I am typing this using one hand because my left arm is trapped under a very purry Sniff who is curled up on my lap. It's so wonderful to have him finally relaxed enough to actually not only tolerate being cuddled, but enjoying it, that I can't bring myself to attempt to claim my arm back.
We had friends round for dinner last night, and I spent the whole time worried that Sniff, who is currently housed in the study until he is settled enough to explore the rest of the flat, would be hiding and terrified by us having a good time. N did point out that in order to truly bring Sniff out of his shell we need to act as naturally as possible, and not creep around, otherwise we'd just compound his timidity. So we went in before going to bed for lots of relaxing strokes, settled him down, and then retired ourselves. Less than half an hour after having turned out the lights we started hearing Sniff crying and yowling. We're big softies and just can't hack the tough love approach, so out came the air bed, and there I was sleeping in the tiny study to keep him company! It worked, and although I didn't get much sleep, Sniff seemed very rested this morning.
He still hadn't eaten anything however, and despite having curled up happily purring first thing when I stroked him, once I left the room and returned with food all his timidity seemed to have returned. He flinched away from me, hid under the desk and looked terrified. This, combined with two nights of very little sleep and my worry about Sniff not eating, (and being hungry myself) set me off crying and being all stressed and worried. Poor N, he thought that having a cat would make me really happy and constantly excited, and here I was standing hugging him in the kitchen crying about whether we'd made a bad decision. I really am a "big silly" as he would say.
So N came in with me and Sniff and made the executive decision to try picking him up. We know that he'd come from cruelty and very little handling, hence his worry whenever we try to touch or stroke him. We'd been told that we needed to handle him as much as possible, but had been worried about forcing him to be picked up. N however decided that the only way to get him used to us, to both show him who's boss, whilst also showing him how much we love him, and that picking up will only lead to cuddles, was to just have a go. It's one of the best decisions we''ve made in two days. He struggled at first, but soon settled down in my arms and even started purring, and since then he's allowed us to pick him up and hold him, and has spent much of the afternoon purring in my lap. It was such a huge relief, not only for me, but for N because as soon as Sniff settled down, so did I!
Since then Sniff has at least eaten a few mouthfuls of food, expressed an interest in the squirrels in the garden and allowed himself to be carried around the room by N. I think it's going to be a slow process, but progress is being made, and, as N says "everything is going to be alright"
In other news, Sniff is at least going to be a cat with taste; he's really rather enjoying listening to Test Match Special. So we know he's a cricket fan, all we need to instill is a love of The Arsenal and he'll be set for life!