Shy and fearful cats pose a challenge for shelters and rescue groups. They are repeatedly passed over by potential adopters for friendly felines and when they are adopted many are returned because of their lack of interaction with their new owners. Even with warnings about patience, it takes a special person to gain the confidence of an extremely shy cat. That’s why the following story of a woman named Kathy and a cat called Scotty is so special. Together they created a path that made them a family.
“Meet Scotty. Doesn’t he have the most amazing eyes? It took me months to be able to look into them,” said Kathy.
One year ago, I walked into the adoption center of Heaven Can Wait Animal Society in Las Vegas, NV. I had a female cat that was very attached to me and got incredibly upset when I left the house. As I was going back to work, I felt she needed a companion.
That’s when I met Scotty. He was considered “hard to adopt” due to his extreme shyness. This broke my heart. I heard how incredibly shy he was, how he didn’t like to come out of hiding, how afraid he was and how he didn’t even like other cats. Scotty had been adopted once before and after a few months, they brought him back because he was “too shy.”
As I sat down in front of his hiding spot, I wiggled my fingers and he came out to get petted. He was so soft, timid, and sweet. I was told by one of the volunteers that he NEVER did that for anyone other than the cat coordinator, not even with the volunteers who had known him for quite some time. Scotty seemed to want me as much as I wanted him. The more we spoke, the more I realized that I needed Scotty as much as he needed me.
I signed all the paperwork… and off we went. He made the most pitiful noises on the drive home. I felt awful! He was SO terrified.
The moment he came out of the cage, he ran under the bed… and that was it. For the next TWO months.
He hid under the bed and would come out to go to the bathroom and eat only when no one else was around. I realized quickly that he needed to find his own way. I couldn’t force him or it would ruin our relationship. So I left him be, under the bed, afraid.
I would come in frequently to lie on the floor and just talk to him, letting him get to know my voice. Little by little, he started to get closer and wanted to be petted. He wanted to TRUST. I let him come at his own pace. I pet him when he wanted and let him run when he felt scared. We did this for another month or two before he realized that I wasn’t going to hurt him. But even so, I realized something odd… he was terrified by my feet. Eventually, we got to a point where he would even jump in bed with me, but when I put my feet on the bed he would freak. My poor cat was terrified of feet. No wonder he ran when you walked toward him!
Little by little, I worked with Scotty. I let him go at his own pace. He needed to know he could trust me and our household. This is him eventually rolling around in the middle of the living room.
He was coming along so well until my partner and I decided to move in with each other and he had cats of his own. Poor Scotty!! It set him back, which broke my heart. After he had made SUCH progress, my poor boy was back to hiding under beds, tables, and other furniture. We were so worried, because he was taking a long time to bounce back from the move.
But he DID! We used the same tactics by letting him come at his own pace. And when he did, boy did he bounce back! Not only did my brave Scotty boy come back, he surpassed where he had been before.
I’ve had him a year now. We’ve been in the new house for 6 months. Do you remember me telling you how he wouldn’t look me in the eye? Look at that first picture. We look at each other constantly now. He meows when he wants attention. LOUDLY! He runs around the house. He plays or lies around with the other cats in the sun.
As it turns out, my Scotty is actually a lover. He follows me around. He comes and spends his time with me in the office. Sometimes he demands to get petted, other times he’s happy to hang out on the floor.
But I’m so proud of his latest discovery. He tried to lick me, and then ran away, of course. When he realized he wasn’t in trouble, he came back and licked me again. Now it’s a regular routine. I pet him and he shows me love by grooming me. I thank Heaven Can Wait EVERY DAY for the love-muffin that is my Scotty! They trusted me with a shy cat that needed lots of patience and in return I got a best friend who I love fiercely. I couldn’t imagine life without Scotty.
-Loving owner of Scotty the wonder cat!
Photo Credit: Kathy