Friday, February 27, 2009

Luxy & Tuxy: A Tale of Two Kitties

By Daniel Quagliozzi

The SFSPCA Cat Behavior Program helps hundreds of cats a year, but the hardest cases we get are often the youngest. All year round, especially in the summer time, kittens find their way into shelters all over California. In a state blessed with longer periods of warm climates, kittens are born in high numbers. If these kittens make it into the shelter system at a young enough age, they can be socialized in foster homes and put up for adoption by the time they reach two pounds or two months of age.

Some kittens come in later in their childhood and have not benefited from the socialization of humans. Most commonly, these kittens are coming from feral colonies where they have to be trapped and surrendered. Once they are health checked, they need to be handled consistently and trust with humans has to be established in order for them to be adoptable. Luxy and Tuxy are perfect examples of how this socialization is done successfully.

In the late summer months of 2008, a feral cat volunteer named Maggie trapped these two 10 -week old kittens in the Hunters Point shipyards, an area that is notorious for kittens that are hard to tame. Maggie describes the cats in this area as having a "stubborn gene" and was ready to assume the same about Luxy and Tuxy when she surrendered them to Animal Care and Control. The shelter staff had a very hard time examining them as they sat still, ears flattened and frozen in fear. What would become of these fearful cats?

The option of surrender to Animal Control was going to be hard so Maggie worked with them consistently for over 4 weeks in her home, seeing them progress every day. Admittedly, she was beginning to fall in love with these two. It's the hardest cases that win you over the most! In no time at all, Luxy and Tuxy were getting comfortable enough to explore her home and interact with her resident cats. Maggie was beginning to think these cats were adoptable, so she brought them back to ACC for Spay & Neuter. Unfortunately, Luxy and Tuxy were not adjusting to the change very well and Maggie was forced to take them home again.

As the holiday season was vastly approaching, Maggie had to visit her family in Australia and was wondering what she was going to do with her two favorite project kitties. As ACC was no longer an option and craigslist was not providing any leads, she contacted the Cat Behavior Program for help. We gladly took Luxy and Tuxy into Maddies with intentions of monitoring their behavior for the 2 months Maggie would be away.

Our second floor is devoted to enrichment and rehabilitation for cats with behaviors that need modification or medical concerns that require a little more comfort than our shelter care kennels can provide. We moved Luxy and Tuxy into a deluxe suite with a cat tree and plenty of quiet and immediately began to visit them. Our cat socializers paid close attention to their body language and shyness. At first, Luxy would hiss as you approached and Tuxy would not come down from his tree. As time went by, we started to see a lot of change. Tuxy had no more fear and Luxy was still a bit aloof but no longer hissing. She would approach you once she knew it was safe.

We made the decision to put Luxy & Tuxy up for adoption. This was news that Maggie thought was impossible. The very day that they were moved into Adoptions, they were adopted by a very patient young man named Ryan. He loved Luxy's "sassyness" and Tuxy's bold personality. Ryan was beaming, just thinking about sharing his bachelor pad with his new buddies. To this day, Luxy and Tuxy, now named "Diva and Buddy" are cuddling it up next to Ryan's pin up pillow.

This folks, is how the magic happens! From fearful fuzzballs to forever friends, Diva & Buddy have defied the odds.

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