Nov. 8, 2016: I was packing for our trip to Brazil and found Hazel asleep in my mostly packed suitcase. Just a comfortable spot or does she want to go with us?!
I started this story in Jan. 2014, a month after we got Hazel. I didn’t realize I never published it! So, here it is:
I was a bit worried when Hazel continued to be skittish when we approached her. Sometimes she was playing “hard to get” but other times it was clear that she was just scared. A friend of mine got a new dog about 6 months ago, and she said it took him 2 months to get used to her household of 3 people and 3 other dogs. He wouldn’t bark – just make a barking gesture. But then one day, they heard him bark for the first time.
Although she purrs a lot when we pet her, Hazel doesn’t vocalize the way my other cats did. Maybe she doesn’t feel confident about meowing yet.I read that Manx cats are known for vocalizing, so maybe that’s not what other cats do.
But Hazel isn’t like any other cat: that’s what makes her delightful and a source of surprise for us!
For example, she likes belly rubs. Most cats I know will turn over to expose their underside when I pet them, so I think they want to have their belly rubbed. But – it happens every time – within a second or two they are trying to bite me! Not Hazel – she really does like it when we pet her belly and will enjoy it for half a minute or so.
Another thing she does is sit by the dining room table when we’re eating and look up at us like a beggar, just like a dog! The difference is that when we offer her a tiny scrap, she sniffs it but doesn’t eat it. After examining it, she resumes the beggar look!
Hazel likes to be near us, just not necessarily with us. She wants to know what we’re doing but doesn’t want us to call the shots. She’s got “cat-titude” as those who know “torties” claim. At night she sleeps near the foot of the bed, but jumps off the bed and leaves after awhile. Eventually she comes back and finds a bent leg to lie next to.
She also runs back and forth a lot more than I remember my other cats doing. They all did some of this – they needed the exercise. But she seemed to be set off by one of us approaching her. In fact, when we read her papers that the shelter gave to us, it was recorded that she HAD been adopted before – last April, but she was returned because she was “too active.” Is this what they meant?
Then a couple of weeks ago I was at a family wedding, and talked to a cousin I rarely see. She’s had many cats in her lifetime, as well as dogs. She currently has two or more cats. I told her about how Hazel runs away from us, then seeks us out, then runs away again.
“Cats, just like dogs, like to play chase,” she said. I had never known that! Most likely, she’s trying to get us to chase her. So I play along with her – sometimes. I tire of this game far sooner than she does. But if she’s still feeling frisky, she’ll play with one of her catnip toys.
She’s starting to vocalize more and more! At the beginning, we never heard her meow. When she wanted something from us, she’d just sit there and stare at us. She still does that but she is now meowing – a very small one – when she wants food or wants us to play chase.
This morning was the first time she meowed to get us to play chase. After breakfast, we were upstairs again and she appeared at the top of the stairs and meowed that small meow of hers. As I made a gesture to approach her, she took off down the stairs and when I got down the stairway, she was hiding under a table! When she saw me, she took off again, this time into the sun room. I couldn’t find her because she had hidden behind a stack of bins, or at least I think that’s where she was.
This, and the fact that she crawled up and slept next to my chest early this morning, make me believe she is really acclimated to the house and trusts us now. She has been spending more time sleeping with us, but that is probably also because the weather is extremely cold here now.
Last night she even let me take a video of her while she was on my lap and Dale was petting her.
She is a source of entertainment and comfort for us and it’s great to have a cat in the house again! It’s been too long!
Here are some recent shots of my beautiful cat, Hazel.
January: a beam of afternoon sunlight illuminated her just right to take these artistic photos of Hazel mostly in shadow.
February: Contently sleeping on a favorite blanket
Yes, it’s an Oriental rug, which used to belong to my mother – quite expensive, I’m sure! But Hazel is a kitty with exquisite and expensive tastes!
Meow! This is Hazel, a beautiful tortie! Here are three things I like to do in my new home:
Hazel was found about a year and a half ago, heavily pregnant. When she arrived at the shelter, they decided to have her live temporarily with this woman, who usually fostered kittens, until she gave birth and the kittens were old enough to return to the shelter for adoption.
So the woman took her in and told us that Hazel was an excellent mother: she always let her kittens nurse as long as they wanted, unlike many animal mothers who will get up and walk away from their litter when they get tired of nursing. She cleaned her 6 kittens well, and one of them – the “runt” of the litter – was a little developmentally delayed. He was slow to learn to walk, so Hazel nudged him and pushed him along to help him learn. The foster woman thought it was quite extraordinary.
When the kittens were a couple of months old, they were taken back to the shelter, along with their mom, and all were spayed/neutered, micro-chipped and got their vaccinations. Over the next few weeks or months, all Hazel’s kittens were adopted. Yet Hazel remained in the shelter. By the time we showed up, she had been there for over a year!
When we asked the shelter volunteers why, we were told that Hazel doesn’t get along with other cats, and the kind of people who adopt adult cats like her usually are experienced owners who have other cats at home. Newcomers to cat ownership apparently prefer kittens and young cats (less than a year old).
I couldn’t understand it – this cat was so mellow and seemed to love all the attention we were giving her. We visited with her in the office (she was a bit scared of the converted bathroom, apparently) for a long time. We made up our minds – we would adopt Hazel.
The volunteers as well as the foster mother were overjoyed. So much so that they cried and hugged us, saying it was the best Christmas present that anyone could give them!
My sister-in-law, a multiple cat owner and expert, had this reaction to our news about Hazel: “Ah – a tortie! Torties have cat-titude!” Meaning they insist upon their own way – “my way or the highway”!
That didn’t sound like the Hazel we’d met, so mellow and affectionate, purring loudly as we pet her. But the shelter volunteers did assure us that indeed, Hazel had cat-titude! And since then, we’ve found out that this is the truth!
one window sill in front, then another in back. She also likes to play a game of chase! She can be affectionate, but only on her own terms. At night, she’ll come into our room and sleep on the bed. Sometimes she’ll jump on a lap but doesn’t stay there long! And if she doesn’t want to be
stroked, she runs away.
I am a bit jealous of my husband, whom Hazel seems to favor. She follows him around the house – she always likes to be near us, even if she doesn’t want to be with us. She isn’t too shy though – one evening I had eight people over for a discussion group, and she stayed in the room the entire time, watching and dozing from the safety of her bed, the bed she grew attached to at the shelter.
Hazel is curious, likes humans but only interacts with them when she wants to, playful and sometimes very silly! She will be entertaining us for many years to come!