Last year, we took in a brother and a sister, six-week-old kittens found in a barbecue pit. Since they were found in an oven—sort of—we named them Hansel and Gretel. They seemed very connected and we adopted them together as a couple. They didn’t stay bonded: Gretel glued herself to the man and when the humans broke up, he took her.
However, they had already adopted another kitty, whom they named Willow. Willow and Hansel became best friends, grooming, cuddling, and purring. At the time of the breakup, the woman had no job and moved in with relatives. She couldn’t take her cats.
Hansel was ours. We have a policy that any cat we adopt out can be returned to us at any time during their life. Of course, we would take Hansel back. But what was to become of Willow? If Hansel and Willow weren’t BFFs, we might not have taken her. But they were, and we did. They’re now adopted and will live happily ever after together.
Feline leukemia negative (FeLV-) Rooster and feline leukemia positive (FeLV+) Moses are not brothers, yet they arrived together. We didn’t know their FeLV status when they arrived. We did know that Rooster could see very little with his one recessed eye and the other cloudy eye.
Whenever we would take Moses out of the cage, Rooster would cry pitifully until his best buddy was returned to him. Once they were tested, we had a dilemma. We solved it by vaccinating Rooster against FeLV. He had been vaccinated against FeLV, and received a booster, before he came to us, but we were afraid he was too young at that time for the vaccines to be effective. So we re-did the FeLV vaccine series.
Their fosters took extra precautions to ensure the kittens remained healthy. They were adopted together and of course, all of this was explained to the adopters.
How do we know kitties are bonded? It was easy with Rooster and Moses. Rooster was frantic without Moses and calmed down as soon as Moses was returned to him. Hansel and Willow aren’t velcro kitties, but you can see the happiness on both faces when they’re cuddled together.
Sometimes it’s quantifiable. Phoenix is a feral kitty who befell some tragedy resulting in a leg amputation by our vet. She has a territory, but we won’t put a three-legged kitty back out unless she’s miserable. She ate and used the litter box here, but we worried for her happiness.
Then Spirit arrived. He was put into the same area as Phoenix. They sleep together and hang out together. But most noticeable is the change in Phoenix toward humans. She comes out of hiding and she will present herself for treats if Spirit is with her. She has even allowed a sneaky pet on occasion.
Even when it’s not obvious, sometimes we just know. I don’t know how we know. We just do. An unbreakable love is something you just know.
I firmly believe that the lessening of fear is equivalent to an increase in happiness. This has been true in my life. And the lessening of fear has come, for me and from what I can see for many of these cats, from connection, sometimes to furry animals, sometimes to human animals. Reduced fear and increased happiness is what Thundering Paws is all about.
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