I never thought I would get another cat. Not after Phoenix. But then I made the mistake of looking at the RSPCA website. Darn those cute kitty faces staring at me, longing for a new home. Then, as I scrolled down, with no great intention of adopting any, I saw her. She looked like a young Phoenix. The resemblance was uncanny. Though, where Phoenix had been an Abyssinian crossed with a tabby this one was a one year old pure tabby through and through. The description accompanying the photo was persuasive with buzz words and phrases such as: “likes to be the centre of attention” and “playful”. Could she be my next fur child?
Red flag number one: she bit me when I met her. Not a great first impression. Yet I was biased, I had spent twelve years with a cat who had looked like her. She had been a great companion and family member. A big part of me missed that. I knew no cat would be the same but I secretly hoped for similarities.
I met another cat who was so sweet and affectionate; an Abyssinian male named Samson. He knew how to play the adoption game. I could easily see him making himself at home and being a lovable lap cat. Yet I was drawn to the temperamental tabby, the biter, who had no sign of unconditional love or loyalty to any human without food. I had a choice to make. Clearly I was set on bringing home a cat. There was no changing my mind. The only question left was; do I go with the obvious option or take a risk? I decided to sleep on it.
And that was when the thoughts crept in. What if no one adopted her? What if Samson was re-homed straight away and she was put down because she was stubborn and misunderstood? What if it was just the shelter making her stressed and grumpy? There was a fair amount of kids coming in and out of the rooms when I was there and her description did state that she would be suited to a home with no young kids. I’d be grumpy too if I was trying to sleep and kept getting patted. What if I adopted Samson and missed out on a great cat? But what if I gave her a chance and she never changed or became worse?
I came back the next day. Earlier, just in case it made any difference. She was a little more active and made the effort to play in a cat tunnel. That gave me hope… until she bit me again. Clearly she had never heard the phrase “you can catch more flies with honey” or whatever the cat equivalent is. I was disappointed in her behaviour. Samson was still there, still friendly and looking for attention from anyone who stopped by to say hello to him.
In the end I went with my biased instincts and adopted the female Tabby and renamed her Ziva (from NCIS). She had no idea what was going on or where she was being taken to on the car ride home. I was expecting her to be a little cautious with her surroundings but was quite pleased with how quickly she accepted her new home and cat bed.
It’s been three months since I brought her home. She still very much bites and scratches and currently has her sights set on destroying the furniture, whether she is being watched or not. I bought a no scratch spray, she ended up sniffing then licking the chair. I’ve tried discipline whenever she misbehaves. I’d have better luck training a potato. Stern words generally get ignored, a tap on the nose causes retaliation and a spray of water does nothing but compel death looks and indignation. Responding with extra kindness annoys her just as much as getting angry at her. She’s like a rebellious teenager above reproach. All that’s missing is an eye roll.
But, at the end of the day, I have a healthy, playful cat who loves chasing balled up pieces of paper and will happily run after a string on a stick for as long as you are willing to move it. And isn’t that the main thing? She may not be a loyal and consistent lap cat but she does let me pat her head and scratch her chin briefly. And, when it comes to food time, she is more than happy for me to pick her up for a cuddle. So at least I’m getting some companionship… even if it is bribery based and completely on her terms. Life with Ziva will be interesting. I’m sure she’ll have me trained in no time, whether or not I’ll still have skin on my hands is another story entirely.