The cage was small, but the people were nice and Tiger felt safe. He was regularly fed, petted and groomed. Still, he wasn’t home. Tiger had been ‘home’ and still had vague memories of the woman who had cared for him and the other cats that lived with her.
Then he had been brought to this place, and he had been here so long that he had almost forgotten ‘home’ and the woman.
Still, there was unease here, and Tiger felt it. Something was about to happen. Something bad.
Then two humans entered. They put him in a cage with them. He jumped into the woman’s lap. They put him in a dark place that beat him and pushed him. He heard strange and frightening noises. He howled, and a male voice responded with noises he couldn’t understand.
Then there was light. AND HORRIBLE!
A small hand reached out and tried to grab it. There were people he didn’t know; they all approached him. There was another cat that arched and spat.
So, horror of horrors…
There was a dog!
Tiger fled. He fled down a long hallway and bolted out the first open door he found. He hid in the darkest place he could find…between soft and hard things he didn’t recognize. He heard voices. He heard the dog bark and shivered. He heard the high-pitched voice of the boy and the voice of a woman…which were easier to bear.
He crouched down and remained as invisible and silent as he could.
Animal shelter staff greet people looking for new pets with joy and suspicion. People walk between the cages, looking at each cat, and the staff hopes to select a cat that has been there for a long time.
But they know what people are looking for; looking for kittens, not adult cats.
If there are no kittens, clients sometimes reluctantly choose an adult cat as a “consolation prize”, pay the adoption fees and take it away…
Only to return the cat two or three days later.
“I’m sorry, but this cat just didn’t work out. We couldn’t fit him into the family.”
“This cat is too wild. We need something more tame, something that fits.”
“What happened?” The staff member asks.
“The cat ran away and hid. It took us three days to find it, and when we finally did, we had to chase it all over the house before we caught it. We need something more tame, something that fits better.”
So go the sad stories of revenants… but wait, it may be worse for cats adopted in other ways.
“The landlord won’t let me stay with her, could you take her in?”
People who adopt stray dogs, or a friend’s cat, often don’t realize the full scope of things they must do for their new cat:
o Prepare your home to receive your cat
o Address your cat’s medical needs.
o Make sure your other cats are protected from diseases
o Take care of your cat’s physical needs.
o Properly introduce your cat to fellow residents, children, and other pets.
And perhaps most importantly:
o Prepare for a good relationship with your new cat.
People who have never owned cats before don’t really realize what a cat is: a highly intelligent and independent animal that needs love and affection every day, but it’s not a dog.
Cats bond with people, just like dogs, but they don’t always bond with the person who has adopted them. They will choose who they like, much to the dismay of the person who “picked them up” in hopes of having acquired a new friend.
This is a very good reason why the first 24 hours are so important. It is during this period that your cat will decide who he wants to bond with.
Unless you know what you’re doing, it may not be with you.
A cat needs to spend time with her. One of the big mistakes busy people make is not realizing that they have busy schedules that don’t allow them to spend enough time with their newly adopted cat.
Ultimately, this could cause your cat to run away. If you don’t have time to spend with your cat, he won’t choose your house as “his den.” He’ll be out looking for another one, and soon you could be reporting a “missing cat.”
Or, to your dismay, you’ll discover that the cat you thought would make a loving companion has joined another member of your household…someone you had time to spend.
Many people don’t count the cost of having a pet. In their enthusiasm to adopt a cat, they forget that they don’t have the budget to support it. Belatedly, they find they don’t have the cash on hand to buy their new feline’s basic necessities or provide him with the medical care he’s sure to need.
Many people avoid pet health insurance, not realizing that the same things that happen to people happen to cats, and can cost large sums of money to cure. This may result in the loss of your beloved pet because the price to save it is “too high.”
Some people who adopt stray cats or cats from friends don’t realize the full scope of medical care their new cat needs:
o A complete physical exam
o A complete vaccination regimen
o Spay or neuter
In particular, that cute kitty you brought home from a friend’s litter will need a long series of vaccinations (along with boosters) spread over a period of a couple of years. You can’t do it all in one day.
Failure to do this will almost certainly mean tragedy in the future. I know. I didn’t give one of my kittens the shots. I made him an outdoor cat and he died of feline leukemia. The story definitely had a very sad ending…
Your cat’s physical needs
When your cat steps out of the carrier for the first time, will it be equipped with the essentials?
Or will you find you need these things later…and bring them one at a time, after your cat has pooped in the corner, started scratching the furniture, or started some other unauthorized behavior that you’re not supposed to? prepared? (And keep in mind that a cat is a very obsessed animal…once he starts doing something, it’s very hard to change him.)
Making sure you have what you need to welcome your new cat is vital…and you should have the basics on hand before you bring him home.
So when your cat first steps out of her carrier, will everyone in your household attack her at once? And when she does, will she run away in terror, trying to find the safest, darkest corner she can find?
Or will you introduce her gradually… to try to reduce the trauma as much as possible so that she can adjust and feel at home in her new situation?
Your technique for doing that can be a deciding factor in whether or not your cat adjusts to your home right away, the next day or month, or if she leaves the house altogether.
the days to follow
Do you know how to care for your new cat in the next few days, assuming you’ve handled your first few introductions well? Do you know about allergies, special foods, baths, brushing, hairballs, urination, training and teaching without scaring or alienating your cat, and a host of other situations that cat owners struggle with on a daily basis? Do you know the dangers of letting it become an outdoor cat?
To be prepared
As you’ve often heard, “preparation is the key to success,” and nowhere is that applied more appropriately than in cat ownership. If you are prepared, your adoption will probably go smoothly.
I say probably because every cat is different. Even with the best preparation by a well-informed owner, a cat may want to hide for a while. And if you find that to be the case…
You need to know what to do.
That’s why I wrote my book, “Your New Cat’s First 24 Hours,” http://www.yourcatsecrets.com, to give you everything you need to know and have, not just to prepare for and introduce your new cat to her. to your house, but to understand it and take care of it in the following days.
I have to say it again: preparation…and knowledge…is the key. When you decide to adopt, I hope you don’t do it in a hurry.
I hope you do it with knowledge and understanding.