by Lee Juslin
Willow, a pretty seal point Siamese cat, was dumped in the overnight drop off box at a county shelter. At only three or four-years-old, she was apparently no longer wanted by her family.
Willow languished in the shelter where no one showed any interest in her. She was even shown with other shelter animals at a PetSmart adoption event. Still, she was continually passed by while others found forever homes.
Barbara, a long time cat person who had Scottish Folds, had lost her female Fold several months back and felt she was ready to take on another kitty. Having two male Folds, she was looking for a female, but there were no Folds available in her area. One day, searching on line, she found Siamese Cat Rescue, and since she had had Siamese cats some years ago, decided to check out the rescue. As she scrolled through the site, there was Willow who had been pulled from the shelter and was now being fostered by the rescue. Barbara fell in love and immediately applied to adopt the pretty, little Siamese.
Once Barbara’s application was approved, she had several conversations with Willow’s foster mom and a transport was arranged. At home, Barbara kept Willow briefly isolated from her two males, but there was really no problem integrating her into the household.
Some time later, one of Barbara’s male Folds died and eventually she found herself thinking about taking on another cat. One day, visiting her local PetSmart, she saw a handsome, young, part-Siamese male. Barbara made arrangements to adopt him and soon he was home. However, the integration process did not go as well as it had with Willow.From the moment she saw him, Willow made it clear she did not like Clawed, the new boy. Even separated, she hissed and spit at this interloper. Complicating matters, Clawed developed an upper respiratory infection which is a fairly common occurrence with cats coming from a shelter. After several vet visits and multiple courses of antibiotics, Clawed was well and ready to join the family full time. Willow, however, had other ideas.
Willow went after Clawed, and he ran and hid from her. Barbara fed them separately and gave Willow lots of attention. Nothing worked. She also tried Rescue Remedy and Feliway, both highly recommended. They didn’t help.
A big fan of My Cat from Hell with Jackson Galaxy, Barbara checked out his calming essences for cats. She tried Peacemaker, Bully Remedy – that one was for Willow – and Safe Space. Meanwhile she kept the Feliway infuser running. It took six months of swapping cats from various rooms, making sure everyone got attention, and using the various essences, but eventually Willow became more accepting, there were fewer battles, and Clawed was out and about with the family.
Today all three cats eat together and sometimes Willow and Clawed share the same space. However, they each have their own beds, and Barbara keeps several scratching posts around her condo.
Clawed has grown into a big boy weighing in at almost fifteen pounds. But, Willow, at only nine pounds, is the alpha cat. When Clawed approaches her to play and she is not in the mood, she has only to give him a look that says: No Play Now and he leaves her alone. He and Mr. Weth’ears, Barbara’s older Fold, play chase and wrestle together every day, and a benefit of Clawed’s joining the family is how he is keeping Mr. Weth’ears young and active.
Barbara says despite all the effort and some expense integrating her cat group, it was definitely worth it. “I’ve had many cats,” she said, “but never had problems like this. I’m so glad I persevered because Clawed has become a big, cuddly boy who sleeps with me, though sometimes when he wants to sleep on my head, I wonder what I have gotten in to. If I hadn’t taken Clawed, I don’t know if he would have survived as his respiratory infection was pretty serious. And, if I hadn’t been retired with the time to deal with this problem, I might have been forced to give up, and I would have missed out on a wonderful cat companion.”
Today, Clawed spends time on Barbara’s lap, purring mightily while she relaxes in her lounge chair, and Willow often joins in by sitting on the arm of the chair. However, if Willow wants Barbara’s lap, Clawed is quick to leave and let the alpha cat have the place of pride. Finally, peace reigns.
Barbara would like everyone to know that rescue animals often bring special challenges. They carry baggage from a previous life that may have involved abuse and neglect, yet they can’t explain to us what they have been through. Think of this as feline PTSD. Because of this, rescues require a lot of patience, but they always seem to know their rescue person is giving them a second chance at life, and, once they learn to trust, they reward their people with lots of love and cuddles.
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Bless the people like Barbara who are willing remember that animals, like people aren’t all perfect and to have the patience to work with the animals they adopt rather than just returning them to the shelter at the first sign of problems.