I have a confession to make, and it isn't easy to say. Much of the time, I don't feel a very strong bond with my youngest cat. I would love to tell you that it was "meant to be" that we adopted her, and once in a while I do feel that way. But not always.
We got her as a young kitten, and I thought raising her from her kitten-hood would help create that strong bond. Instead, it has caused confusion and often, frustration.
Aura's personality often doesn't hold true to the Ragdoll temperament characteristics. She usually isn't the relaxed, easy-going and trusting cat Ragdolls are "supposed" to be. She can be that, especially when she's with the man of the house, as she is quite the daddy's girl. But more often, she is nervous, skittish, and in another room when we'd like to be spending time with her. Sometimes, just walking into the room she's in sets her off running in a panic. Gloomy visions invade my thoughts sometimes and I imagine how, if we were to pass away and she was taken to a shelter, her new adopters would think she had been abused. In reality, she's been quite pampered. She's just a nervous nelly.
A couple weeks ago, we were going on vacation for a whole week. Aura has only ever had a pet sitter for one day at a time, and she always hid; the pet sitter, Shelly of in Stow, never saw her. We joked about how over a week, Aura would probably get used to the pet sitter, and then upon our arrival, she would likely run and hide and it would take her another week for her to get back to normal and trusting us again. Then I read an article by a pet behaviorist, 8 Things You Do To Annoy Your Cat, that basically confirmed that fear:
It can take him a week to get accustomed to a change in schedule, so not only is his schedule upset when you leave, it is also upset when you return.
So, I did the best I could in preparing her for our time away. I gave my pet sitter long, detailed instructions. (She probably thought I was crazy.)
I also purchased a bottle of Rescue Remedy for Pets from and instructed her to put drops of it on all Aura's meals. Rescue Remedy is a natural and safe, alcohol-free flower essence remedy that I was skeptical to use, but it really does calm her down when I give it to her orally or by rubbing on her ears and nose.
Reports from the pet sitter were good; Aura was coming out a little bit more on every visit. She wasn't comfortable yet being petted, but she seemed calm, would sit in the room with the pet sitter, and ate all her food.
As we drove home from the airport, we reminded ourselves out loud how the welcome home reception from Aura might not be as happy as the ones we experience from our dog and other cat. We agreed that she would probably hide for a day or two upon our return, and then slowly things would return to normal.
Were we in for a surprise.
We thought our dog would wiggle and jiggle with joy. But he had been so comfortable at "grandma and grandpa's" house, where four people cuddled and played with him all day, that he calmly greeted us as if we'd just seen him five minutes earlier.
My other cat, Charlie, seemed unphased.
Aura was another story. Amazingly, Aura seemed the happiest to see us out of all our pets.
When I first walked into our home, Aura looked ready to bolt. I approached her slowly and sat on the ground next to her. She took a moment to sniff my hand. Then, her daddy walked by and she followed him. As he unpacked, she spent a minute rubbing up on him, purring as he petted her. Then, she turned around and came over to me and rubbed up on me for a minute. She then turned around and returned her to her dad, rubbing up on him. Then, she returned to me, and so on and so forth, back and forth for about ten minutes.
She loves us!
We had never received such a welcome home from her, and it felt wonderful. It confirmed to us that she does indeed know that we are her family, and that she appreciates us, even though she doesn't always show it. Things were back to normal within minutes, except for one thing. I now feel a stronger bond with my little girl.