Overcoming Fear and Opening Up to Love: Nino’s Journey Home

December 20, 2017


Looking at Nino now, you’d never guess that this friendly feline had ever been anything but affectionate and social. But when we first met the seven-year-old black cat two years ago, he was nothing like the Nino we know now. 

On April 16, 2015, Nino—originally named Egypt—came to the ASPCA with over 20 other cats after being rescued from an overcrowded home. The circumstances from which he came left Nino extremely fearful and aggressive toward people—most likely an effect from under-socialization. Upon his arrival at the ASPCA, he was too scared to even eat. Despite this heartbreaking behavior, we never doubted that we could eventually help Nino to overcome his fears. 

Luckily, after some time and a lot of patience, Nino began to warm up to his new surroundings and to new people! He remained sensitive, but began to enjoy gentle affection, and slowly but surely he began to trust human interactions more and more.

Nino in a cat condo

In July 2015, Nino joined our office foster program, and moved to a new home in ASPCA Team Member Jesse O.’s office in Midtown, Manhattan. This unique foster program allows sensitive cats like Nino to adapt to a more domestic setting and further their socialization progress before moving onto a new home. In this time, while Nino continued to flourish, a special adopter had come to the decision that she was ready to bring a new pet into her life.

Nino and Jesse O. of the ASPCA

Nino showing his foster mom some love.

Maya C. had begun looking on the ASPCA website for adoptable cats after grieving the loss of her 19-year-old cat. “The apartment felt too empty without a furry little buddy around,” she tells us. “So I started to look on the ASPCA site for older kitties.” For her new furry friend, Maya knew that she wanted an older, adult cat with black coloring. So she then spent some time meeting cats at the ASPCA Adoption Center

“There were a bunch of sweeties, but I didn't feel like I really "clicked" with any one of them in particular,” she tells us. That’s when an Adoption Center team member suggested she meet Nino. After being put in touch with Jesse, Maya set up an appointment to meet the special boy. 

Upon their first meeting, Jesse explained to Maya the difficulties in Nino’s past and how far he had come since then. “After spending a good hour or so there with Jesse and Nino, I went back home to think it over and found my thoughts constantly looping back around to him over the next couple days,” Maya tells us. And it wasn’t long before she decided that Nino was the one she’d been looking for. “Three days later, I was back to pick him up—words cannot express how thankful I am to have him in my life!”

Nino and Maya

Left: Maya and Nino don matching sweaters. Right: Maya held Nino’s paw as he slept on his first night in his new home. 

After making the adoption official in September 2015, Maya tells us that she continued to work hard to build upon the progress Nino had made in his time with the ASPCA. She says that while the initial move made him nervous, Nino was soon purring in her arms. 

Nino on a bed

“He became more and more trusting with me and seemed to really enjoy having the run of the apartment,” Maya says. But there were still more hurdles Maya wanted to see Nino overcome. “After a couple of weeks he was totally fine with me, but he was still scared of anyone else that came to visit us,” she says. “So I implemented the ‘two treat’ rule—any new person who came into the house had to give him two little treats as a gesture of goodwill.”

It turned out that Maya’s intuition was completely spot on! She tells us that Nino is now “the ambassador of the house.” Adding that, “Any new person who comes in will find him running right up to them for a meet and greet (and eat)!” She also tells us that Nino now knows his name, knows how to set boundaries with how he likes to receive attention and even calls back when he is spoken to! 

Nino in a shark bed

“It's been heartwarming to watch him blossom into his full personality from the shy, timid cat he was when I first met him,” Maya says. “Nino has brought so much joy and happiness (and snuggles) into my life.”

You can create your own Happy Tail like Maya’s and Nino’s by opening your heart and your home to a dog or cat in a shelter near you!