I was reading an article about cat’s remembering events in their lives. The question more specifically was ‘Can cats remember being abandoned?’
The cat expert answered “Most definitely”.
I can attest to that.
I met the owner of my new cat, soon to be known as Beans, in a PETCO parking lot. He handed me the cat and her belongings then took off. I placed Beans in her new home (the RV) and we stayed in the lot for awhile while she explored and got comfortable. Eventually I started the motor and slowly pulled away. She jumped up into my lap just like Sinbad had always done. “Oh this is good.” She was fine for the short drive back to the house. I brought her inside and set her down. She cautiously inspected each room, came back into the kitchen where I was, looked at me and ran at me, gave me a playful swipe and took off again. Soon she came running out of a bedroom jumping up against the wall of the hallway to make the turn literally bouncing off the wall. She was ecstatic, happy as could be.
About a week later I was ready to leave the house for good and begin my/our new life together living on the road. I put her in the RV, locked up the house, came back settled in and started the motor. I got as far as the corner and she began to howl. “Oh, this is not good.” I pulled over to the curb. I tried to console her. Once we got rolling again she began howling again. “Oh no! I can’t have this. She did fine from PETCO to the house.” The howling continued. I eventually put ear plugs in. This went on for nearly an hour. I was distraught. Will she adapt to traveling? She eventually got quiet. Either she wore herself out or had a sore throat. We stayed a few days at our first stop and she was fine. When we left from there she began with howling again. I was mortified. This time she didn’t keep it up as long and settled back into my lap. That was the last incident.
It wasn’t until a long time later it dawned on me what was going on with her those first few days:
The last time I went for a ride I was given away to a new human. I like my new human. I am happy with my new human. Now I am going for a ride again. My new human is going to give me away to another human. I want to stay with this human. I don’t want to be given away again. I am scared.
Even if at the time I understood what frightening thought was going through her little head there would have been no way I could have conveyed to her that I wasn’t going to give her away. She had to come to that realization on her own that I would be her forever human.
And she did.