KITTEN WIRE: BREAKTHROUGH ALERT - MERLIN

OAKLAND, Calif. — Let's not sugar coat things: Some cats takes months to warm up to humans after they are first rescued off the street or freed from a shelter cage. That's because cats who don't get positive human interactions in their early weeks are often terrified of people. 

So when these cats and kittens arrive at Cat Town — and are exposed to people on a regular basis — it can take many weeks of strategic interactions with specially trained volunteers and staff before they relax and begin to enjoy their new human companions. 

Then sometimes a cat comes along and defies expectations. That's the case with Merlin

Merlin, a 9-month-old tabby boy and member of the Forgotten Kitten Project, relaxes in the City Hall building at Cat Town. Photo by Laura Blangsted

Merlin, a 9-month-old tabby boy and member of the Forgotten Kitten Project, relaxes in the City Hall building at Cat Town. Photo by Laura Blangsted

Merlin, a former stray cat, on the day he was taken to Oakland Animal Services.

Merlin, a former stray cat, on the day he was taken to Oakland Animal Services.

With so many young cats to tend to in the shelter, Merlin, then shy, frightened, and fearful, was the kind of kitten that could be forgotten — deemed "unadoptable" and therefor at risk of euthanasia. But that's when Cat Town steps in. 

At 9 months old, Merlin became a member of our Forgotten Kitten Project. He arrived at the adoption center in mid-October and began the integration process. New rescues join a room full of other cats that range in their levels of confidence and socialization. And they begin meeting staff, volunteers, and visitors. 

Cats that come to us with Merlin's history can take many weeks or months to allow, and then enjoy, pets and play. But just two weeks in, volunteers were petting Merlin, getting purrs in return, and even reported seeing him rolling on his back, exposing his belly, a major sign of happiness. Breakthrough! 

In addition to increased human interaction, much of Merlin's quick progress can be attributed to the other Cat Zone residents. Even cats who are on the shyer side can show new arrivals, like Merlin, how to enjoy things like pets and play, a phenomenon we'll be documenting more closely in the coming months. 

Merlin, right, cuddles up with another member of the Forgotten Kitten Project. Photo by Cathy Niland

Merlin, right, cuddles up with another member of the Forgotten Kitten Project. Photo by Cathy Niland

Now Merlin is on the road to becoming your new best friend. He remains shy and you may not see him strutting around the Adoption Center with the confident cats — yet. But he is showing his sweet side, and at Cat Town, he'll have all the time he needs to build confidence.

We think Merlin will be happy with an adopter who is patient and willing to work with him to help him build confidence through positive interactions and plenty of play. We think he'd do best in a home with a more socialized cat that is open to making a new feline friend.

Come meet Merlin and all of our adoptable cats, Wednesday through Sunday, or email info@cattownoakland.org to talk about adopting. 

Learn more about our Forgotten Kitten Project in our weekly Kitten Wire dispatch. Be sure to check out last week's post

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