He was at the Humane Society and on the "kill list" when a local group adopted him, put him in foster care until he found a permanent home. The lady that brought him in to the shelter said he'd been hanging around her house for a week.
We came across him by accident at a Petsmart during adoption day. I didn't want another cat, but I was drawn to him and we left empty handed, but after much discussion with the family (everyone was totally against me adopting so soon) we went back a week later. After finding he was still there, we brought him home. We named him Brady.
He didn't leave the bedroom the first day and it took him three days to wander the whole house. He'd spent at least half of his life up to that point in a cage. Every sound made him jump (the ice maker, doors closing, a pan being placed on the stove), it broke my heart. But the broom! If I brought the broom out, he wouldn't come out from under the bed for hours. Then it was anything stick-like I held. The rolling pin, a bread knife, the spatula. He was terrified. So now I knew he'd been abused. Beaten.
We took him to the vet immediately for shots, a check-up, and because he had at least one weird lump on his side; small, tender and he wouldn't let us look at it, kept scratching and biting us. Turns out it was buckshot. So we found out he'd been shot, too. I was so angry. What kind of #^%!#* does that?!?
We had surgery to have the bullets (pellets) removed.
After time, he came to paw, gingerly, at the broom as I swept. He didn't jump out of his skin at every little noise. He purrs and plays most of the time.
It's been a few months and he's settled in well. He's learning to trust and feel safe. He knows he is loved and has a permanent home where everyone dotes on him, plus another cat and a dog that adores and protects him.
Yesterday I was sweeping the kitchen and he was attacking the broom. Laying on it. Rolling in the pile of debris I was trying to clean up. I giggled, he played. I giggled more, he kept being adorable, and it took me an hour to sweep the kitchen, cleaning the floor, then him.
He laid down in my husband's office afterward in the sunshine and took a nap. My husband was at his desk and everything was normal. Then Brady went from sleeping soundly to charging head first into the window trying to escape. He rammed the window so hard we thought he'd break it. He ran to a corner standing on his hind legs breathing heavy, crazy-eyed, and staring at the door. I was terrified he'd hurt himself, but we didn't want to go near him too fast because he was so scared.
My dog must have heard the commotion because he came across the house, click-clacking his nails on the wood floors into the office. As he got closer, Brady's eyes were huge, darting wildly, he was panting and staring at the doorway and then when he saw the dog, you could see relief flooded him. He went to the dog and rubbed against him, seeking warmth, protection. Then he spent the rest of the day under my bed.
He slept curled between my knees all night. Not very comfortable for me, but I could tell he desperately needed that comfort and safety.
I felt guilty, because obviously the broom brought back memories of his abuse. He may never get over that and flashbacks will most likely occur for the rest of his life. I am prepared for that.
My husband says I have a knack for "finding animals that are broken and fixing them". All of our pets have a tragic past, including the one we lost. I don't seek them out on purpose, it just ends up that way.
Today, Brady turns one year old. He will get extra love, plenty of attention, a chicken "cake", and I will not sweep for a few days until he calms down a little. As a former military member and married to an active duty military man, I know all about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). You never really get over it, you just learn how to live with it.
Animals are capable of a wide range of emotions that most people don't understand or give credence. I live with it, I see it, and I know that my "pets" are more than furry playthings, they are part of the family, my adopted children. I don't dress them up or do weird things to them, but I treat them as kindly and special as if I'd given birth to them because I know they understand so much more than people may think. They feel or love just as deeply as we do.
Remember that if you ever think of adopting. They need a lot of emotional support because you don't know what they've been through, you don't know the baggage they carry and you have to be prepared to unburden them. But if you have room in your heart and your life, please, bring one home!
Remember how Brady was abused, shot even, and how he needed me, still needs me, because he had a tragic start and needs many years to try and overcome that.
But the important thing is he has a real home. I remind him every day that he is safe, nothing will ever harm him again...