Fuzzy George came to the veterinary office I work at just about a year ago. It is hard to believe the changes I have seen in this cat over the past year.
Last weekend, July 23, Fuzzy George celebrated one year of being in his home. I was oblivious, due to the many other things going on in my life, and would have missed his anniversary completely, if it hadn’t been for a memory showing up in my Facebook timeline. Last year, on Saturday July 23, Fuzzy George left his temporary residence at the vet clinic, and came to set up camp in my basement. It was a trial to see how he did in a home and, eventually, with another cat. As a reminder, Fuzzy George came to me via work. The clinic I work at served as a halfway home for him while he was waiting for room at one of our local no-kill shelters, after he was sprung from a high kill animal control. I fell hard for this difficult cat, mostly because I knew he would never stand a chance of adoption at the shelter.
I remember the first night Fuzzy George came home, he was terrified. He hadn’t been in such a big space in a long time. At the vet’s office he had been living in offices and our large isolation ward (cage free). Neither were half as large as our basement. Plus, the basement had tv. A loud tv. Unfortunately for all, the transition coincided with a particularly nasty thunder storm. Fuzzy George spent his first night curling up in laps, demanding to be as close to people as he possibly could. I have never seen my cat so cuddly, sweet and affectionate. I was concerned, because I knew he was going to show his true face to my family very soon. He did. Not long after, but we will get there. I remember Sunday morning I had to dig him out of a hidey hole under our couch that we didn’t even know existed. I remember cuddling him and developing a horrible, horrible allergic reaction. I have never had such a bad response to anything. My face swelled, I developed itchy red blotches all over my face and arms. I had to resort to benedryl to finally stop the reaction. I had never had this response to him before, and I was terrified it meant he was going to have to go to the shelter. Thankfully, I just seem to have responded to something he got into, or to whatever extra chemicals he was stress shedding.
Fuzzy George soon learned that there was a door the humans went through when we left him. And he wanted to be on the other side of that door. Unfortunately, Sneakers was on the other side of the door and felt that HE wanted to be on the side Fuzzy George was on. Both were completely unaware of the other. They just weren’t happy with a closed door (still a thing. They are always on the wrong side of every door. And yes, I did just make a Cat’s the musical reference.)).
Properly introducing cats takes time. Separating them, letting them become aware of the other cat’s presence are key. So of course my cats ignored all the rules. Sneakers, living up to his name, slipped past me and down the stairs to the basement that first Sunday. He literally ran right past Fuzzy George, who was standing on the stairs. When Sneakers got downstairs and discovered the new cat standing behind him he literally jumped an inch up and backwards. They sniffed each other, were curious about each other, then did their own thing. Fuzzy George’s thing was to run upstairs. So my plans to slowly, very gradual introduce Fuzzy George to his new home and feline roommate, were crushed in less than 24 hours. Both cats paced through the house, the tips of their tails twitching frantically as Fuzzy George explored his new surroundings.
The first few weeks with these two was rough. I could never tell if Fuzzy George and Sneakers were fighting or playing, or both. Fuzzy George adapted decently, but he soon showed his naughty side. Stalking feet at night when we got up to go to the bathroom. Taking Sneaker’s favorite cat tree and NOT sharing. Suddenly becoming noise reactive and trying to bite faces off at the sound of high pitched noises. Yeah, he was trouble. There were more than a few times that I highly doubted Fuzzy George would be staying with his. Many a nights I was too stressed to sleep, too worried about these cats.
Over the past year Fuzzy George has made enormous strides. He loves people, especially men. He loves snuggling in blankets and soft things. He and Sneakers are BFFs. They sleep together on my bed at night, and can frequently be found tussling. While Sneakers can be a bit rough for Fuzzy George, he knows when to say “enough” (if only Sneakers would listen….) They can frequently be found sitting in their matching cat trees, staring out the front window of my bedroom.
More than anything though, Fuzzy George helped me. By showing this cat love and affection, giving him a chance at a happy home and a chance at life, I healed something inside me. Unconsciously I wanted to know that “broken” creatures can be loved and be happy. When he displayed serious behavior issues, I neeeded to know that I could fix them. I needed to know that I was as good with cats as I think. I also needed to know that just cause the going was tough that he wouldn’t be abandoned. I find working with and socializing cats to be theraputic, because I understand the fear and anxiety they are going though. I understand not feeling like you can trust anyone around you. And building the trust of a terrified animal is the most beautiful thing. So, by “fixing” Fuzzy George, I was also fixing a part of me.
These days Fuzzy George prefers my dad to me. He follows my dad around the house and sits in his face. They have conversations too, Fuzzy George emitting loud squaks in response to my dad. It’s adorable. I am totally jealous. Fuzzy George sleeps with me most nights, usually right in the middle of the bed. Last night he decided to pounce on my limps every time they moved. It’s hard to sleep when you have a tiny killer trying to kill your body limps. He still bites, just me though. And not nearly as much and not nearly as hard as he used to. He is still crazy. You can find him sitting on a chair with a distant gaze in his eyes and its instantly clear that no one is home. But he snuggles next to legs, and he purrs his giant motor of a purr that makes his whole body vibrate. He makes everyone laugh with his antics. He is a wonderful cat, with a few loose screws, who just needed a chance to see what a cozy, loving, safe home looks like.