By Colette Hayes
Below Heaven Can Wait volunteer Colette Hayes shares her story about adopting an extremely shy cat. It is not uncommon for rescued felines to be timid and it takes time for them to warm up to a new family once they are adopted. Sadly, many are returned because they weren’t given a chance to come out of their shell. This story shows how patience and understanding won the love of a very shy kitty.
Ten years ago I adopted Lucy a 2 year-old multi-colored, domestic, short haired cat. When I saw her in the shelter she was rubbing up against the bars of her cage, purring, and meowing loudly. She seemed to be telling me she would be a great addition to my household and a good companion for my 6 year-old cat, Miguel. The shelter had limited information on Lucy, only that she had been turned in two weeks before, because she did not get along with the previous owner’s child. I visited Lucy twice over the next week and each time she purred and rubbed her head against my hand. She seemed to be friendly, loving, and outgoing, the perfect pet for my little family.
At home I brought Lucy to her own room, complete with water, food, and a litter box. I knew Lucy would need time to get used to her new home and her new roommate, Miguel. When I let Lucy out the carrier I expected her to sniff out her new surroundings, instead she bolted under the bed. I left her in peace so she could explore her new home. For the next few weeks whenever the door to her room opened she would run under the bed, cowering in the farthest corner, staring at me with fear.
Miguel began sniffing under the door and meowing at his new roommate, but Lucy seemed uninterested in meeting Miguel. On several occasions, I closed Miguel in another room and opened the door to allow Lucy to explore all of her new home. She timidly stuck her head out the door and sniffed the air, but would not venture farther than the doorway of her room. Loud noises and sudden movements sent her running to the safety under the bed. Over the next few weeks, I would leave the door open, but Lucy never left the room or even under the bed except to use the bathroom and to eat. Miguel would visit, sniffing around, tasting her food and water and trying out her litter box, but eventually he ignored Lucy’s room. Often it felt that I still only had one cat as Lucy rarely ventured from her room or from under the bed. I was very disappointed that she turned out to be so timid.
It took nearly a year before Lucy was comfortable enough to leave the safety of the bedroom. During that I time, I left her alone, knowing she would need to meet me on her terms. After 8 years she still doesn’t come out when guests are over and she certainly does not let just anyone pet or hold her. Loud noises and sudden movements still send her running from the room. Friends and family that come to visit wonder if Lucy really exists, but at 10 years of age, Lucy has chosen me to be her person.
At night when it is just her and I, and all is quiet, she will venture from her hiding spot under the bed and rub her soft head against my hand, purring and meowing loudly. She does not wait at the door for me, she is not perched on the sofa, watching me, listening to me while I discuss my day, but in the stillness of the night, she is there. When everything is quiet she will hop on my bed, and cuddle next to me, circling a few times, and then settling in next to my side. It took a long time for her to be comfortable and to trust me, but it was worth it. I know Lucy won’t allow just anyone to be her person, so I feel incredible lucky she chose me.
Click Here to see the delightful cats waiting for their forever home at Heaven Can Wait. Cat adoptions are held Thursday afternoon through Sunday inside Petsmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy. Dogs are adopted each Saturday at Bone Appetit on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache.
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