Real Rescue Cats Are Talking…
LIFE CHANGING INTERVIEWS WITH SAVANNAH…
Hiya! Savannah Here!
Here I am again with another Life Changing Interview…and this week my interview is with a CAT! And what a fantabulous CAT he is…
Ok…now here is the chance to try to figure out WHO THIS CAT IS!!!
This one’s going to be hard…so start thinking about it…(taps one claw up, down, up, down, up, down…)…Ok, that’s enough time…who do you think it is????
What??…You don’t know?…Can’t figure it out?…
I would like to introduce you to one very brave, handsome mancat…my furriend…
Heathcliff is from a large extended family and they call themselves The Maple Syrup Mob and they live in Ontario, Canada…all 13 cats and their Guardians, Jane and Chris. All 13 cats are rescues…hmmm…I may have a few more CAT Life Changing Interviewees in this group!
Please help me give a warm Paw Blogosphere welcome to HEATHCLIFF!!
APAWS! APAWS! APAWS!
Savannah: Heya…Heathcliff (I think that is how they say it in Canada speak??). I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to having a meow with you!
I know…you were a bit shy, reluctant…but look at this! Here we are…meowing with each other about life!
Heathcliff: Hi to you too, Savannah! I can’t believe that I (a very shy former feral) am telling you my story, and that lots of people will read it. I hope you like me…I really need to be loved…. I really do.
Savannah: (reaches over to Heathcliff, places her paws on his)…Heathcliff, I am completely and totally your furriend, furrever and furrever…and I already just luvluvluv you…
So, let me start with something simple and easy…how old were you when you can first remember stuff??
Heathcliff: I’m four now, I will be five in November…so thinking back to when I was 7 and a half months old, starving, dirty , living rough out in the country…where scary animals live (wolves, bears, coyotes, raccoons)…and being frightened of everything…gulp…that is very difficult for me.
I did have a sibling with me but I don’t know what happened to him, he just wasn’t there one day…(wiping leaky eyes)…
I had to eat anything I could catch or find…like food put out for the birds…and that was how I found my forever home.
Savannah: I don’t mean to be too intrusive (VBP), but would you mind sharing with us how you arrived at your furrever home??
Heathcliff: Oh my, Savannah, this is really, really hard…sigh…(plops down in the traditional cat ‘meatloaf’ position)…here is what I remember…
One day I found some food in a dish by a door; it was so tasty and felt so good in my empty tummy that I went to the door twice a day to see if the dish was there.
I heard two scary human voices…you have to understand that living in a remote area I had never heard a human voice before…One said “Should we bring him in?”…the other voice said “We really don’t need another cat”…first voice said “No, but he needs us”.
Excuse me, Savvy, I just need a moment, this bit is really hard for me to say…my throat goes all lumpy.
Savannah: Oh meowser, Heathcliff…no problem…just take your time…Can I fetch you some water???…
Heathcliff: That would be really helpful Savvy…errrrr…ummmm…is it OK if I call you ‘Savvy’???…
Savannah: (waves paw…)…oh phooey…of course! We’re furriends!
Heathcliff: Ok, thanks…that helps me feel more comfy…
One day I went to the door to see if there was food in the bowl, it was thundering and lightening and very scary, I was soaking wet.
The bowl was in a wire thing…I stepped inside because I was so hungry. BANG!!!
I was trapped inside the wire thing, and then one of the humans picked up the wire thing and carried it.
I was jumping up and down inside screaming “LET ME OUT! DON”T KILL ME!”. Then I was in an inside place…I’d never been in an inside place before…”LET ME OUT! I’M SO SCARED!”
I tried everything I could think of to get out…I screeched loudly to scare the humans… I ran around the room to try to find a hole in the wall I could escape through, I tried to make a hole with my claws but it was no good…I climbed up the walls and began to bite the wall to make a hole, but still no good….I was trapped.
Eventually, I was exhausted trying to escape, so I found a dark enclosed place to hide in to wait and see what the humans would do to me.
Ahhhh…ummmm…Savvy…I’m sorry if this brings back bad memories for any of your readers, Savvy, but it might help human people understand how far I have come to reach this point in my recovery journey.
Savannah: Oh, Heathcliff, thank Ceiling Cat you are brave and courageous enough to talk about this…I was also “trapped”…we must all help each other realize how terrifying this can be…even if it leads to a really good result…thank you for being so strong to tell us!
So Heathcliff…would you be OK meowing about what has been your greatest challenge in learning to trust and depend on your Guardians?
Heathcliff: Savvy, my biggest challenge (and I have many…cough, cough) is trust.
How did I know that the humans were not going to hurt me? I thought they might even kill me. I couldn’t let them see ME; I hid away in my safe room. If they came near me I fought and screamed in case they were going to hurt me. No way was I going to let them touch me!
Six months after I was captured, a kitten (William) came to live with us…he had been hit by a car and had his own recovery to think about but he was fun and I liked him…and he really liked me. I would wait until nighttime when the humans were asleep and William and I would play, then the other cats joined in.
Every night I would come out from my hiding places (and boy, did I have a lot) call for the other cats and we would all play.
