Several years ago I worked at the local Humane Society as kennel manager. One day, I was called to the isolation room to handle a situation with a feral cat that had been brought in via a humane trap and due to lack of space in the back room had been placed into a cage that was very high up and not intended to be used. When one of our employees transferred the cat to the overhead cage, he was bitten or scratched on the ear resulting in a ten day state-mandated rabies quarantine. I became the cat’s primary caretaker for the ten day period and quickly learned he was not like most feral cats we encountered. He lacked any understanding “fight” mode and seemed stuck in “flight,” but he started to come around with daily desensitization and socialization. I would stay for half an hour at the end of every shift and sit with Jonas until I was able to touch him- perfectly timed with the end of his ten day period. He received a stay of euthanasia temporarily, and came around until even other staff could touch and handle him and his first day at the shelter was nearly forgotten! Even the employee he had scratched (as best as we could determine, it was not a bite) liked him and in fact, chose Jonas as his name.
After about two and a half more weeks, Jonas was moved to the adoption floor and I was so pleased! I said goodbye as I had the next two days off but when I came back, I found him sitting weakly in his cage with mucous draining from his nose. This poor kitty was very ill. We moved him back to isolation and started him on vaporizer therapy and medication, but he did not improve. I took him to the vet myself and was prescribed more potent medication. His life was in danger a second time just weeks after escaping euthanasia. I took him home so that he could receive round-the-clock foster care, but I had to bring him to work with me and keep him in a cage in the adoption room so I could administer medication and hand feed him every hour. This continued for two weeks. When he saw the vet again, the doctor was shocked that he was alive at all and after two more weeks of aggressive treatment he was back to normal. I decided that since he was used to coming to work with me, I’d bring him to the shelter on days that I worked and put him on the adoption floor and take him home at night. This was more than Jonas could take and he started losing fur quickly. After just a couple days, half his body was nearly bald. The stress was too much for him to handle.
And so, Jonas had chosen US.
Fast forward four years and Jonas was very comfortable in our home. This bizarre little cat had kept or acquired many quirky behaviors that made him all the more unique. Still jumpy when we’d reach to pet him and uncertain of certain environmental stimuli, his feral roots showed but he had proven dozens of times over that he hasn’t got an aggressive bone in his body. He’s never growled or hissed at an animal, person or thing. He warms up to new animals right away and even plays with strange new dogs. One of my in-laws’ dogs, that we pet-sit regularly, had come to expect Jonas and looked forward to playing with him.
But in that year, late 2008, things would change. Two friends, roommates, were visiting our house and we started talking about the cats. Jonas just loved our friend “D”, and every time he visited Jonas could be found in his lap. They hit it off so well that the topic started as a joke but ended up in serious discussion about D adopting Jonas when his roommate, “E” adopted two cats from us. The three cats went off to their new lives where they were spoiled and enjoyed having the house to themselves, animal-wise. They spent most of their time hanging out with E and all three bonded with her.
To make a long story short, E ended up adopting Jonas herself. She gladly took on the responsibility of Jonas’s care when it was too difficult for D and she never looked back. From before the day the three of us made it official, I believe he was already hers.
Two years passed by. Just before Christmas, 2010, we received word that E was moving across the state to special housing for the disabled to live with her fiance. The housing authority absolutely refused to allow more than two cats, but since most places would not allow her to have pets at all it seemed the best that could be done. Unlike so many, she worked very hard to find a suitable place- not easy with she and her fiance’s special requirements- that would allow her to take her furry family members. We decided that Jonas should be the cat to return, and we drove to Pittsburgh just after the New Year to pick him up.
Jonas settled into our home again in record speed. He rubs his face on the cats and dogs; seeks petting and lap-time; hangs out all over the furniture; has stepped back into the feeding schedule and routine as though he never left and most of all, he is happy! I am glad that E got to spend so much time with him and really grow to love him, and I’m glad that he was not traumatized by the shuffling around to a new home and back, but I think that given the amazing circumstances that brought him here the first time he is where he is meant to be. Welcome home, Jonas! Welcome home… to stay.