In 2014 I lost my beautiful cat Poppet, and the house was just not the same without a feline friend to welcome me home. After a few weeks I decided it was time to find a new companion, so the search began. I knew I wanted a rescue cat and I wasn’t fussed what age. I had rescued Poppet from the Cats Protection re-homing centre in Kirkintiloch when she was 11 and I had 5 wonderful years with her. She could never be replaced, however I was ready for a new fur baby in my life.
It is very difficult choosing just one with so many cats looking for a new home, it brakes my heart every time I look at all the whiskery faces on line. I want to take them all! After perusing lots of profiles, I came across ‘Willow’ on the Lothian Cat Rescue (in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian) website. I volunteered for them in 2013 and so it was lovely to think I could adopt one of their cats. Willow was not having an easy time living at the shelter, he was very stressed and defensive to anyone who came near him. He was looking for an understanding owner, a quiet house with a garden. He hadn’t had the best of starts to life with his previous family and they gave him away, however I decided I could offer him everything he needed. His big green eyes spoke to me and I just had to go and visit him.
On the 4th November 2014 I visited Lothian Cat Rescue and asked to see Willow, who was still up for adoption. I looked at lots of the other cats needing a loving home, but I kept coming back to him. He ventured out of his pen as I had been told he liked treats, so I offered him some. He timidly came near me and ate the treats I had put down for him. I was so pleased that he didn’t hide or hiss at me. I knew instantly he was the one for me, so off I went and signed the paper work. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get ‘Charlie’, as he was now know, home. Although, the staff at the shelter had to get him into his pet carrier; as he was still very defensive and could give a good swipe! We set off home to Livingston, West Lothian ready to start our new adventures together.
Charlie was understandable scared and nervous when he arrived home. I ensured he just stayed in the one room initially, so he could get used to me and his new surroundings. It was really important to get him feeling safe and secure as soon as possible to reduce his stress levels and for him to gain my trust. I sat with him for hours over the next couple of days and let him come to me. I had treats to reassure him I was okay. I spent time doing slow blinks and gaining his trust, which he reciprocated. I was delighted he was engaging with me and he seemed much more relaxed. I had to have lots of patience at this stage otherwise I would not build a bond between us. He gradually got braver, coming near me and taking treats. However, he would still not let me pet him. He cowered under the table and liked to hide in the darkest spaces to protect himself. It broke my heart to think what had happened to him in his first 4 years to make him like this.
Two days of showing love, kindness, warmth and patience finally paid off with my first bit of fuss. I couldn’t believe it! He came and sat down beside me and I gently reached out to stroke him and he let me. He was a different kitty and enjoyed the fuss. From that day we never looked back and have built a strong bond between us. I am still the only person he trusts and allows to get close to him, however he has come a long way over the last 5 years.
Charlie had not been an outdoor cat previously, but I live in a quiet cul-de-sac away from the main road with a garden. I wanted Charlie to have the freedom to go out, so once he had settled into his new home for a month. I decided it was time to see how he coped with being outside for the first time. I had him on a harness and held him in my arms, just opening the back door freaked him out and he ran off and hid. It took a few attempts opening the door to reassure him nothing was going to happen. Tightly holding him in my arms, he went outside for the first time into the garden. I could feel his heart racing, his nose was frantically sniffing the air and he was looking around at everything with big wide eyes. We only stayed out for a few mins, and repeated this a couple of times until I felt that he wanted to walk around the garden on the harness.
Watching him explore and grow in confidence was brilliant to watch. Although, anyone who has tried to walk a cat will know this is not easy when they decide they want to investigate and go behind bushes! He now didn’t run off when I opened the back door and he started asking to go out. I felt it was time to be brave and let him have freedom to explore on his own. I made sure I had not fed him that morning, as a hungry cat is much more likely to return for food. I opened the door for him and initially he wasn’t sure and just popped his head out to check and looked at me as if the say “Are you sure I can go out Mummy?”. He eventually decided to be brave and off he went! I was trying to stay calm and not panic, but I had confidence in him that he would be back. He jumped over the back gate and off he went exploring. After a couple of hours he decided that it was time to head home and get some food. I was so relieved to see him and he looked very happy with himself. He chatted telling me all about his adventures and of course I understood every word!
Charlie loves spending time in the garden, especially sunning himself and eyeing up the birds! He is a very contented cat and my home just wouldn’t be the same without him. I look forward to seeing his whiskery face when I walk through the door after completing my cat sitting rounds visiting my kitty Nieces and Nephews throughout West Lothian. He always comes and greets me, flopping to the floor asking for lots of attention. Usually flashing his tummy for a belly rub, however I am wise to this now after one or two scratches. All part of the fun owning a cat! You make our house a home Charlie, and I look forward to spending many more years together.