Riley in Wonderland


Anyone who loves tabbies knows they can sometimes take your breath away. Riley is that tabby, with her fluid build, spiral side swirls and huge green eyes.


She came to Happy Cats when her people thought she needed a different home. She’d been rescued as a kitten off the street, but was bullied by the other cats in the home, scared to use the litter box and hiding under the bed. We were told she had been harness trained. As a single, she took up residence in one of our condos by the desk.

She was immediately adopted twice, but the adoptions didn’t work out because her litterbox issues reappeared with stress. We now know that Riley likes predictability even more than most cats. Over the course of the next months, we tried to find out what it was she wanted. She told us she wanted to pee in one box, preferably on a puppy pad, and poop in another. She told us she didn’t like change, even a little redecorating. She confirmed that other cats made her nervous.


We gave her time out of the Haven with foster mom Jen. We offered her enrichment by taking her for walks in her walking jacket, just in the Haven at first. Our behavior consultant Melissa discovered along the way that she liked to go outside…she was an Adventure Cat!


She loved her time in the stroller and one of our staff members, Chelsea, even bought her own backpack so she could safely go outside. When we put on her jacket, she often got into the backpack on her own, waiting patiently for a volunteer to take her outside.

Still, the months came and went. She was always a picky eater and became even pickier. She rarely talked and seemed depressed, tucking into her kitty cave in the condo unless it was time to go for a walk. She reached her one year anniversary with us right before Christmas and still she waited.

Finally, we got a call from someone interested in Riley. Elizabeth had moved here recently and was fascinated by Riley’s adventures. She was looking for a cat to take with on hikes and walks. She fell in love with Riley’s good looks and wasn’t daunted by her litterbox rules. Riley was one of our TLC cats, cats who need just a little extra care, and Melissa helped her with a home installation, providing lots of good advice on how to deal with her quirks. Like all our adoptions, Riley’s was no-fault and we told Elizabeth she could bring her back at any time if it didn’t work out.

Recently Elizabeth dropped by for a visit and brought Riley too. In true cat fashion, almost everything we thought we knew about Riley has shifted! She hasn’t had a single litterbox incident since she went to live with Elizabeth. She likes her litter now and no longer needs two boxes. She talks all the time and eats up a storm. She loves her big house with its lovely views, running up and down the stairs and playing with Elizabeth.

And most oddly, she doesn’t like her backpack any more! She still loves to go outside, but only on a leash. Volunteer Mandy bought her a going-away present in the form of a pretty, lightweight pink walking jacket made by volunteer Sarah. It’s great that our jackets are very adjustable, as Riley has put on a little weight!

Elizabeth says that Riley is her perfect companion, following her every move when she’s at home. She sleeps in Elizabeth’s arms at night and might even be a little spoiled, according to Elizabeth.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for helping Riley feel safe again, so she could blossom into the happy cat she was meant to be!

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