In February 2014, just after the city’s big ice storm, Elsa, a 3 month old kitten, came to Annex Cat Rescue. The tumultuousness of her first months on the streets definitely helped to shape Elsa’s personality and approach to life.
A skittish and wary creature, according to her owner Jamie, Elsa took a while to “warm up”. When Jamie took her home in November, Elsa’s first instinct was to run under the bed and hide, earning her the unofficial title of “ghost cat”.
Jamie would lie on the floor, offering treats and soothing words to Elsa, but to no avail. While Elsa would happily take the treat, she would always retreat back under the bed. Jamie decided that it was time for an intervention!
Elsa was moved to a new room clear of clutter, bed removed, with an awesome make-shift cat cave that Jamie had constructed from a cat bed and a litter box lid.
Elsa would lie in her cave, facing the back, and Jamie would give her soothing pats and offer treats. After a while, Elsa must have decided that life was getting boring and started to play with Jamie. Out came the toys and soon, Elsa was less and less inclined to hide in her cave.
Elsa is not Jamie’s only furry companion.
Petey is a gorgeous male tabby who is incredibly laid back. Despite being Elsa’s polar opposite, Petey became her new best friend and kitty mentor. He was more than happy to show Elsa that life in her new home is pretty swell.
Maxi, a female cat, tolerates Elsa, but they are not the best of friends. Elsa loves to poke Maxi, playing the role of a bratty little sister very well. However, Maxi remains unimpressed.
The dogs, after some time spent smelling and gazing through the baby gate that was the “door” to her room, greeted Elsa with grace and neutrality. Thus, Elsa’s friend circle expanded to include Keeta, aged 13, and Penny, aged 10, both rescues themselves.
Keeta happily tolerates Elsa and Penny likes to provide a bit of a thrill from time to time. One of her favourite games is to rush the cats and watch them run. Elsa, playful thing that she is, is more than happy to oblige.
Since Elsa was an independent street cat before she was brought to ACR, she has her own ideas of how she likes things done. She has developed personalized “rules” for her humans. Mom Jamie is her “play person” and when Elsa feels that it is time to play, she will go to her room and mew for Mom to join her. Elsa loves her wire toy (a long piece of wire with paper attached to the end) and laser pointers.
From Dad Larry, Elsa expects scratches, please. Elsa will mew from her bed until her Dad gives her a scratch. However, if he tries to play with her, she shows zero interest.
Elsa’s journey transitioning from the streets into her loving home had lots of help from outsiders as well. When Jamie and her husband had to go away for a while, they asked the neighbourhood’s “cat lady” Vicky and a gentleman named Doug, of Thunders Run (a pet-sitting, house-sitting company out of Bradford), to come in and cat-sit for them.
Elsa had an injury to her cornea and was in need of eye drops. After her drops, Doug would give her lots of pats and love. Vicky also gently befriended Elsa little by little during each visit. Upon Jamie and Larry’s return, they were shocked and elated to find that Elsa had become more confident and social as a result of interacting with her new human friends.
There were challenges but many more improvements. Elsa never used to purr or enjoy being picked up and now she does both! When Jamie picks Elsa up, she always lets her go before she gets antsy. It helps her feel more like it’s “her idea” when she gets picked up and that it’s safe – nobody will force her to do anything she doesn’t want.
If you visited Elsa today, you would find her snuggled up close to her bestie, Petey, playing with Mom, pestering her big sister Maxi, or getting a good old scratch from Dad. This is a vast improvement from the “ghost cat” that she was when they first brought her home.
Jamie’s tips on adopting include being open with the organization about your needs, always ask questions, and take your time finding the right cat for your family.
I think Elsa has found her perfect fur-ever home!