19 September 2010

Sad hearts but hoping for the best

It's been a stressful and disappointing time here at the Indulged Furries home. After spending several visits with Mozart at the shelter and deciding he would make a great addition to our family, we adopted him and began the settling-in and introduction process. Things went well at first, but that didn't last long. Mozart was a very calm kitty in the shelter. I know there's a lot of stress there and his behavior wasn't "normal", but I didn't see any signs that he would become an extremely alert and active boy. He liked other cats, but I had no idea he craved being with cats more than with people.

After the first week or so, he started reacting to every sound and movement and wanted to play, play, play. And it was pretty fiesy play - biting his toys, pulling the feathers or other parts off of toys - nothing bad, just very strong, predatory play behavior. He didn't exhibit that type of behavior in the shelter so maybe it was his true nature after getting into a home and starting to feel better. He was extremely matted in the shelter, so I had him shaved. I knew that alone had to make him feel better. He also had what appeared to be a pretty heavy tapeworm burden, which we had treated. And we got him started on  medications for his mouth condition, which I did not know he had until after we adopted him and took him to our vet.

After 2 weeks of "meetings" through louvered doors, the introduction to Sammi went well and Mozart was very respecful of Sammi's alpha-kitty status. Whenever he tried to approach  and greet or play with her, she'd give him a hiss and he'd walk away. That frustrated him, and he'd keep trying to play with her, but he didn't chase or become pushy. We expected Sammi to be standoff-ish and was hoping Raven would be his playmate. But Raven didn't share my goals. She had accepted him through the door, but after 5 weeks of trying to introduce them using very gradual methods, the sight of him still scared her. She did not want to see him, even through screen doors when he was in a bedroom and she was in the living room and they could see each other across our back patio. And there was no way she was getting near a baby-gate barrier we installed in the hallway. She was stressed, scared, hiding in the garage, and not acting normally. She and Sammi were also starting to act sassy with each other, which they had never done before.

Over the last week, all the cats were getting more frustrated and stressed. When I supervised Mozart's outings from his bedroom, Sammi was always on alert to Mozart's where-abouts. Raven was still safely secured in another room  not wanting to meet him.  Mozart frequently meowed & banged on the door to get out and play with the girls, even if I was on "his" side of the house with him. His goal was to play with the girls, and their goal was to avoid him.

We know peaceful introductions can take time, but things were getting worse instead of better. Because Sammi has only 3 legs, we cannot risk her being chased or played with too boisterously. She also has other health issues that are not helped by high stress levels. Since Raven was obviously much more shy than we though, we did not have any hope that she would want to be a playmate for Mozart.

Taking everyone's stress levels and frustration into consideration, we made the very difficult decision to take Mozart back to the shelter. Our girls need their quiet home and Mozart needs a home where he can be an only cat or have cat family members who want to play with him.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make, but despite my sadness, disappointment, and concern for Mozart's future, I know it is the best decision.

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