Thursday, December 17, 2009

Brandon's Journey

(Picture Left: Brandon in new home. Happy at last -- but such a long road to get there.)

In April of 2006, I rescued a 3-year-old, declawed tabby cat from the pound who was on the Euth list for aggressive behavior. Something about "Brandon's" wide-eyed, frightened look in his shelter picture got to me.

Brandon arrived at the shelter as an unneutered, declawed "stray" from the Bronx. I wondered what type of people would have a cat declawed and fail to neuter the animal? How did Brandon end up as a "stray?"

There were indeed many unanswered questions about Brandon. What was not in question however was that he had attempted to bite several staffers in the shelter. He was a very nervous and defensive animal -- as if the whole world was something to distrust and be wary of.

Over the many months I fostered Brandon, (following his neutering) he slowly evolved into a very affectionate animal with me, often crawling into my lap and soliciting petting. He, in fact, became my favorite cat.

However, lacking claws (the normal means for a cat to defend him/herself), Brandon was extremely defensive and nervous around my other animals. Whenever one of the other (clawed) cats or my dog would approach, Brandon quickly scattered and ran in absolute terror.

I determined that it was important for Brandon to find a cat-experienced and loving home without other pets.

Almost a year after his rescue, I finally found what I thought would be the perfect home for Brandon: A mature, married couple who had recently lost their only declawed cat of 16 years to cancer.

The people came to my home and quickly fell in love with the friendly, striped cat who wrapped himself in their laps and nudged his head against their hands.

But, it seems the first sign of potential trouble was when I tried to place Brandon into the couple's Sherpa bag. For the first time, Brandon struggled and bit me.

I attributed the mishap to Brandon's fear and nervousness when forced into a carrier.

But, I was apparently wrong.

The next day, the couple returned Brandon to me with the explanation that he attempted to bite the wife shortly after they got him home.

Having then received Brandon back for "aggressiveness" I became much more apprehensive about trying to place him in another home. Although still advertised as a special needs adoption, I did not receive any calls over the next two years that would have represented appropriate placement for Brandon.

In the meantime, my personal situation changed.

In 2008, I had rescued another cat who, sensing Brandon's fear of other animals, relentlessly harassed and attacked him. Additionally, I adopted a second dog, (Chance) who for whatever reason, seemed to intimidate Brandon even more than my first dog, Tina.

Matters became so bad that Brandon rarely ventured onto my lap for petting and eventually took to cringing almost all of the time on top of my refrigerator. Even so, Hillary (the cat) pursued him, ate his food and attacked and Chance chased him those times Brandon attempted to come down to use the litter box.

I tried caging Brandon for a while, but that didn't work as Hillary tried to claw him through the cage bars. Brandon was even more miserable than on top of the fridge. I had to leave him out again.

When Brandon became so stressed that he started using my kitchen sink as a litter box, I decided that I needed to do something.

As soon as one of my very few cat fosters became available, I asked "Yhoumey" to take Brandon to foster. But, that didn't work either as the young woman has two other cats and this time, Brandon became the aggressor to the other animals, seeking them out, jumping and biting.

Brandon was once again returned within a few weeks.

But, this time, rather than take him back to my home where he was relentlessly stressed and attacked, I sent Brandon to my vet for emergency boarding. If I could not find placement for Brandon within a couple of months, I would have to face the awful, but inevitable decision for euthanasia. -- Something I didn't want to think about. And yet, Brandon could not spend the rest of his life in a cage at the vet.

Things were looking very bleak for Brandon.

But, sometimes just when matters seem to be without hope, a light beacons.

In this case, one of the veterinary technician's developed an affinity for Brandon and called me one day offering her help.

"Chris" also does cat rescue and urged me not to give up on Brandon. She too, would try to help Brandon find an appropriate home.

Between Chris and myself sharing boarding expenses, Brandon ended up staying at the vet's office for almost five months before, finally, Chris was able to find a wonderful couple willing to adopt Brandon.

It's almost two weeks since Brandon's adoption. The people love him and have sent beautiful pictures.

It's taken three years for this cat to go from "aggressive stray" in the shelter to terrified basket case in my multi-pet home to "attack before the other cats get you" in a foster home, to an animal simply needing peace and time to become himself again and finally, to a loving pet in a loving home.

Its been a long and difficult journey for Brandon, but one finally with a happy ending thanks to team work and a determination never to give up no matter how bleak things may appear.

Special thanks to Chris for reminding me of this. -- PCA


1 comment:

amby111 said...

Nice to see a successful cat adoption. They are rare these days!