Our house was a feline war zone. Pheromone plug ins graced every outlet on both floors, other “behavior modification” products were purchased, air cans placed to keep Amelia away from strategic areas, barricades set up, new toys to distract her and a multitude of other items.
Her unhappiness and frustration did not abate with the products or the extra time we spent assuring her that she was loved and had a special place in our feline family.
She continued to act out and bully the other cats. I reached a point where I hated walking out of the bedroom in the morning. My husband would provide a report of the places Amelia had peed, what she had destroyed and who she had terroriized. He was running out of patience and I couldn’t blame him. I worked harder to ensure that everything in the house was pristine and any damage was repaired in an attempt to mitigate his frustration.
I still loved this little Tabby with all my heart. She would sit with me when I came home from work. All the petting , attention and loving had no effect on her behavior.
We live in a rurual area in the Inland Northwest, about two hours from a major city which made the search for a cat behaviorist impossible. I would have driven the two hours if I could have found a behaviorist in that city but there was no one. My vets are amazing but after they exhausted all the medial tests and tricks they knew, they were at a loss to help us. I found a few folks online who offered to speak to me over the phone for $75.00 an hour but I know enough about cat behavior that this remote chat session would do nothing to help us without them meeting Amelia and understanding her surroundings.
In desperation, I wrote the one person in the world that I knew could help us, Jackson Galaxy.. I can’t tell you how often I corresponded with Jackson Galaxy’s company, begging them to film an episode of “My Cat from Hell” in our area. I tried to lure him with tales of the beauty of our town (we were named one of the most beautiful small towns in America by Rand McNally). I offered him and his wife our guest room, told him of our desperate situation. I would have driven to LA and chauffered him back here but it was not to be. I received a few canned responses, “Thank you for contacting us but…” In retrospect, I’m just thankful that Jackson Galaxy didn’t take out a restraining order against me. I would like to go on record here: I am not a certifiable crazy cat lady and, if Jackson Galaxy every chooses to visit our beautiful little town, I promise I will not stalk him.
If I couldn’t get the man himself here, I figured I could learn from him so I spent hours watching episodes of My Cat from Hell, looking for similar situations and inspiration. I ordered several of the Spirit Essences from his company and, although the Bully Remedy seemed to have no effect on Amelia, the Safe Space for Cats and Self Esteem did seem to calm Jasmine.
Still, the day came when, we knew we had to do something about our situation. With broken hearts, and tear-stained faces we were forced to admit that it was clear Amelia could no longer live with us. What a horrible day that was. I was a sobbing, blubbering mess so my husband went to the shelter to talk to them about our dilemma. We are blessed to have a wonderful shelter in our town, not only is it no-kill but the people there are fiercely dedicated to the dogs and cats in our community and they will always take an animal back that was adopted from there. Who adopts an animal and falls in love with it thinking, “I can always take her back if it doesn’t work?” We certainly didn’t. We’d spent our entire married life rescuing cats and blending them successfully into our feline family. Had someone told me we would be returning a cat to the shelter I would have told them they were insane.
I will be ever grateful to Mary at our shelter who listened to my husband’s story, asked him important questions and then suggested that we bring Amelia back to the shelter. She didn’t judge, she showed empathy and soothed our broken hearts when she told him, “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out”. Those six words were the most important words she could have uttered.
The shelter had reached its maximum cat allotment so we couldn’t bring Amelia that day. Mary put us on a waiting list, saying the shelter would call when there was room for her.
I am a person of action and the waiting was killing me so I sat at the computer and wrote a three page letter about Amelia’s story for the shelter and for her new family. I explained how loved she was, that she was a good cat in a bad situation and that in the right house (where she is the only cat) she would be the best pet anyone could want. I talked about how I had bonded with her, how my heart was breaking and that my prayer was she would find a home where she was loved as much as I loved her. I went to the vet, got all her records and included them with the letter so Amelia would have a better chance on finding a new family. I included our contact information stating that I would be happy to answer any questions they might have.
A few days later, when I came home from work, I could tell by my husband’s face that He had taken Amelia to the shelter. It was another tear-filled evening.
I felt lower than pond scum, returning my beloved cat to the shelter. Had Jackson Galaxy called me any time after she was back at the shelter and told me he would help us work through the problem in our feline family I would have run to the shelter to bring her homed.
The only thing that helped me through those dark days was the immediate release of tension in the house. Although Jasmine was still living in our bedroom, she became calmer, less fearful and the other cats were more relaxed as well and so were the humans.
I kept in touch with the shelter. I wanted to do everything I could for Amelia but knew that visiting her would not be a good idea so I purchased her special food, took treats and toys in and checked daily to see how she was doing. A friend of mine worked at the shelter at the time and she was an angel, letting me pester her daily for Amelia updates.
Every night I said a little prayer that Amelia would find the forever home she deserved and every time I came across one of her toys or a photo of her, the tears flowed. I was an emotional mess.
I reflected repeatedly on our failure with Amelia. I was riddled with guilt and sadness. It hovered over me like a fog every day. One internal dialogue looped through my head constantly, “Who returns animals back to the shelter? Horrible people, that’s who” “Who gives up on a fur kid? Losers that’s who, people who don’t deserve to care for animals! People who don’t deserve to adopt any more cats, ever again.”