OAKLAND — Can a cat who spent the early months of her life on the streets learn to like people?

At Cat Town, we know the answer is yes, given the right conditions.

That's what we're working on with a cat named Suzy, one of the kittens born homeless during the 2017 kitten season. This tortie girl with tufts of black, tan and orange fur managed to evade a rescuer's humane traps for months. As her littermates found their way to Oakland Animal Services and then on to Cat Town, which found them homes, Suzy remained a stray.

Photo by Liz Lazich.

Photo by Liz Lazich.

That means she had no positive interactions with humans during those crucial early months. So socializing her will, understandably, take longer than it did for her 4-month-old siblings who came to Cat Town. 

Photo by Laura Blangsted.

Photo by Laura Blangsted.

Suzy is the epitome of a forgotten kitten

She was about 8 months when she was finally trapped — humanely — and taken to Oakland's municipal shelter and then on to Cat Town, where she is a member of our Forgotten Kitten Project, receiving regular socialization from specially trained volunteers and staff.

When she arrived, she was prone to hissing and swatting at people. In comes the stinky food rewards. And the patience. And the regimented protocols designed to make her feel safe and to document even the most subtle signs of progress.

And then the other day, a heartwarming breakthrough. One of Cat Town's cat care attendants documented her clear delight upon his entering her private room at the Studios, where she was recovering from an illness. She arched her back in happiness, rubbed and marked furniture and in general showed signs she was happy to have a human in her presence. Camden, the cat care attendant, reports that it wasn't her first time — and that she has even shown interest in him when he's not carrying food!

We are so happy with Suzy's progress, though not surprised.

Suzy has been at Cat Town since New Year's 2017.  Now at about age 1, she's not ready to be placed up for adoption, but we know she is making great strides and that day could come soon. Now, over her bout with a medical condition, she is in the Adoption Center.

Look for Suzy when you come to visit this weekend. She's not ready for pets. But ask the volunteer on duty about talking to her in a soothing voice or offering treats (available at RAWR) to help her continue to progress. 

We don't know when Suzy will make her next breakthrough, but we are all counting the days until we can touch those tufts of fur. 

Cat Town is working to help other rescues across the country replicate our work with Forgotten Kittens thanks to a generous grant from Maddie’s Fund. First visit to the Cat Town blog? Learn more about our Forgotten Kitten Project in our regular Kitten Wire dispatches.

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