Oh, hi there. The name’s Panther, thanks to my shiny black coat and my mysterious, elusive ways.

Let me start by getting something off my chest – I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a complicated, emotional gal. In my last home, I lived with two other cats, and there was a lot going on. It really wore on me during my most formative years – from kittenhood to the age of 3, when I first arrived at the Dumb Friends League. To be honest, I’m a bit of an introvert, and as such, I tend to prefer one-on-one time with a very select handful of humans … which has made my adjustment here at the League over the past few months a little tough.

From time to time, my emotions have gotten the best of me. It took me a little extra time to realize that the humans here are only trying to help me. When I arrived at the League in October, seemingly small things would set me off. Even the “good” stuff that my fellow felines loved, like chin scratches and toys, made me nervous.

Then we had a breakthrough moment – or at least I did. I earned a new title: “overstim,” short for “overstimulated.” This means that sometimes my anxiety levels can get so high so quickly, I almost can’t bear it. I have even lashed out toward the people who love me the most when I’m overstimulated. What do I have to be so stressed out about, you ask? You might be surprised. It can range from sudden changes in my environment to over-petting (even if I’m the one who initiates contact). As I said, I can be complicated.

But I have to say, naming my behavior felt good because it means I’m not the only one – far from it. In fact, my responses to prolonged petting or inappropriate handling, for example, are considered normal for the majority of cats … it’s just that I am more sensitive than most. Luckily, there are things that my caretakers and I can learn to help me feel calmer and less overstimulated. For example, I’m currently enrolled in one behavior program at the League, and I’m a recent graduate of another!

The first program (my alma mater if you will) helped me overcome some of my fear and nervousness about being in the shelter. After just two Feline Fortitude sessions, I was comfortable enough with the behavior technician to allow them to pet me freely. Through patient and respectful interactions with people, I relaxed and even asked for more physical affection. The best part? I liked it. That was huge.

Every few days, I also participate in play therapy through a second program called “Cats ‘n Clickers,” which is designed to help me feel more comfortable when socializing with others. To tell you the truth, I’m still a bit overwhelmed by it all, but it’s a gradual process, and I’m taking it in stride. I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made so far!

It’s nice to have so many people invested in me, but I’m looking forward to the day when I have a special person or family all to myself … someone who I can warm up to in my own way and time. As the holidays approach, nothing would make me happier than a safe and peaceful home filled with people who understand and respect my needs, support my growth, and love me for who I am. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

Right now, anyone interested in taking me home can adopt me for 50% less than the regular fee. Just come to the Leslie A. Malone Center in Denver and ask for Panther at the front desk.

Oh! There’s one more thing you should know about me. I’m what many call a “tripod.” My right hind leg was amputated last month because I had a previous injury that didn’t heal correctly. I’m feeling much better these days, and I have a higher tolerance for being handled now that I’m not in pain.

Anyway, enough about me. Have you met Bruno? He’ll share his story next. If you need me (and I hope you do), I’ll be in my hideaway, waiting to come home with you.