Let me explain and for that I have to go all the way back to last April when we adopted Maya (read more HERE). We had promised our daughter that she could be the one who goes to the shelter with my husband to adopt a cat. Before they went, her and I had looked on petfinder at a couple of shelters. And that’s when I saw Anthony and his sad eyes. My husband and daughter went to a different shelter though and brought home Maya but Anthony remained on my mind ever since and I periodically checked in to see if he was still there. I even posted his link on Facebook to see if someone would adopt him.
After Lucy just passed away, I had the thought of adoption in mind again. It wasn’t an option to adopt a cat while she was still here because I didn’t want to stress her out again. Having young Willy and Maya in the house had been enough for her.
So last Monday I decided to go to THAT shelter…
…to meet Anthony. I had never been to a shelter and the truth is I wouldn’t have went had this been an awful shelter with cages or even a kill shelter. I don’t think I could handle that type of setting and only bringing one home with the thought of what fate the others might face.
This shelter is pretty close to my house and a pretty wonderful place in my eyes. The cats are in one room with shelving and beds everywhere. They have plenty of clean litterboxes, water fountain and dry food station and volunteers who come daily for several hours to interact with them. There is an in-house veterinarian for outpatients and for the shelter animals. The animals are really loved and well taken care of.
Nevertheless it did overwhelm me to see so many cats and suddenly of course wanting them all.
Here is the photo of him that I fell in love with on petfinder:
And here is what the description about him said:
“Say hello to Anthony! This handsome young fellow was found as a stray and was a bit overwhelmed when he first came into the shelter. Now though, Anthony will come greet his volunteer buddies for petting and love. He might take a little longer with people he has never met before, but just give him a little time and he’ll come right out of his shell! Anthony definitely has an appetite for playtime.. wave a string around and he’ll come running and jumping up to it. He occasionally can be seen playing with his kitty friends too and gets along with them all really well! He would definitely enjoy having another cat in his forever home. Anthony is also a biiiiiig fan of wet cat food. He is right there whenever any is served and is known to quietly sneak himself into other cats’ food dishes if he hasn’t been served yet. Anthony would prefer a bit of a quieter home because he does get spooked easily, but only for a second or two. This dopey eyes boy is the perfect mix or sweetness and comedy and is just waiting for you to come meet him!”
I had brought meat tubes (click HERE) to see if Anthony would like a treat from me and he did come out of his hiding spot for a short period of time to lick the treat and let me scratch his behind. He was definitely one of the shy cats at the shelter who preferred to hide which is the reason for him not having been adopted yet.
Here he is in his hiding spot with his sad face:
The cage door to the left is for cats that get newly introduced to the room to keep them safe and separated from the others for a bit.
After talking to the volunteers I found out that he was most likely dumped in the shelter’s backyard with his sister at about 1 years old. They assumed she was his sister by their looks. His sister was also shy and had been adopted already to a wonderful home where she was doing really well and came out of her shell. They even showed me a photo of her.
I also found out that Anthony has been at this shelter for 4 years which makes him around 5 years old.
I have a friend who fosters the dogs at this shelter and who happened to be there by coincidence. She told the cat volunteers to give me any and as many cats as I wanted because they would have a great home LOL.
Can you already see where this is heading?
I met a bunch of other cats who were all cute as can be. My son fell in love with a Persian cutie who hasn’t been at the shelter for long yet. He was found as a stray with his friend. He is about 8 years old and wasn’t neutered which of course makes me wonder if he was used for breeding and then dumped when he wasn’t useful anymore. He is outgoing, friendly and a snuggler. He will be a double adoption with his friend, so they won’t have to be separated. I have a feeling though they will be adopted quickly do to him being so handsome and loving.
Look at that face!!! I was definitely really really tempted!
There are some feral cats from local colonies who can’t live outside anymore due to blindness and age. These cats will have a great home at this shelter and can live out the remainder of their life safely, secure and being loved and cared for. I think that is amazing, don’t you?
Anyways, after meeting all the other cats, I still couldn’t get Anthony out of my head. And my son said “mom if you like him so much then let’s adopt him”. My husband didn’t appear to care either. We had talked about how it would be to adopt another cat that was scared. After all our Heidi and Monkey were really scared too when we brought them in. Monkey had been a stray for about 4 years in our neighborhood and I wasn’t even able to look at her through our windows which made her run.
