Bumbledore: the Heartbreakingly Beautiful Story of a Rescue Cat

Today marks one year since we brought Bumble home. In that time, he has completely transformed. He still has a long road of mental recovery ahead of him, but even if he weren’t to improve any further, I’m convinced he’d live a happy, fulfilled life. 

Before I jump into Bumble’s story, I want to say that King Street Cats (KSC) is fabulous. They are an extremely successful and well-regarded shelter specializing in “difficult to adopt” cats — like those that are shy, older, or have mobility issues, among other things. Anyone looking for a cat in the Washington, DC area should look into KSC. They rely on volunteers and donations, and you can easily help support them by setting KSC as your charity on AmazonSmile online and by setting up your Amazon app to shop using AmazonSmile. I’m not affiliated with KSC in any way, I just believe that strongly in their mission.

Back to Bumble, he was a rather damaged cat when we adopted him. He’d been through some horrible things in his life, and that’s just what we have proof of. It’s amazing how far he’s come in just one year. I’ve never known a sweeter cat, nor one more desirous of affection (though scared to ask for it). I hope he’ll continue to improve and flourish. My goal is to turn him into a lap cat — we’ll see if that happens. Regardless of what the future brings, I want to share his story with us so far.

I’ve included lots of photos and videos to break up this super-long post. Make sure to turn up your audio so you can hear what’s going on in the videos.

The Beginning

If you read Sandy’s anniversary post, then you know we lost our female cat, Koya, to cancer on April 28 of last year. In late May of last year, Jim started looking for a new cat, eager to get Sandy a companion so he wouldn’t be so lonely during the day. In his search, he came across Bumble at KSC. You can read his “adopt me” page if you want to. The Cliffs Notes version is poor Bumble was brought into Anne Arundel County Animal Control (AACAC) with BB pellets under his skin before being transferred to KSC. He was described as cautious and scared. But his story touched Jim, who told me about him.

Bumbledore's shelter photo

We discussed Bumble several times over the next few days. I wasn’t really ready to get another cat, but Sandy was getting progressively needier each day and Jim felt bad for him. So, we made an appointment with King Street Cats and visited on May 27 (Memorial Day). 

Bumble was just as scared and shy as his page said. He was hidden in a white plastic basket up on a shelf — high enough to be ignored by most, but low enough for me to pet him through the holes in the basket. The KSC volunteer on duty pointed him out, and, while trying to dodge some other, very friendly cats, I gave Bumble a few light pets.

I tried taking a look at some of the other cats. One, in particular, was an absolute sweetheart, but much younger than we were looking for at only 2 years old. We’d agreed to get a cat between 9 and 11, so it would be fairly close to Sandy’s age. 

I kept going back to Bumble who eventually left his basket, letting me get a good look at him. He had fangs! 

Bumbledore looking at the camera with his fangs showing.
This is one of the best photos I have of Bumble’s little fangs.

Yes, I suppose, technically, every cat has fangs, but he’s got an overbite, so his canines are visible when his mouth is closed. By leaving his basket, he also made himself more available for petting, which I took full advantage of. I even got a few quiet purrs out of him, and that’s all it took to win me over.

I don’t think Jim was 100% convinced, so we left without making an official decision, but I knew we’d be bringing Bumble home with us, it was only a matter of time. We talked it over the next couple of days, then made an appointment to officially adopt him and bring him home on Friday, May 31. 

Looking back, we had no idea exactly what we were in for. We were both expecting a shy, but otherwise normal, affectionate cat, roughly how Bumble is today. I’m not entirely certain we would have adopted Bumble if we’d known how long his road to recovery would be. But then, we wouldn’t have our kind, beautiful boy, so I’m grateful that we didn’t know.

Interlude: Bumble’s History

We know very little about Bumble’s history. According to the paperwork we were given with his adoption information, Bumble was transferred to KSC on March 14, 2019, from AACAC. The volunteers at KSC explained that AACAC felt KSC would be a better place for Bumble since he was so scared of people. At least at KSC, he’d have a chance of being adopted.

At the time, we just assumed he was picked up by animal control or a kind samaritan who passed him injured on the street. What we didn’t put together, at that time, was what else the paperwork said if you read between the lines. 

