A Case Study: When Rehoming Your Pet Works Out

12.01.2023

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Starting December 2023

Meet Campbell

Campbell is my 3-4 year old spayed, female cat. I got her October of 2022 from my laboratory instructor at Veterinary Technology school. Prior to living with me, Campbell lived at my instructor’s house as a “semi-feral” cat. I was told Campbell does not like people that much and likes to watch people from a distance. She was raised near people, but not really with people. When she was an older kitten, Campbell was found with a Campbell Soup can on her head and taken by her first Mom to work (the local Animal ER) and had the can removed. That’s how Campbell got her name and stayed with her first Mom ever since. Campbell was loved by her first family. All of her basic needs were met. She was given food, water, veterinary care, love, and her own cat house.

I was told Campbell was very a very independent cat. She liked to hunt for her own food. She does her own thing, I probably would not see much of her and petting really isn’t “her thing.” My instructor would be moving and needed to find homes for her animals. She knew this semi-feral cat would be tough to place because of her special needs. It can be hard to find enough land for a semi-feral cat to be safe, but keep her semi-feral lifestyle. I decided that I could have a outdoor cat that just needed some food and water and to be left alone. Over the next few weeks, I would muster up the courage to ask my husband if we could have one more mouth to feed.

Campbell’s Big Move

Well, asking Jeremy if Campbell could have a soft place to land did not quite go how I planned. I thought I would have a couple weeks to ask if she could live with us. Campbell decided that she would have a moment of bravery one morning when my instructor was coming to school and jumped into my instructor’s lap. My instructor took that moment to snatch Campbell up and bring to her school. If you know cats, sometimes you only get one chance. That night I went home and asked Jeremy if we could keep Campbell. It was more like, so “there’s a black cat that is coming home with me tomorrow and I’m setting the garage up for her. I promise I won’t ever do this again.”

Before I left school the next day, I took home my brand new hissing, pissed off bundle of joy. Frankly, I was terrified of her! All I kept hearing as I drove home was “Me-ow! Meow! MEEE-owWWW” and if I looked at her, I heard “kkHHHIISSSsssss.” Yeah, you know the sound. She was MAD!!! I new she was stressed out and mad, so I kept her in a large dog crate in the garage with food, water, and a litter pan. She was an outside cat and also furious she was inside, even though it was the garage. I even gave her a hidey-banana to cuddle in.

Campbell in her banana the first day she came home.

After several days of her using the litter box, drinking, and eating a little bit (she had wet food too). I let her out of her crate, but she still was not allowed out of the garage. I wanted to make sure she was eating well and knew this was her new home. She was MILES from her old home, but her first Mom and I were a little worried Campbell would just take off if she was let loose. Campbell spent another week in the garage. By the end of the week, we had to endure constant “meows,” which I took as her screaming to be let out of the garage. After that she escaped! I still wanted her in the garage for another week, but she had other plans.

Freedom

The first few weeks of Campbell being free were worrisome. I did not see or hear her for a little while, but I had already ordered her a cat house (her first Mom forgot about hers until a month later), so I decided to put Campbell’s food in her new cat house every night. Some nights when I went to feed her, the food was still there, so I just left it. Eventually the food started disappearing every night, then she started showing up at meal time. Eventually, she start showing up when I wasn’t going to feed her, but she would watch from a distance.

It took her about three weeks for me to start seeing Campbell again. I was a little worried at first that she had ran off and it was another critter that decided to eat her food. When Campbell first decided that she would come closer to me, she decided that she would weave between my legs and purr, some, kind of, for her. She would only kind of purr, sort of, sometimes. Eventually, she let me sit down and then she would come up to me, and I let her pet me. Then she went haywire and started rolling around on the ground for Jeremy and would cuddle with him, purr, show her belly (she likes belly rubs), and be almost normal, but she doesn’t like to be held.

Loosing Titles

Over the year that we have had Campbell she has quickly lost her “semi-feral” status. She is now my “outside cat” or Jeremy’s “pretty little princess.” She meows now because she wants attention or food. You can leave the door to the house wide open, but she absolutely REFUSES to come inside. Jeremy had this bright idea to keep her safe on 4th of July, by moving her favorite cat house (she has 2 cat houses now), into the garage and give her plenty of food. She sat in the garage and meowed the entire time in protest, so Jeremy let her out of the garage out of the worse of it was over. Jeremy gives Campbell her Frontline (flea and tick preventative) diligently, every month by himself.

She will follow Jeremy all over the property. They go “hiking” together as long as he doesn’t have loud, scary equipment with him, but she’s still pretty close. She has decided that the front porch is hers. Her and Armada are best friends, while the rest of the dogs can “kick rocks,” in her opinion. She used to walk down to the dog training building with me and back up when I could walk. If I call for her she comes running and happily “Meows” when she sees me. Almost everybody who comes over sees her and she shows them that her food bowl is empty (she gets fed) and she can hunt. She likes men the most, but she lets people, even kids pet her, especially if they get on her level. It is awesome to see her stalk and hunt. She has absolutely FLOURISHED here! From the “semi-feral” cat that literally terrified me the day I brought her home, to the welcoming cat she is to day is like night and day.

Campbell Packing Herself for a trip

Campbell’s Artwork. She’s quite the artist. I call this “Paw Prints on the Hood.”

Campbell leaving us presents. Jeremy was so happy she killed the moles in the front yard. She also killed a couple of mice and left them for us.

Campbell, and her dog, Armada.

 

Take Home Message

As a dog trainer, I hear it ALL THE TIME, “if I give up my dog, I’ll feel like a failure.” Deciding you are not the right home for your dog, or in this case, your cat (this rehoming was forced b/c of a move), is never an easy decision. In fact, when I first got Campbell I told Campbell’s first mom I’d give Campbell back. After a couple months of Campbell flourishing, we both decided that would be a bad idea. Campbell will always live with me. One of the hardest, but selfless, decisions you can make for your pet that you love, is to decide your pet might have a better life living with someone else. There is nothing wrong with that!!!

There is more to life than giving basic needs. If someone else is able to give an animal a little bit more than you can, it does not mean you have failed an animal. You are probably THE PERFECT owner for another animal. For example, my sister was the most perfect home for a dog who was 9 years old, and had his front leg amputated. He was attacked by a pack of dogs at his first foster home because the introductions were done in a less than ideal way. My sister had three other dogs, and this little French Bulldog who just had a freshly amputated front leg. After introductions were done. this dog fit into her pack without any problems. The original owners were not able to provide proper veterinary care or aftercare for this dog. An older lady might be a great home for a low energy dog, but a terrible home for a high energy Siberian Huskey. There’s a perfect home for that Siberian Husky though.

Crate and rotate, living in fear, and making decisions based upon your pet’s behavior is stressful. You need to keep your emotional well being and quality of life in check as well. Campbell would have been fine living her life as a semi-feral cat and we would have never known her favorite things if we would have never made her move, but life can be so much better if you give it a chance.

Share some rehoming stories that you know of in the comments!

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