Amelia’s Story-Part 1

Hello,
As my regular readers know, the felines are the voice of this blog but the felines have graciously allowed me to write this story because it’s very important, not just for felines but for the humans who love them.  

There are two things you need to know before you begin reading this piece.  First, this is one of the hardest articles I’ve ever written.  I still can’t write it without shedding tears.  Second, and most important, this story has a happy ending and hopefully a lesson and comfort for those who have been in the same situation, so please stay the course. Amelia’s story sparked my passion for the fear free movement and all the benefits it brings to our fur kids.  

Anita

Meeting Lily

I attended a gala shopper’s evening at our local shelter’s thrift store.  As I admired all the displays and fantastic prices, one of the shelter Board members approached me and said,  “You have to meet a kitten.” I never say no to making a new feline friend so before you could say “meow” I was in the kitten room looking at the most unusual, sweet little round-eyed kitten.

LilyKitten

Lily as a kitten

It took about 10 minutes for me to be completely smitten. My husband and I had been discussing bringing a kitten into our feline tribe and so I quickly snapped the photo you see on the left and texted him, “I found our kitten.”

 Kittens Must Always Come in Pairs

It took several days of conversation before my husband agreed that we could adopt Lily, with one caveat; we had to adopt another kitten as well. He had a good point as integrating a kitten into a household of one seventeen-year old cat and two ten-year old cats might be hard for a single kitten. Two kittens would have each other to play and bond with and the older guys would be spared some of the kitten shenanigans. I agreed and we set off to bring our new fur kids home.

Amelia

Amelia

We came home with two fur babies that afternoon. Lily and a spunky little Tabby we named Amelia after Amelia Earhart because she fearlessly flew all over the house and ended up in the highest places.

As much as I loved Lily, it was Amelia who bonded with me the most. Wherever I was, she was there, keeping me company on a stool in the kitchen while I cooked, always near, always interested in what I was doing, always seeking me out.

Both kittens bonded well, with each other, the rest of the cats and with us. Amelia’s, smart and sassy personality and her eyes that seemed to speak to me inspired the writing of this blog. I never tired of watching her exhibit her own brand of catitude. And, as a fiction writer, I could just imagine what this little character was thinking.

Happy Kittens, Happy Feline Family

As Amelia’s  distinctive personality inspired me I created the blog, “Amelia’s World”. She  shared her opinion about visiting the vet, her life with the other felines and anything else that captured her interest.  Lily was content to live a more private life away from public view.

The feline “elders” were happy to engage with the kittens on their own terms and pleased that the little ones had each other to play with. All was well with our feline tribe.

Our Sorrow

PRoses

Miss P.

Fast forward one year. Our beloved Miss P., Alpha of the tribe, died at the age of 18. We were inconsolable. She was our first fur kid, the first year of our marriage.

Her death changed the dynamic of our feline tribe. Our now ten-year old male, Tucker, slipped into the role of Alpha. He was the only male and although he’s  an easy-going, no drama kind of guy, his sixteen pounds helped him secure the position with little effort on his part.

Tucker’s sibling, Jasmine took it all in stride. As long as she could come out on the upstairs deck with us, sit on a chair and watch the birds, her life was complete.  Lily had no leadership aspirations but it was a completely different situation with Amelia.

Our Struggle

BigFootTuck

Tucker

No matter how hard Amelia fought to take control,  and fight she did, Tucker wasn’t having it. He quickly let Amelia know that he was now the Boss Cat.  We watched helplessly as our previously harmonious house became a battle field.

Amelia’s frustration exhibited itself in numerous ways. One was aggression toward the other cats.  Tucker was too big to bully. Lily stood up to Amelia and refused to back down.  Poor Jasmine however, was too timid to stand her ground. She had never been bullied before and  her sweet, shy nature made her a perfect target. Her response to Amelia’s aggression was to run from  and hide. The  decision to run emboldened Amelia, who quickly realized that Jasmine was the best target for her frustration.

The battles became louder and more horrific and created an untenable situation for Jasmine, who retreated to our bedroom and ultimately took up residence there.

IMAG0004Without access to Jasmine, Amelia’s frustration grew. She went from my sweet, funny and mischievous little cat to an upset and angry cat. She exhibited her unhappiness by peeing all over the house. Each morning and evening became a black light excursion with long cleaning sessions. We spent hundreds of dollars on pheromone plug-ins, air cans, moving furniture, buying new area rungs and even new furniture. We spent extra time with Amelia, playing with her and loving her, attempting to calm  her aggression. We also made numerous visits to the vet to ensure there were no underlying health issues.

We loved this smart, sassy Tabby and despite the situation we now found ourselves in, we were committed to do whatever it took to remedy the situation. Almost a year and hundreds of dollars later, nothing had changed. We were all, human and feline, living in a continual state of  stress and fear.

Next time: the Right thing Is Often the Hardest Thing -Amelia’s Story Part 2 

38 thoughts on “Amelia’s Story-Part 1

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  3. I’m heading over to read Part II but I’m so sorry to hear how much this dynamic changed after the death of one of your cats. I’ve been through something similar with dogs and it’s really awful. So much stress and fear in the house which makes everything multiply. I’m hoping for a good ending in Part II – heading over there now.