In looking back at his paperwork to write this post, I took a good look at all of the information we have about him. The facts are as follows:

  • He had various procedures (deworming, vaccines, etc.) on January 25 and January 30, 2019, so I think it’s fair to say he was brought to AACAC at the end of January, perhaps as late as the 24th.
  • He was already neutered, so it’s likely that he was not a stray — keep this in mind. 
  • His name was listed on the AACAC forms, so either they immediately named him, he was surrendered by his owner, or he escaped his previous household with a collar on.

It’s clear to me now that the chance he was a stray cat in the wrong place at the wrong time who accidentally got hit with irresponsibly aimed BB pellets is fairly low. Far more likely is that he was a seriously mistreated pet, either indoor/outdoor or indoor-only who escaped his tormentors. 

I’ve shared this information with you upfront rather than when we chronologically put the clues together because I’d prefer to focus on his development and improvement rather than his past. However, his past is part of who he is and needs to be shared to help others understand how amazing his journey since then has been.

Adoption

Back to the story. 

We returned to KSC on May 31 to pick up Bumble. There was some paperwork to fill out, of course, but it wasn’t long before the volunteers were plunking Bumble in the carrier we’d brought with us. With a final thank you, we were out the door, and Bumble was on his new journey.

Bumbledore in his carrier, ready for his ride home.

He yowled a bit plaintively a couple of times during the car ride. He clearly didn’t enjoy being in the car — or perhaps he disliked being in the carrier. I pet him lightly and spoke to him softly, trying to reassure him.

Looking at Bumbledore from inside his carrier. He's not happy.

Jim and I were both eager to get him home and introduce him to Sandy, but I need to pause a moment here to excuse our following behavior. I’d only ever introduced two cats to Sandy, and he was very easygoing and eager to play with them. When I introduced Koya to the household, it went off without a hitch. I had no reason to expect that introducing Bumble would be any different.

Jim didn’t have any experience with introducing cats to each other, and so trusted my (slight bit) more experience. As a result, we really goofed. But, neither Bumble nor Sandy got hurt in any way, and they’re good buddies now, so no harm done.

When we got home, we brought Bumble inside and brought Sandy downstairs. Back then, he was still kept in the cat room while we were asleep or away from home. He used to be so vigorously active that I was afraid he’d knock furniture over onto himself or get stuck somewhere for an entire day. If you want to know more, you can read Sandy’s story. Sandy was very unhappy about the “intruder”. He hissed and growled, surprising us both, but Bumble stayed quiet.

We took them both up to the cat room — Bumble still in his carrier — thinking perhaps Sandy might feel more comfortable in “his” space. But no such luck. He hissed, growled, and spat, if anything, more aggressively. Clearly Sandy wasn’t as easy going with new cats as he used to be.

Conceding defeat, we left Sandy in the cat room and took Bumble into the living room. We decided to let him out of the carrier, and he and Sandy could sniff at each other through the door. But our plan had a major flaw: Bumble’s fear.

He stayed in the carrier for a while, then just disappeared. His slinking skills were — and still are — magnificent. We set out food, water, and a litter box for him, with the hope he’d settle in overnight. Our hopes were not realized.

The next morning, we found a terrified Bumble hidden in the basement. He hadn’t touched the food or water, nor had he used the litter box. I was concerned, since cats need to eat regularly, and I couldn’t be certain precisely when he’d last eaten or drunk anything.

Jim tried to approach Bumble who was so scared he actually hissed a little before climbing the curtain to escape. We were both worried we were putting him through more stress than he could handle, so Jim sent a concerned email to KSC for advice. The KSC volunteer reminded us that it hadn’t even been 24 hours since we’d brought him home. We needed to give him time and keep Sandy away for a few days.

I don’t recall how I came up with the idea, but I decided to move Bumble to our upstairs guest bathroom. It was a smaller area for him to get used to, and it meant Sandy could be out in the house.

I moved the litter box, feeder, and water bowl into the bathroom, and put a cozy bed into the tub, then went in search of Bumble. He was back in the basement. I tried picking him up. That didn’t go well. It took a good 10 minutes for me to clean up afterward. He hadn’t tried to hurt me, but he’d flailed so much that his claws connected.

