We adopted Boo from a humane society in western Oregon in 2009. They’d found him on the side of the road, muddy, skinny, and sick.
He had stopped bathing himself, with the exception of having licked all his belly fur off, exposing his pink belly. The fur he did have was all matted down and filthy. He had ear infections and mites in both ears.
When we took him home, he would hide in the corner of our closet, behind a dresser, and wait for me to pull him out and give him “permission” basically, to be in the rest of the apartment. And he would just purr, waiting back there for me. :( Like, me giving him permission to leave the closet was the nicest thing ever.
He was afraid of boots and belts and men’s voices. It was pretty clear that he had been in a very, very bad situation before we got him.
It took a few weeks to convince him that it was ok to be outside of the closet, that he didn’t need our permission. It took a year of bathing him daily to get him to start bathing himself. Another year, and he’d grown back his belly fur completely.
Within about three years, he realized we weren’t going to hit him with a belt or kick him with boots, so he lost his fear of those.
It took him several years before he was comfortable being picked up and carried around. But he still doesn’t like to sit on our laps. Maybe twice a year, he’ll cuddle up on one of our laps and it is a big deal. :) He’ll lay down next to us on the couch but he just doesn’t want to sit on us. And that’s ok.
When he wants love and I’m in the office, he crawls up on his pouf. I will ask him, “Do you want to be Boof on the Pouf?” and he’ll choose yes or no (I don’t force him).
Today, I was sitting at my desk and he was sitting in the doorway, purring and I asked if he wanted to be Boof on the Pouf and he bounded over and jumped up onto his pouf. I gave him some wubbins and he patiently let me take some pictures and he purr-purr-purred. Probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but, when I think back on where he was, I’m so happy and proud of him!