a new arrival: week 1

THURSDAY: In the afternoon, I went to the rescue shelter to look at cats. I wasn’t sure I would get one, but wanted to see who was available. There were only a few cats living at the shelter – the shelter puts most available cats in foster homes. On one hand, I understand and it’s great for the cat to have a place to live during the transition to a new home. On the other hand, it makes it more cumbersome to find a cat to adopt because each visit has to be arranged. I think it’s important to see if there is a connection with a cat and that needs to be done in person – nose-to-nose. When I met Tobias (his name at the shelter), I was charmed. He was listed as an orange and white tabby, but he’s not the standard tabby. He is darker orange – almost auburn in some places. His stripes are not straight (e.g., like a tiger), but curve around. He has white feet and a white chest. He is lovely.

The staff at the rescue center assured me that he was sweet and he seemed friendly enough. They told me he had a mild heart murmur and would need a calm home. He was a pretty big boy at 16 pounds. Although I had resolved to get a healthy cat, I thought I’d take a chance. Toby was one of the names I was considering, so that seemed to be a sign. My mother was drawn more to orange cats and cats with white socks – Tobias fit that bill as well. So, I brought him home.

He seemed OK at first. They told me to contain him in a small room, but he escaped the bedroom and made his way around the apartment – tail held high. I did get him back in the bedroom, with food, water, and a litter box. As the evening wore on, he became more anxious. He was like a small mountain lion – crouched, snarling, hissing, and growling. He was a scary sight, especially as I was going to have to sleep in that room. Fortunately for me, he found another hiding place as soon as the bedroom door opened. I was a bit concerned about my mother. She had petted him earlier and he seemed to like her, but this was a different cat. He did not seem to like me at all. He was not 16 pounds of fluff and fat – he was all muscle and could do some serious damage with teeth and claws. I was nervous that I would not be able to handle him and wondered what I had gotten myself into.

FRIDAY: At 3:30 am on Friday morning, Toby and I reached an agreement. I would leave him alone and he would stop threatening to kill me in my sleep. We eyed each other nervously but our detente held through the night and we were both able to move back from the edge. By 8:15 am, Toby was up and walking by the bed (where I held the high ground). He paused … I pet him … and we decided to move forward together. When my mother got up, he got his first look at my mother with her walker – he was fairly stunned and backed away. He also saw her bedroom and bathroom. Both rooms had been closed to him the night before – he was enchanted and claimed the space under her bed as his new hideaway, but not before joining mom in the bathroom, where he explored … everything, much to her surprise. He stayed hidden all day on Friday, coming out at night and deciding that his was the next move – he rubbed against my legs, I pet him, and we decided to be friends.

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: We were starting off the weekend pretty well. I was expecting the contractors to arrive on Saturday, but wasn’t too concerned because a lot of the noisy work was done. Toby hung out in my mother’s bedroom (under the bed) while the guys worked in the kitchen. We all managed to make it through the day unscathed! By the end of the day, Toby and I were getting to know each other better. I was a little concerned because he really wasn’t eating or drinking much … and parallel to that, he wasn’t pooping or peeing much. When you have a new cat, these are issues! He nibbled a bit on dry cat food, but no canned food. I was trying all kind of flavors, textures, and brands. On one hand, you get the message that it’s not a big deal – they are settling in. On the other hand, you get the message that they could develop kidney or liver damage if they aren’t getting enough food or water – and that would not be good. There was very little movement through his system, so I was concerned. And yet, he was jumping on furniture and didn’t seem distressed, so we both tried to relax.

MONDAY: Monday morning was the turning point. He jumped up on my bed in the morning and purred. We snuggled a bit. Detente had turned to friendly interaction and finally to affection. He was no longer under the bed or in hiding but was finding places to lounge where we could actually see him. He also started eating more dry food – still no wet food, but he ate a churu treat – sort of like chicken-flavored pudding – with great enthusiasm. He pooped and (lightly) peed. I set up a water fountain and he drank with hesitance. We were making progress on all sides. He seemed to be liking his new home.

TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, AND THURSDAY: Life is good. As we celebrate a week together, we are playing more and learning to trust one another. He is very energetic! I don’t know why the rescue thought he would be a calm cat. I need more toys but am trying to figure out what he likes. Still passing on the canned food but he is doing well, as the picture below suggests. This is my view in the morning:

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