I filled out adoption papers for Anthony and they told me that they’d update his shots and would get back to me. I could maybe come again when his favorite volunteers were there, so I could see how he interacted with them.
Last Thursday I headed to the shelter again with my daughter to take Anthony home with the help of his favorite volunteers.
So and now he’s been with us for 6 nights and 5 days and things are not looking well. He is severely overwhelmed with no signs of improvement. Let me explain from the beginning.
When I bring cats home, I always keep them separated from the others for a bit ( I wrote a long post about introducing a new cat HERE) and I do consider myself an experienced cat owner but he is definitely throwing me for a loop. We decided to keep him in my daughter’s room so her and I could sleep in the same room with him at night. My daughter is barely home during school season and he would have the room for himself all day.
The first day he stayed in his carrier and wouldn’t eat and during the first night, I felt a cat in my hair which woke me up but it’s nothing uncommon since my other cats do it all the time. I stirred a bit while waking up and it startled him severely which made him run in panic and try to jump up on my daughter’s shelf where she has a star lantern that poked him.
Ever since that incident he remains in hiding, which is the carrier we brought him home in. I started to feel that my daughter’s room scared him due to the bookshelf incident and moved him to the spare bathroom where I also kept Monkey while getting her used to our home, family and cats.
He started eating a tiny bit of tuna and using the litterbox when we aren’t around.
Above I’m writing this blog post while sitting in the bathtub.
His new thing now is hiding inside the litterbox which is a red flag and I have been reading up about it extensively (watch Jackson Galaxy talk about it HERE).
He is so afraid, anxious and overwhelmed that he feels like the only place he can be safe is surrounded by his own smell because it is the only thing he owns which breaks my heart.
Everything is new to him since he’s never lived with a family.
He has several hiding spots/boxes in the bathroom, I made him a variety of food, I have Feliway HERE) plugged in, I spend time with him (although I stopped trying to pet him because I want him to feel safe), I do not let the cats come in and spend time or eat in the room. Maya hasn’t been acting nice at all, Willy has tried but a growl here and there has come out. I spend time in the room talking to him in a quiet voice while working on my computer and I’ve also slept for a couple of hours in the tub at night which made him remain in hiding. I have turned the iPad on with some bird videos for him to watch while he is hiding. I bring him catnip… and I feel like things are getting worse for him.
During all this I’m texting with the shelter volunteers consistently but I’m increasingly getting worried to see how difficult a change like this is for him. What happens to him when we go to Germany and he is here in the house with a petsitter who sleeps here? Our other cats never had a problem with that. If he does come around, a small change like that could throw him for a complete loop again.
I hate seeing a cat being so utterly terrified of me and I want to make it better in the worst way.
And I keep wondering if he was so much happier in the only place he has known and called home, which was the shelter with his friends and favorite volunteers who loved him dearly. All I want to do is give him a loving home with our cats and family but so far I have failed miserably.
With that said I always have to think of the book 3, 096 Days of Captivity by Natasha Kampusch (click HERE) which I read a couple of years ago. It’s about her own abduction at age 10 in Austria. She was held captive for 8 years in the man’s basement where he enslaved her. She is now a spokesperson for PETA and I’ve read about how she compares her captivity with the way we humans hold an animal captive. She is strongly against crate training, circus and zoo animals. When people say “oh he loves his crate”, she says “I didn’t love my crate but I didn’t know any better”. There are so many comparisons to a situation like Anthony’s in the shelter (or my home) and I wonder if he maybe just doesn’t know any better yet then the room he has lived in at the shelter for 4 years and if he maybe has the freedom to roam and use our catio, that he will learn to love it. Or I wonder if he is too far gone already to ever learn how to love something else.
I have gotten so many suggestions on Instagram from trying to use CBD oil (HERE) to trying Jackson Galaxy’s Ultimate Peacemaker (HERE) but to try out any type of such remedies, he needs to eat things first so I can hide them in his treats.
I know this can take weeks and months which I definitely have the patience for and I don’t want to make it sound like I’m giving up because I’m not but I sure hate to see him suffer so much along the way. And I just wanted to share my internal struggle.