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Adopting a cat for the first time is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times in a new pet parents' life. It's filled with wondering whether you'll bond, if she'll like your home, and what kind of messes she'll get into. Find out what is was like for these two families after they brought their newly adopted cats home.
Shannon, Acheron, and Binx
Shannon grew up in a family that shared their home with many animals. Eventually, though, her family began saying goodbye more often than it said hello. In fact, in the span of a four years, three cats passed away, and two dogs died within one year of each other. Shannon loved her elderly pets, but she knew she wanted to care for more animals after they were gone.
"I can't live a full life without cats," Shannon says. There's something about having them in the house with me that makes me comfortable. I sleep better at night. I function better through the day. You might say cats are my spirit animals. When I'd lost my first two cats I'd adopted when I was young, I knew I needed to fill that missing space in my life."
So, she turned to adoption. She says, "I feel like, by adopting, I'm saving a life while that life chooses me. I've never thought in a million years that I chose the cats. I've always felt that when I met my 'kids,' they were the ones choosing me." While Shannon says her cats were the ones that wanted to go home with her, she still felt anxious about the immediate cat adoption process. You know—bringing her new kittens home.
"It's always an experience when I bring my cats home," says Shannon. "I get excited when I watch them explore their new surroundings and maybe, for the first time in their lives, stretch their claws on carpet instead of metal. But there's also a fear that they won't love their new home or myself. I'm always afraid they will get angry or depressed or end up living a sad and lonely life," which, of course, didn't happen for Acheron, who goes by the name Ash on occasion, and Binx, Shannon's two cats.
While they were both happy to come into her home, there was some trial and error they all had to experience in introducing the two cats. "I quarantined Binx in my bedroom for two weeks as recommended," says Shannon. "After a week, I started opening the door. I'd sit in the doorway with cat treats and entice the cats closer to each other, little by little, feeding them the treats and petting them so they knew it was a good thing to be near each other.
When the hissing and growling subsided, I switched from treats to food. This didn't work out as well as the treats did for the family of three, but with some perseverance, theirs turned into one of the happiest cat adoption stories. Shannon says, "They've turned my life into a wonderful, exciting trip, and I couldn't see myself having anything but the two of them. They make my life meaningful and worth getting up for."
Eric, Kevin, and Frosty
Like Shannon, Eric and Kevin both grew up loving animals in families that owned cats and dogs. However, when they made the decision to adopt, they were confident in one thing—they're both cat people. "We love their visible sense of curiosity when they play," says Eric, "as well as their independence, and, if you treat them just right, how they'll find a favorite spot right near you on the couch." They love cats so much that they were pretty impatient to find the one meant for them, especially since they often spent time cat-sitting Kevin's mother's cats and Eric's sister's cats when either of them was out of town.
Then they finally found Frosty, the perfect cat to fill out their family. And what was Eric's first thought when they got him home? "We needed to give our fur baby a bath as soon as possible!" Eric says. "He smelled like the place he was coming from, and not like himself. When you have a cat, you just know what they smell like when they clean themselves and have their own space." Eric continues, "Bringing him home the first evening we had him, plunking him in the tub, spiffing him up—it felt like part of the process of getting to know him."
Now, some may assume that a bath on day one might give a cat a bad attitude, but this isn't one of those cat adoption stories. In fact, Frosty was more interested in exploring than he was looking for payback from his plunge into the water, which relieved Eric and Kevin.
"The first night we had him, we were also overjoyed because he clearly wanted to get to know his new home. As soon as he was clean, he ran straight from one end of our apartment to another, shoved his nose in every corner, stood up and stretched himself on the doorways, and climbed up to look out all the windows we have. It was gratifying to see he wasn't afraid of his new surroundings, or us," Eric says.
"When you bring a new cat into your home, you have to follow her lead on how you have to treat, watch, or restrict her. When we brought Frosty home, we thought we would have to keep him closed in our room for at least a week. We adopted him on Wednesday. By Saturday, he had free reign of the apartment, had favorite sleeping spots both on the couch and in the little bed we bought him, and knew exactly where his food and his litter box were. We may have hit the jackpot on our first try, but our experience with Frosty showed me that, if the animal shows you he's ready to do something or go somewhere you didn't expect, you have to trust him, as long as you know it's not going to get him hurt, of course."
Bringing a cat home into your life can be an anxious time, but if you're considering adopting, thinking of Asher, Binx, and Frosty's lucky and happy cat adoption stories. With a whole lot of love your new pet will have just as good of a transition into your home.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.