity homes.


As you can imagine, our green circle cats tend to fly off the kitty shelves, while black diamond cats usually endure much longer stays at the shelter.

Lotus' case was no exception. His daily routine was the same: he darted from the communal cat room every morning when unsuspecting animal care volunteers opened the door, and made a beeline for our potted palm, which he delighted in gnawing on. After being escorted back to the room and served his breakfast, Lotus spent the rest of the day upon his cat tree castle, curled up on the topmost turret oblivious to afternoon visitors.  

In Buddhist theology, the Lotus represents "floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire; the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation" (Wikipedia).  

For all of his pionted ignorance of potential adopters who stopped in to visit, you could say Lotus was floating above the waters of attachment and desire. He certainly wasn't working on developing any attachments or attracting desire. The months dragged on.

Finally, as the new year approached, our feline supervisor, Kayla, decided something had to be done. It just wouldn't due to let Lotus go on living out his days on top of a cat castle--not when he could find a real home to be his castle. Lotus was moved into our volunteer and events coordinator's office on January 8th--and we hoped he might show better!

Weren't we surprised to find that Lotus bloomed like his namesake! Turned out that in true black diamond cat style, Lotus had no interest in winning the hearts of the masses: he prefered to bond with one or two people. And boy did he bond with Shayla! She reports of her daily love sessions with Lotus, who spent the first ten minutes of every morning saying hello with vigrous head butts to Shayla's face. Who was this new kitty who'd clearly developed an attachment?

It was just three days later that a wonderful couple stopped in specifically to meet Lotus. Seven Days had run a spread on him (they periodically do that for our animals, and it always works wonders!), and the couple had seen it. Shayla worried Lotus might not show interest in new people with her around, so she left. The couple met him ... and he was courteous, but aloof. They decided to look at other cats. Our staff's collective heart sank as they walked away. Shayla returned to her office, disappointed. Lotus hopped right up on her lap to say hello. She sighed as he began his headbutting regimen. "It's all well and good that you're so lovely with me, Lotus," Shayla said, "But how will anyone else ever get to see what a special cat you are if you aren't nice to strangers?" Lotus gazed up at her with his huge green eyes, blinked, then turned his head to the door. Shayla followed his gaze, and saw the couple standing just outside the office. "He wasn't so friendly with us," they remarked thoughtfully. "No," Shayla explained. "He's a one- or two-person cat. We had no idea he was this affectionate until he moved in with me. Now he's like this all the time. He'd certainly bond in the same way with whomever takes him home!" They smiled. "Alright," they said, and asked to fill out the paperwork.

Lotus went home the next day, to a very fine residence. We can envision this black diamond cat now, the royal Lotus, asleep in his real castle, finally "blossoming in blissful liberation."  

That's the good news this week. Stay warm!


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