I tried gently herding him into the bathroom. That didn’t work either. He climbed the upstairs curtains to get away. And we learned that he has some serious jumping skills.

Finally, with some creative use of towels to block his routes, we were able to corral him into the bathroom. I closed the door and let him settle down before checking in on him. If my memory is correct, we moved the camera we’d gotten to keep an eye on Sandy and Koya in their room into the bathroom so we could check in on Bumble. Or, we moved the camera a couple of days later. It’s been a year, and I’m not 100% positive either way.

Bumbledore in the bathtub.

Mostly, though, we left him alone for the rest of the day. We let Sandy out of his room, and he sniffed around places Bumble had been. Overall he was a bit twitchy. Unsurprising, I suppose.

The next morning, June 2, Bumble had eaten, drunk most of his water, and used the litter box, so those worries were eliminated. He also allowed us to approach him, give him light pets, and even brush him. I knew, then, that we’d be OK. It would take time, and a significant amount of love, but he’d be OK.

Settling In

We kept Bumble in the closed bathroom for a while, keeping a close eye on him via the camera and even talking to him through it during the day to get him more used to our voices. We kept his water bowl full, and his litter box clean to make things as nice for him as possible. The feeder is automated and on a set schedule, so he could get used to meal times. 

Bumble relaxing in the bathtub.
I don’t know why he preferred the cold bathtub to the warm bed.

We visited him often while we were home, sitting near him, speaking softly to him, and giving him gentle pets, which he really seemed to enjoy. His purr certainly picked up, and he showed no signs of being distressed. Every so often, he’d even roll to the side to get belly rubs.

Bumble also enjoyed getting brushed, rolling from one side to the other and purring his deep, grumbly, “really happy” purr.

Sandy, of course, was very curious about what was going on in the mysterious room we kept disappearing into. He’d sniff around the door, and try to sneak in when we were going in or out. But he still hissed, so we never let him further than the threshold.

After a few days, though, he laid off the hissing, so we started letting him in for supervised visits. We’d hold him at the open door, chastising him if he hissed. Nothing harsh, of course, just a simple, “no hissing, you know better,” or something similar in a stern voice. He’d usually look sheepish afterward.

By June 8th, Bumble had settled in enough that we left the door open at night to allow him to explore. And he did, taking very short jaunts, as you can see by the time code.

We also decided to leave the door open during the day to allow Sandy to visit with him. That first day resulted in some amusing interactions.

What you don’t see in that video, because the camera cut off, is Sandy hissing at me because I wouldn’t let him eat Bumble’s litter-coated poo. Cats are weird.

He went back a few hours later and tried talking to Bumble, who virtually ignored him, likely from fear.

Despite Bumble’s continued timidity, he was getting more curious about general goings-on. 

I’d gone into the bathroom to adjust the camera so we could see the entire bathroom floor, rather than just some of it and a lot of wall.

Over the next couple of days, Sandy tried everything he could think of to get Bumble to pay attention to him, with minimally successful results.

He even badgered him in the litterbox.

Making Progress

Neither seemed inclined to attack the other anymore, so, in an effort to encourage Bumble to explore more, I moved his food to the kitchen. And in an attempt to forward their relationship, we decided to let Sandy out at night. That was a first for him, he’d never been allowed to stay out at night, and now he had a playmate!

They were careful around each other that night, and for several nights after. 

Bumble spent less and less time in the bathroom, exploring both night and day (making sure to give us a wide berth while he was out and about with us). To help push him along, I moved his litter box to the cat room one morning and closed off the bathroom before going to bed. 

His new “safe place” became under the chair closest to the wall in the front room, although he would occasionally hide under the other chair, too.

He spent most of his time while we were at home there, so Jim and I spent a considerable amount of time on the floor talking to him or petting him lightly. Let me tell you, bodies out of their 20s don’t really like laying on a hard floor in odd positions. There were plentiful body aches earned while cultivating Bumble’s trust. And an equal amount of numb limbs.

Petting Bumble under his chair.
In those early days, he always kept an eye on us.

