Links, Continued: Socks, Baby Food and a BIG SURPRISE!

Our story from last week continues, once again from Becky Tegze, Pets Alive Cat Manager…

The hissing continues… our “broken” Links is still hissing but there is something just a little different – Links stretched out relaxing on his bed! Good morning Links! You just made my Monday! I continue my ritual of talking softly to him the entire time I’m in the room caring for him and all his friends, when it hits me he hasn’t scrunched back up and he ISN’T hissing at me – he’s watching me! He hasn’t moved but when I sneak a look at him I see his eye following me as I care for the other kitties. He is curious! Oh Links, I just want to kiss you. We are on our way to being friends.

Okay Links, brace yourself: today we are going to work on being touched. This is a big step for any cat not used to human contact and affection, especially an adult cat. Even kittens who are not handled, cuddled, played with or shown affection by humans at a very young age can fear human contact as they age.

As I dig into my back of tricks I once again am talking to Links, hoping beyond hope that maybe he understands me. The first trick up my sleeve is a dowel stick with a catnip sock toy stuck on the end of it. For anyone who hasn’t worked with a “broken” cat before let me explain – this little trick serves many purposes, it gives me the “scary” human a bit more distance so I’m not leaning over Links (which would be way too scary at this point for him), and it keeps me safe because I do not know how Links is going to react to first contact. He could react by being frozen in fear, it could be a hiss or it could be him showing his displeasure with his claws, his teeth or both – or he could just be totally unfazed.

Drum roll please…

links_sockWe have one hiss and then a quizzical look – if Links could talk I do believe he would be saying Ahhh, HISS what?! Oh, well HISS actually, you know this might HISS not be so bad HISS. Success!!! With just a minimal amount of hissing Links is letting me “pet” him with my sock on a stick. He eyes the orange sock with distrust but he makes no move to make it stop or go away. I’m “petting” Links and he isn’t exactly enjoying it but he ISN’T hissing and he ISN’T trying to get away. He is ACCEPTING touch. Way to go Links!

With the hurdle of touching by sock under our belts I spend my day in and out of Links’ room spending 5-10 mins at a time repeatedly “petting” him with my sock on a stick. Links is a fast learner (we have moved into the EZ-Pass lane) and by the end of the day Links is not hissing or only giving me one halfhearted hiss when I first approach him.

Before I leave for the day I reward Links with some baby food with his dinner and to my surprise the baby food has magical powers! As I’m taking care of Oatmeal, another cat from the same hoarding situation, I happen to look up and for the first time I am seeing Links STAND UP and move towards the baby food. WOW! Up to this point I’ve never seen Links stand up or move! I feel honored he feels comfortable enough with me to let his guard down and actually move around his cage.

Please know that large dog crates are a vital tool in the socialization process, but not a permanent habitat. We do not believe in cats living in cages, we are a cage free environment. Links is only in a cage so he can’t hide from me, under socialized cats want to hide and only come out at night or when there is no one around. That doesn’t exactly work when you are trying to teach them that we scary humans are actually pretty good to be around, so large roomy dog crates are used. We always want to make sure they are comfortable and have plenty of room for a litter box, a soft bed, their food and water and room to move around (of course at first this will only happens when you are not around!).

Our next morning begins with a cheery “good morning Links” but now with the addition of BABY FOOD! I am armed with it and not afraid to use it. After our morning routine I grab a long spoon taped to a wooden paint stirrer (another one of my favorite tools) and I offer Links some baby food. He immediately starts to go to town actually biting the spoon to try and get more. So as I’m offering him my magic baby food I’m inching closer and closer to him, not a links_pettingsingle hiss and before I think he knows what’s happening I’m petting him – and not with my sock on a stick with my hand! He isn’t purring (yet) but he is accepting my hand petting him, touching his back, his side and his head, although he isn’t sure about that, but that could have to do with his lack of sight on his left side. Oh Links, you have such soft fur I could pet you all day! Links you have made my day, my week, no way it could get any better! For the rest of the day, everyone I see I don’t say hi, I say “Links let me pet him!” I spend the rest of the day showing everyone, petting Links. It’s a good thing this boy has a hearty appetite.

Fast forward a few hours. “Hello, Pets Alive, can I help you?” “Hi, I’m interested in Links, can you tell me a little bit more about him?” I feel like the floor has dropped out from under my feet. Did I hear correctly? Someone is interested in Links! OMG, okay get yourself together. I begin to sing Links’ praises telling the story of Links and the huge progress he is making. I explain what would be involved with adopting Links, how to continue working with Links and that it would be wonderful for him to have one person to bond with. Then I explain the adoption process and she says she’ll fill out the application and we say good bye. Now I’m on the edge of my seat! Will she follow through? Will she fill out the application? She sounds wonderful, I hope she was serious. I find myself staring at the computer as if that might will her application to come through. I can’t take it; I can’t concentrate so I get up and go spend some time with Links and the other kitties I’m working with. I head back to my desk and OMG I have a new application and it is from the wonderful woman I had just spoken to!!! After doing a little Snoopy happy dance in my chair, I get to work processing the application.

We have an approved adopter!! I’m so excited and here I thought the highlight of my week was going to be petting Links! Good thing Wednesdays are my “I don’t know which way is up day” so the time goes quickly as I wait for Links’ potential adopter – I of course have told Links all about the nice lady who hopefully will be his new mommy.

The moment of truth – they’re here! It’s love at first sight for her and LINKS IS GOING HOME!

His journey has ended with me but he is starting a whole new chapter with a very special lady who understands it will take time and work but she is committed and she will give Links the love, time and nurturing he needs. She doesn’t see Links as “broken”, she sees Links as a cat in need of her love and patience. Links, she wants to be your friend.


Filed in Animal Rescue, Case Studies, Why we do this by John Sibley on Mar 27, 2013.  There are 1 Comment

One Response to “Links, Continued: Socks, Baby Food and a BIG SURPRISE!”

  1. Joyce Says:

    Holy cow you made my day!!!

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