Photo Courtesy of Casey Hatfield-Chiotti
Brynne Limuaco always dreamed of having a cat, a black cat, to be exact. When she was growing up, one of her favorite films was "Kiki's Delivery Service." The Japanese anime movie is about a witch in training and her talking black cat. In 2016, Limuaco saw a Craigslist ad for a black kitten. She got him and named him Jiji, like the character, and found they shared many of the same characteristics. Limuaco's Jiji was sweet and sassy with boundless energy.
"He was extremely playful. He never slept. He would do backflips in the middle of the night," she recalls.
Limuaco, who has a busy job in beverage sales in Portland, Oregon, grew up with dogs. Jiji, a sinewy black feline that loves playing with ping pong balls, batting shoelaces, and pawing at his cat scratcher, has developed some similar characteristics to man's best friend.
"I think I treated him like a dog when he was young. He's really communicative for a cat. He comes when he's called. You always know what he wants. He likes to be right near you."
Jiji isn't aloof and independent like some cats can be. In 2018, Limuaco had a new position that required her to work overtime and a new relationship. She was gone more than usual, and she immediately noticed a behavioral change in Jiji.
"He started doing things out of spite when I wasn't around like peeing on my bed or peeing in my laundry. He would do it if I were gone for more than eight hours—even if my roommates were there."
She looked up ways to help cats feel calm and relaxed, and she read about Comfort Zone calming products. Jiji's veterinarian also recommended them.
Limuaco began using a Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser. The diffuser releases a drug-free, odorless vapor that mimics the pheromones a cat gives off to indicate the area is safe and secure. (It's kind of like sending a signal in the cat's language to let him know he is safe and can relax.)
"He pretty much stopped everything he was doing. He became more calm," she says.
In 2020, Limuaco temporarily moved in with her parents to keep a tight circle during the pandemic; she and her roommates had different friend groups. She knew the move might be stressful for Jiji. Plus, her parent's dogs weren't used to having a cat around.
"They tolerated each other. One of the only things I brought when I left my house was the Comfort Zone diffuser because I knew that would help chill him [Jiji] out."
Limuaco has been living in an apartment with Cory, her boyfriend-now-fiancé, since August 2020. Jiji and Cory have bonded, and Brynne has also been working from home since the pandemic started. Limuaco says Jiji is more relaxed and content than ever before.
"His whole world revolves around us, so it just makes him really happy. I moved around a lot in the last few years with roommates, and he's lived with some different pets. I know he likes to be alone the best. He loves being the center of attention."
Jiji wants to be with his pet parents as much as possible. He alternates between sitting under Cory's office chair or lounging next to Limuaco's laptop on a typical day. "If he doesn't want to be in one room, he'll wait at the door for us to come into the other room with him," laughs Limuaco.
Limuaco is enjoying her living situation and life as a threesome. As things return to normal, she plans to work from home part-time, something her work offers, to provide consistency for Jiji, but she'll also pay attention to his behavior and help him transition if she has to be gone for long periods. If separation becomes an issue again, she'll always have Comfort Zone calming aids in hand.
"What they do mentally totally affects their physical health. I think that [Comfort Zone] is the thing that helped break all his bad habits."