It's been 5 months since we last adopted out a cat. That was Shaolin, who actually wasn't in our home for very long at all, she was an easy adoption. But before and after Shaolin we had been experiencing a relative dry spell in adoptable cat turnover in Chez Legs. When we first started adopting out street cats, they went fairly easily. In those days we had many kittens; and when one would get adopted, more would show up to take its place. We even adopted out some of the adult cats, although it should be noted that cats like Gladys weren't even full grown themselves.
We worked on adopting the tame cats, and started in earnest with TNR, trapping as many of the feral cats around our block as possible, getting the fixed and vetted and returned to our yard. Things were going so well we started taking in cats that we knew weren't as appealing to the mass market. But we had found a home for cats like Baby-Bones, the Cat Who Hates People; we figured we could find a home for all the stray cats.
So we took in cats like Marbles, the tough street momma who likes to sit at the bottom of the stairs and hit each cat as it runs down. We also took in Bishop, who actually claimed his place indoors by showing up with a sprained leg, which took months to completely heal. And we took in Annabelle, the cat who had brought several of her kittens over to us, but who had always been too skittish to stay inside with us.
While we were trapping the ferals, Annabelle got caught in a trap. At the time we hadn't seen her for months and weren't sure what happened to her. Once we had her, we decided that we would try to tame her to make her into a house pet. It wouldn't be easy, not because she was violent or mean, it was because she was so paralyzingly shy. So we let her acclimate to the house and miraculously over time she started to come around. She let us pet her and soon she was coming up to the couch and staring at us until we reached down to rub her head. I started gingerly picking her up and placing her on my lap; the first few times weren't pretty. But she liked being petted so much she would allow this for brief periods. Then one day she jumped onto the couch with us. Soon she was sitting on our laps with such tenacity that she wouldn't get off until you literally stood up straight.
Finally, she started sleeping in the bed with us. Like most cats who experience beds with humans, she attacked our toes. It was interesting to note that it's mostly kittens who do the foot-attacking thing, and Annabelle is at least a couple years old. So I guess that's more of an experience thing. Who knows when her interest in this will run out.
We had Annabelle for almost 10 months. I honestly didn't think of her as an adoption cat. Although it's not like we hadn't tried. We had been advertising on Craig's List for months, for her, Marbles, Bishop and Augie (the newest cat to come indoors), all to no avail. CL has always been very good for us to find decent folks, but the combination of timing, having only adult cats and the fact that more and more people were advertising adoptables on CL resulted in no inquiries.
At some point about a month ago, I saw that the blog Gowanus Lounge was looking for adoptable cats to post on their site. I sent over bios and photos of all 4 cats, and they got posted on the site over 2 weekends. I didn't really think it would amount to anything, but I wanted to feel like I was touching as many bases as possible. By this time I had also put the 4 on Empty Cages Collective Petfinder site.
So the GL posts came and went and then Craigs List seemed to pay off: two people were interested in Annabelle. I started in with them but the situations weren't not ideal and nothing ended up happening. When these deals ended, I went back to thinking we'd never adopt out these cats (and this was not necessarily a negative thing). But then I got an email from a woman who was interested in 2 of our cats.
She had seen the posts on Gowanus Lounge and was looking for two adult cats to adopt. She and her family owned an entire house in Brooklyn and were partial to the adult cats, not just because they are less destructive than kittens, but also because they knew how hard it is for them to find homes. They came over to meet the cats and we tried to do our best to get Annabelle to perform. She did reasonably well (that is, she let them see her), but certainly wasn't getting into anybody's laps. Bishop also made a good impression, but he's pretty much comfortable wherever he is.
We agreed that they would make great cat owners, and last night they came back and picked up Annabelle and Bishop. I'm so happy they get to live together, if any two of our cats would go together it should be them. Ananbelle really likes other cats so I'm especially glad she won't be alone. I feel sort of bad (as I do in most of these adoption scenarios) that her last memory of our home is me grabbing her and throwing her into a cat carrier and handing her over to strangers. But I try to mitigate this with the knowledge that she's going to one of the best households we've encountered in all the 17 cats we've adopted out so far. In New York City, you can't expect people to have huge houses with staircases and spare closets to hide in. Usually they're lucky if they have enough room to run around in without running into stuff.
It may take time, although I hope it's less than the 10 months we had her, for Annabelle to adjust. I'm hoping that we laid the groundwork for her to appreciate human company, even if it's not us. I always thought she had been a house cat who was abandoned and just needed a refresher course on house living, but the longer we had her the more I believe she was a true wild-born feral cat, albeit one who had the capacity to believe that humans might be useful for something. Either way, she's come an amazing distance, and it was pretty hard to look around the house and know I wouldn't be seeing her around anymore.
So this means we technically have only 2 cats left to adopt out, and who know when that might happen. Yes, we have two other nonresident cats, the semi-feral kittens we took in, but they're still a long way off from being ready to adopt, if they ever will. It feels odd, then, to have so *few* cats to adopt out now. Of course just over the weekend a new cat was spied out the front window, so who knows how long this lean time might last.