Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Unveiling Aja

Our journey with Aja has been like a grand "unveiling."
A slow, deliberate lifting of the veil
 she uses to cover her personality.

She is a beauty!

You see, when you adopt a kitten, there is no veil or curtain.  It is all typically about play and adventure and wonder and fun and discovery and cuddles and sometimes mistakes and craziness.  Kittens are "all out there."  Being cautious lasts about 5 or 10 minutes.  Tops!  Finding your 2 pound fur ball hanging from a curtain rod or off your jeans (while you are wearing them, of course) or pitifully caught in a tight place, or darting between your legs in sudden fits and starts ... all of that is just Kittenhood 101!

Favorite spot!

Adopting an adult cat is none of that.  It more like studying for a Phd without books or lectures and Cliff Notes.  You don't even get a syllabus or an advisor.  Adopting an adult cat is like purchasing a "surprise package" where you don't know what's inside the box until you open it up.  And the first order of business is gently picking the virtual scotch tape off the wrapping paper without upsetting the contents (otherwise known as 'the cat.')  And that is where we started with Aja.

The first thing she shared with us was how talky she is.  Many meows, trills, purring, short little squeak sounds that have meaning only to her at present. And she loves to be talked to!  All that aside, she isn't shy at setting you straight with a hiss, either.  Although we have no rules when it comes to cats, she apparently has a few rules when it comes to owners.  Haha!  Good thing I am a fast learner!!

Husband spending time trying to make friends.
Look at her beautiful markings.

The next discovery was the sinuous rubbing of her body against our legs.  She loves to do that.  She is friendly - in the extreme at times - happy to be scratched around the cheeks and ears and neck.  And when she has had enough - She Is D-O-N-E.  And don't ask for more.  It's her time table - not yours.  When her 'happy dance' is over, she is on to other things.

Gate is wide open - but unless it is dark and quiet - she typically
won't come out.  At least not yet.  Can't help but wonder
was is going on in that tiny mind of hers.

But as the owner, it is important that I control the narrative (or at least give the illusion that I am in control. 😆)  For example - lifting her onto the bed, onto her cube by the window, and onto my lap has shorten the time she would take to do these things independently on her own.   The first time doing anything she is tense and anxious.  Her picture is in the dictionary next to the word CAUTIOUS!  Tail is intensely whipping back and forth, eyes darting every which way before she jumps down. But within a short time she spontaneously returning to that scary "whatever" and shows off her mastery of it ... acting like it is no big deal!  Ha!

One of her beds - the cube.  A hiding place and a perch place in one.

She still sleeps under our bed!  *sigh*   My other cats never used a cat bed. Their bed was where we slept and they graciously shared 'their bed' with us.  Maybe she will do that someday, but 'someday' could be a ways off.  So I bought 2 pet beds.  One bed is the donut shape placed in my husband's closet (she visits there), and the other one is the cube that functions like a bed she can hide in and perch on while watching out the window.  She has checked out both, but use them??  Not to sleep in.  She still creeps under the bed.  The vet said to give her time. My friend who has homed feral cats said the same thing.  It may take her 18 months to sleep in one of those beds.  Or maybe never.  Cats do what they want to do, when they want to do it. and how they want to do it.

Half the time she looks out - and half the time she looks in.

She loves sitting on our window sills.  Since she is half the weight of our other big male cats - her little butt actually fits on our window sill.  Half the time she is watching out our windows at the world outside ... and half the time she is looking at the world inside!  I guess we haven't gotten boring yet.

Poor picture due to night lighting, but she is on the left technically
in our kitchen which is right outside the
bedroom door to the left.

Another poor lighting picture.  She is looking into the den
which is right outside our bedroom door to the right.

Her current big adventure is the condo space beyond our her bedroom.  Under her own steam she has stepped outside the bedroom almost every day for the last week ... a few inches more each time.  Usually she makes these forays when the house is very quiet and dark, and we are quietly reading.  But yesterday I was standing in the kitchen (during the bright light of day, TV blaring, and microwave humming - you know - normal stuff) and I looked down and found her almost standing in the kitchen.  We were both surprised.  Her eyes were huge like saucers - mine too!  Then the ice maker did its thing and dropped a load of ice in the bin!!   Too much, too much, too much!  Gone.  Being female, (and the business end of the species,) she knows instinctively that monsters may live out there!  Can't be too careful - that is clearly a motto tattooed in her tiny cat brain!

Milo, my French Bulldog 'Grandson' looking into the bedroom at  Aja.

Aja acting causal as she carefully extracts herself from
under the rocking chair while being observed by

This weekend we raised the level of excitement a bit.  My daughter's French Bulldog, Milo, came for a visit.  As you can imagine, Aja was not amused.  There was a return to hissing and tail swishing!  All behind the safety of her gate and under the rocking chair.  She stayed in her "safe zone" while Milo peaked in through the bars. Milo is an old guy and has little interest in cats.  He just wanted a look-see!  After a few hours she settled down.  She made the connection that the gate protected her from the "monster" that had just arrived.  Now she sits calming staring out at him.  Maybe one day she will be as comfortable as Wally was with Milo.

