July 26, 2022

Transformation Tuesday #80: An Update on Gilda

Happy Transformation Tuesday! Like I did a few weeks ago, I posted a single transformation of a cat adoption that didn't seem like it would work out, but it had a very happy ending. You can find that story here.

Today is going to be a similar post--more like a guest post than a typical Transformation Tuesday. This transformation is pretty long and I like to keep editing to a minimum when I can, so I chose to do this in a post by itself.

This is another heartwarming cat-adoption story, and it's actually a continuation from a previous Transformation Tuesday. So it's more of an update from the post on June 8, 2021. You can find that story here. This is about Gilda, the cat who was bounced from shelter to shelter and very clearly needed a permanent home. Runs for Cookies' reader Michelle adopted Gilda and worked hard with her to help her be a happy and healthy cat. This is the update on Gilda and how she's been doing in her new home. You can find more pictures there, too.

I'm going to turn it over to Michelle, who will continue Gilda's story...

A quick recap: The short summary is that it was difficult to find a cat to adopt during the pandemic, but after several months I found one that according to the shelter needed a bit of "work," which was kind of short-hand for a cat that had been sad, scared, angry, not good with change and needed some special attention. She was a bit over a year old when I adopted her, an owner-surrender with an unfortunate name she didn't respond to at all, so I named her Gilda.

Gilda and I spent lots of time getting to know each other, going at her pace. I can't believe it's been 14 months since I first got her, and my life is so much better with her in it.

Things about Gilda: She likes food--okay, LOVES food--especially kibble, but also a prescription wet food that can best be described as sticky-brown-smelly-sludgy-wallpaper-paste. (It's so gross but she loves it and it's a prescription she needs). Gilda gained nearly three pounds (almost 40% of her original body weight!) in the first six months I had her, before I got a handle on her ideal weight and how much I should be feeding her. She's back down to a healthy weight but would definitely be a very large (unhealthy) cat if I gave her unlimited access to food.

Gilda likes to sit near me, most often touching me, but she is not and may never be a lap cat. She loves to give me head-butts, and rub her cheeks on my glasses and my nose. When she's begging for dinner, she'll sit silently beside me with a thousand-yard stare, and then put one paw on my shoulder, very gently--it's so sweet. If I don't react to that, she bops my nose with her paw (yes I am a sucker.)

Gilda is *still* terrified of towels, but I've made progress with her fear of paper bags (I thought all cats loved paper bags!). I set up a giant paper bag meant for lawn waste in my living room, and cut a door/window in the end and she likes that well enough.

She ADORES something called Da Bird (which I highly recommend)-- basically a wand toy with feathers on the end that kind of "fly" when you use it-- it's pretty realistic. When she "catches" the bird in her mouth, she prances around proudly, dragging the wand behind her. (Katie here: I have to agree--my cats LOVE that toy! You can find it on Amazon here (affiliate link)). 

Gilda has a *wide* ranging vocabulary from little beeps to sweet soft squeaks when she's trying to butter me up so she can have more food. She makes a crazy yodeling noise when running around at night (or, um, during the day) and can project extremely loud obnoxious meows when I'm not getting her dinner ready fast enough.

Other things that have happened over the past year: Gilda and I navigated getting her to take anti-anxiety medicine so that I could put her in her carrier and take her to the vet for a checkup. The staff there *adored* her--she was well behaved (and acted kinda drunk)--and she was pronounced pretty healthy. She was also VERY happy to come back home with me. 

It was good that we had a successful first vet visit because we've had to return a few times--poor Gilda has some skin issues that were alarming. She'd scratch herself absolutely raw and cause large open wounds. I've learned that skin issues can be tricky to treat, but after about five months of a special diet/allergy challenge, we found out she's allergic to dairy and fish.

I learned that dairy and fish is in just about *everything* for pets, even things not fish-flavored and even some 100% freeze dried chicken, if it's been prepared on the same machinery as fish)...sigh. the good news is that I've found a mixture of prescription food plus one other chicken/turkey only brand that she LOVES and help about 80%. Of course, she also has some seasonal allergies that cause her to itch, so I have to keep a close eye on her, but I think we're at a place that we can both live with.

As for socialization, Gilda has come to really like my (elderly) mom and dad, who occasionally take care of her if I need to be out of town--I'm lucky they live close by. Gilda has also met my sister and niece and done well, and really adores another good friend of mine who we see regularly--but she still growls when she hears one of my neighbors opening their back door (I live in a small condo complex), etc.

Lastly, she's mastered "high five" when she wants a treat (the treat is just a piece of kibble, but she likes it as much as a treat), as well as "sit" and "up" which is when she gets on her hind legs.

I've been very inspired by a YouTube channel called Billi Speaks. During the early days of the pandemic, a veterinarian in Florida decided to teach her 12-year old cat to "speak" by using buttons--and BOY does Billi speak--her first word was MAD and if you're a pet person and watch it, you'll be impressed (and will laugh lots).

This kind of training has been done with dogs, and I'm a bit obsessed with the idea of it, but the buttons are a bit expensive--as is her prescription food--I think she eats better than I do! So I don't see myself tackling this project any time soon.

Please enjoy the before and after photos-- and I appreciate you hearing more than you probably want about Gilda.

Have I mentioned I adore her?? ;)

P.S. Thanks to Katie (and Duck), I make 100% sure that any string/yarn I have is well-secured in a closet Gilda can't get into, and if I need to do a project--such as repairing a sweater, etc.--I'm very very mindful of everything!

Katie here... I am SO SO happy to hear that Gilda is thriving! She seems like she's come such a long way since last year. I was thrilled that you chose to adopt her and that now she has a forever home with someone who adores her :)  I am absolutely sure that Gilda is grateful for your patience and she'll reward you with lots of love. Please give her a high-five from me! Thank you so much for sharing the update <3


  1. What a heartwarming story! Thank you. Go Gilda!

  2. What a beautiful story!! I love that Gilda is thriving and has found such an amazing home!!

  3. Lovely story. Gilda is a truly unique and beautiful cat! I'm so glad you invited her into your life.

  4. Glida seems wonderful, what a happy transformation. Thank you for sharing

  5. I got the FluentPet buttons to work with my dog on talking. It has been three months, and my dog hasn't touched the buttons. My cat, on the other hand, enjoys being able to demand fresh water in his bowl, time out on the patio, and his dinner using the buttons.


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