Theo is curious and easy going - not at all a fighter. His way of being in the new space with new cats reminds me a lot of being the new kid at school or camp. He doesn't know the rules, what to do or how to be. He decides to play with one of the available toys and the cat whose toy it is quickly runs over to see who is messing with their stuff. It feels awkward and difficult.
Seeing Theo's sad and confused face after Willow swatted him brought back all sorts of traumatic memories of awkwardly trying to meet new kids by being friendly only to get ridiculed or scorned in response. So, I did what I desperately wanted when that would happen to me, I snatched Theo up, held him close and gently explained what was going on. He sank deeply into my lap and watched the other cats play as I gently stroked his soft fur. Tomorrow we will try again, and maybe then Willow will show a little more of her sweet side.