She still looks like a dragon that lost all her scales, and her eyes can be intensely creepy, but little Cherry is affectionate, curious, and chatty. This is a cat who appears out of nowhere, and stares intensely into your face, which gives me the creeps sometimes, but this easily misconstrued dirty look will immediately be followed by a gentle massage on my tummy, or a nap on my lap, purring gently as I pet her. It has taken a week to attempt returning the affection openly, and it was only 24 hours ago that Cherry and Champagne stayed in a room without growling at each other. I would gingerly call it a ceasefire, which is great progress.

Playtime is not on the agenda yet, and neither is concern. There is great curiosity for one another, and both cats will keep me company regardless of what room I find myself in. Cherry being the stronger personality, she jumps up onto furniture and kitchen counters fearlessly. I’ve had to reconfigure my stove area and make it Cherry-proof for the hours that I am away at work. This cat presses stove buttons and is curious about microwaves, and the only thing that seems to scare her is water.

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Learning to relax ©MTHerzog

Like the dear departed Kessy, however, Cherry is equally fussy with her food, turning her nose up at most things I offer. I’ve had to place a new order of cat food from the pet supplier to try and find Madam’s preferred dish – main thing is that it is chunky and has lots of sauce! Champagne is much easier, and will eat anything I place in front of her, and if Cherry doesn’t like her food, she will gobble down the second portion as well.

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Curious and Chatty ©MTHerzog

The severe neglect of the previous owner has left deep emotional and mental scars on Cherry. The shelter told me she was depressed but after a week of living with us, I am convinced that she is deeply traumatised and mentally disturbed. She will chase ghosts in the middle of the night, sit up staring at the sleeping (and snoring) Champagne, and try to walk through walls – after first attempting to climb them. She meows at me in frustration if she can’t figure out why the wall won’t move aside like a door.

Well, there is a reason she was in the problematic adoption section. None of the cats that the Berlin Animal Shelter passes on to me is “normal” and that is precisely why I am on the special shortlist, for unusual and difficult cases. Cherry needs time, and Champagne needs even more patience not to hit back or respond to every hiss and growl she receives from the newcomer. I sincerely believe that Cherry is beginning to understand that Champagne means her no harm and just wants a friend.

While sorting out her papers this morning, I opened her vaccination booklet and had a good laugh. It was only today that I realised what Cherry’s full name is (given by the previous owner, mind you, not me): Mon Cherry.