How did you decide that adoption was the right way to go for you?
I grew up without pets – an only child moving around a lot. I always knew that when I was a bit more settled as an adult that I would have a cat. Living in Romania, I’ve seen a lot of cats in appalling states, and I could do nothing but try to feed them and cry on my way home. I moved to Edinburgh in 2015 and had an unstable lifestyle for years. Finally, I was ready.
I was overwhelmed by what it would take to bring a cat from Romania to the UK. Finding a cat, neutering, vaccinating, transporting. So I abandoned my ambition and looked at local shelters. What I found was that there were few cats looking for a home and the ones that were weren’t suitable for a life indoors and had many other needs. It made me sad to think that cats in Scotland easily find a home and there are more people looking to adopt than there are cats. It wasn’t what I had wanted from rescuing a cat. I called shelter after shelter looking for a suitable kitty.
One day, I was just googling shelters in Scotland, and a Google ad advertised a Romanian rescue, Stray2Me. The creepiness of internet monitoring aside, I had a look and it seemed like a dream come true. I immediately sent a message, and immediately got a reply!
Stray2Me was a dream come true. They worked tirelessly to get me a good fit. As soon as I saw Tinks, I fell in love with her. She had been found passed out and skinny on the street, and there she was, a wee tabby with green eyes and a white collar and a few good pounds on her. All the things I found overwhelming about bringing a cat over from Romania, Stray2Me made seem easy. They regularly sent me pictures while they kept me updated on her vaccinations and spaying. In short time, she was ready to come over. I remember when I knew she was travelling to the UK, I could barely sleep. Stray2Me kept up regular updates as my baby made her way up north. It was so well organized, I couldn’t have hoped for better.
What was it like the first moment you met your rescue?
I picked her up one beautiful morning. She meowed plaintively all the way up the stairs and my heart broke. My first sight of Tinks as she came out of the carrier left me shocked, she was so tiny! Smaller than any cat I’d encountered, she barely weighed anything. Settling in was rocky.
How was the settling in process?
On her first day with me, she ran around until the wee hours of the morning that first night and I hoped that meant she was comfortable, but the next morning… she was gone. For 24 hours I searched every inch of my flat and couldn’t find her. She was like a ghost. I started wondering if my flat had a hole in the wall somewhere. I looked at my washing machine and decided that the gap was too small for even a small cat to squeeze through. But I could find nowhere else she’d be. Maybe I had dreamed the whole thing and was going crazy.
I tried everything. At Stray2Me’s suggestion, I put out sardines and other strongly smelling food. Nothing. Then, as I was changing over her food again, I heard the tiniest shuffling somewhere. Behind my washing machine. I don’t know how she got in there, but it was clear she was hungry and couldn’t get back out. I desperately called a friend and together we pulled the washing machine out and got her up. She was clearly scared, but more desperate for scratches than to hide again. My first video was of this tiny cat, her feet fluttering as she walked around me desperate for more scratches.
From there, it only got better.
We had a rough patch of a few months at one point. A few months after we met she started sneezing up mucus. The vets couldn’t find any obvious cause so she had some interventions. After one of them, she wouldn’t eat or drink water and I was near tears all the time. It’s so scary, when you become responsible for a little life, to feel so helpless. She seemed so unconcerned about her health and I was losing my mind. Stray2Me were very supportive in this time, telling me all they could about her background. Finally, she was put on fluids and antibiotics, and miraculously everything cleared up. Ever since then, she’s been an energetic cuddlebug who can’t get enough scratches.
We’ve gotten to know each other so well over the last year. She recognizes my steps on the stairs and meows until I get to the door. I know all her favourite toys and scratching spots. I can’t imagine life without her anymore. She’s the friendliest cat I’ve ever met, loving anyone who visits me and even being gentle and curious with visiting cats. I hope to give her a sibling one day, so she can be entertained even when I’m not home.
How is life for your rescue now?
I renamed her Riel Tinks Mihut, and she recognizes her name as both Riel and “baby,” in both Romanian and English. I thought I wanted an independent cat who would occasionally deign to curl up beside me; instead I got the biggest cuddlebug I could have imagined. She sleeps curled up between my legs, only tickling me with her whiskers when she feels I’ve woken up. If I have a laptop or a phone in front of me, she needs to be exactly between me and the screen. She’s belly up waiting for scratches as soon as I walk in the door. She brings me her toys to throw to her and plays fetch with me. For a while she showed no interest in the impressive cat tree I got her, but now she’s in it all the time.
Riel Tinks is the best thing that has happened to me in the last few years. And when I look back, all I can do is laugh that this all happened when I had given up, thanks to a Google ad.