This is the story of Tessa, who raised her kittens in a Parkdale colony jointly with another mom cat. After being trapped with four of the kittens, Tessa was brought in to be spayed.
Upon initial contact, ACR volunteers noticed that Tessa had an unusual habit of sticking her tongue out of her mouth. While under anesthesia for her spaying procedure, the vet discovered that Tessa had serious dental issues. Half of her teeth had fallen out and the remaining half was bleeding. It was evident that Tessa had been in pain for a very long time. After undergoing the most difficult and extensive dental procedure that the vet had ever performed, Tessa had all but two of her teeth removed.
Following her surgery, Tessa was intended to stay at a recovery home for 2 weeks and then released. However, ACR volunteers and the vet noticed that Tessa was open to human contact. She allowed people to pet her and pick her up, which is almost unheard of for feral cats. Her openness encouraged ACR volunteers to put Tessa through assessment while she recovered. Although it is common knowledge that feral cats would have a greater chance of survival if they were kept inside a home rather than out on the street, not all cats, especially adult cats, are ever meant to become pets. Many of them have lived without human interaction for far too long to ever be happy indoors. Therefore, some cats that do exhibit potential are placed into an assessment home in order to determine their suitability for adoption.
Tessa was lucky to find an assessment home with ACR volunteer Tara, as there are very few homes available. Assessing cats for potential adoption requires certain skills and experience. Tara kept Tessa in a large crate in an isolated den in her apartment. The crate was large enough to store Tessa’s food bowl and litter box while still providing her with enough space to walk about. A blanket was draped over the crate to help Tessa feel safe and less stressed out in her new environment. By keeping Tessa in a confined space, Tara was able to access Tessa easily and gradually socialize her. Otherwise, Tessa could find places to hide, which in turn would make the assessment process nearly impossible.
In the first few days of her assessment, Tessa was slowly recovering from her surgery and was constantly in and out of sleep. She allowed Tara to pet her, but Tara could sense that she did not like it. As she was gradually coming out of recovery, Tessa was still extremely scared of Tara. Tara learned that she was mostly terrified of the door opening and Tara approaching her. To get Tessa accustomed to this, Tara would enter the den about 20 times a day. She would then stay with Tessa until she relaxed to reassure her that she was safe.
It’s been a month since Tessa first moved into Tara’s home. She has now moved out of the crate and sleeps in a nest of blankets behind it. Tara could tell that once Tessa was let out of the crate, she perked up instantly and her ears did not droop down. One time, Tara found Tessa sitting squarely on top of the crate, exhibiting confidence that Tara had never seen before. Tessa also started eating in front of Tara, which she never did in the first few weeks. She is also warming up to being petted by Tara and will sometimes push her head into Tara’s palms. Tessa has also started kneading, which is a great sign of comfort and ease.
Tara often feels that Tessa isn’t making enough progress, but when she looks at the bigger picture, she realizes that Tessa has indeed come a long way in just 4 weeks. Although progress has been slow and gradual, Tara remains positive and every small improvement has her beaming with excitement. Tara is uncertain when Tessa will be ready to move into an adoption home. She says that a lot of factors can come into play and that it may take another month or two. Tara says that she’s heard stories of cats that started out just as shy as Tessa and have now become wonderful pets with forever homes. She wishes for the same for Tessa.
All of these loving animals at ACR deserve a happy ending, and you can be the one to give them that. Please contact ACR if you believe that your home is an ideal home for cats like Tessa.
— Margaret Yu