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All about Tunakitten: My rescue cat love story

rescue-cate-story

Gary Tuna: Outdoor Kitten

Known aliases: Belly, Kitten-Kitten, Mister, Monster, Mr. Kitten, Notter, Tuna, Tunakitten

This is my cat, Tuna. And this is our story so far.

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I know that everyone feels strongly about their pets, but you know what? I love reading rescue stories (Natalie’s comes to mind as a particular favourite), so I’m sharing ours, too.

I met Tuna a year ago on January 2nd, 2016, on my way to look after our neighbour’s cats. I made the fatal mistake of feeding him (little known fact: cats are actually gremlins), and that was that.

He’s been a constant in my life since then. On January 1st, I was milling about listlessly without a pet; on the 2nd, I had a cat that waited in the garage all day for me to come home and cried whenever he was alone. So that month, I did the only thing I could do, and my partner and I took him to the pound to adopt him.

I have no idea what happened to Tunakitten’s original family, but they left him out in Edmonton’s -30 degree cold to fend for himself. We found him neutered but not chipped, and so poorly socialized that the pound labelled him as unfit for adoption. The only reason we were able to take him home was that we were the ones who brought him in.

tunakitten

tuna-paws

Tuna is turning 3(ish) this year. He’s such a good cat in some ways: he doesn’t break stuff or pee on things, and he’s so good about using his scratchers. He loves hiding under the bed and sitting right behind my chair so he can gently paw at me when he gets bored, and he’s chatty and adorable at all times.

But he’s a tough cat to care for in other ways, too. He gets frustrated easily, and he’s full of odd fears.

For instance: he gets anxiety about sitting people. If you’re sitting and you’re not paying attention to him, he’ll comfort-purr and then bite. He’s claustrophobic, afraid of tapioca pearls (no one knows why), and super not-a-fan of the wind. He hates the wind.

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He’s wary of black socks but not white ones, will eat anything that stays still for long enough, and loves carbs so unbeliiiiievably much that he will steal them off of your utensil. Imagine eating breakfast and having a stealth ninja steal a Mini Wheat out of your bowl and flee with it.

Unlike most cats, he’s surprisingly cool with the vacuum and refuses to sit in boxes unless he can fit completely upright in them. He’s a fast learner – so far, he knows how to sit, wait, and pretend to be a butternut squash. He’s learning the commands for “bed,” “floor,” and “paw.” He’s great with the litter box but refuses to cover his poop, and if we’re out of the house, he’ll wait for us to get home before he can go.

I don’t know. I think it’s a comfort thing.

He loves spinach, tomatoes, chicken, and anything containing dairy, and (hilariously) his favourite fish is tuna. I’m pretty sure that he’s convinced the toaster is actually a carb dispenser made just for him.

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Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

When I started taking Tuna outside, I learned two things: one, he’s terrified of elevators, and two, he trusts us.

It took a long, long time, and our relationship still isn’t perfect. We have to spend a lot of time together in order to keep his aggression down, and it’s a struggle every day. But, at the end of it all… He got the constant food source that he so desperately wanted, and I got a little terror who trusts me so much that he runs to me when he’s scared.

I think we both did pretty okay.

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  • My gosh, this made my day! Tuna actually reminds me of our friends cat Nemo, who's also a rescue (and looks a lot like Tune, except Nemo has vampire fangs).. From the way you talk about him, and how well you know him, it sounds like you found your 'cat mate'!

    I laughed so hard at the 'pretending to be a butternut squash' part..that's a very particular vegetable to pretend to be, so I'm impressed!
    What happens with the wind though?

    As far as the not covering poop goes – it's a thing that kittens learn from the mum, so if he wasn't around the mum long, or she just didn't care much, he doesn't actually know how to cover his poop (or why). It happens with one of my SO's cats, who's otherwise a very classy gent.

    • Aww, thank you, Kathy! I'm glad it put a smile on your face :) Imaging Mr Kitten with the wind is even better than this post, I promise — he does this hilarious thing where he just totally flattens his body to curve it away from the wind, from his ears to his belly. Even though he doesn't exhibit any signs of distress as it happens, it's automatic — whether it's a room fan or a strong breeze! It makes it look like the current is pushing him over, and it never ceases to crack me up. 😂

      Tuna TOTALLY gets vampire fangs when his head is upside down (one of his favourite sleeping positions. Nemo must be such a cutie, too! ;)

      Can I ask a follow up about the covering behaviours? Tuna always covers his urine; it's just his poop that he's weird about. Are they both behaviours that are learned during socialization from the mum?

  • AWWWWW! I LOVED THIS! Kolme's story is not dissimilar – found outside in the dead of January in -20 or so weather. I don't know who these monsters are that abandon cats in the dead cold, but I'm glad there's good people are to take them in. I always love seeing Tuna on snap (or wherever) and I'm so glad they've found a good home with you!

