By Erika Moen on May 22, 2011
We reserved Flapjack from the Oregon Humane Society after Matt found his profile on their site. His description warned that he was not adjusting to shelter life very well on account of his profound hatred of other cats, but they expected he would relax considerably should he be taken to a cat-less home. His picture was cute and he sounded like he had personality.
The cat we met was psychotic. Growling, hissing, striking at anything that came into view, honestly I cannot really explain why exactly Matt and I decided to go through with the adoption. We asked each other “Are you sure?” and each responded, “Not really, you?”
But for some completely unexplainable reason, we both knew we wanted to take a chance on him.
The staff at OHS kept cautioning us that he would probably take weeks to get used to his new home and we’d have to be super, super patient with him. Their theory was that he would calm down a lot more once he was away from all the other cats, but of course who could really say for sure.
I overheard one of the workers say to another one down the hall in amazement, “Flapjack’s getting adopted!” and the other replied “Wow!” incredulously. My friend Foley later pointed out that only on his profile was there information on people to contact about dealing with behavior problems and not any of the other adoptable cats had that included in their descriptions. Yup, we were getting The Problem Cat.
While the paperwork was being prepared, I went back into the tiny interview room to sit with him for a bit (not intending to initiate any contact) and that’s when he absolutely shocked me by headbutting and rubbing against me, even though he was still obviously upset. That’s when I knew we were making the right decision.
Normally OHS would put their pets into cardboard carriers but we were gifted a hard plastic one “for safety” and they recruited the janitor, who also served as their Problem Kitty Whisperer, to handle both getting him out of his original cage so we could meet him in the first place and then to get him into his new carrier.
He soaked himself in pee during the drive home. Thank god they’d given us the plastic carrier instead of the cardboard one!
We decided to keep him in the bathroom, since we were warned he would probably have a ton of accidents in the next couple days and it’s important to let him hide out in one restricted area until he’s comfortable. But to our surprise, rather than bolting to a hidey-hole when we released him, he instead started diligently inspecting every nook of our little bathroom! No growling, no hissing, and he even took pains to start cleaning himself right away.
Matt had to get back to work in the studio room next door, but I felt it important to stay with Flapjack so he made the connection that I’m a part of this new landscape he’s in. I sat on the floor reading Jasper Fforde’s “The Well of Lost Plots”, fully intending to leave him alone –except that he started nosing around me and finally climbed into my lap and started purring. He repositioned himself a few times over the next hour but remained happily planted in my lap.
The boy that was supposed to take 1-4 weeks to maybe settle down and come out of hiding was straight up loving all over me like a giant slut cat! You know the kind. This was the first time (of many, it would turn out) that he put a paw on either side of my collar bones and start nuzzling like crazy into my chin while purring and licking at my sensitive neck skin. There were still sporadic growls and hisses, but nothing to write home about.
By the end of the evening we felt he was acting confident enough to check out the rest of the house, so we left the door open just a crack. His first attempt out was a little overstimulating but then the second time he was ready to go exploring in his new home.
There’s still some kinks to work on with him (re: biting and clawing) and like I said before, I honestly do not know why we decided to take a chance on him after his behavior in the shelter, but he’s definitely turning out to be the right cat for us.