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When my husband and I got married, we had talked about getting a kitten, but hadn't really given much thought to actually adopting a cat. We had visited a humane society many times, seen cats and kittens of various ages, but none of them ever felt like the kitty for us. And then I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook one afternoon, and I scrolled past this picture too quickly, almost missing it. When I scrolled back up, I knew that I was in love. His little face was just the saddest thing I had ever seen, so I reached out to the person who had taken him in to foster. It just so happened to be a family member of mine, so I called her and asked all of the usual questions. Male or female? How old? Vet checked? Shots? All the good stuff. Unfortunately, she didn't know much about him, because her husband had found him and one sibling (who unfortunately had to be put down because they were suffering, or we might have had two kitties) and they had only taken them to the vet to make sure they were healthy. After getting off the phone with her, we messaged back and forth on Facebook some more about logistics, as my husband was still at work at that point. I texted my husband and told him that there was something we needed to talk about when he got home (brutal, I know) and waited not so patiently.
When my husband finally got home, I pulled up the picture above and showed it to him, but didn't say anything until he spoke. I wanted him to form his own opinion about this little kitty who had already stolen my heart. Finally, my husband broke the silence and asked me more about the kitten. I told him all I knew, and that I was already in love with him (although at that point we weren't 100 percent sure he WAS a he). We talked for about 20 minutes about the logistics and where we would put his litter box, food, and water bowls, etc. When we had come to a decision, we called my family member and asked her if we could see him that night, because we were both very interested in meeting him.
We drove the half an hour to her house, and when we got there, that was it. We were both goners. This little kitty, with his sad grey eyes, and his double-double pawed front feet had stolen the hearts of both my husband and I. We loaded his carrier into the car and stopped on the way home to pick up the "new kitty starter kit". Litter box, litter, food, bowls, toys. Everything. We thought long and hard that night about what to name him, and being an avid gamer, my husband came up with Arno (from Assassin's Creed Unity) and we had our little bean's name.
Considering he was only about eight weeks at the time, so he was still mostly eating wet food, but we got dry food just in case. When we got home, we set up his litter box, put a little of his wet food in a little plastic bowl, and put some water in one of his bowls. He wasn't exactly sociable, and didn't want to leave his crate for the first two nights. He was shy and skittish, jumping at most noises, but that's to be expected in the first week in a new home. When he started getting curious about what was outside his cat carrier, we started letting him out, sparingly (we lived with a dog that can be a little over-bearing and pushy, and we didn't want him getting too scared). He started exploring, but still spent nights in his carrier.
A week after we brought him home, we took him to the vet and had his first checkup, and his first shots done. We got the deworming medication and all that fun stuff. He was still wanting to spend most of his time in his carrier, getting scared any time he was out of his crate. At night, we covered his crate with a towel so he had a nice dark place to sleep (for some reason, he preferred it that way, and wouldn't sleep otherwise).
We gave him flea baths because he was so flea bitten that the white fur around his throat was orange.
Arno After His First Bath
We quickly settled into a routine with Arno. First thing in the morning we would take him out of his carrier, set him in the litter box to do his thing, let him eat, drink, and play (which he LOVED to do), and then he would nap in his carrier for the better part of the day. We knew that there was a chance that our little monster could be sick, considering he had been a stray for at least one week already at two months old. When we took him to the vet for the first time, we had him tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and FIV. My husband and I were nervous but hopeful, and when the vet came back with a negative result, we were both relieved. Our little boy was healthy! We breathed a sigh of relief and took him back home.
Over the following few months, he became more adventurous and started spending more and more time out of his carrier. By the time he was six months old, he no longer spent all day, or even all night in his crate. He was getting more used to being out and exploring like most kitties do. And then my husband and I noticed that when we would move or shift, he would run off and hide. We figured that he was still just a little bit shy from being abandoned and then brought to a new home. We didn't think much of it until he started running away any time anyone would approach him. Always.
I started doing some research about skittish cats, and lo and behold, our little boy is as skittish as they come. He doesn't like to be approached, and he will not allow anyone to pet him if he's not coming to you first.
He would come out at night and cuddle with my husband and I, but if one of us were to shift in our sleep, he would run away and hide. He loves cuddles and loves to be petted and loved, but only if he comes to you first. This makes it particularly hard to trim the toenails on his extra toes.
While he's still skittish at almost a year old now, he's more loving, and more willing to come out and seek affection. He's quick to purr, but he still likes to keep his distance if people are moving around. He's a work in progress, but I wouldn't change the fact that we adopted him for anything.