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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Without 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.