Do you remember me telling you about my little Russian white kitten? You know, the little nightmare girl that I loved so much but knew I couldn't keep? Bit of an odd place to start with Tia's gotcha story, but it does all start with Anna.
As I say, I knew I couldn't keep her. I'd tried everything else, and I do mean everything, to sort out the problems she was having... Except one thing. Would another, older cat give her company, and through that the happiness and contentment that she obviously wanted so desperately? I knew I'd be devastated if I had to give her up. I knew that it probably wouldn't work getting another cat. I also knew I'd regret it forever if I didn't try.
I set out with very specific requirements in mind. I wanted a cuddler. After Anna not allowing herself to be handled, this was a huge thing for me. I wanted a cat who didn't bite or scratch. I wanted one who got on well with others (after all, the reason for getting her was to be good company for Anna). I wanted her to be a short hair. I didn't even care if she was a he, just as long as the criteria were met. So I began my search.
My fiance was over for a few weeks this time last year, so we decided to take a trip up to Hereford to spend the bank holiday and catch up with some of my old friends. We decided to have a look in general for cats in that area, just on the off chance that there'd be something suitable. We came across an ad from a woman who was ending breeding and selling off all of her cats. But they were Persians. I discarded it, but myself and Bug just kept returning. In the end, he convinced me to go and see her with the idea that even if I didn't like the cats, I'd at least know what a Persian looked like. We were in Hereford anyway, so why not?
Well, we went, he wiht an open mind, me with a closed one. I knew I didn't want a Persian. They had health problems. They had way too much coat (I was already struggling with Anna's shorter hair in relation to my asthma, but of course, what I didn't know then was that shorter hair floats and is breathed in much more easily). I didn't want to devote the time every day to grooming, detangling, eye cleaning, special feeding, ridding the bum of cling ons after them being in the litterbox... Still, I went. Why? To this day, I can think of no good reason why I gave in. It's not my normal practice if I've decided i don't want a particular type of something!
We never did get to see where the cats lived, and in heinsight, I'd never make the same mistake again. Tia and another little cat were brought down to see us. The small one was a year-old kitten. The breeder admitted she hadn't been socialised propperly and advised against having her. Even though she was frightened, she didn't bite or scratch. She didn't even have a name. I was still too naive for this to ring alarm bells.
While I spent my time feeling sorry for the baby, Bug cuddled Tia. he's a good person to have with you when looking for cats, as he'll test them to see what their first reaction is to different things, some of which they don't like. For example, he'll rub their bellies. If they tolerate it, well and good. If not, he wants to see whether they defend themselves with claws and teeth, something I definitely didn't want, or whether they are more gentle and polite and will walk away, or swat with claws in. Remember at the time, I'd only ever had one kitten of my own (our family had cats, but none belonged specifically to me), and I wasn't as confident back then as I am now. I didn't know as much either.
Well, to get back to the story in hand, eventually I had a cuddle with Tia. She was a nice enough cat, definitely cuddly with strangers, but I still didn't know. We went away to think about it. Well, I did. Bug was already set.
I remember saying to him how I didn't expect a Persian's coat to be greasy or full of dandruff. I didn't know enough then to know this was through a lack of bathing. We talked for many hours, me wondering whether I could put up with all the extra work, he reassuring me that she was a lovely cat, and would do my heart good. He knew just how sore I was over Anna's total rejection of me after being such a cuddly kitten. He knew I was beating myself up, convincing myself it was my fault despite having tried every approach under the sun. He knew more than I did just how much I needed this cat, and even how much I needed the commitment of extra care. I needed to see something blossom under my touch.
After a further talk with the breeder, we arranged to pick Tia up on Monday for the long train journey home. I'll never forget that trip. Me and Bug managed to get on a train and had already gone 20 minutes before I realised I'd forgotten my handbag! So it was back to Hereford, then off again. All the while, Tia sat as quiet as you like in her carrier... Oh how times have changed! I took her out a few times for a cuddle on the way home, but she didn't seem amused. All my old worries set in, and were further added to when I got home and she refused to acknowledge anyone, preferring instead to hide behind the toilet. I knew cats hid. I knew it took them time to get used to new people, but I wanted so badly for her to not go the same way as Anna that I just couldn't be rational about it. Oh how I wish I knew then what I do now!
Wow, that human can talk! I too remember my gotcha time very well, for it was a big change in my life.
