I started the new year almost giving Willow up. There is precedence there. When I first adopted her, she sort of came with Puckett in a "two for one" deal. It was Adopt-A-Cat Month and the Dog and Cat Shelter sort of tricked me into it. "Buy one, get one free!" they said when I told them I was adopting Puckett. "You're taking this one, too aren't you?"
I looked down at the tiny tabby that had somehow landed in my arms and that I had been carrying around for the last twenty minutes. I almost forgot she was there and when she gazed up at me with her big green eyes, I thought, oh, what the hell. How much harder than two cats could three be?
Willow has had the most issues fitting in. While Tess, Percy, Puckett, and I just all sort of gel, Willow has always been the odd one out. She is the most insecure and has random freakouts that freak out the rest of the animals. Tess is high-strung so random freakouts make her anxious and then she picks on Willow. Percy is a bully and Willow does not stand up for herself so he picks on her. Puckett tolerates Willow because she is the Queen Bee and all her subjects must bow to her, but she has been know to chase Willow around the house or slap her a good one across the ears for no reason.
All of that added to the fact that Willow occasionally still pees on the floor has always kept it in the back of my mind that under the right circumstances with the right person, I could part with Willow. I've never felt like I bonded with her the same as the other three. Puckett is my princess, Percy chose me at the Dog and Cat Shelter, and Tess is a German shepherd who came to me a completely undisciplined one-year-old mess. With all the time and energy I put into her, how could she not bond with me? Shepherds tend to bond with one person.
After I'd had Willow for a year she started demonstrating a level of spaz that had a tendency to drive me up a wall. She clawed the furniture, scratched the carpet, peed on the floor, teased Percy and then yowled like she was dying when he put her in her place. She unleashed attacks on the dog for having the audacity of merely walking by her. She tried to throw her weight around Puckett which only served to earn her a box on the ears as Puckett is three times her size. She was abnormally clingy and needy, always wanting to be in my face, on my lap, or somewhere else nearby. It took me awhile to train her to stay at the end of my bed in order to keep my allergies under control. She would sit on my laptop if she could. At the height of her litter box avoidance, she would go on the carpet at least twice a day until I finally bought her a kennel and started crating her to retrain her behavior. I replaced one large section of carpeting on my ground level floor with tile, and all the carpeting on my third level with wood floors. She still occasionally pees on the floor under her cage, but luckily there is no carpet there.
My personal opinion was that she would probably do much better in a home by herself. I had no intention of returning her to the shelter - they have so many cats all the time and Willow stressed so badly in that atmosphere that it broke my heart to put her back in that situation - but I did make a small effort to shop around for a good potential home where she would be the only kitty and be spoiled rotten.
It's been two years at least since I made a serious attempt to rehome her. But I always said that should the perfect person come along and fall in love with her, then they would be welcome to take her.
On New Year's Eve I went out with a friend from work who confessed that she missed her cat that had passed away a year ago. And I just blurted out that Willow was still available to a good home. I still believe all of her issues and behavior problems would work themselves out if she was a single kitty. Scratching and litter box aversion are territorial. With her own litter box, several scratching posts. and her own bowls, I think she'd do well. My coworker would give Willow a fantastic home and spoil her. She got pretty excited and began making plans to adopt her. She thought she could make some preparations and then take Willow for four days as a trial for the rest of the weekend. She came over to meet Willow and fell in love with her and said she'd call me the next day to arrange a time to pick her up. I thought by the next day it was a done deal.
I fell apart after my coworker left. She did call the next day to tell me that she had more preparations than she thought and that we should plan for the trial in a couple of weeks. I was strangely relieved that I wouldn't be saying goodbye to Willow as soon as I'd thought.
Then I cried the rest of the weekend. I kept telling myself that I had to do what was best for the cat. If she'd be happier in a home where she rules the roost, where she is spoiled and loved, then what could be better? Keeping her for the reason that I actually started to realize I couldn't imagine my life without her was selfish on my part. I felt like I was going through my last breakup all over again. I let him go for his own good too. I did what was best for him because I knew I wasn't. And maybe I'm not what's best for Willow either.
There is something to that saying if you love something set it free.
That same weekend I noticed a change in Willow that I had never noticed before. She fit in. I caught her and Tess snuggled together on the dog bed several times, sharing a nap. I also caught her and Percy several times in an intimate moment where Percy groomed and licked her ears. She and Puckett shared their food bowls in perfect harmony. Willow didn't spaz out once, and the other three didn't treat her like the outsider she's always been. This might have been going on for awhile, but that weekend was the first time I noticed that four pets gelled, not just three. Then I started to think, oh, God, what if I give her away and she gets lonely? She's lived with three other animals for four years now. Will she miss her brother and sisters?
By Monday my coworker told me that when she mentioned getting another cat to her son, he seemed very disappointed as he's allergic and he stays with her when he visits. She said it would be best she not adopt Willow.
Willow has finally found her true home. There will be no more talk of rehoming her. There will be no more speculation of a perfect home or owner for her. As unconventional as her situation might be, she's happy here and somehow when I wasn't looking, I became extremely attached to her. There are thousands of homeless cats out there deserving of loving, wonderful people willing to adopt. Willow isn't one of them anymore. She's home.