Friends, this week has been one big chunk of interruptions to our normal schedule, and I'm afraid today is no acception. This tortureshell I'm afraid, is another one of those that leaves the human terribly upset. It involves the story and the fate of one of the ones who came before. I met her only briefly, and if I'm honest with you, I didn't like what I saw. What I saw was all claws and teeth and hissing and spiting and thwapping and growling and chasing, mind you, and the human says she does have a softer side. As I'm probably biased, I'm going to let the human tell the rest of the story.
Anna was my first ever pedigree cat, and the first I'd owned totally on my own. I'd had others around, but they were always family cats. I thought long and hard before I bought a Russian, and researched all the breed thoroughly. She looked as though she would meet what I wanted in a cat. Sweet tempered, quiet, content to be an indoor cat, not destructive, intelligent, people oriented, high tolerance for dogs. I searched for a long time before I found the right kitten, and when I did, it was love at first sight. This kitten went from being one who didn't readily cuddle to one who climbed on my knee and began purring on our first meeting. Needless to say, I kept her.
That next year was to bring many changes, however. Anna's whole personality was beautiful for about a month or so, then seemed to change overnight. She refused to be handled, bit and swiped at me when I tried to pick her up or even move her to sit down, and that's not all. She began to poo outside the tray, but for the longest time, she wasn't consistent with where she did it. Can you imagine trying to find poo when you can't see it and you live in a big house? Nightmare is not the word. Sometimes I'd go days before coming across it, and that was less than hygienic. Still, I loved her, so persisted.
Next came the scratching. My carpets suffered. The bath pannel's protective covering was ripped to pieces. The lino in the bathroom was shredded. She scratched the back of the sofa so much that she pulled the staples out. Every time the door was opened, she'd dart out and do her best to escape outside. Still, I couldn't give up. I thought she needed more stimulation. I thought she might be upset. I thought she might be injured... I thought and thought and thought, and for months on end, attempted to help her overcome her problems. As a final resort, and already appreciating the inevitable at this time, I thought maybe she needed company. That's when I took Tia into my home, but from the first sight of her right up until the day she left, Anna showed nothing but hostility towards her.
Things had reached an all-time low. I was living with a cat who was destroying my house, putting me at risk of all sorts of nasties from poo, terrorising other cats, escaping every time I tried to enter or exit my house, and above all, who wouldn't allow me to touch her for any prolonged period. I might have been able to cope with her if I could have seen her, but I couldn't. Essentially, I was getting nothing out of keeping her only misery, huge bills, and the profound heartache of deeply loving a cat who seemed not to care for me in return. She didn't seem happy here (that's what I put her destructive behaviour, inappropriate toileting etc down to), and obviously had a great yearning for the outside which, living in a flat, I couldn't satisfy. Reluctantly, I realised that I needed to find a home who could better provide for Anna.
But this posed a problem. I didn't want her to go to any old home. Despite the problems, she'd lived with me for a year. I loved her deeply. I knew she wouldn't be an easy cat, and I didn't want her being shipped from home to home because they couldn't cope with her. I knew I needed to choose carefully, and decided to keep her for as long as it took to find the right forever home, despite the damage she was doing to my home and heart. I would have kept her till the end of her life if I had to, and would have loved her despite it all.
Her original breeder had offered, or more honestly, demanded, to take her back. however, this was an older lady who was quite frankly struggling to look after the million or so cats she had both physically and financially, and I didn't want Anna to go back to that. She said that she would actively seek a home for her, but that she wouldn't tell me where my cat ended up. Again, this wasn't acceptable for me. I wanted, no needed, to know who she ended up living with.
A few weeks later, I had two phone calls, one from a family who were interested, but a little worried about her problems, and one from another Russian breeder who just happened to be a friend of the original one. Although I was suspicious of intent, I decided to interview the latter. She bred Russians, so would be more equipped to cope with inappropriate toileting, cat aggression, damage to propperty etc. Anna loved to go outside, and the breeder had a large secure area where she could go and be safe. This woman is so professional that she even has a boarding cattery. She seemed perfect, but with that one little hitch of being friends with the original lady.