Spending so much time lying on the floor watching and petting him, I learned that Bumble communicates quite a bit via blinking. He’ll blink to indicate a positive response. Non-cat people, you’ll probably think I’m crazy, but they understand significantly more than most people will give them credit for. He’d blink when I asked if he wanted a treat, or when I told him he was a good boy or pretty boy. He’d stare at me when I asked if he wanted to come out from under the chair. Just a couple of examples, but you get the point.

He started blinking when I called him Bumbledore. Not Bumble. Definitely not Bumblebee. Bumbledore. To this day, he responds best to Bumbledore. His ears will likely twitch if you call him Bumble, or just B, or even Bum-Bum. He’ll completely ignore you if you call him Bumblebee, unless he’s in a really good mood. Silly little boy. But from here on out, I’ll refer to him as Bumbledore, as he prefers. Not that he’s spoiled or anything…

During all that time with him, I also began piecing together clues about his past based on his reactions. While he was perfectly OK with lengthy, uninterrupted scritchies in a single location, petting that involved moving your hand (e.g. head to back and back to head) scared him. He’d flinch every time I moved my hand. I adjusted my petting to be slower so he could move away if he wanted to, and so he could see that I was approaching him for another pet. I wanted him to learn that we wouldn’t hurt him.

As he warmed up to us, I started trying to coax him out from under the chair. I laid out trails of treats, getting him that tiny bit further out each time.

Animated GIF of Bumbledore peeking out from under his chair to eat treats.

As soon as he finished them, he’d realize what he was doing and disappear under the chair again. I fed him by his chair to make sure he actually got to eat his wet food (Sandy would scarf it, otherwise). And exposed him to new things like cat milk, which he really appreciated.

We weren’t the only ones trying to help Bumbledore improve. Sandy made frequent overtures to his stepbrother, occasionally losing patience with him. He’d meow or mrrp, then wait, and wait, before hissing lightly and walking away. I imagine, in human speak, it would go a little like this:

Sandy: “Hi!”

Bumbledore: …

Sandy: …

Bumbledore: …

Sandy: “Well, screw you, then!”

With them doing well together in the evening, and in an effort to further their relationship, we started leaving Sandy out during the day. While I think doing so was a good idea, and I think it worked as we wanted it to, it took some time to bear fruit. They weren’t exactly best buddies from day one. Granted, their comfort with each other and relationship improvement probably took less time than it would have if they weren’t spending 24/7 cohabitating. 

Little by little, Bumbledore started spending more time out from under the chair, replacing the time previously spent under the chair with time spent on it. Sandy, good stepbrother that he is, would often spend time on the adjacent chair, quietly keeping Bumbledore company.

Sandy and Bumbledore sitting on adjacent chairs.

He experimented with other places to sit, like the toy basket.

Animated GIF of Bumbledore sitting in a basket.
Death-ray eyes. Not creepy or anything.

Although he eventually settled on the furniture in front of the window — we refer to them as “ups” — because he could watch the world go by and bask in the sun.

Bumbledore on one of the "ups"
Such a beautiful boy.

Somewhere in there, he started learning that it was OK to say “no” to pets and attention. Rather than just accept us petting or sitting with him, he’d move away. I’m sure this seems like a “well, duh” thing to most readers, but it was a pretty big thing for him. Previously he’d not expressed any kind of opinion. 

Some Big Leaps

While, admittedly, Bumbledore’s improvement was astounding in his first month with us, the next two months, he made some pretty impressive leaps forward as well.

Toward the very end of June, or the first couple days of July, we heard him voluntarily vocalize for the first time since his terrified hiss on day 1. I just so happened to open the camera app to check in on the boys one night, and caught a high pitched meow. My heart stopped for a moment.

“Was that Bumbledore?” I asked Jim in awe. 

“I think so,” came the quiet reply. 

Another meow. It definitely wasn’t Sandy, the meow was too highly pitched. It had to be Bumbledore. He finally felt comfortable enough to vocalize! And my heart melted. I cried. It was such a beautiful moment. That first meow, more than anything else, seemed proof that his soul was healing.

After I’d recovered, I marveled over how highly pitched his voice is. He’s a largish cat, so I was expecting something low pitched, perhaps lower than Sandy’s neutral meow. But now, I couldn’t imagine him having any other voice. He’s such a sweet, pure little being, the high pitched voice suits him.

