We have all seen it, the moment a new cat arrives in our terrifying rescue world. We watch them shrink into a corner, making themselves as small as possible in the farthest corner. Eyes like saucers, so very afraid. They don't eat or drink, or even use the litter box. They shut down and freeze. It does not matter where they came from or why they are here, those are now petty concerns. What matters is now, this moment of utter and unrelenting fear.
Gabby arrived 30 hours ago and like so many of her predecessors she shrunk herself into a corner, her eyes wide open with fear. She hasn't touched her food or water, her litter box is totally clear. And we see her, we feel her, we share a different fear that if this is too hard for her, we could lose her. Gabby is not thinking about living or dying, she is frozen by the unknown fear.
Tonight I put my upper body into her cage, resting my arms on her soft bed while she cringed in her corner. I started to pet her and rubbed her ears, I spoke softly to her and told her she was a good girl. She closed her eyes, and gently rubbed her chin against my hand. I fed her some temptations which she liked and fed her some more, and gently stroked her silky soft coat. She ate half the bag and when she was done she sat up and started to groom. She looked around at each strange noise as the other cats did their thing in her room. And she was still cautious, still afraid, but her terror had stepped back far enough for her to try to identify the noises that made her afraid.
I call this the come back moment, that moment when terror recedes just enough to allow her to think and process things again. Gabby will be fine, she is a lovely and sweet gentle cat. She has taken the first step in finding herself again.