When Alessandra took over the management of a homing centre in Romania there were a number of cats in residence that had been there some time.
Buffy was one of those cats – scared of people and always hiding above a closet in the cattery where a number of cats mixed freely.
Nobody knew where she had come from or anything about her life, just that she must be around 10 years old. Alessandra noticed that Buffy had one cat pal, Glenda. When the cattery was empty of people they would sit grooming each other but run and hide as soon as they heard footsteps. Her tense body language and constant efforts to avoid people made it clear to Alessandra that Buffy was not comfortable in that environment at all and she wanted to fix that as soon as possible.
Alessandra started to carry out Traffic Light Assessments on the cats in her care (having started adopting Cat Friendly Homing principles). Buffy was constantly ‘red’, meaning she was failing to cope and needed urgent help. Alessandra was in a difficult position – was Buffy unsocialised and not suitable to be a pet or was she just hating being with so many other cats and the cattery in general? Alessandra had no access to foster carers and no other facilities where she could move Buffy. So Alessandra started fundraising as a matter of urgency and built a cattery in a quiet area with a large outdoor green space.
Although cats would still need to be in communal housing in the new cattery, Alessandra followed all the Cat Friendly Solutions guidelines for multiple housing regarding different levels, multiple resources and hiding places.
Buffy moved there as soon as it was ready with her friend, Glenda, and seven other cats. As soon as she moved she began to change, the more days passed the more relaxed Buffy became.
Alessandra was encouraged by this so set up a daily care plan based on interactions through play, because Buffy had become curious! Little by little Buffy transformed – she comes to greet people, she is relaxed and rubs against their legs. She is now friendly with people and with all the other cats!
Alessandra believes that Buffy’s story illustrates how the new environment, designed with care, made her more comfortable and allowed staff to get to know the real Buffy and take care of her as an individual.
Having a suitable environment to lower her stress and support both her physical health and mental wellbeing enabled the team to implement all the other principles related to individual care in Cat Friendly Homing.
Sadly, Buffy developed a serious heart problem and other health problems which along with her age made her adoption nearly impossible, despite her Traffic Light Assessment colour now being green. At the moment she is not in pain and her quality of life is still positive – very much a life worth living. She will enjoy the sun and Alessandra’s company, until her quality of life declines due to her illness and under the guidance of the veterinarian, she will be peacefully put to sleep.
Hopefully Buffy will have the pleasure of her lovely new environment for a long time yet. Nobody wants to see cats staying in homing centres for years, but the reality is that it does happen. The most important point here is that the quality of life for Buffy has to be good, she has to have a ‘life worth living’. This outcome isn’t ideal , but it is the best for Buffy, given that all the possible alternatives have been explored. It is a shame that her medical condition and age makes it impossible for Alessandra and her team to find her the perfect home, but all the time Buffy is happy and blossoming in her new ‘luxury pad’ it’s as good as it can be!