In addition to rescue animals available for adoption, Velvet Acres is home to some animals that will live here for the rest of their lives. There are different reasons for this, unique to each animal. Here are our sanctuary residents, their histories, and why they are not available for adoption.
The Catio Crew
This group of cats is a feral colony that our co-founder, Emily, has been caring for since 2014. They originally lived at an apartment complex in Baltimore and when the complex decided they didn’t want the cats around any more, the whole colony was moved to North Carolina, their current home.
Nessa is the only female in the group that was not able to be domesticated and adapt to indoor life. She was always more comfortable around the boys than the other two females in the colony so she stays in the catio with them. She is estimated to be around 4 years old. When she was first seen around the colony, one of the other females was raising her litter so Nessa was often chased off. Little did we know that Nessa had her own babies and was keeping them well away from the group. After that female was trapped and spayed, and her babies brought inside, Nessa brought her litter around for the regular supply of food. She eventually was trapped, spayed, and returned to the colony. She remained very close with the presumed father of the kittens, Fiyero, and the two often groom one another and even cuddle at times! Dorian is her son, and we believe that Lemon is as well.
Fiyero is the top of the totem pole, believed to be the father of Lemon, Dorian, and at least seven other kittens with three different females. One of the first cats we saw at the apartment complex, he is estimated to be 4-5 years old. He was always the one defending the territory and often chased away other cats. He did wonderfully as a dad to each group of kittens that we saw him with, incredibly patient and gentle. He is athletic and the more slender of our two orange toms. None in the colony will go up against him or challenge him. He is a laid back guy and is always good for a wrestling match with one of the younger boys or willing to cuddle with anyone who expresses interest.
Boq is our big orange boy. At the time of his neuter surgery he was a hearty 14 pounds! At 4-5 years old he may well be a sibling to Fiyero, but it also may be that their strikingly similar looks are coincidence. Boq is the first cat we saw Fiyero chasing but he never was completely run off. He loves his food and will shove basically everyone out of the way to get to his bowl first. He is very much a gentleman of leisure and doesn’t exert himself unless it’s meal time. He is not one to partake in playing much and generally avoids much interaction with the others. He watches everything from a distance, probably because of Fiyero’s history of chasing him away from the feeding area for so long while they lived at the apartment complex. When it gets cold, Boq is certainly willing to cuddle into a shelter with at least one other companion for warmth.
Lemon is a spunky youngster, estimated at 3-4 years old. We believe he may be the sole surviving kitten of Nessa’s first litter but it is also possible that he is a sibling of hers. At the apartment complex, he kept close to her and her kittens and tried to stay away from the big boys. He is the most friendly of the whole group and will rub on his caretakers’ legs and even allow a few pets here and there. He is a goofball who loves to wrestle with his little brother, Dorian and occasionally Fiyero. He loves to roll in the dirt and and follows people around when they do any kind of maintenance in the catio. He has little to no fear of the dogs and his curiosity definitely gets the better of him when new things come into his world.
Dorian is the youngest of the group. He is one of Nessas kittens, from her last litter. His two siblings were out and about as soon as the other female and her kittens were removed for their spay and neuter. Dorian managed to stay hidden until days after his siblings had been trapped and brought indoors. He went with absolutely no human contact until he was roughly four months old, well past the socialization window. He is the most feral of the entire group, and still very weary of humans. He tolerates some contact as long as food is involved but not for long. He loves his brother, Lemon and will instigate wrestling matches often.
Dill is the only one in the catio that is not part of the “family”. He first showed up in the apartment complex around six months before relocating the whole group. He was chased off over and over but always came back. He is probably around 4-5 years old but we have no way to really know. When he showed up, his tail was already a scarred nub, likely the result of some trauma. It has never bothered him and healed well. Dill keeps his distance from the rest of the group but over time he has become one of them. He is still more of a loner but will huddle into the shelters with the others for warmth on cold nights. He has also remained more wary of humans than some of the others, but with time and regular feedings he gets better every day.
Glenda is the first adult cat that we saw at the apartment complex. At the time, she had three kittens with her and we heard that in the beginning there were probably at least seven. It is possible that the majority of the catio cats are hers from this litter but we will never know. When we trapped her, she was down to two kittens, both sick with upper respiratory infections. She was spayed and released back outside while her kittens stayed inside. We believe that she was once a pet, and was left behind when her owner moved. She stayed very near one specific ground-floor unit and fortunately the residents there cared for her and often fed her. Because of this and because she never got along well with the colony as a whole, Glenda lives inside with our co-founder Emily. She will likely never trust humans to the extent that other cats do but she has a comfortable life with cats who don’t chase her every chance they get (and with her two kittens!).
Rocky is, at this point, our only canine sanctuary resident. While we have other dogs who we share our lives with, Rocky is a unique case. He was not well socialized in his youth and so he doesn’t understand the intricacies of human-dog interaction. He is an extremely intelligent dog with a high drive and desire to please, so work is the best way to interact with him. Rocky is not a dog who needs or really desires much physical affection and there is his problem. When faced with petting or close physical contact from someone who has not spent weeks gaining his trust, Rocky resorts to using his teeth to communicate that he is uncomfortable and would like to stop the interaction. His early warning system was likely ignored and maybe even punished so there is very little time between realising he is uncomfortable and when he communicates it. He is also unable to live with cats. These two things are why a real home life for Rocky is virtually unachievable.
Fortunately, he is something of a savant with young, overzealous dogs who don’t know how to play appropriately with others. Rocky is dog social and has a very rough and tumble play style. This combined with his never ending energy makes him the perfect one to teach other dogs how to be a dog. Even after he was adopted, Rocky continued to spend days at the shelter in order to play with young dogs still waiting to be adopted and help them burn off pent up energy. He will continue to do this with us, for as long as he enjoys doing it.