In the course of time, there were kittens. But not as timely as I might have wished, since Torch Song (no, I didn't name her) declined to cooperate with our best-laid plans regarding who to have sex with and when. So by the time the kittens arrived I was deep in pre-IPO startup hell, with not enough time to really socialize the little furballs the way they deserved. (This is why I've quit breeding; if you can't do it right, you ought not to fuck around with living creatures.)
So it worked out; Billie Holiday (remember mama cat's name is Torch Song; see the theme at work) went to live with a friend of mine in LA, and Ethel Merman became the spoiled brat of other friends here, and Arnold Beckoff and I fell in love with each other, and he stayed... but Leonard Cohen wasn't anyone's cat, and was a little wild and shy in consequence.
Enter my friend Laura, whose kitty had died young and unexpectedly. "Will you take Leonard and socialize him? Just for a while?" She wasn't ready to commit to another pet for life, but she said she didn't mind being useful. He moved in with her, and I got daily reports. Slowly he came out from under the bed; occasionally he'd sniff at her. Two weeks in, she had managed to touch his back once. I was a little concerned, because everything I knew about cats in general and this one in particular told me all he needed was his own person, and this didn't sound right.
So I visited. She showed me how she could try to reach out and pet him, and he'd approach, but then dodge away at the last minute. I shrugged, bent down, and called him the way I call all my cats: "Psst psst psst" (combined with brushing two fingers together).
Leonard hurled himself at my ankles, headbutting me, purring, complaining open-mouthed about how Nobody Loved Him and Where Had I Been? I picked him up (remember, Laura hadn't managed this in two weeks) and he made biscuits on my shoulder and purred like a diesel truck.
I put him down. "Call him like that," I said, and damned if Laura didn't get the exact same performance out of him that I just had. She even picked him up, and he didn't complain much. We stared at each other. We tried it out with the other person in the apartment. It worked for him too. She said "You password-protected the cat!", to gales of giggles. I later realized that every loving session this cat had ever had had started out with me calling him and his littermates in the exact same way. But I never had a cat react in quite the way this one did.
Laura spent some time decrypting Leonard, and they're still living together. I haven't had any requests to take him back. :-)