It’s called the ‘Poezenboot’ (kitty boat), where she comes from. She was sitting in a little cage, which looked quite big compared to her little baby cat body. She was not that young anymore, probably a few months old, but she was scared, so scared, that she was in the back corner of the cage, hissing and anyone looking at her. I saw her, and even though I was looking for a totally different cat, the moment our eyes met and after hissing she looked down for a second, showing a little bit of insecurity, I knew that this was my cat.
That is the story of how I took in my first shelter cat. Schram (which is Dutch for ‘scratch/scrape’) was so afraid, that she was under my furniture for many weeks before she finally came out. Poor thing. The ladies at the kitty boat told me that she was found all alone in the street of Amsterdam, and that she would never be a real lap cat. I was a bit sad about that, but as I took Schram in together with Vloekje, my first cats ever, I thought it would be okay. Vloekje, an expensive Norwegian Forest cat who did get the whole socialisation process in order, would probably be cuddly, so it should be fine.
So, at first Schram was just afraid of everything, and that was very hard. I did not feel rejected, as she was a street kitty and we had no idea what she went through before she came into our home, but it was difficult to deal with at times. One day I had to take her to the vet to get vaccines, and she was so difficult to get into the carrier thingie.. I was so stressed trying to get her to come with me, and then when we arrived at the vet I told the vet that she was very afraid and I was not sure what would happen. The vet did not really listen to me, so as soon as she had the change, Schram ran out of the travel box and started running and jumping like crazy, through the vets office.
I think we must have made each other extra stressed, but it was so sad to hear her scream, and see her trying to jump as high as she could while running around. It was so sad to me, that I seriously started crying right in the middle of the vets office, which made it even more awkward (and I am not a cry baby at all!). So the assistant had to come, put on thick gloves to catch my little baby and she was pooping everywhere (the cat, not the assistant 😉 ), and then the assistant still had scratches all over her hands because the gloves did not really do the trick fully (we called Schram ‘scratch’ long before that by the way 😉 ).
So the next few times I had to take Schram to the vet, I would get these pills to make her sleepy, but it was very sad to see her on it because she was walking around like she was drunk. Plus, it became more and more troublesome to even give her the pills, so at one point I just thought: I give up, she is a strong cat, she is never sick (especially compared to Vloekje), so I will just leave her be in our home.
So after a few years Schram started to be a bit more relaxed around our house, but as we were living on a pretty busy street in Amsterdam (on the first and second floor), she did never really relax because of all the noise. I had a little balcony on which I put some nets so the cats could relax ‘outside’ and we could have the doors open in the hot summer, but Schram was always a bit jumpy. After six months to a year she started to be more interested in me, she started jumping on the couch and stare at me awkwardly, sometimes I could pet her, but it took her a very long while to really be okay with sitting on my lap.
But, she did sit on my lap, even though the shelter ladies told me that she would never do that. Eventually I have lived with the cats in Amsterdam for five years, and though Vloekje apparently was more of a loner cat, she was only into cuddles a few minutes a day (on HER clock, not mine), Schrammie slowly became cuddlier. At one point I could even call her name and she would come to me. Now that we have moved houses since a few years, she is even more at home. Whenever I sit on the couch, she will run to me and sit either next to me or on top of me. When I am typing or working (like now), she sits on my lower legs as my upper legs are taken by my laptop.
Schram has trouble with men, and with other people sometimes, but she gets more interested every day. Sometimes my boyfriend is a bit sad she never sits with him, but when we are in bed she is okay with laying next to him, which is cute. When I lay on the couch with my head resting on my boyfriend, Schram will sit on top of my hip, and even though she has lots of issues getting picked up (she gets all stiff, poor thing), she gets more and more relaxed about that too.
So, the bottom line of this story is that it is truly worth getting a cat from the shelter. I have never met a sweeter, nicer cat than Schrammie, cause even though she has hurt people when they picked her up (with her nails), she would never deliberately hurt a human being. Even when she was little and she was just afraid and hissing the whole time, she would never bite or scratch. She is the friendliest, loveliest cat I have ever met, and I feel so happy that she is mine. And I thank this to that one millisecond in that Kitty Boat, when she looked down for just one instant, looking so insecure, making me fall in love with her. If you go to a shelter, do not think about what you want; have an open mind and see which animal really speaks to your heart.