When Petra Met Hector
Back in October 2017 we sent an eNewsletter announcing that our Princess of Floof, Petra, was available for rehoming.
Incidentally, with social media algorithms constantly changing - usually for the worse for small businesses - we are using our eNewsletter system more and more to share information with our community. If you want to get every update we share, sign up!
Why was she offered for rehoming?
With the Wilde kittens putting us over capacity, we knew we had to re-home one or more cats before conflicts started to occur. It is possible to keep multiple cats in a space that size by carefully managing enrichment, 1:1 time and important feline resources, but those techniques can only go so far. At some point, one can have simply too many cats to keep them all happy, and we were headed that way.
Rehoming cats isn't a business decision: it's a decision we make to improve the well-being of individual cats and we have a special way of deciding which cat is the best candidate to re-home. We assess all our cats using a card sorting exercise. The entire cat care team rates each cat on several behavioural dimensions, compares their scores and discusses them before forming an agreement that takes everyone's point of view into account.
Next, every cat carer has a say in the final review discussion before proposing, as a group, the top 3 cats most likely to get best advantage out of being re-homed (software developers out there who work in an agile team might recognise this as a feline adaptation of a well-known agile management technique!)
Petra came out on top as the cat most likely to prefer retirement. She wasn't distressed, had no physical or behavioural manifestations of stress, but we could see she wasn't deriving any particular joy from cafe life.
Petra has always been a personality that picks and chooses who she likes and who she doesn't, which meant she was very choosy about customers and staff from day 1. By comparison, cat cafe life is a delight for a cat like Dorian, who, at this stage of her life, loves everybody and craves attention.
But things don't always go to plan
As some of our longterm followers might remember, we've already had 1 failed rehoming attempt: Carbonelle, back in 2015. We thought she was ready to be re-homed (and very possibly so did she), but once she had left the cafe, she was so upset and bereft without her cat family, we had to bring her back! This was a lesson to us that some cats in the cafe are so used to feline company, they can't be without it.
Our fluffy ladies like to keep us on our toes, it seems, and Petra was no exception. After the usual process of house checks and lifestyle fit, we had a short list of 2 ideal homes: One with cats already living there, and one without.
We'd seen Petra engaging regularly with the cafe cats for 4 years and were concerned she'd be lonely without feline company. For this reason, we opted to re-home her with Angus and Edita, who had 2 cats already and who had demonstrated a fantastic understanding of managing multiple cat households and introductions. It seemed perfect!
Except for one thing: Petra likes things Petra's way.
Hector, one of the existing cat household, was very excited to meet Petra and wanted to play and get to know her before Petra was ready. Petra let him know about her boundaries with a swipe and a scratch on his nose, which Hector never forgot (this is very typical of cats, they will never forget a negative experience).
Despite Angus and Edita's best efforts, Petra and Hector did not get on.
We can't help but feel that Petra was being a bully, which perhaps, given our running joke about her being a 'diva,' we should have foreseen. Although it was anthropomorphic of us to call her that and we knew it, there was always an element of truth to it as well. She is known to be haughty and has always lived very much on her own terms.
After a good few months of trying to make it work and doing their absolute best, Angus and Edita had to concede that the cats just didn't like each other. Hector was scared of Petra, and Petra wasn't softening towards Hector at all.
Jonathan and Ivana, the second family on our final list, had not yet adopted a feline friend and were happy to have Petra join their family, so thankfully we were able to sort things out so that Hector could have his peaceful home back and Petra could find a place to settle into.
Petra has been with Jonathan and Ivana since last Thursday, and they've given her a brand new name and some lovely flowers to pose alongside (which is perfect, because posing with flowers has always been a thing for Petra! 😂)
So far, so good. We're going to keep in touch with her new family while she settles, as having moved twice in such a short timeframe can be stressful for cats, although Petra is a confident and assertive cat, so we're sure she'll be fine after the initial settling period. In the meantime, you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter under her new moniker: Phoebe Buffay Wilson!
Good luck little Petra/Pesh/Peshy/Squeaks/Pheobe! We miss you and your sassy ways and your little fluffy pantaloons 💔 and we want you to be your happiest!