Sitting in my lap.

One Year With Tara: Patience Is the Way to a Courageous Cat


This morning I was thinking about my beloved “surprise kitty,” Tara. And to my surprise, when I opened Facebook to check what my friends were up to, the first thing I saw was a notification about a memory from this day last year. Lo and behold, it was one year ago today that Tara came into my family.

That got me thinking about the day I first met her and how far she’s come in her quest to be brave.

November 13, 2015: The day I first met Tara.

When Tara arrived in my home, she was a loving but very scared cat who had probably never lived with other cats before. She loved people and was a complete schmoozer from day one, but whenever my other cats, Thomas and Bella, came near her, she crouched low and then ran as fast as she could to get away from them.

Needless to say, this then resulted in chases from one end of the house to the other, with lots of hissing (and, unfortunately, peeing by poor, frightened Tara).

I cleaned up after so much pee in those first few months that I thought I’d never get my security deposit back if I moved out of my apartment. But getting her on alprazolam helped with her anxiety and she stopped peeing.

Sitting in my lap.
Sitting in my lap.

About a month later, the peeing started again. I took her back to the vet, and we put her on another medication. That didn’t work, either.

Finally, in desperation, I took her back a third time, at which point she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. As soon as she got some antibiotics on board, the inappropriate peeing stopped.

She was developing more confidence, too.

But then August came, and we had a bit of a setback. Thomas came on to her too fast and started chasing her again, which caused her to go back to hiding under the couch — the safe spot she’d found that allowed her to be near me but not need to interact with the other cats.

A bit of a setback.
A bit of a setback.

Every day, multiple times a day, I reached under the couch and petted her, telling her what a brave kitty she was. Eventually she got to the point where she felt safe eating her evening meal in the living room while Thomas and Bella ate in the kitchen. She still ran back under the couch and hid as soon as she was done with her dinner.

I kept feeding her breakfast in the bedroom, where she was most comfortable, so she could use the litter box after she ate. This went a long way to preventing inappropriate urination and defecation problems: When she felt safe to do her business, she happily did so in the litter box.

Then, in October, something amazing happened: I was sitting in my chair writing a Catster post when Tara poked her head out from under the couch and gave me a little chirp. “Hello, Tara,” I said. “What a brave kitty you are!”

And then she hopped into my lap, positioned herself between me and the computer, and began purring like crazy!

tara and me recent
October 2016: Schmoozing with mama.

Of course, I had to stop what I was doing and pet her because, well, you have to reinforce good, brave behavior, right?

This continued every weekend when I was in my chair — whether I was writing, watching TV, or playing video games, she came to visit me on my lap.

Then, one day after I got home from work, something really amazing happened.

I was just taking my phone out of my purse when I saw Tara walking, all confident and proud, into the kitchen. I quickly snapped a photo because I could barely believe my eyes!

tara explore
In the kitchen, with other cats nearby!

My little scaredy cat had become a warrior princess!

Every day she comes out to visit me and sit in my lap or get some love and petties. She’s gotten so much more confident that whenever I’m around, she’ll let Thomas and Bella get really close to her. She’s even letting Thomas groom her ears again, which she hadn’t allowed for a few months.

Tara still enjoys spending time under the couch or in the closet, but at least instead of hiding in the deepest, darkest corner, she curls up in the bin where I keep my shirts, which is at least three feet off the ground.

My brave little kitty: It’s been a long road, and one that had setbacks and no small share of inter-cat drama, but I think she’s finally starting to feel like she really belongs here.

tara window
My sweet, beautiful girl.

She greets me with a chirp when I walk in the door. She sits on my lap. She lets the other cats love on her. She eats in the living room. And most of all, she’s acting like a cat.

I’m so proud of my brave little warrior kitty.

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