Every June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month. It seems like every day is a “holiday” now and every month is some “special” month as well. It can get overwhelming. So instead of another article about how you should adopt a cat and save a life and how many cats get euthanized (between 860,000 and 1.4 million) every year, I thought I would share a more personal side to the story.
My family has had pets as long as I can remember. I vaguely remember when my dad brought home our first cat. Some neighbors of our friends had moved and left it locked in their house. Our friends rescued her and we ended up with “Snowball” a beautiful white longhair cat that was particularly fond of my dad. We had other cats come to us through the years through friends and acquaintances and a couple of rescues from the humane society. Our first dog was also “rescued” from friends who were moving back to Greece and were going to give the dog to the shelter. So we got “Sugar” a hugely overweight dachshund that didn’t know what dog food was. He had only eaten Greek people food his whole life. Needless to say, a diet and a lot of walks were in order.
But I have two special stories when they were “my” cats which “I” adopted from the humane society. They weren’t just family pets; we belonged to each other and we knew it. I feel like I was actually adopted by each one of them.
The first cat which was mine was “Dusty”. I don’t remember how old I was but I think it was in my early teens. Our humane society has two rows of cat cages and he was in the middle of the top row. I was going along playing with each cat, taking them out of their cages one at a time to see who I wanted to adopt. When I got to the cage next to his, he reached his paw out of his cage and tapped my arm wanting attention. When I got to him he was so full of love. I put him back and went on to the next cage and he again reached out of his cage and tapped my other arm. When I was going along the bottom row, he reached out with both paws and was tapping my head and playing with my hair. That was that. I knew I had been adopted. He came home with me that day.
Dusty and I had almost 20 happy years together (although I had to leave him with my parents for a few years when I moved to NYC) and he taught me a lot about responsibility and love. My favorite memory of Dusty is “chinnin’s”. He would rub his face and body back and forth against my chin purring the whole time. I was the only person he would do that with and I felt like he was saying “you’re mine!”.
Several years (and several family pets later) my husband and I adopted “Tica”. We had to put our previous cat to sleep (she was almost 25 years old) a couple of years earlier and we just hadn’t gotten another pet. My husband knew I was missing having one so unbeknownst to me he had gone to the humane society the day before and scouted out the cats ahead of time. The next day he took me with him so we could look together. There were several we were thinking about and he noticed this one in the big display window that hadn’t been out the day before. He said “what about this one?” but I immediately said no because she looked quite a bit like Dusty had and I wanted something different this time. A couple of other cats I didn’t pick because they were too young. (I always try to adopt cats that are a little bit older because kittens have a better chance at getting adopted. I like helping those who might be less fortunate.) We took a couple of cats into the get acquainted room but nothing clicked. Then we were going to take another one but it swatted and hissed at my husband so no go there. Finally there was only one other cat we were considering and the one in the window. I relented and we took them both into the get acquainted room. The other cat started roaming around, sniffing and exploring, but the cat in the window came right over to me. I sat down in the middle of the floor and she curled right up in my lap and started purring. When the other cat finally came around, she hissed and swatted at it to keep it away from me. That was it again. I had been adopted again.
The humane society said she was about two years old but she was so tiny. Our humane society has a deal with a local vet that all the animals who are adopted have to be spayed or neutered before you can take them home so you actually pick up your animal at the vet the next day. After work when I went to pick her up, the vet told me she was only about 9 months old. If I had known that the day before I would have been more hesitant to adopt her since I usually adopt older cats but we decided that was just another sign that it was meant to be.
So she had also picked me and she is the most unique cat I’ve ever know. My husband and I say that she got in the wrong line the day they were telling them they were cats because she acts like a dog a lot of times. She follows us around and greets us at the door. When my husband comes home from work, we have to go out on the front porch and wait for him. She does tricks for treats and she just loves being with her people. But she’s also all cat with her antics and humor and personality and we wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. She can get her way with just about anything but she also fills our life with so much love and laughter and comfort. My husband calls her my “feline Zoloft”. We just think we own them. It is definitely the other way around.
I could fill pages and pages with stories about the cats in my life and the joys they have brought over the years. But hopefully these two adoption stories will encourage you to think about adding a new feline “bundle of joy” to your home during this special cat adoption month. Check out your local humane society or a cat rescue group to meet your newest family member.