One of the kitties that was thought to be forever unadoptable got a home because Itzl taught him to like and play with dogs, and 2 more soon will.
Itzl volunteers at a cat rescue, and he usually teaches kittens to like and play with dogs, but he's also had some success with older cats that haven't been traumatized by dogs before.
Cats that have dog trauma in their past may come to like Itzl, but they generally are never comfortable with other dogs. Itzl speaks fluent Cat, so that makes a difference. He adores cats.
These three have been at the rescue for more than a year, surly, angry, and not aloof at all, because they'd attack you as soon as look at you - people, cats, dogs, chairs, it made no difference. They were kept in a separate, partitioned room. They didn't even like each other, so they were in what was essentially large cages, equipped with beds, toys, food, water, and the regular attempt to try to socialize and tame them.
There was a glass window between their "rooms" and the room where Itzl played with the other kitties on his visits. A curtain was generally kept pulled between the rooms because the cats would attack the glass if they saw the kittens or Itzl or the caretakers or me.
For a year.
But kittens will play and they would regularly get behind the curtains and do kittenish and young, playful cat things, and Itzl would follow them. And the older, abused cats would strike glass.
About a month ago, the attacks on the glass eased. They didn't stop, but they were less forceful. And they didn't happen at all when Itzl was the one behind the curtain.
So we pulled the curtains a little, enough that the cats would have to work to see into the room. And the attacks were still diminished in ferocity. One of the volunteers was able to handle the cats some. They didn't attack when their food and water were replenished and their litterboxes cleaned. They hissed and growled, and lashed their tails, but didn't attack. One person could now care for them instead of three or four.
Two weeks ago, one of them showed - curiosity - about the kitties playing with Itzl and patted the glass instead of attacking it.
Last week, we took a big risk and let that kitty be in the same space as Itzl - well supervised and under control. Itzl was in a crate large enough he could escape the cat's claws, and we were all ready to haul him out at the least hint of a threat.
There was none. No hiss, no growl, no angry thrashing tail.
There was tentativeness. The cat gingerly sniffed the crate. Then we took Itzl out of the crate and the room and let the cat have the crate with Itzl smell all over it. Still no anger. The cat entered the crate and sniffed and sniffed.
The next day, we repeated it, and took Itzl to play with the other kitties while that cat sniffed the crate. The cat lay down in the crate and rolled, then came to the window to watch and pat the window.
After Itzl was through with the kitties, we carried him into the cat's "room" and the cat stropped my ankles. I set Itzl in the crate, ready to slam the door if the cat got mean, but they sniffed noses.
Five days ago, they sort of played together, and then settled down beside one another to stare off into space as cats do.
Four days ago, the cat was brought, crated, into the play room. He didn't have a fit, get stressed, or show anger when the kitties tumbled around the room, chased Itzl, chased balls, chased feathers. He made a few swipes at toys that came close to him and showed interest.
Three days ago, he was let out to play.
Then he was allowed to spend time in the adoption room and behaved himself well.
He's been there since, until today. When he was adopted on a trial basis. The woman knows his history, knows he was recently an angry abused kitty and may have triggers, but thinks he might benefit from a home now that he's been shown to be able to be tamed. If it works out, he'll have his forever home. She doesn't have a dog, but she comes home at times smelling of dog since friends have dogs, and the cat has merely sniffed her intently - no hissing, no bottle-tail, no growling. That's good enough.
The other two aren't advancing as rapidly as he did, but one is now able to have the Itzl-scented crate in its room without hissing, and she's beginning to show some interest in sniffing it. She's not quite ready to pat the window to play with the other kitties, but she's not angry anymore and she doesn't freak out seeing them play. The other still hisses some and bottled her tail when we moved too fast, but not attacking.
Maybe these two unadoptable cats will prove as unadoptable as the first one.