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When two is too many


Twenty One (21) years ago, I moved to Greece. I found the people communicative, charming, intelligent and they love animals; that was my main reason. I was delighted to see many stray animals free and being fed and cared for. Of course, that was not always the case but in many neighborhoods, they lived happily and free.

After 11 years, I took a course in animal communication and started practicing for free, before becoming a professional. People called me, normally for behavioral problems with their animals. Ninety percent of my clients were animals who did not go well with other animals, in apartments or houses.

In the beginning, following the directions of various teachers, I started to “try to convince” the animals how great was to live in a place with other animals until I heard the truth from my own cat Cecile. I was trying to adopt a third cat to help a friend who was overloaded with cats and dogs in her apartment; so I asked my cat Cecile, who never accepted new animals, if she would be accepting a new cat at home, a kitten. She asked me if I planned to adopt many more cats like my friend and I answered her it would be nice to help stray animals to have a home, food and water. She asked me if home, food and water were the most important things in life. I was surprised by her answer, that she gave standing right in front of me, locking eyes with mine, and kept listening. She explained to me in images that, on the streets, it was always possible to find shelter, food and water and the most important: safety. It was easy to find a place to hide or even move along if any other cat bothered her. “When you are free, you have choice of getting in an engine of a car, climbing up a tree, getting in an old home”, she showed me in images. I did not have any more arguments so I did not adopt a new cat.

                                            Feeling guilty

     Why do we feel guilty when we don’t adopt animals? Maybe because we have never been an animal and lived free, or maybe we never lived in a home overcrowded with other humans.

Normally, I try to put the clients in the place of the animal who came to the home first: “What would you do if someone you did not know came into your home, ate out of your plate, drank from your glass, wore your clothes, slept on your bed?” No one ever told me that they would be happy and the same is for our animals. They are living with you, fulfilling their life’s mission and suddenly some new animal comes, with different smell, personality and energy. The biggest problem is with cats, who are sensitive creatures, and who need a clean and safe space to live, especially if they were mistreated, before. Some do need company and many times the new kitty or doggy is welcomed, but it can take time and many times it does not resolve itself.

What are the reasons for a new adopted animal? When I adopted Cecile, I told Kostakis I was bringing a friend for him…He longed for company so he accepted Cecile straight away; not only accepted, it seemed they were made for each other.

Over the years, I learned how to introduce cats safely and taught it to my clients; I learned also: Tellington TTouch and The Trust Technique from James French, which helped many times, but many times the animosity between the animals stayed. Cats and dogs are predators and will need territory control, besides not acknowledging straight away a foreign smell; we take this opportunity from them when we start adopting many animals without asking them if it is OK. They live in our homes; they are members of our family and deserve to be consulted.

Many argue that they know someone that has many animals who live well together and I have witnessed that, but it is an exception that confirms the rule; and I have seen way too many animals jumping from balconies, getting sick or in frozen positions , fighting or with behavioral problems that cannot be fixed. I worked with two cats which came from a hoarder and told the refuge to not place them with other foreign animals. I went back weeks later to find them in an overpopulated room with many other cats…They were in worst condition, in frozen positions, peeing themselves with fear.

I never understood why the humans could not see this and how come the well being of their first original animal did not come first and I came to the conclusion that the adoptions, many time, are done not for the animals but for the humans themselves. We feel good when we do good deeds, or we believe to do good deeds.

                            People want to do good deeds
        I already wrote about Trauma (“Trauma is a situation or an event that a person or an animal simply cannot cope with, leaving them in an extreme state of fear”)and how trauma can rule our lives. Many times, as children we have heard that we were not good (we were good), not worthy (we are worthy) and we spend our lives trying to prove the opposite. The interesting part is that: trying to prove the opposite, we cause new traumas to our animals. When we bring that “poor animal” to our home, the “poor animal” will grow and can attack our first animal (which is supposed to be an inhabitant of that environment) or the opposite. This happened with me, in the past and I realized I was doing more negative than positive.

                                   Our home is their home too
       Everyone wants to have a home where they can feel secure and they project this need in various animals. Animals have different personalities and many do not need nor want to be closed in an apartment or house. I have seen numerous cases of adopted animals which did not adapt when brought inside. The sweet little Momo became Godzilla when inside, Fluffy stopped eating and going to the toilet, a dog in my neighborhood got adopted and escaped ; these animals are trying to send a message and they cannot be clearer.    People can always argue that animal communicators are projecting their own judgment, but when the behavior of the animal in question proves that, indeed, he or she does not want to live inside with other animals, how and with what arguments can we argue?

There is a time when they ask to leave or they leave by their own, jumping from the balcony or escaping through the opened door. Not all the animals who leave , do it because of other animals at home, there are other reasons, of course, but I have seen many cases that prove this situation; it is unbearable to live in fear.

                                             The question is …

    Would you adopt three, four or ten children? I guess not. You can argue that children are expensive to have and that they demand more time, responsibility, care and attention, but animals also need: responsibility, time and attention; they are not just a piece of furniture.

We are still considering animals like plants that we can put in a place, give water and food and everything will turn out fine; even plants do not adapt everywhere and they do not like to be next to every plant, they have their likes and dislikes and if they are not happy, they will wither and die. Animals can become sick out of stress, too, just like people and plants.

Animals come to our lives for a reason, to show us our defects, qualities, to give us love and company, to mirror us and our behavior. Even situations where a person has a lot of animals and there are fights at home could be showing the need to diminish the animal population in your place (or basically stop adopting) or even a situation in the life of the person or the intrinsic need that the same person has in adopting.

Animals as our mirrors

When I read Marta Williams’ book: “My animal, myself: A Breakthrough way to understand how you and your animal reflect each other “, I realized how much my own animals taught me along from my childhood years till now, to become a better person.

In the case of a huge animal population, we really do not have time to pay attention to each animal. People work, have social lives, travel…there is no possible way to know your animals deeply if you have more than three animals. There are not enough hours in a day to spend quality time with more than two animals, to observe them, to care and love them. I have now one cat that have health problems and I realize she needs almost 200% of my time and attention to find out how is the best way to care for her. I cannot imagine how a person with three or four animals can cope.

When we adopt a new animal, we have to be very present in ourselves to understand why and how it is going to be. Better to return an animal to the refuge after a disastrous day than to live a life with fighting and unhappy animals. The animal population is huge, I know; there are many strays, but not all need nor want adoption and you must think first the welfare of your animal. We are not responsible for the happiness of the world.

                                     The times we are living in
     The other disadvantage in having many animals is in case of natural disasters. During the fire in Mati, in Greece in 2018, a house was destroyed with hundreds of cats inside. During the floods in Thessaly, in 2023, thousands of farm animals died, same with the fire of Lahaina and the enormous floods in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. People with multiple animals could not save them and depended on volunteers to save their animals …many did not make it.
      We live in difficult times…reflect on your capacity to protect your animals.

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