Feeding time.  She gets both dry and wet. Initially we weren't sure
what she preferred to eat.  Now we now she likes wet food
but snacks on dry.  My husband is the feeder - his
effort to make friends with Aja - who is still very unsure about him.

She still seems to favor me, much to my husband's chagrin.  The last 2 cats favored my husband.  He doesn't give up easy and keeps trying to win her over.  I tell him to just ignore her.  Cats can't stand to be ignored!  If you try too hard, they can't be bothered.  So he is doing his best to give her space and time.  And he is the official feeder!  You know, just to show off his good side to Aja.  Meanwhile, she is all over me!  Haha! Another truism about cats - they pick their people and you have no say in the matter.

She like the little laser light (left little bright spot on the carpet.)

Her first visit to the vet was May 22.  We anticipated a "betrayal of the shaky trust" we had carefully nurtured.  Cats normally don't equate good vet care with loving pet ownership. But we do.  As it turns out it wasn't that scary a trip for her.  I had to stay in the parking lot, of course, pandemic protocols, so she had to brave the vet's office on her own.  Apparently she did fine.  I warned them that she is a hisser and a smacker when anxious, but not known to be aggressive.  And sure enough the vet got one of each after micro chipping her!!  Our vet agreed with the shelter and our assessment that she was not aggressive.  Just frightens easily. The ride in the car was uneventful.  That is a big improvement over Wally who would vomit all over the inside of his carrier and yowl the whole trip.  Poor boy!  Nerves and maybe car sick.  Not her!  Not a sound.  Considering she hisses at a bunch of little things and 'talks' up a mean-streak at home, I was surprised the car ride was so quiet.  She looked all around! (Monsters could be anywhere you know!!)

She has finally got comfortable enough to pose and let me take pictures of her.

Finally, I had the good fortune to communicate with her previous owner.  The Surrender Form included that information.  Since Aja was a mystery wrapped up in orange fur, I wanted to know more.  I plugged the owner's name into Facebook on the off chance I could find her.  Success!  I took a chance and shot off an email. I know that some might have not appreciate a message from the new owner.  But I wanted to share that Aja landed in a good home and was doing well.  Thankfully, she did respond and was very happy to hear from me. She was grateful that Aja was with us - patient and experienced cat parents.  Although she had to give Aja up due to a distance move, she had kept tabs on her through the shelter website and knew she had been adopted.  Not knowing how Aja was doing was hard.  Hopefully now Aja's first 'mom' has some peace of mind about Aja's future. And for me, it was nice to have confirmation that the Aja I am getting to know is pretty much unchanged from her former life and that she had a good home with her previous 'mom.'  I invited her to visit this blog occasionally to keep up with Aja as she begins her new life with me.

"OK, I am done for today!  Please go away now!"  hahaha

As each day that passes, Aja is a little less of a mystery.  We are past the 'virtual scotch tape and wrapping paper' stage.  We have opened the lid to look carefully at the contents - at least as much as she is willing to show us now ... and she is carefully looking back!

The adventure continues!


Marie Smith said...

Cats can be such a joy in one’s life. Aja is bringing joy to a home where she is well and truly blessed to be.

Michelle said...

What a wonderfully written post and it all sounds like good news! I think all creatures 'pick their people,' just like people gravitate towards certain people; we all have preference and certain personalities or characters 'click.' Hopefully she will make your husband one of 'her people' too, eventually.

Leftycrafter said...

You are truly a fantastic cat owner. Aja is very lucky to have picked you for her new family. Her markings are gorgeous. It is always interesting to read your blogs about her. So glad you contacted her previous owner. I know it made her feel good to know Aja was in a wonderful home.

Lynne said...

Oh my, sweet, fun story and
you told it beautifully.

I think you must be a writer . . .
when you aren’t knitting or playing with your granddaughter.

Aja has a nice new home.
Like that you connected with the previous owner.

Leigh said...

I've been waiting for an update! One of our cats (Meowy) is quite particularly opinionated about her rules for us, so I can related to your experiences with Aja. Sounds like you're making good progress. She is such a pretty cat.

Mama Pea said...

What a nice post! Methinks many of us are probably getting "attached" to Aja via your pictures and writing. She certainly is a lucky little kitty to have landed in your home.

Wendy said...

Oh thank you for the update. She is definitely a gorgeous cat but yes past the fearless curious stage of a kitten. We have had a gorgeous young cat, not much more than a kitten visiting our garden. She obviously has a home because she looks well looked after and has been spayed recently. But she is very nosy and has ventured into our house a couple of times - the weather has been warm so the back door has been open. I'm now having to make sure I don't leave it open if I'm not in the kitchen as I'm worried she will get shut in without me realising.

Seeking Serenity said...

this was such a great post!!! One day I will adopt an older cat from a shelter and i cant wait to open the mystery box :)