Adopting Sherlock

by Sue Ellen Nario

A week ago, we finally adopted our cat, Sherlock. 

We knew that we wanted to adopt from a no-kill shelter so we went around and checked out Treehouse both in Bucktown and Uptown as well as PAWS. After talking to so many awesome folks in these places, we ultimately decided that getting a young adult was what we wanted to do for a couple of main reasons: 1) Kittens are a bit more hard work in that they need more time to socialise and train, and our schedules at the moment are a bit irregular and 2) We want to find a cat with a more established personality. 

After visiting Treehouse in Uptown, a grey tabby was one of the friendlier cats that welcomed us into the room. He didn't hesitate bumping his head into our hands, circling our legs and just overall showing signs of being friendly and socialised. We did spend time playing and observing other cats but in the end, this 4-year old won us over. His name was Arguros. 

As a first time cat mum, I was quite nervous since I don't really have any experience with cats and especially with helping them settle in our home so I did tons of homework beforehand. I researched and read about what we should do to help the cat transition to his new home, training them, understanding their behaviours etc. It was a lot to take in but it was comforting to know what to expect and what we should do. 

After filling in all the paperwork (we had to promise not to declaw our cat nor let him outside), we were sent home with Sherlock in a cardboard carrier box, a bag of his litter, some cat food, his meds, some toys and a snap on lid for cat food (which is awesome). He was meowing most of the way from Uptown to Logan Square. I felt so bad for him. When we brought him home, we prepared his litter and food bowls in the guest bathroom. When we opened the box, his eyes were completely wide and he looked almost catatonic (ha!). We thought we would just open the box and tip it sideways and let him decide to come out on his own. 

When he wouldn't come out, Patrick decided to gently tip him out of his box and then we realised that he had actually pooped inside the box. Knowing how fastidious cats are, I'm sure this was quite traumatizing for him. We spent some time with him in the bathroom sitting on the floor, letting him get familiar with us and trying to build some trust. We would leave him alone for a few hours and after some time, he crawled into his bed -- a basket with a towel in it. For about a day, he would mainly just be in his basket whenever we would come in and visit him. We then eased him into eating and getting up by giving him some treats which seemed to work. I knew as soon as he was eating and going to the toilet with us there that we were making some progress. Not long after, he was letting me pet him quite a bit. One of his favourites is being rubbed under his chin and he then rubs his face on my hand and contort his whole body until he's all curled up in his little basket. 

It's been a week since Sherlock's been home and he is definitely settling in better. He has complete access to the whole house now but he ultimately prefers to be around where we are but most times in Patrick's room whenever he's playing games. 

He's still a very cuddly cat but very clear that it's in his terms. He would let us pet him for quite some time especially when he's in bed. He does get overstimulated every now and again and he swatted at us or tried to bite to let us know he's had enough. We're trying to read his body language and understand at what point he's getting overstimulated so we can stop before it even gets to that. Patrick has a nasty scratch mark on his arm when he tried to pick up an unwilling Sherlock one time.

Some (strange?) behaviours we've noticed is that whenever he's in the hallway and you're passing by him, he'd hiss at you. He's also been quite vocal the last couple of days and we're guessing it's mostly because he's hungry. At first, when we let him explore the house the first time, he was meowing at all closed doors. He's not so into all the toys that we bought him -- yet. Since he has access to the house now, it seems that he likes sleeping upstairs by the stairs so we moved his new fluffy bed up there. 

I bought him a fancy-er cat scratcher that I read a lot of good reviews about. 

It came with a small bag of catnip that we would spread all over and Sherlock goes a bit apeshit over it.

Given Sherlock's past -- from what we know, he was taken from a hoarding situation along with 60 other cats -- I know he has some ways to go before he is completely settled and comfortable with us. It will also take us time to understand him and his needs for sure. 

For now, we are very happy seeing him doing well and enjoying being with us in his new home.