Turn your volume up! He’s hard to hear.

At the end of July, I called Sandy to dinner while preparing their wet food, as I always do. I was floored when I turned to head downstairs with Bumbledore’s food only to find him peeking up at me from the stairs.

I made sure not to make much noise or sudden movements as I took a few steps forward and set down his bowl. He retreated a few stairs but didn’t run all the way back to his chair.

“Come on, Bumbledore, dinner is ready. Come eat.” I called to him softly. He stared up at me with wide, fearful eyes, so I backed away, letting him get his dinner.

It took a few minutes, but brave little Bumbledore made his way back up the stairs and crept to the bowl.

Bumbledore eating dinner upstairs for the first time.

Within a few weeks, he started what would grow into his dinnertime ritual. I don’t remember what order he added the different aspects of it, but these days, it’s a well-rehearsed production. 

That’s a pared-down version; it’s usually an interactive show. We talk to each other, often me teasing him that he’s not starving, or telling him that I’m going as fast as I can. He also plays a little game as he circles the island. He slows down as he nears me, waiting for a moment when I’m not paying attention to sneak past me. I try to tag him.

When I get him, his vocalizations are deeper and slower, sounding displeased. When I don’t get him, his vocalizations are higher, faster, and he’ll come back around the island quicker.

Not long after the first time Bumbledore came upstairs for dinner, around mid-August, he finally tried playing. We’d sprayed a toy he’d been eyeing with catnip scent.

He was a little unsure, but he clearly enjoyed himself, as a short time later, he played with that pennant toy.

It was another example of his healing. Learning to trust a new human is one thing, but regaining innate behaviors that have been lost (likely through negative reinforcement) is another thing entirely. 

My heart was full to overflowing as I watched him playing and expressing himself. I loved seeing him have so much fun, like he didn’t have a care in the world.

It didn’t take long for him to try playing with the toys we have tied to the railing.

And, like a proper lazy kitty, he discovered that he could enjoy playtime from the comfort of his bed.

In short order, he expanded to playing with stick toys.

His attempts to catch some of the stick toys made it inescapably obvious to us that he had not been a stray cat. There’s no way he could hunt well enough to survive. His depth perception is off, and his pouncing ability isn’t great.

I’m choosing to believe the depth perception issue is congenital. I don’t want to consider other possibilities.

Being around us for play made him confident to hang out upstairs near us. It’s like he was letting himself be part of the family. 

By this time, he’d virtually stopped hiding — except when we’re vacuuming, but I can’t really blame him there — and because he was near us more often, we were able to hear him randomly start purring. We did our research, and narrowed the reason down to two options:

  • He’s self-soothing, trying to heal from something, presumably his difficult past
  • He’s just really happy. 

Since there are many stories of rescue cats randomly purring in their new homes, and Bumbledore doesn’t show signs of being distressed when he purrs, we think it’s more likely he’s just really happy in his new home. I hope that his purring signifies that he’s having a moment of thinking, “gosh, life is great!”

Emergency!

On September 4, just as we were getting ready to leave for work, we found some blood spatter on Bumbledore’s chair and on the floor near it. It looked as though one of our boys had coughed up blood.

Neither showed a sign of continued active bleeding. Going off the assumption that Sandy’s light color would show blood drops somewhere if it had been him, we wrestled Bumbledore into his carrier and hurried off to the emergency hospital. We paused only to send messages to work that we wouldn’t be on that day.

When we explained to the admittance desk what was going on, he was whisked away for an exam. They were concerned that he could be blocked, although I knew from experience with Sandy that that was unlikely. He wasn’t showing the correct symptoms. 

We were led back to a waiting room after completing his admittance paperwork and settled in for a wait. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for a vet to come to speak to us. Bumbledore showed no signs of being blocked. We explained to the vet what we had found. He assured us Bumbledore was doing well, definitely not actively bleeding, and no obvious signs of where the blood had come from. 

