Yolanda stalked me around her cattery. Everywhere I went, there she was — always just out of reach, but solidly there. It wasn’t that I happened to catch a fleeting glimpse of her moving like a ghost from one rafter to another. Yolanda actually was trying to engage me. I couldn’t touch her (that was too much), but she could play a rousing game of “that camera strap is mine,” while maintaining about a foot of space between us.  

Yolanda playing with camera strap

The enormity of the moment was lost on me. I had never met Yolanda before. She struck me as a beautiful flirty kitty getting accustomed to visitors at Cat World. Little did I know that I had just had an up-close-and-personal encounter with a "rafter cat".  

Rafter cats prefer to spend most of their time in the rafters — at least during the day when humans are around. There are rooms at Cat World designed with these scared felines in mind. Everything that our more comfortable cats have access to on the floor, the rafter cats have up high. On top of exposed beams they have feeding stations, litter boxes and comfy beds — all secured well out of the reach of humans.  

Help for fearful felines: Here are some of the techniques Best Friends’ has used to help scared cats.

Rafter cats exist on a “spectrum.” The high end of that spectrum includes cats who are incredibly fearful of humans. If you catch their eye, they appear startled when they realize you can see them. On the lower end, cats like Yolanda are skeptical but curious. And in the middle are cats still trying to figure out what we humans want from them — and if they want or need any part of that relationship.

Each cat is different, but all rafter cats need extra space and time to figure out what to them is a strange world. Thanks to the generosity of our members and donors, we can provide all the time they need to feel safe.

Will Yolanda ever be a lap cat? Maybe. There was a curiosity in her eyes that made me think she’s trying hard to figure out how to make friends. And she’s getting closer and braver every day.

We’ll be here for Yolanda and all the rafter cats for as long as it takes to find them homes of their very own.