Before the human came for me, I lived in a room with lots of other girlcats. The human says that it was 14, but I don't know. I don't bother with counting. My mummycat still lived with me then too, and the little blue baby that the human told you about also belonged to mummycat, although she had a different daddycat. I remember being taken to see the human and Bug. Bug was all right, but I could sense the sadness in the human as soon as I went to see her. I was on my best behaviour. I only thwapped her once! And I didn't put my claws out very far. It was enough to make her think twice though. I could see it in her face, and I regretted my actions. I don't know why, but I kinda wanted to go home with this human! I was also a bit embarrassed about the state of my coat but was relieved when she asked the breeder to give me a bath before going with her, if she agreed to take me, that was. She says this is to remove the scent of other cats and make integration into the house more easy. I was just glad cuz it meant I could look my best when I went to the new place!
On the Monday, I was put into the breeder's PTU and taken to a house. The human says this was her friend's house. There I was put into the human's PTU. It was nice and scary all at the same time. I could see out much better, but everything was so new! I stayed real quiet, wondering if I'd made the right decision in thinking that this human was the right one for me.
I stayed like that the whole way home. Even when the human and Bug tried to cuddle me, i just sat quietly. I never scratched or bit. I don't do that when i'm scared. The human tried very hard to comfort me, and although I was still just as frightened, it made me feel good to know that she seemed to already care.
When I got to the new house, I could smell another cat, and it wasn't long before I saw her. As soon as the human set my PTU down to open the bathroom door for me, she came and had a sniff, then hissed and spat and screamed at me through the door. of course, this made me want to hide, and I did this for many, many days before I'd let anyone touch me for long. I went from behind the toilet to behind the sofa, but every time I came out, that mean Anna would hiss and spit and really shout at me!
The atmosphere in the house wasn't good. The human was upset cuz Anna was no better and was now even bullying me. I never really made a move to ascert myself. Even now I will only hiss and spit when a stupid dogface or something comes into the house, but I'll never launch an attack. I avoided her as much as possible, but it didn't matter. Even when I was hidden, she'd walk around really grumbling at nothing in particular! The person who rehomed her said that she was like that even after months of being in a house with other cats, and even when she was separated, they never got past the stage of scent swapping with her, cuz she'd even growl at that, no matter how long blankets and bedding were left with her!
Back to my story though. A few weeks later, the human's grannypeople came to stay. She told the human that she saw me crouched in the middle of the floor with my head tucked right down, while Anna held me down with a paw and swatted me repeatedly round the head with the other, claws out, for a long time. The grannypeople is too sick to get down and separate us, and although she shouted, Anna ignored her and I was too busy protecting my eyes to move away!
Grannypeople was a turning point for me though. I knew she was sick. I also knew how much she wanted to cuddle me, but how she couldn't cuz she couldn't pick me up from the floor. One day, I jumped up to see her and find out if I was right. I was a little nervous, but the grannypeople had been nothing but nice, and her face got all smiley when I climbed on her. I quickly worked out that one of her hands wasn't so good at supporting me, so I got comfy and just lay there. She couldn't quite manage a stroke, but she patted me gently instead, and although I didn't like it as much, I purred anyway cuz she was warm and squishy and comfy to lie on. The human came in a few minutes later, and when the grannypeople told her she was trying to cuddle me, the human went and got a very soft baby brush that she was using on me to get me used to grooming. She held the grannypeople's hand with the brush in it, and helped her give me strokes with that. oh how nice it was! I stretched all the way out and went right to sleep, cuz I knew that if Anna wanted to get me, she'd have to come up on the grannypeople, and the grannypeople would protect me! From there, my llife went from good to even better. Every day i discover something new and pleasurable, from stinky goodness to tummy rubs, head stroking to sleeping in bed with the human.
So that's my gotcha story. I loved the human right from the start, and, once her heart had allowed her to believe that my love wasn't just a passing thing as it had appeared to be with Anna, the whole depth of her love was mine. She always loved me, she says. She was just afraid to let her heart get hold of that notion cuz she was so tired of it being sore.
They say a purr has health benefits. in this case, the purr has heart benefits. Our love grows stronger by the day. On this day of all days, we would both like to say a huge thank you to Bug. If it wasn't for you, Bug, my human would always have been too afraid to make the commitment, and I would never have met her. Thank you for helping us both heal! Oh, and for telling my human that us cats need tuna as part of our daily diets! For that, I praise you the mostest!