Rescue Report: Saving Martha

*If you’d like to submit your story of rescuing a cat from the streets or shelter to the Rescue Report, click here.

By John Preston

Last year I moved myself and my two cats Thomas and Daisy out of our bedsit, which was becoming rather cramped, and into a large apartment where they have more room to run around and lots of stairs to chase one another up and down. In due course I decided the time was right for a new addition and took a look at the local cat shelter.

rescue report daisy thomas

Daisy, foreground, and Thomas

I thought that what I wanted was another male cat as I feared that my former kitten Daisy – who can be a bit of a diva – might get jealous. Thomas is more placid by comparison so I felt he would be more accommodating. So I walked to the shelter with my carry crate and told them what I was after. They showed me a couple of easy-going neutered male cats who were very affectionate and I thought, “Hang on a minute! You already have such a cat in Master Thomas. What is to be gained by taking on a cat who doesn’t pose a bit of a challenge”, so I rather rashly gave voice to this and as a kind of afterthought, a little Tortie-Tabby mix called Martha was extracted from her hiding place and I was told she was one of their harder-to-home cats on account of the fact that she hissed aggressively at everyone who approached her and hid the whole time. As it happens she was quiet just then and allowed me to take her from the shelter volunteer (Simon) who had suggested her.

I wouldn’t say that Martha and I clicked immediately. At this point I had cats vying for attention all around me and one determined tomcat jumping on to my shoulders whilst Martha was in my arms. I kind of liked that Martha was a bit more aloof. I have social anxiety myself so am drawn to cats who are the same way. Daisy was very sociable as a kitten though a little less so as an adult cat whilst Thomas I took directly off the street as a stray cat that Daisy had already befriended. I nursed him to health and he grew quite drastically, learnt to play and enjoy life rather than just surviving but although he formed a bond with me and Daisy, he is petrified of being approached by almost everyone else. Martha turned out to also have been a stray cat and at some point had suffered an injury to her tail so it was fractured at the point where it met her body.

Martha lived up to her reputation for hissing when we got home and the other two gave her a wide berth to begin with, so I set her up in her own room that first night. She seemed content to rest and explore a little and we all ate and went to bed and everything seemed quite so peaceful. Around 1pm when I was fast asleep, I was woken by Martha calling as she made her way downstairs and never having met a Tortoiseshell Cat before, I was like, “Oh My goodness! What is that noise she’s making!” and for anyone who wants to listen, on the following night I took my microphone and I made a recording and here it is: http://yourlisten.com/john.flitterbug/in-the-middle-of-the-night-martha-stylee#.

The funny thing is that Martha has turned out to be the most compliant, easy to handle cats ever. I put her into harness in that first week and she was so eager to explore that her range far exceeded that of my other two cats who like to keep quite close to home. I walked Martha all around our village and she was just delighted to be outdoors. I took her to the local park where she gained the dubious honour of being the first of my cats to do a poo in a public place, so I had to return and clean up after her…despite there being no notice warning me of a hefty fine if I didn’t clean up cat poop: it was nasty and I wouldn’t want to have trodden in it.

We are still in the early stages. Martha and I. It’s been less than three months at the time of writing but the hissing is less intimidating now for my other two and they treat it as a game. We have come to understand that Martha has a subtle sense of humour and she has become the spy in our camp and the gooseberry in the Thomas and Daisy love affair. She also loves to spy on me and anytime I’m deep in thought, she just appears and gives me sidelong glances. At just over 3kg, she’s considerably lighter and less well insulated than my other two cats and as the house we live in is very old and cold in Winter, Martha now has a couple of knitted cat jumpers for extra warmth and a heat pad under her cushion. It takes time to get to know a new cat but it is always fascinating since no two cats are alike.

*If you’d like to submit your story of rescuing a cat from the streets or shelter to the Rescue Report, click here.

4 thoughts on “Rescue Report: Saving Martha

  1. I am so glad that you chose the tortie. Don’t be surprised if she turns out to very adventurous and starts getting into everything that you are doing. Mine have always been very nosy and would go for walks down the rode with my horse and go with me to run them in from the field and they liked car rides.

    1. My first two cats, Thomas and Daisy, started out being allowed to free-roam as indoor-outdoor cats and later became harness-trained indoor cats as a result of Daisy being especially reckless near roads and also me finding a dying cat in the road whilst walking to walk in the early morning: the grief I felt for a cat that wasn’t even my own when they didn’t make it made me change my attitude to my own cats going out. There was that cat who seemed so much like my Thomas and then a lady who presented me with a young black female cat in a carrier bag, also RTA and very much dead. She had thought it was her own cat and then her cat came home and she didn’t know what to do with it so I took it to my vet. It was never claimed.
      Martha has got used to walking in harness very early on. My first two cats are quite pampered now and tend to opt out of walking when it’s not warm weather, though at one time they would go out in all weathers, even snow. For Daisy as a young kitten and Thomas as a cat with very limited territory owing to his insecurities, the back yards that backed on to our bedsits were perfect initially, then Daisy began roaming further from home as she reached adulthood. At one time there were a lot of trees in the area and I was never happier than when Daisy was in a tree as she excelled at climbing and was out of harm’s way up there – then people started cutting their trees down which meant Daisy was spending more time on the ground and around roads and I feared for her, hence Martha is being kept close and unless we find ourselves somewhere more rural, away from busy roads and so on, she will only go out in harness. You are right that she is a curious cat though: her curiosity is starting to get the better of her fear and she is getting bolder in her explorations.

  2. Loved your story. I hope all four of you have long happy lives together. Cheers to you for adopting a hard to place kitty. They definitely can be a challenge but knowing you saved her makes it all worth it.

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