There were several tests they’d be running in succession to try to determine the cause of the blood, and we were advised to go home in the meantime. We were told someone would notify us when they had some results. I offered to send in a photo of the blood spatter, in case it might help. I dutifully took a photo and sent it off as soon as we got home, then we set about cleaning the chair.

Blood spatter on the chair
It looked worse when it was fresh.

After a couple of hours, I received a call from the hospital. The tests had all been negative so far — good. They still had no idea what had caused the bleeding in the first place — not so good. But there were still a couple of tests to go. We kept on waiting — as though we could do anything else — hoping any additional news would be good. 

After another couple of hours, I got another call. Everything was still negative in terms of coughing or sneezing blood. He was ready to be discharged, and they’d give us additional information when we picked him up.

We made our way back to the hospital to pick him up. Here’s a quick rundown of the information we were given:

  • Blood work showed elevated blood sugar, possibly indicating diabetes.
  • A chest x-ray showed some lung changes, possibly indicating asthma.
  • An echocardiogram showed no signs of heartworm disease. He did have a moderate tricuspid leakage causing a heart murmur, likely congenital in origin. He had normal heart function and a low risk of heart disease.
  • Definitive heartworm and diabetes tests were pending, with results expected in a couple of days.

After a few questions, we agreed that the most likely explanation for Bumbledore’s blood expulsion was either a spontaneous nosebleed or that he’d run into something while playing with Sandy and had a nosebleed. Either way, fairly benign unless it happened again. 

We were sent home with some deworming medicine, just in case, and a prescription for asthma medicine that we knew we wouldn’t be able to administer. He was far too skittish to hold in place and puff the meds in his face.

A couple of days later, I received another call. He didn’t have diabetes, although it was something we should keep an eye on. And he definitely didn’t have heartworm, so we could stop that medicine.

Thankfully, he hasn’t had any recurrence of expelling blood. He’s been a fairly healthy boy since then.

Bumbledore with shaved front legs from his tests.
Home from the vet with shaved front legs.

He’s Got Personality

The more comfortable Bumbledore became with us, the more his personality began to show. Whether that’s because he felt confident enough to allow it to shine through, or because he was developing one for the first time, I don’t know, but he certainly has some interesting quirks.

For many months, he would only accept pets in what we deemed his “pet deposit boxes.” They were the two beds in the dining room/kitchen area and the sofa. Eventually, it expanded to include the “ups” in the front window as well.

And even in those locations, you had to ask for consent. “Bumbeldore, would you like a pet?” Or “can I pet you?” While holding your hand out. He’d blink or mrrp if he was OK with it. He’d take off if he wasn’t.

We also learned that he prefers if you offer him a pet with your palm down, similar to holding your hand out to be kissed, rather than palm up as though offering a treat. He’s far more likely to approach if you do the former.

Adorable Bumbledore has a bit of a hedonistic side, too. He’ll loll around and luxuriate in brushes and pettings. He’ll roll from side to side, stretch out, and even indicate through leaning where he wants you to pet or brush him. But he doesn’t stretch fully like Sandy does, with legs outstretched. Bumbledore stretches with his legs bent, like a horse leaping over hurdles. It’s really cute.

His preferred way of grabbing treats is adorable. I call it “bearing” because he rears up on his back legs, front legs folded against his body, like a bear. I suppose you could also call it “sharking” as he opens his mouth wide and chops like a shark. Of course, I don’t have a photo of that.

Bumbledore "bearing" to nom a treat

It’s not exactly a personality quirk, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention he has an adorable snore. It seems to stem from whatever congenital issues he has as a result of his overbite, and (as proven by the myriad of tests after the blood event) doesn’t really cause him any problems.

You’ll have to turn up your sound for this one, too.

Bumbledore’s also rather well-behaved. He listens when you say, “no,” usually stopping the behavior immediately. He quickly accepted that the kitchen counters are off-limits and hasn’t made any additional attempts to get on them in our presence. What he gets up to when we’re asleep or away from home, however, I can’t say.

