When I adopted Pepper, I went to the Humane Society with no expectations, the most I had was the name of one cat who they were having trouble getting adopted. That one was, luckily, just adopted hours before I showed up.
So I just hung out with the cats there, when I first entered one cat came directly up to me, begging for affection. Another came to me, head bumped my leg, then disappeared.
Unfortunately, the first one was bonded, and I was using the bus for transportation. So I went back into the room, and dug through the records to find which ones were not bonded.
I found one that had been declawed, a horrible procedure that amputates part of the cat's paws, I almost adopted him out of sympathy but knew he would be in high demand for a household with young kids. So I continued my search.
Most were from bad homes, abused an neglected, torn away from their lives and discarded like toys. You could see in their faces that they were just begging for it all to end, a nightmare for any animal.
Then I found the one that had head bumped me, she was so depressed she had just curled up into a ball and watched everyone from a high vantage point. It was as if she had given up completely.
She had no friends, no family, and her previous homes obviously did nothing to help her confidence. She was terrified of the world around her, and only knew that there was something about my scent that was familiar.
Her name was Pepper, and I just wanted to cuddle her. So she came home with me, frightened of the cat carrier itself, even scared of the people around us.
She tried to pry the door open, until we got on the bus. Something about the bus lulled her a bit, she calmed but was still on high alert.
I spoke to her the entire time, letting her know that I was there the whole trip. When we got home, she was so glad to be out of the carrier she did not hesitate to explore her new home.
During that first year I learned of her problems, ironic that she suffers from the same psychological issues I had, the reason she was adopted. But I needed to start working, and that meant being gone for long periods of time, and she did not like being left alone.
I'd find her in her cowering locations, curled up under the bed in the farthest corner or in the kitchen cabinet. It broke my heart to see her scared, and did nothing to help my own problems, but you can't just trade them in, she was with me forever now.
There is a saying, "cats come in pairs," and after wracking my brain I finally decided the only solution was to get her a friend to keep her company. The problem came from the fact that she was not friendly with adult cats, and I don't actually like babies of any species.
For me to be healthy, she needed to be healthy, so I bit the bullet and started searching for a suitable kitten. The idea was that if she didn't like the kitten, it would be easier to get the kitten adopted out.
I also knew that if she did like the kitten, she could train them to coexist with her better than an adult cat. So I took a chance, and found little Rhodey, I named him to keep the Iron Man theme.
She first regarded him with fearful curiosity, but eventually she learned that I was not going to hurt her for standing up to the little runt. He did have to learn manners, and who better to teach him than another cat.
After only a few months, they are inseparable, and now the little runt also has a place in my heart. The changes I have seen in Pepper are amazing, she has more confidence, rarely cowers, and even came out on her own to meet a neighbor.
Ironically, Rhodey doesn't like other cats either, but he is more aggressive than Pepper. Rhodey is more courageous and willing to try new things, like go for walks outside on the leash.
With these two in my life, I am now beginning to socialize in a beneficial way, making contacts to earn a reputation as a marketing consultant. A talent I didn't even realize I had, but a friend I recently met recognized it.
This is what it means to be a "social species," unlike what psychiatrists have told us, we need to be social with other species. By socializing with other species we are able to socialize with our own better, ask any psychologist.