…ummm…Savvy…you can see we aren’t all playing in this photo, but I wanted to share some of my sibs with efurryone…
One day the other cats made me feel so brave that I didn’t hide away in the daytime, but slept cuddled up with them on the humans’ bed. I started doing this every day. The lady human (I now call her Mummy Janey) walked past the bed one afternoon, and touched all the other cats as she went by…I was so busy looking at what the other cats did that I didn’t notice when she touched my leg…and it didn’t hurt!!!
She kept doing this every day; she walked past me on the bed…touched me and walked away…then one day, 10 months after I arrived, she started her usual walk around the bed touching everyone, and just before she got to me I started to purr because now I knew that her touch didn’t hurt…in fact I really liked it. She cried.
Savannah: oh my cat!…I have to learn that too…I am so afraid of being hurt by a human touch…tell me more…maybe you can help me and my Mom and Dad learn how to help each other…
Heathcliff: Savvy, my humans (see how I now call them mine?!) invented the “Heathcliff can predict the future” method of recovery (I don’t even need a crystal ball, heh…heh…heh…heh).
I HAVE to know what is going to happen next; otherwise I do the ‘feral freak out’.
For example…picking me up …yes, I did say picking me up (!!!),
This is how I learned (I do this with Janey…I’m working on Daddy Chris!).
Several times a day Janey touched the top of my back, then added a scritchy scratch . I learned that touching me meant a scritchy scratch. Then she touched my sides…scritchy scratch…under my belly…scritchy scratch…you get the picture (I love scritchy scratches).
Janey progressed to holding me around my middle…followed by guess what? YEH! Scritchy scratches. Janey spent two years working on this (I helped by standing still for scritchy scratches), then she put her hands around me and lifted me off the ground; about half an inch.
Janey kept working away with me being helpful by offering my butt for scritchy scratches. Would you believe that this year (four and a half years after I arrived) she picked me up to her face height and kissed my cheek (I’ll pause a moment for you all to cheer and tell me how clever/brave I am). Throughout all this, if ever I began to struggle, Janey put me on the floor and held me firm for just a second, I relaxed and offered my butt for scritchy scratches. I know that the routine for picking me up is ALWAYS the same.
Janey and Chris use the “Heathcliff can predict the future” method for all of my challenges. I’m very proud of this achievement, Savvy.
Savannah: squeeeee!! Oh Heathcliff! My Mom and Dad are so gonna try that method (VBP)!! I can’t be picked up yet either!! I am so afraid of having a human face close to mine!…Thanks!
Heathcliff: Savvy, I know that I have come a long way in my recovery but I still have challenges.
My first experience at the vet’s was a bad one…I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next and I had a ‘feral freak out’…there was blood everywhere and I was really scared. I just can’t go in my carrier or anything that reminds me of the wire thing that trapped me.
A few months ago I was really bad to Chris and he had to go to the Drs because he tried to put me in the carrier to go to the vet. I was just too afraid of the carrier…I didn’t know what was going to happen. Janey and Chris are working on that challenge. It’s going to take time.
If there is a situation where I can’t predict the future..ie a knock at the door, a strange noise, a visitor, “STRANGER DANGER!!” then I hide in my safe place until it’s just me and my family. Having a safe place is still very important to me.
Savannah: Oh Heathcliff, I totally understand. I have need of a ‘Safe Place’ too..
So one last question…can you offer any advice to our readers to help them support their adult rescue cat, or one they may be thinkin’ about bringing into their home, through its recovery process?
Heathcliff: Savvy, is this our last question already? Purrrrr…I think you are a great listener.
Anywho, you know that saying, “more haste, less speed”? Well it could have been written for an adult rescue cat.
We need time to trust our new family…we can’t be rushed into trust; there is a lot for us to figure out.
Our forever people need to be patient…yes, four and a half years of daily work to be briefly picked up and kissed seems a long time, but it would never have happened if Janey had tried to rush things. Consistency is also key…we rescues need to know what is going to happen in any situation…if people aren’t consistent then how can we learn to trust them and their actions?
Finally, love…love us unconditionally, and we love you back in return, but let us show you our love in OUR own way. Love is what makes it all worthwhile.
Savannah: (reaches over to give Heathcliff a soft paw pat)…Oh Heathcliff…I know this was not your most fave thing to do…but do you have any last thought or words of wisdom you want to share?
Heathcliff: Savvy, if only I knew then what I know now….biting walls doesn’t taste very nice!
Thank you for letting me share my story, I hope it helps people to understand that even feral cats can have a future.
…Savvy…here are a couple of last photos just to show efurryone I really do play and have a great time with my family…
…and one more…
Savannah: OMC!! Heathcliff…your bravery in pawing forward to meow your story is so helpful for so many Guardians who are considering adopting adult cats and for those who already have adopted adult cats…like my Dad and Mom…you Heathcliff are my hero Mancat!!!
PURRLEASE HOP OVER TO HEATHCLIFF’S BLOG AND GIVE HIM A WARM HELLO…HE REALLY NEEDS TO KNOW WE ALL LOVE HIM…THANKS
I hope you all found some great tips and helpful information about adult rescue cats. We are special and worth spending the time with us to learn about our REAL SELF.
Paw pats, Savannah