To get the ball rolling again, here's a photo of Bella keeping warm on a cold winter's day. Modems make handy heaters.
We adopted Bella, who was 4.5 years old at the time, from the Cat Protection Society of Victoria (CPS). These people do a stirling job at caring for all sorts of cats, from week-old kittens to the more mature, retiring types; from strays and abandoned cats to those who are sadly given up due to illness, death, moving or financial problems.
Bella's story is sad, but not the saddest I've heard. Her owners had four cats. They gave up all of them when the woman became pregnant and felt she couldn't care for them and a baby. Bella and her brother, and two other cats (brothers from another litter), were handed in to the lovely CPS. The two brothers were soon snapped up. Bella's brother was also in demand because he was a beautiful, sociable cat, but the CPS kept declining offers of adoption for him alone. They hoped to find Bella and him a new forever home together.
The only problem was that Bella was shy. Painfully, off-puttingly, awkwardly shy. She'd cower in the corner under a blanket or run away from whomever approached her, so no one could get to know her and see how beautiful and loving she is. No one wanted her because she seemed so timid and difficult. I think she had a broken heart (and abandonment issues). Eventually the CPS rehoused Bella's brother alone, and Bella stayed with them. For more than a year.
I saw Bella online and fell in love with her big green eyes. I visited her almost weekly for two months. Each time she'd hide or run away from me. I realised how much work would be involved in adopting her and didn't think she would be a good fit for our home, because we were at work all day and she'd need company and security. So, I made it my mission to find her a home.
I tried to convince other people to adopt her, including our retired neighbours, my boy's family and my family, but had no luck. Not even my parents would take her (and they've adopted loads of cats and dogs in need over the years).
I've heard that you don't choose a cat, it chooses you. On one of my last attempts to win my mum over, I took my parents to visit Bella at the CPS. Bella had been moved into a cage inside, where kittens and sick cats were kept, to give her some peace and quiet (probably from the kids that chase the cats in the cages outside). I opened her cage and she cautiously came over to me. I put out my hand slowly. Bella let me scratch her ears and chin, then rolled over to let me scratch her belly. Her motor started. The cage was the same height as my upper body, and she came closer and head butted my face in a clumsy kiss. We played with some feathers on a stick, and she chased them happily up and down the mesh walls. Then she head butted me again. It was decided.
My big-hearted boy eventually caved (with a big list of demands of his own to even things out) and let me bring Bella home the day after our engagement party. He was the first to let her into bed with him, despite being allergic to her.
Bella took a little while to come out of her shell, but we bribed her with cheese and she was soon making herself at home…
Snuggling with my boy (the day after we got her!).
On the bed.
In the bed.
On my head on the bed.
Under the blankets.
Under the rug.
On the cushions.
On my preggy belly.
On my shoulder while I breastfeed Little Red.
Helping me study and work.
Supervising me cooking from on top of the microwave on top of the fridge.
Smooching with our other cat, Indi.
Bella is not the cat we thought we were getting. She is loud, demanding, quietly confident, obedient and clingy. She is the most loving and affectionate cat I have known. She waits patiently for me to have a minute to myself with a cup of tea so she can climb onto my lap, crawl up my chest and snuggle under my chin, head butting my face as she cuddles in. She nuzzles her way into dressing gowns and jumpers, and under blankets. She comes when she's called. She gently sniffs and smooches Little Red, and isn't deterred by her cries. She never wanders far from us. She no longer hides from strangers (especially if they have cheese). And she always looks at us with absolute adoration.
It just goes to show what difference a little love (and cheese) can make.