From cat curious to fans of felines

Peanut Butter the tortoiseshell cat with Jasmine behind her
Peanut Butter the cat shows a kind couple how much fun it can be to have a feline in your life.
By Ashley Hart

It goes without saying that one-year-old Peanut Butter is adorable. The young tortie cat is also equal parts fun-loving and gentle, and she is just at home on someone’s lap as she is chasing sunbeams. But when she first came to Best Friends in Houston, the team could see that she was extremely shy in the unfamiliar environment.

In a foster home, however, Peanut Butter thrived. Once she felt safe, she was known to lie across keyboards as if to say: “Work can wait. Wouldn’t you rather pet me?” She could capture a toy in a single leap and loved a good snuggle session on the couch with her foster family.

[Couple goes the distance to adopt shy cat]

Adoption events, however, were a different story as her shyness returned and she shut down, similar to when she first arrived at Best Friends. And while many cats take time to adjust to new surroundings, Peanut Butter’s shyness made it hard for her to get the one thing she needed most of all — a home where she could let her personality shine.

They say life can change in a day, and that’s what happened to Peanut Butter. When a couple interested in adopting a cat for the first time contacted Best Friends, the team immediately thought of her.

Fostering a great first step

Jasmine Clay and Eric Brooks knew they wanted to adopt a cat, but they wanted to ease into things. “I didn't know much about cat personalities in general,” says Jasmine. The team had just the solution: Jasmine and Eric could take a first step by fostering until they learned the ropes and were confident enough to adopt.

Brittany Moore, Best Friends coordinator in Houston, says fostering is a great way for people curious about adopting a pet for the first time. “They can see how the pet will adjust to their home before they commit to adoption.”

[Top 10 reasons to foster a pet]

After talking to Jasmine and Eric, she thought Peanut Butter would be ideal for them,  especially considering they were willing to give her all the time she needed to find confidence and adjust to life with them on her timeline, not theirs.

As for Jasmine, all it took was meeting Peanut Butter for the first time to know she wanted to bring her home. "It was love at first sight,” she says. “Those beautiful, big, green eyes and black fur had me captivated.”

Next step: adoption

Excited to bring home her new companion, Jasmine put a lot of thought and research in advance. And when the big day came, Peanut Butter was lucky enough to be showered with automatic feeders, scratchers, a wide variety of treats and lots of toys to play with. After getting to know their new kitty and realizing how intelligent she is, Jasmine and Eric bought puzzle boxes for her.

From Peanut Butter, the adopters-to-be learned about shy cats, as well as the many possibilities for a motivated cat. They also learned how quickly a cat could capture your heart. “The moment I got her and welcomed her to my room, I think she loved me, too,” says Jasmine. “She crawled on my chest, in bed, licked me and made biscuits on me. We knew this was her home.”

Teaching a cat to talk

After a few weeks of fostering Peanut Butter, they made the adoption official. Today, she’s no longer the shy cat, afraid to open up around strangers. In a home where she’s comfortable and relaxed, she’s showing everyone that she’s quite the puzzle solver. Peanut Butter, it turns out, is wicked smart.

Even the most challenging puzzle boxes pose no problem for her, so Jasmine and Eric decided to start teaching her tricks. She knows 12, including high-fives. Peanut Butter is also harness- and backpack-trained, and they are teaching her how to communicate using recordable, tap-to-talk sound buttons.

Peanut Butter has become the perfect addition to her new family. She waits by the window and greets everyone when they come home. Her favorite thing is to show how much she loves her people by snuggling on their laps or chests for as long as she can. Says Jasmine: “She's everything I could ask for and more.”

Interested in helping a furry friend?

Give a shy cat or dog a chance by fostering for a local shelter or rescue group.

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