Anyone who has checked out the adoptable cats online prior to coming into Gifford would assuredly have noticed Scarlet. Scarlet has unique markings and is simply a beautiful cat. However, anyone who clicked on her information would have then realized she would require a special-type of adopter. Scarlet was a member of Gifford’s Feline Charm School – a program for exceptionally shy cats. After learning about Scarlet’s special needs, most adopters would be deterred and look for a cat who was already used to human companionship. For Selena, though, Scarlet became the perfect match.
As a longtime cat lover, Selena has not been without at least one cat over the past eight years, and she prefers to have multiple cats to keep each other company. When Selena stumbled upon Gifford through an Internet search, she already had one cat at home, Crema. Crema is now ten years old, blind, and going deaf, but Selena ensurs Crema enjoys himself evertheless. Crema was going blind when Selena adopted him, and Selena knew he would require extra work and medical care over the years. That did not deter her at all. On the contrary, Selena prefers to adopt cats who are senior and/or have behavioral issues. These are the cats she knows need homes the most.
After seeing Scarlet online, Selena came to Gifford as an approved adopter to meet her. Scarlet seemed to know that Selena would give her a wonderful forever home and approached Selena less than thirty minutes after meeting her. It was clear that this was a match meant to be, and Scarlet went home that day with Selena.
Selena had another shy cat with a similar background in the past, and it took that cat eight years to really come out of her shell. Selena was not daunted by the prospect of experiencing that again. Scarlet had other ideas in mind though, and within days of being home started to sleep on Selena’s bed. She loves exploring her new home, making several circuits of the house per day, and looking out the window from a nice perch in Selena’s home.
Scarlet and Crema were slowly introduced, with Scarlet staying in the bedroom for the first few days. Selena would feed them both on opposite sides of the door so they would associate each other with positive things. They get along well already, and have in fact had another cat, Tazzy introduced into their life. Tazzy is a young cat, already in her third home, and has made a lively addition to the relaxed ways of Scarlet and Crema.
Selena spends between one and two hours each day working with Scarlet. This time can include feedings, including spoon feeding, playing, or just sitting on the couch together. Scarlet now spends her days chasing the laser pointer, playing with fishing rod toys, and wrapped in blankets on the couch. This is a long way from her former life. She is still scared sometimes, but Selena continues to use the techniques used at the Gifford Charm School and sees small improvements all the time. Scarlet has already come further than Selena could have hoped for in this short amount of time!
Selena firmly believes that the reward is much greater when you have to work with a cat to build a special relationship. She loves seeing every little step Scarlet takes, and she knows that no matter how small it may seem, each step is huge for Scarlet. Each cat Selena has brought into her life she has done so knowing that the outgoing, cuddly cats will find homes, but the shy, sick, or senior cats will have a hard time finding a forever home. In this regard, Gifford was a perfect match for Selena.
Selena appreciated the way that Gifford is set up for the shy cats. Being out of the main area gives them the security they need to feel safe while also giving them opportunities to work with volunteers to acclimate to life with people. From step one of the process, submitting an application, Selena could tell that the people at Gifford genuinely cared about Scarlet, and all the cats, and puts so much effort into the cats before sending them home. She knew Scarlet, and all Gifford cats, have a better chance at success in their forever home as a result of that effort.
Board Vice President Dr. Rachel Geller has been an invaluable resource in helping Selena help Scarlet adjust. She appreciates that Gifford provides resources to their adopters to help the cats succeed. Taking a chance on a shy cat has been rewarding for Selena already, and if she had more space at home, she knows she would come back to Gifford and give another shy cat a chance at a fulfilling forever home.
From shy cats to former feral cats, Gifford’s Feline Charm School is full of loveable cats just like Scarlet looking for a kind and patient forever home. Selena knows firsthand now
how much effort Gifford puts into these cats to give them a chance, and that anyone who will take that leap of faith with a shy cat will not have to do so alone, as Gifford will continue to provide guidance and support along the way.
By Sarah Eckert