Bumbledore even has a unique pattern to his behavior when he’s learning or becoming more accepting of something new. Let’s use playing as an example. He was wary of toys to start. He would run from them. But over time, he started staring at them, dare I say longingly? And he’d carefully watch Sandy playing. Then he’d sniff at a toy, or lightly bat at it with a paw, only to take off as though he’s done something bad. A short time of that would be followed with short periods of play (longer periods while stoned on catnip don’t apply) interrupted by a moment where he’d freeze, as though realizing what he’s doing, and he’d run away. The short periods of play would get longer and longer, and sometimes he’d even “forget” to stop before he got bored. And, eventually, he’d just play like a normal cat.

It’s an interesting pattern to watch, and applies to most new things: petting, asking for attention, and, most recently, being held.

And finally, our Bumbledore is a rather vain boy. Any time he passes a window that is reflecting him, he’ll stop and stare. So the front of the oven, the sliding glass door at night, etc. He’ll slow down, turn his head a little, and sometimes even strike a bit of a pose before continuing on his way. He’s a gorgeous cat and he knows it.

Isolating with the Humans

And that brings us to the current global situation. Having us around 24/7 seems to be doing Bumbledore a world of good. He’s made several large leaps forward in the past two and a half months.

It started with him relaxing his requirement of being in a pet deposit box to receive pets. He became more open to receiving pets while just walking around.

That, naturally, led to him giving our hands head bonks of love, and even, occasionally, our legs. His depth perception issues, though, mean that sometimes he misses.

Bumbledore giving Jim's hand a head bonk of love.

Because he was doing so well, I decided to start picking him up. Initially, he freaked out, wanting down immediately. He would be “mad” at me for a day or three afterward, and he’d refuse to let me pet him or even get near him.

But about a month into isolation, I started giving him rides to lunch. When he’s lounging in front of the window, he’ll get lazy about going to lunch. So, I’d go down and pick him up, then carry him up the stairs and set him down in front of his food bowl. After about a week, he stopped fighting it, so I started asking him if he wanted a ride.

Now, if he’s feeling lazy, he’ll wait for me to come get him. When I make my way to the window, he’ll be looking up at me like, “come on, take me to lunch.” He won’t put up any fight, or attempt to hold onto the “up”. Otherwise, when I call him to lunch, he’ll jump down and start making his way over to the food.

He also gives me permission to pick him up when it’s not mealtime. If I’m petting him, and he’s relaxed, I’ll put my hands on either side of him and give him a moment to take off, usually asking, “can I pick you up?”

If he stays, I’ll pick him up and hold him against me while I pet his shoulders and the back of his head. I speak softly to him, and he’ll happily purr for a bit before deciding he wants down. He’s up to about a minute of cuddling at a time now! That’s a long way away from the half a second he’d give me before. 

Just this past week, he’s picked up two new behaviors. In the morning, when Jim leaves our bedroom, Bumbledore will come up from downstairs to say good morning and have a few scritchies.

And while I’m sitting at the dining room table doing work, he’ll come sit to my right. If I don’t notice him quickly enough, he’ll mrrp to get my attention. He wants scritchies under his chin on one side, then the other, then the back of his neck, then his butt near his tail. He’ll continue circling, expecting pets in those same locations, in the same order, until he gets tired of it and leaves. 

Bumbledore’s been rather put out that Jim, who, when I’m not working, sits in that seat, doesn’t know what to do when he sits at his side. I’m curious to see if the behavior continues tomorrow and through the week.

The Future

I don’t know what Bumbledore’s future will bring. There are signs that he will continue to improve, perhaps quickly while we’re home, and perhaps less quickly once we go back to work. He seems to be diving into his new life with gusto and seizing this second chance at happiness.

At some point, he will “max out” and not improve anymore. Whenever that may be, however far his journey takes him, I’m proud of him and his enduring spirit. He’s found it within himself to trust people again, to love again, and to be himself again. 

We’re educating his seeming naiveté, not about the negative aspects of life, but the positive. We’re showing him that the world is different, that people aren’t all bad, and that he doesn’t have to expect those negative things anymore. I’m so happy to be giving him this opportunity, this education. He deserves it — he deserves to be happy. We all do.

Thank you for reading Bumbledore’s story, I know this one was insanely long. I hope reading about his beautiful journey has brought you joy. Let me know about the journeys of your rescue pets in the comments. I leave you now with some adorable cat photos. After all, isn’t that what the internet was created for?

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