Learning to adjust to cats | Ann Oxrieder


Good neighbors are invaluable.  But that’s the conclusion to this story, so let me start at the beginning.

In July, we lost Oscar, our 16-pound tabby, to old age. In late fall, the adopt-a-new-cat bug struck.

We visited several shelters until we found a possible adoptee. We soon learned that rules for adopting cats had changed since our last venture. We were accustomed to the bakery-style approach where you pointed to the most appealing goodie in the case (or cage) and said, “We’ll take that one.” After paying your fee you took your cat home and lived happily ever after.

These days potential adopters and adoptees go through screening.  We completed a personality profile to help the shelter manager decide if we and our chosen cat were a good match.

A color coding system on each cage identified cats as ready to walk into your home and take over, or as needing a medium or longer period to adjust. We picked an orange cat with an orange tag (medium adjustment period).

After receiving approval, the orange cat — Gordon — came home with us.  We followed the shelter’s instructions and set the cat carrier on the bathroom floor and aimed the opening toward the shower stall, which is where a litter box, food, and soft cushions awaited him. Gordon stayed in the carrier until we tired of talking to him and watching him not move. We shut the door, and left him alone to decide how best to get acquainted with his tiny new home.  An hour later we discovered him wedged under a cabinet so tightly that his head couldn’t move and he was having trouble breathing.

When I called the shelter, the folks there said not to worry, he’d come out when he was ready. Next call was to the fire department. They gave me the number of a man who specializes in tree rescues. The third call was to Glenn, the neighbor who built our house.

He said he wasn’t sure how he could help, but would stop by when he got home.

After Glenn arrived, we tried jacking up the cabinet a few millimeters to help Gordon get free and offered food to lure him. He wouldn’t or couldn’t move. We agreed that the only other option was to cut a hole in the cabinet shelf.

Gordon’s story, though not the cabinet’s, had a happy ending.

I don’t yet know what “medium adjustment period” means, except that now he’s easily accessible in his hiding spot behind a sofa.


Ann Oxrieder has lived in Bellevue for 35 years. She retired after 25 years as an administrator in the Bellevue School District and now blogs about retirement at http://stillalife.wordpress.com/.

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