I first met Iris when she arrived on a rain soaked evening in September. Her owner popped open the basket and there she sat, a lovely ginger tabby with large spreads of white all over her body, totally alert and completely frozen with fear. We both tried for the best part of an hour to coax her out of her basket but she would just clench her claws and stiffen her legs refusing to budge.
For the next few hours Iris crouched down in her basket jerking her head in the direction of every new and sudden noise. Eventually as the evening became night she started to relax a little and even stepped out of her basket for a second to explore, only to dart underneath the sofa upon hearing a strange noise.
With her ears pricked up and her tale flapping anxiously from side to side Iris refused to budge. Sometime later she popped up at the side of the sofa hooking her paws over the arm and staring at me curiously. I held my hand out to her but she disappeared so quickly I thought I had imagined it. A few minutes later she appeared again, her head emerging briefly from below the blanket that stretched over my knees and hung down over the sofa.
‘Iris’ I called, but she had already vanished only to pop up a few seconds later by the window, her long body stretched upwards in front of the glass and her paws curled up in front of her chest. With wide eyes startled and her little head turning left and right as she followed the lights of the cars Iris looked every inch like a Meer Kat that had wandered off of the set of an advert and into my front room.
This continued for a couple of days with Iris popping out to check on me from a distance only to disappear under the sofa at the slightest sound.
Even now that she has relaxed she is at her most comfortable at night and will come over for a cuddle before heading to the large window in the front room pressing her paws against the glass and watching the world go by. If I open the window for her to explore the enclosed balcony, she may sniff the air for a moment or two, but she will soon retreat to safety beneath the sofa, preferring to observe the world from a distance.
When Iris was younger (she is one now) her playful curiosity led her out of a tiny gap in a window and away from the safety of her home. Her worried owners searched for hours before eventually finding her, terrified and with a bloodied nose, not far from where they live. They speculate that she may have strayed into an angry Toms territory and got a paw swipe for her trouble or a swing door may have slammed in her face as she tried to find her way back home. But whatever happened has made her extremely cautious of people (if a stranger visits her tail will stand erect and double in size like a brush) and the world around her.
Iris strolls around now, confidant beautiful and silent, with her long limbs and neck outstretched and her little face pointing towards me for a cheek rub before rolling around on the rug or trapping a moth between her paws. Although still suspicious she is finally content and secure and will be very much missed when she goes back home tomorrow.