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    • Thank you for your kind words. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written but I promise, it does have a happy ending and I am hoping to touch the hearts of others who have been through the same thing. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated!

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  6. So sorry to hear about the loss of your sweet Miss P. It’s crazy how a change like that really does rock not only your world, but the worlds of your whole household. My dad just went through a similar situation in their 3 cat household. One of their cats is aging and sick, and it turned the entire dynamic on it’s head, ultimately leading to them rehoming the newest addition to their little crew. They were lucky to find a sweet older woman who was looking for some companionship and were able to give their little one the one-cat home that she always wanted. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • Thanks for your kind words Debbie and it helps to know others have gone through the same thing. My goal in writing this is to help others not feel shame when they are in such a situation. At the end of the day, we all want the best for our fur kids!

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  7. Of course I had to read the entire story, and yes I cried all the way through it. Unfortunately in my experience most people I witnessed surrender their animals weren’t too bent out of shape about it and that’s a sad truth. Through your words I feel how heart wrenching it was for you, and can’t imagine having to make that decision, even though it was absolutely the right one in your situation. I had a group of 5 cats many years ago, and when my sweetheart Calypso died (she was the leader), I immediately noticed none of the others seemed to know their place. Fortunately there was never any fighting or problems that led me down the road you had to walk, but I did see the effect of that loss on the rest of the group.

    No one can judge the love you felt for Amelia, or the moving of heaven and earth to help her. You’re fortunate to have a local shelter filled with such kind and caring people, you have to believe they would only adopt to those who truly deserve to share their life with a pet. I don’t know what else to say except thank you for sharing your story, and for showing those of us who volunteer in shelters and see the apathy of too many, to not be so quick to judge without having all the facts. To be honest I’ve been practicing that in my daily life as well.

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    • Thanks for your kind words. Our shelter was instrumental in helping us heal and work through this issue. The only thing I wish is that there would have been a better follow through from us to her new humans. This has been changed now as our shelter offers the Home to Home Program (http://home-home.org/ and that brings the people forced to surrender their animal in touch with the new family, allowing them to communicate and keeping the animal in the home and not the shelter. It is fantastic and has been a great success here and has helped our community see and understand what this process is like and not to judge quickly.

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    • She was adopted and the only regret I have is that I don’t know the folks who adopted her. That little cat took a piece of my heart with her. Thanks for your kind words, there is a part of me that will always miss her.

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    • It was one of the most difficult things my husband and I have gone through. I wish I knew who adopted Amelia and pray she’s an only cat. She is special, and I will always miss her even though we’re still dealing with the after effects.

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  8. Amelia’s story brought tears to my eyes. Of course, I had to read all the way to the end and I can’t thank you enough for sharing such an important story. Too many folks (pet bloggers in particular) are often leery of sharing these kinds of stories for fear of judgement from others but we need to be able to tell the honest stories because they have a powerful ability to help others. I experienced a similar situation years ago and I know how devastating it can be to see your family dynamic change unexpectedly and to exhaust all other options. I am so sorry you and your tribe had to go through this and, again, I thank you for sharing such a raw and emotional experience.

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    • Thank you so much. Your comments brought tears to my eyes. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written but I felt compelled to share our story. You’re Wright, being a pet blogger and writer, I hesitated to share our secret but the desire to reach out to others outweighed my shame. I am blessed by the comments here. So sorry you experienced the same thing. I thought I was ready for any circumstance but for those of us in multiple pet households, the change in hierarchy can turn life upside down.

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  9. We lost Peanut at 18.5 and that caused a shift in dynamics but not as dramatic as yours. We miss Peanut, and her space on the sofa is still hers, her ashes are there and no-one sits there. Yeah, odd I know but we have room. I am sorry this caused such stress and an imbalance in family happiness. These things are so though to deal with.

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  10. I too read all three sections. I work with clients regularly on dog and cat behavior problems. We can’t judge them, we don’t live in their shoes. When making decisions on the treatment of our animals we have to consider the entire family, human and furry. You did an amazing job trying and seeing Amelia through. ❤ Thanks for sharing.

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  11. It is so hard when a kitty passes away and the dynamic of the home changes. I’m sorry that things have been so hard for you. I just went through a similar circumstance this past year. When my Cinco passed away, Manna was very restless. It was hard enough on me that Cinco passed away, but to see Manna looking for him all the time and wondering what happened broke me. I adopted my Dexter as soon as I possibly could. After a few weeks of adjustment, Manna and Dexter have gotten along fabulously. However, Manna has changed roles. I’m still adjusting to that part of it. The personality change made me think I did something wrong at first. I look forward to the rest of your story and I hope that things work out well in the end!

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  12. OMG!! I can’t believe how the dynamic changed so radically! I didn’t even think cats cared about who was the Alpha, I thought it was just a dog thing. I am running to read part 2 right now, heart in my mouth!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    • Thankfully, Amelia has a new forever home and we are working with our tribe to integrate Jasmine back into the rest of the house (she’s a happy cat even though her borders are narrower than they used to be).

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    • It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written but I felt a story that needed to be shared, I am passionate about building bridges between people and shelters when these situations arise. Our shelter now has the Home to Home program which is wonderful. If an animal has to be rehomed, they stay with their family until they go to live with their new family. Information is exchanged so that the dog or cat has the best opportunity to thrive in their new environment with their new humans.

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