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What circumstances would make you consider re-homing this pet?

When we adopted Sonny in 2017, this was a question on the adoption application, "what circumstances would make you consider re-homing this pet?". I gasped at the suggestion. It never occurred to me that a cat loving person like myself could ever have a reason to re-home a cat. To me, adopting a kitty was like my marriage vow- it was furever. Over the years, I had dealt with pee-ers, pukers, scratchers, and illnesses. None of those situations ever made me consider re-homing them. Then there was Sonny…

Sonny was a scrawny ginger kitten, with huge ears that had hairs shooting out like fireworks. He walked like a bulldog and had these fuzzy bear paws. I thought he was rather odd looking, but my daughter bonded with him instantly, so we took him home.   

Over the next several months, Sonny tested every cat-loving bone and nerve in my body.  He was unlike any cat I’d had in my life. No, this boy was a BEAST! He climbed curtains, backs of chairs, window screens, and sometimes even the walls.   He chewed everything from power cords to wood trim and shredded cardboard and paper towel rolls.  He jumped on the counters and tables and when I told him to get down he just gave me a look. When I put him back on the floor and told him “No”, he just jumped right back up. There was no telling this cat what to do. He had a mind of his own and was relentless. When he wanted us to get out of bed in the morning (which was always way too early), he threw everything off the nightstand like he was playing fast pitch softball.  If that didn’t work, he would knock lamps over, chew cords, or scrape the walls with his claws like nails on a chalkboard. And he was so strong! I tried to get him down from my headboard and he grabbed onto it like his life depended on it and wouldn’t let go! Fighting with him was pointless, especially when he engaged his murder mittens.  Heaven forbid we close doors and not let him in!  He would pound on the door or stick his paws underneath and shake it. He even figured out how to slide the pocket doors open when I tried to keep him out of my office.

Our brand-new sofa looked like a shag rug from his constant clawing. We tried the sticky tape, but he would eat it.  We tried tin foil- he thought it was fun to ball it up and play with it. 

He was obsessed with water, and every time he heard the faucet go on he would come running, taking an obstacle-course-route across furniture, leap from the back of a chair onto the counter, and slide across with his fuzzy paws till he landed in the sink with a splash.  He would go all crazy paddling in the water and then shake himself off like a dog, then leave a trail of wet paw prints when he got down.  He even gnawed the chrome handles of the bathroom faucets trying to turn them on himself. 

And the litter box… he acted like he was digging his way to China with all the litter he kicked out onto the floor!!!  Every day when I got home, I found something broken, chewed or shredded, and I would hear that question in my head “What circumstances would make you consider re-homing this pet?”. UGH!

Despite his bad habits, Sonny was quite a charmer. His fur was filling in and he was now a big adorable ball of fluff. He would throw himself down with a big flop on my lap and purr super loud, giving head butts and kisses as he rubbed his kitty breath all over my face. How could I stay mad at him? He greeted us at the door when we got home, and he smiled as his fluffy britches led the way to the kitchen for treats.  And unlike our other cats, Sonny loved it when friends and family were over. He sat down right in front of them and joined in on the conversation.

By the time he was 4 months old, he was bigger than our 25-year-old Calico kitty, Isabel. Our vet could not believe the transformation from the time we got him to that visit and that’s when she mentioned that he may be part Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest cat.  Out of curiosity, we researched the breeds and spoke to people who knew these breeds well, and everyone agreed that Sonny was a large part Maine Coon. It was such a turning point for us, as we were desperate to figure out what to do with this big boy.  His bad behavior was because we failed to provide him with the things he needed to thrive in our home.  We treated him the same as Isabel, who was a super low maintenance cat, kept to herself, ate whatever we fed her, never got on the counters, and was already declawed before I adopted her.  MC’s are very intelligent, active and social.  When they get bored or lonely, they act out and become destructive. They need a lot of enrichment, big scratching posts and a high protein diet. 

We followed the advice of some MC owners and got him a large climbing tree, several scratching posts, cleared out a cube in the bookshelf for him to lay in, and a window perch in the living room so he can watch all of the birds (we put bird feeders out back and have Blue Jays, Cardinals and Robins visiting all day long). He now has lots of durable toys and treat puzzles to keep him busy, and a much larger litter box, so less seems to get kicked out on to the floor.  We also made significant modifications to his diet, and once we did, the chewing dramatically decreased. We childproofed the house to be on the safe side and no longer leave breakables on surfaces for him to push off, lamps are 3M taped to the nightstands so he cant knock them over, and all cords are wrapped with cord protectors. 

The lesson learned is that every cat has different needs, and many issues that arise really can be resolved if we do the research and make an effort. Sonny is now 3 years old, and a totally different kitty.  He is happy and thriving, and harmony has been restored. He is now my office buddy, and loves Zoom conferences!

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