    • Aww! I didn't know that Kolme had a similar story — poor kitty. :( (I had always assumed that she and Nemo were a pair, actually! They look so similar that it never occurred to me that they might not be siblings.)

      Sending all of you guys hugs! I love your kitty snaps, too.

  • i think you guys did ok too. sounds like a really rewarding relationship! and he's a cutey!

  • Awwww, such a sweet story! I LOVE PET STORIES! And anyone who doesn't can just eff off, lol.

  • Soos

    Here's a new alias: Catcrobat. For that scratching post perching!

  • Kate & Zena

    Awww, Tuna is made for you, Rae! Have you thought about getting a Thundershirt for Tuna for the windy days? Zena loves her Thundershirt! (Yep, it comes in a kitty form!)

    You are now like me! Isn't it fun to have a pet attached to your hip?

    By the way, I totally know what you mean about training and weird fears. Zena has a fear of wind, the sound of bacon popping, plastic bags being opened…..silly puppy. XD

  • kiki37

    Hi Rae,

    Apologies in advance if what I say does not make sense : English is not my mother tongue.

    Maybe Tuna's 1st family did not abandon him. May be they had a baby and Tuna did not accept it. May be they adpoted a dog, and… see above.
    May be his owner got sent to hospital for a long time. May be he/she died with no one to care for him.

    My 9 year old cat is having a really (really) hard time adjusting to our new dog… I'm watching her like I would boiling water.

    Just saying.

    • Thanks for adding your thoughts, Kiki — I really appreciate it.

      To me, the first two things you are describing sound like abandonment. If a cat is no longer a good fit for a household, that's ok — but we have a really good, welcoming animal shelter here in Edmonton that they could have left Tuna at instead. It would have taken them less than an hour, and the city would even pay for the fees associated with it if the family couldn't afford them.

      I really appreciate that you see the best of people in a situation, and I really hope that Tuna's family didn't leave him by choice. However, for many cats here, that's just the reality — a family will move away and leave their animal to fend for itself instead of taking it with them :(

      Sending you and your new cat lots of love. I hope she is able to adjust to living with a dog soon!

  • It's a terrible thing to abandon a pet outside in the winter, and I'm glad Tuna has found a good home.

    I think some of the more troublesome behaviors in poorly socialized or formerly abused animals will correct with time, love, and patience. Our family cat is turning 10 next year, and will have been with us for 8 years. Though she has made a lot of progress, it is still pretty evident that her behavior is different from cats who have been with a family since they were kittens.

    • I totally agree, Lulu. It's only been a year for us, and Tuna has already gotten so much more comfortable being a house cat — he's much less aggressive than he was, and is a good deal less afraid of things.

      I'm so proud of your cat & her progress. I think it's so great that you guys took in an older cat with struggles of her own — she is so lucky to have you!

  • What a gorgeous cat, thanks for sharing your story with us!

    • Mr Tuna says "meow!" (Translation: "why thank you, Kristy! I AM the most gorgeous cat around!")

  • Kate & Zena

    BA HA HA HA HA, he turns into a flounder! That's funny!

    Zena's secret love is bacon and bacon grease. She LOVES bacon grease especially; she just loathes the sound of the grease popping. It must sound like gun fire to her. She's will camp out by my feet until she hears the first pop and then she'll race up the stairs like her butt is on fire and hides in her other "motel" as we call it (aka the master room closet. We call it the motel as she's dragged blankets in there and ripped down clothes to make a nest to sleep in. You move the stuff, she drags it back in.) until I'm done. She waits until she hears me place her bowl down and zips down the stairs and scarfs her food down.

    She's so NOT spoiled, Rae. So not spoiled.

  • Kate & Zena

    I will have to see if I can snap a photo of Zena in the motel sometime. She can be sneaky; I will be ready to take the photo and she'll decide she won't let you snap her in her element so she leaves. This is why I have no photos of her in her suite (the cage.) Her cage is left open all of the time so she can come and go as she pleases. She goes in there for alone time and I can never get a solid picture of her in there.

    ONE DAY!

  • Aw Tuna <3 This made my heart so warm.

  • This was so so nice to read, Rae! I definitely love reading rescue stories, it really warms my heart to hear about owners and animals making such perfect matches! Tuna sounds like an absolute muffin, and all his quirks are adorable! Well, maybe not the biting part. Animals are the best, aren't they?

    • Thank you so much, Natalie! Animals so are the best. If only I could find myself a boyfriend as enthusiastic, honest, and clumsy as a puppy…

  • Toby

    Aw, this is such a lovely story. I'm adopting my first cat tomorrow and am excited and nervous and so, so in love already. She was found as a pregnant stray and her kittens have all been adopted out, so it's her turn now. I've been frantically cat-proofing and buying her toys and treats the past week. :D I've named her Dandelion.

    • Congratulations, Toby! I hope you and Dandelion have a long, amazing life together. I am so excited for you!! :)