The Shiva Chronicles: On Strikes and Streaks

Dining room chair napping- the latest fad at Chez Gainey…

Day Nineteen:

The battle continues to wage between Shiva and the Gainey family. There are moments of detente, glimmers of hope that this crazy new feline resident in our home will realize she’s got it made here and bond with us. Dan remarked this evening that every animal needs food, water, and connection. We figure at some point she is going to want to be with us more than she wants to stay in the periphery.


She flirts with us, walking around the living room couch and chair on an endless loop- never stopping to interact, but letting us know that she is large and in charge. After a bit of pacing, her tail begins to twitch and we get ready for the show. This evening she made her funny chirpy sound, then barreled hell-bent into the glass of the bookcase at the bottom of the stairs, bounced back, batted at the glass, and then streaked up the stairs like greased lightning. A few minutes later, we heard the heavy tread as she hopped back down the stairs, talking to us in her high-pitched voice, eight pounds of terror on paws.

The long-suffering (or at least nineteen days of suffering) Sophie: “If I don’t look at her, maybe it will be okay…”

Morning visitation….this seems to be the brief time when Sybil- err, Shiva, likes me…I think.

I’ll be honest; after she bit me soundly (unprovoked) and after she growled at me because I talked to her in the morning (I guess she hadn’t had her coffee yet), Dan and I discussed Shiva’s future. Should we return her to the vet’s? Is she miserable or does she just need time to settle in? Is Sophie doing okay with the stresses that Shiva adds to our lives? We sincerely want it to work, as we see the potential when she allows her sweet side to break through her resting bitch face (what my friend Brian calls, RBF).

We bought pheromone diffusers for both floors of our house that were recommended, we play with her- toys galore, give her treats. She will come sit on my chest in the early morning hours and purr and knead, but as soon as we get out of bed, she runs from me so fast that her hind legs just about bounce over her head. She is fiercely independent- I get it. I am doing my best to let her come to me, to watch for her cues as to when I can pet her or pick her up briefly. I tell her that she needs to get with the program; I’m the one who faithfully scoops out her litter box several times a day and feeds her. She just looks at me with her owl eyes, as if she’s saying, “Savethat guilt crap for your sycophantic canine, lady. Homie don’t play that.” Le sigh…

And so, we watch and wait. Shiva just now jumped on me at 5am- I was in a deep dream state- of course pouncing right on my bladder. She stayed for three seconds and then jumped down and thundered through the house, chirping. You never know when she is going to abruptly jump on you for a brief period of affection- but sometimes I’ll hear her under the bed or circling it. I can’t help but think of the scene in the movie Poltergeist where there was an evil clown doll under the bed. Maybe she’s bipolar? Maybe she’s just a Tortoiseshell cat in her ‘terrible twos’. No matter what, we’re in for a wild ride.

Postscript: And then there are these moments that give us hope…

12 thoughts on “The Shiva Chronicles: On Strikes and Streaks

  1. Did you keep Shiva locked in a safe room for a bit before giving her free reign of the house? It’s sometimes easier to bond with a Cat in a quiet environment free of additional stimuli. I think I sat in Luna’s safe room for several days before she allowed me to touch her. One can use a safe room even after the initial introduction period. Cats are territorial and it sounds like Shiva may be stressing herself trying to defend and control your entire house all at once. Good luck!

    1. Thank you for the good advice. We did not do that, but she has chosen places in the house that seem to be her safe space. We will try that. She seems very confidant – just distant- a trait that friends who are Tortie owners tell me is common. We will keep trying. ❀️

  2. I can understand the frustration that is setting in. It can be so difficult to understand these behavoirs, especially when you have had a loving, peaceful cat in the past.
    Several years ago, I adopted a 3 yr. old male. He was a loving lap cat, with only one bad issue. I already had a 12 yr. old female, who needed an insulin shot at meal time.
    For months, this 2 yr. old would chase the female under the bed, when it was time to eat, or if she tried to come out and use the litterbox. It was so stressful, because my female had to have those insulin shots with her food, and of course use the litterbox.
    I continued to try and make it work, because this new member of the family was so loving, and had no other issues. After a year, it became more than clear, that I had done everything I could,
    and returned him to the rescue place, telling them I believed he was a perfect companion, for someone with no other cats. It broke my heart to give him up, but knew I had really tried everything to make it work.
    Peace was restored, and I have since adopted 2 other cats, that have fit in quite nicely.

    I will continue to hope that Shiva will settle down, and fit into your home, soon.
    In the mean time, please know that you are doing your very best, to make this work.
    Thank you for sharing. πŸ’•

    1. Catherine, I am so sorry that you went through that. It’s just so hard to give up on an animal that you have committed to. We are going to do what you did- give it time and know that we did our best. If it doesn’t work after that, our vet will take her back and find a home that might be better suited for her. Thank you for the good thoughts- much appreciated! ❀️

  3. A good friend who took in a coworker’s cat had to spend a few patient years developing trust and a relationship with the cat. They’ve come into friendship through time . 19 days isn’t very long to adjust to a whole new environment and expectations ! Best wishes and lots of love to all of you !

    1. Cathy, thanks so much. I am doing my best to be patient. Shiva is a very large presence in our usually very quiet and peaceful home…so 19 days seems like a really long time. I’ll be patient. 😊❀️

  4. Did the vet tell you where Shiva had come from? (I can’t remember now from your earlier posts.) I volunteer at an animal shelter and think about that all the time for the pets who’ve come in: they must have had such routines, etc., in their old homes and are now thrust into such an environment. So, perhaps they always did something w/their former owner that was just part of their daily life but for someone new, it may seem like odd behavior, and they are just unsettled. The older pets who come in are the hardest.

    And now I just made myself terribly sad writing that…but it is a thought. And no matter: you guys are doing the best you can to get Shiva settled in. It is always, always an adjustment period.

    1. Elle, all I was told was that Shiva came from a home with a little boy, that she had been an indoor/outdoor cat and liked to hunt, and the family was afraid she’d give the little boy something bad from her hunting (she liked to sleep with the little boy). Each day is getting better with her. ❀️

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