Amber, ” is the source of endless love and entertainment for Paddie and me”

In April, I saw a post on Craigslist for a “super sweet but timid kitty looking for her forever home.” She was beautiful; she had golden glowing eyes from which her name “Amber” was derived. The ad promised that she could be affectionate to both kitties and humans, but that while all kitties were immediately her friends, individual humans had to work to earn her trust and devotion. I had been considering another cat for some time; I felt that Patrick (Paddie), who I adopted the year before, deserved a kitty-companion and I knew that I had more love to give. However, I was nervous because as far as I knew, the only time he spent with other cats was in the shelter (where he was cage-stressed and miserable), and he was front-declawed by his previous owners so I worried he might feel threatened by another cat. So, I told myself that I’d keep my eyes open and when I came across the “right” cat, I’d know it and I would foster with the intent to adopt. When I saw Amber, I immediately felt a connection and was moved to take action.

Two weeks later, I was at Sonia’s meeting Amber for the first time. She was sitting in her cat-tree and I was able to pat her once on the head before she disappeared for the remainder of my visit. Amber was a rescued semi-feral and had been living with Sonia for nearly three months. Sonia had been working with her, guiding her from a terrified, angry girl who hissed at Sonia’s attempted touch to one who, while still unsure of others, would seek out affection from Sonia and even accept kisses on the head. She warned me that Amber would have a similar adjustment period if she moved in with me, though hopefully not as bad.

Admittedly, I was nervous about what I might be getting myself into with Amber and her “shyness,” but the fit still felt right. Sonia brought her to my apartment and we settled her into the bathroom. On the third attempt, she let me pet her while she ate and continued to let me pet her once she was done. For the next week, I spent a lot of time lying on the bathroom floor getting to know her and building up her comfort level with me. Paddie, who was not used to closed doors in the house, spent the majority of these hours throwing himself at the bathroom door in a futile attempt to come in. Surprisingly, this did not rattle Amber. Soon I started feeding Paddie outside the bathroom door so they could get used to each other’s scents. Then I began to hold the door open while I came in & out so the two could see each other. Paddie would hiss and sometimes Amber would retreat to her hiding spot behind the toilet, but sometimes she would just sit and stare back. When the hissing was no longer constant, I began feeding Paddie in the bathroom and petting them together while they ate. Eventually, I was able to leave the bathroom door open so Amber could hopefully come out — which is exactly what happened. She’d skulk around the apartment, joining me on the bed or couch, and would only leave my side to use the litter box. A couple of times, Paddie chased her away from me, but most of the time he’d just watch her carefully, unsure of what she might do. Little by little they began to grow more comfortable with each other, and then one night, they both wound up on the bed getting pets together.

As they say, the rest is history: Paddie and Amber grew to be the best of friends. The two play hours upon hours of tag and like to wrestle. Amber bathes Paddie, and sometimes he returns the favor. Recently, they’ve started sitting face to face and Paddie will “pet” Amber by gently rubbing her tummy or kicking her gently with his hind legs.

With the kitty:kitty relationship firmly cemented, I continued to work with Amber to build her trust. While she always allowed pets in the bathroom, on the bed or the couch, it took a full two months before she let me bend down from a standing position to pet her. With Sonia’s guidance, I have even been able to train her to let me pick her up. Only recently have I been able to engage her in play, which for me was the last major milestone in our relationship.

I sincerely thank your organization and organizations like yours for all the work you do in taking in homeless animals. I’m especially grateful to all the foster parents like Sonia who selflessly take animals into their homes – caring for and working with them until they are “adoptable.” Without Sonia’s efforts with Amber, I would not have this wonderful new member of my family, who is the source of endless love and entertainment for Paddie and me.

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