What's in a Name?
(Newport, Wales, UK)
Boo and Nibbles
We have gained - accidentally - two rescue Siamese. A friend who knew I was an ex-Siamese breeder asked for an opinion on how to handle a pair of unresponsive Siamese cats.
When we first came across them, we were shown an apparently empty room with two pet carriers and blankets in it. We went in, and noticed that one of the blankets was trembling.
On lifting the cover he (the little Seal point one) fled and cowered in the corner wailing pitifully, whilst the Blue point just lay under his blanket completely inert and trying to ignore us.
It was explained that the cats had been brought in from a deceased lady's house, where they had been kept in a large cage in the middle of a complete house renovation and appeared to be terrified of people but clung to each other like brothers.
There was a large, friendly but nervous, docile male Blue point and a petite wisp of another male Seal point. We thought he was female at first because he was so tiny and delicate.
The Blue finally acknowledged me and crept out to sniff my hand and everyone exclaimed that was the first movement he had made in a week, not having eaten, drank, or even seemed to have moved.
In a trice they were ours, we found ourselves outside the shelter with two cats in baskets before we knew what had happened!
Never mind, we said, we know how to handle Siamese cats. We'll have them sorted in a few weeks ...
Getting home we sealed the place and let them out of their carriers and allowed them to wander, to familiarise themselves with their new home unhindered.
The little Seal - who came to be known as The Baby - immediately vanished into thin air whilst the Blue refused to come out of the cage.
Over the course of the next few days, we enticed the Blue out with food and fusses and he reluctantly came to investigate us and begin his new life, albeit suspiciously - to this day he still likes to hide under cover to sleep.
By the end of day three, we became convinced that The Baby had found a way of escaping for he was nowhere to be found and we looked everywhere!
We had just braced ourselves to confess to losing one of our new charges when we noticed that some food had been disturbed and we caught sight of him wriggling back into the middle of the mattress in the spare room.
I swear it was a 5mm gap - I still can't figure how he got in and out - but he did.
We decided to give him some space and let him get on with it for as long as he needed but were totally unprepared for the fact that we never saw him again for about six months.
He'd creep out when nobody was around, to eat and use his litter tray - they were both spotlessly clean then and still are now.
After a time we reckoned he just had to be taken to the vet for a check-up and his vaccinations, so we started a game hunt that lasted for half a day with us shutting him down into smaller and smaller spaces until he literally had nowhere to run.
After a massive fight we got him into the carrier and delivered him to the vet. With another fight we got him out again and discovered he was in the pink - healthy, well fed and immaculately groomed, with almost a shine you could shave in on his fur.
The vet reckoned the Blue had been secretly looking after him all that time, they certainly had a very close relationship.
During the next six months, we started to see him around more and he would come to about four or five feet away and stare at us for hours.
The slightest move from us in his direction sent him into a panic and he'd disappear again, and that earned him the name of Boo because that's all it took to lose him.
Over a year later he began to gradually approach us when he could see that we'd be unable to chase him, and so we became used to his visits to the bathroom.
The Blue had integrated well into the family and was now quite relaxed around us and slept at the foot of our bed whilst continuing his liaison role of looking after Boo.
He did have a very annoying habit though. After waking in the morning he'd wail for a while for breakfast and if we weren't quick enough he'd start eating plastic. Any plastic he could find!
Chomp chomp chomp - there would be shredded plastic everywhere, soggy magnetised plastic fragments that were almost impossible to collect.
As time passed, he did this more and more, driving us crazy and making our house the only plastic-free zone in the country. This earned him the name of Nibbles.
So Nibbles and Boo were here to stay and at some point during year three, Boo jumped up onto my desk and let me touch him.
About a month later he did it again, and that became the pattern for the rest of the year, which ended with him purring loudly for a short time, being stroked and then suddenly just disappearing again.
We are now in year six, and I can't move for him - he follows me everywhere and takes every opportunity to sit on my desk, getting in the way and demanding total attention.
However, he still will not allow anyone else near him except my wife who is starting to gain his trust.
If we have visitors he disappears until they leave, we know many people who believe we have only one cat!
And he will not tolerate being picked up by anyone - even me, although it's OK if he jumps onto my lap - he panics and loses it any other way.
Boo is now part of the family too - but strictly on his own terms and the slightest unexpected sound of movement still panics him into a frenzy. I have often wondered what his early life experiences were for him to be so perpetually terrified.
Although he trusts me now, visits to the vet are still fraught with danger of death or mutilation (of me, usually!) Although he appears to love me, he is still gravely suspicious and although I constantly expect him to have a heart attack, he is in absolutely perfect health and condition.
So take heart, anyone that experiences difficulty coming to terms with a rescue cat, don't worry if it takes a long, long, time - it will happen eventually.
In our case, it was a godsend that we had the two of them. Even though Boo wanted nothing to do with us, he saw that Nibbles was unharmed and happy and eventually decided to take a risk and give it a try.
And none of us would have it any other way now.
Reply from Caroline:
Another lovely story of Siamese cats from Gwyn! Thank you so much for sharing Boo and Nibbles's stories with us. There must have been times when I bet you wondered whether it was all really worth it - you must have enormous patience.
But having a rescued Siamese myself (who actually settled in very quickly, although not always cleanly) I know that living with Siamese cats is enormously rewarding, and totally worth all that hard work and heartache.
Like more rescue stories?
Take a look at another of Gwyn's stories, "Generations of Siamese
", or otherwise, two rescue stories about some extremely fortunate kittens - "A Miracle Siamese
", and "Factory Friend Found!