To cut a long story short, she came to the house, looked at Anna, and seemed very genuine. After a very, very long chat with her, I decided that Anna would be quite happy with her, but made the breeder promise that she was not taking anna for the express purpose of rehoming her at a later date, as breeder a had said she would. She promised she wouldn't, said she loved Russians so much that a neuter who wasn't contributing to the breeding programme would be considered as a person to be treasured rather than an inconvenience, and assured me that she thought Anna would end up being good company for her other cats. I reaffirmed this quite a few times, but in the end, was satisfied.
I missed Anna dreadfully when she left. The poor breeder got an email begging for a new update about every second for that first week, and at least twice a day for a good few weeks after. I was struggling to let go. Eventually though, over months, my concern grew less. Anna was happy. I could start letting go and healing the hurt left behind in her absence. On a lighter note, I could also start healing my damaged carpets, lino and sofa. This I began to do.
Today, I received an email in my inbox from a mutual friend telling me that Anna had been rehomed at the beginning of January. She lives with a couple now, and her little brother and a puppy. This hit me with the equivalent force of a punch in the stomach by a championship boxer. I was devastated. Now I didn't know where my cat was, what kind of people she was with, or how to get in contact. The cat is only 21 months old, well, almost 22, and she's already had four homes in her short life. It was to avoid this exact thing happening that I agreed to keep her until I found a permanent home. The breeder had promised me she would keep her, and yet, she'd gone back on her word. I don't know why. I don't know a lot, but what I do know, I wish I didn't. I was told casually that the new owners use a radio controlled wire fence and a collar on the cats and dog which makes sure that they stay within the boundary when outside. My research tells me that those collars enforce the boundary conditioning by means of an electric shock as aversion to crossing the line. If any of you know of collars which condition in a different way, please tell me, as the thought of her being shocked, even if only mildly, has me so upset and heart broken that I feel physically sick with the misery of it.,/p>
p>I have sent the breeder an email demanding an explannation of why she went back on her word, and why I had to find out about it through a mutual friend rather than hearing it from her direct. I trusted her. I have no legal standing as far as I'm aware to demand the return of Anna, and as I don't even know who has her, I have no way of tracing her to find out if she's happy or not. This has taught me something though. It has taught me never to take anyone on face value, no matter how genuine and nice seeming they are. Never trust word alone. Ensure that it is written, signed and verified, and then when something like this happens, there is some recourse.
Through my tears this afternoon, anger has boiled, and done so fiercely. I have used it as my drive to create what I see as an absolutely water-tight contract which will now be signed by the purchaser before any kittens go off to their forever homes. If people are genuine, they shouldn't mind doing this, as it states in brief that the kitten is a pet, is not to be bred from, is to be fed propperly and given all vet care as needed. If conditions fail to be met, the breder, i.e, me, can repossess the cat at any time. This means that I can be certain my kittens are going to be looked after. I've also put a condition in there that says that a cat of my breeding can never be rehomed without my prior knowledge and consent, and that in such circumstances, I can also take the cat back if no agreement as to a suitable new home can be made. I'm damned if I'm going to let a repeat of Anna's sorry case happen to me again.
A word to the wise. Always write it down. If you make an agreement of any kind, commit it to paper. For any novice breeders, don't sell a kitten until you have a good contract. I'm happy to provide mine if anyone wants to see it. If anyone wants the name of the Russian Blue breeder in the UK whose word is not to be trusted, I'm also happy to provide that.
Now I can only hope that my Anna is happy wherever she is, that the breeder is decent enough to at least put me in contact with the new owners (not holding my breath on that one), and that a radio controlled wire fence and collar doesn't mean electric shocks. My Anna, for all your trouble, I miss you like crazy. Be well, sweet, crazy, naughty, infuriating, once cuddly little lady. You'll always have a very special place in my heart.