When Paul Fleming decided just more than a year ago to bring some furry friends into his life, he decided two cats were better than one – and that those two should be rescues. After a bit of searching, with help from his then 11-year old daughter, Zoe (“a really, really big cat lover”), Paul found what he was looking for.
“I decided I wanted a bonded pair so we could keep them together,” Paul said.
Brothers Charlie and Leo were in a feral colony that had been rescued by ACR and were being fostered by the aptly surnamed Pat Hope. As with the majority of feral rescues, the kittens were leery of humans, especially strangers.
“They were very shy,” said Pat. “We had to spend a lot of time playing with them, cuddling them, getting them used to being handled. But that’s really a pleasure. And they turned out to be really nice lil’ cats.”
Thanks to Pat’s patience and hard work, the meeting between the Flemings and the young brothers was a success and a new family was formed.
“I knew from the get-go that they were rescue cats and it was going to take awhile to get them to come out of their shell.”
For Charlie and Leo, that shell came in the form of Paul’s bed.
“It took about a month before they would come out [when people were around],” said Paul. “But that was fine. We brought them their food and we just let them become socialized on their own terms.”
The first breakthrough came at night, when the home was still and safe.
“They would both come up and lay with me on the bed for a half hour or so, and that was great,” said Paul.
Now, with Leo – the less timid of the two – leading the way, he and Charlie – the “troublemaker” – are full-fledged members of the clan… any time of the day.
“If you’re in a room,” Paul said, “they want to be in the same room with you.”
But as much as you can socialize them, at the end of the day cats are still cats: “They both love to play with their food. They take the kibble to the top of the stairs and let it fall specifically so they can chase it down. They still need to ‘kill’ it,” said Paul with a laugh.
Paul, who, prior to Charlie and Leo, owned a single cat who lived beyond 20 years, doesn’t hesitate to recommend a bonded pair to anyone who was considering it.
“It’s great to know when I’m not home they’re not lonely,” he said, “because they’re going to be hanging out together, playing together and enjoying themselves.
“And it makes me feel good that they have each other.”
And surely Charlie and Leo feel just as good that Paul gave them that chance to be together, forever.