Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cat-astrophic.

This is actually a really difficult post for me to write, despite my love of the pun in the title. It will hopefully go some of the way to explaining why I have been absent for a couple of weeks. I am going to try and do this short and sweet, and not ramble too much, because otherwise that might just lead into my own neuroses and that's just no fun for anyone.

At the end of last year, Xin and I started talking and we decided to get another cat. We do want a dog eventually, but we agreed that another cat made so much more sense - they could be a companion for Pepper when we were both out, and we already had all the cat stuff so we would mostly be paying the adoption fees and that was about it. So, on January 1st we made an appointment to go to a rescue centre and look at the cats they had on offer. We were looking particularly for a male cat, as we already had Pepper (a female) and had heard that males were generally more affectionate and pairs of separate genders were more likely to bond well.

We met a quiet, curled up kitty - a ginger/white shorthair who was getting picked on by another male cat and so had kind of retreated. I was still a little unsure, and I wanted Xin to pick this time since Pepper was mostly my cat. Xin fell in love. He always had a thing for the underdog (or undercat) and so, after heading home and talking it over, bringing a small towel with the newcat's scent on it to see how Pepper would react (she seemed fine, mostly indifferent), we headed back later that day and brought him home with us. 

We named him Kohaku Furamir (Haku for short) and he quickly came out of his shell, and he loved to cuddle and talk to you. He talked a lot.  So much that it became a bit frustrating sometimes. We set him up in the laundry so he could have his own room, and he seemed happy in there, if a bit bored at times.

But we had a problem. Although we followed all the instructions for a gentle introduction, Pepper and Haku didn't get on. Pepper would hiss and make herself really small around him, and he, seemingly wanting to play, would leap at her. These little incidents started to get worse and worse, until Haku managed to rip Pepper's collar off. "Perhaps we introduced them too fast?" we thought, so we went back to the start, keeping them separated and trying all sorts of things to get them used to each other, perhaps even to like each other.

But any chance Haku got, he would run at Pepper and leap on her. In the first few weeks of April we watched as Pepper began to retreat from us, from everything, and it was heart-breaking. We were still spending time with both cats, just individually, and seeing Pepper curl up in the tightest ball she could on the far side of the bed, away from the door, behind my soft toys and pillows so she couldn't be seen from the doorway... it was awful. Haku was lovely when he was just with us - social and funny and cute, and he was beginning to be comfortable with sleeping in our laps and he already sought us out for pats and loved going out on the lead and harness to sit in the garden. He was the perfect cat (if a bit chatty). He was just making our other cat's life a living hell.

At the end of April we made a decision. We had tried for four months, and things weren't getting better. In fact, Pepper wouldn't even engage with us if we were trying to introduce them through a crack in the door anymore. She wouldn't come anywhere near. We have had Pepper for a year and a half now, and even though she is neurotic, she has warmed up to us (to me in particular) so much that we felt we owed more to her than to Haku. And, ultimately, no one was happy in this situation. Most of the time Haku was confined to his room - it was no way for an energetic cat like him to live.

We decided to take Haku back to the rescue centre.

It has been a few days now since we took him back and I am still grieving, honestly. I still cry, and seeing him listed on the website today was pretty hard. But this is giving him a chance to find a family where he can access the whole house whenever he wants, and be loved. I miss him a lot, and this whole experience has made me realise how quickly I get attached and how much I consider pets as part of my family - this feels like the right decision, but it also feels so awfully wrong. We tried so hard, but ultimately sometimes cats just don't get on. 

I am feeling so drained by the whole experience, and still crying regularly, but eventually I will adjust, I think. Sometimes we have to make really hard decisions.

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