A Farewell to Pacino

Photo by Amy Eisenman
Photo by Amy Eisenman

The third time Pacino entered our shelter, he had an office upstairs all to himself. But the gate would be left open and he’d roam the halls, wandering in to visit the law enforcement department and the marketing people and the other office cats who were kept behind their plastic barriers. Pacino was the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s own hallway patrol officer. If you went in to say hi to someone and closed the door, Pacino would meow a few times and wait for you to come back out. He’d greet you with a run—his large belly swinging—and walk you to the end of the hallway, to the door where he couldn’t pass because the Center for Shelter Dogs was on the other side, and watch you leave, and then roll around on the carpet. He wasn’t always like this.

When Pacino arrived the first time, he was a sweet but very shy cat. He was always into laps and he’d crawl right in for a snuggle. But he was also nervous. At the shelter, he seemed like the perfect cat (which of course he is). But then he came back.

“He poops outside the litterbox.”

But he used his litterbox just fine in his cage and we were eager to adopt him out again. Sometime adopters just aren’t prepared for having to clean up after a cat. It didn’t take too long for someone new to come along and fall in love. He was gone for several months. Then he came back again.

“He’s a great cat,” said the adopter.

“But he poops outside the litterbox,” said his wife. “In the tub.”

So we brought Pacino upstairs. Only, he wasn’t the same cat he was when he had first arrived. The amazing thing is that the constant switching between homes and the love poured upon him by the staff and volunteers had an amazing effect: Pacino had turned into the most outgoing, chill cat imaginable. Not only a love and a lapcat like he used to be, but a cat who was unafraid of anything. So he took over the hallway.

As for the litterbox, it took us hardly any time to solve the issue. We set up a system with two litterboxes and a litter tray. He used them and never went outside them. It just took a little more effort than his previous adopters were willing. So they gave up the best cat in the world because of a little poop. That’s fine…we were all so happy to see him.

Because who doesn’t love Pacino? We were all smitten. He insistent meow; his surprisingly athletic chase of a wand toy down the hall; his warm takeover of a lap. He had been with us for several months…

…Then today, finally, he found a new home. His litterbox needs were explained so that the new adopter knows exactly what is required to own a cat like Pacino. Hopefully he will not come back.

It’s bittersweet. On one hand, I expect to go to the shelter this weekend and head upstairs and call “Pacino!” and see him run toward me. Curl up on my legs. Keep me company for a while. The shelter feels a lot emptier without our bow tie-wearing mascot. And since I was at work today and not at the shelter, I didn’t get to say goodbye. On the other hand, he’s home tonight. In a bed. With a family.

And that always makes it worth it.


10 Replies to “A Farewell to Pacino”

  1. Awww…. I could never bring back a cat I adopted. I love cats too much. Our cat has the cat cave litter box because of her messes. One time I found poo stuck to the bathroom wall!! (I have no idea how she accomplished that!) Or she hung her butt over the side of the litter box and poo’d. But I hope that Pacino has found a good and very loving home.

  2. Would you mind explaining in further detail the remedy for pooping outside the litter box? I fostered a cat (Buddy) that liked to poop outside the litter box (hence the reason he was surrendered). When I agreed to foster, i was made aware of the issue. I said it didn’t bother me because I have a basement so the pooping issue was easy to clean up without worry of the floor damage. Buddy grew attached to my other cats (he bonded with my Balinese) so I called the shelter I was volunteering/fostering for and said, “I’ll keep Buddy.” They referred to me as a “foster flunky”. In any event, Buddy continues to poop outside the litter box, despite the fact I have 5 boxes in the basement, each one in a different location. He prefers to use the box next to the oil tank (when he pees) but when it comes time to poop, he’ll drop them outside any one of the five boxes. What do you suppose is causing this?

    1. First of all, it’s awesome that you adopted Buddy, even if it makes him/you a “foster flunky” (it’s a shelter term of endearment – a lot of people fall in love with their fosters and keep them).

      For Pacino, one of the litterboxes was a litter “tray” – essential a large, square tray, with only short sides that also had a scoop or two of litter in the middle of it. (You probably wouldn’t want to fill it, or else litter will get everywhere.) You can certainly try it and put it in the location he poops most often.

      Are your litterboxes covered? If they all have hoods on them, you should definitely try taking off the hood to one the of the ones Buddy doesn’t usually pee in and see if that helps. Perhaps he feels claustrophobic trying to poop in the litterboxes.

      Clearly, he wants to use the litterboxes to poop in, which is why he’s pooping right outside them and not in some random spot.

      I would certainly give the tray a try for a week or so and see if it helps at all 🙂

      1. Urg. Meaning – I have my cat, Tigger – who doesn’t use the box. She goes across the garage floor to the other side and goes there. We have 2 boxes and 2 cats. We can’t seem to figure out a system that works. Kona is fine but Tigger has some issues we just don’t know what. Tigger got there after Kona and has been doing this for years….vet said no problems….

      2. Thanks so much for commenting. 🙂 I grew attached to Buddy rather quickly, which explains why I have 5 rescue cats. :-/

        As for my litter boxes, none of the boxes have hoods and two are extra large because Buddy is a Maine Coon so I figured he’d want a larger box and yet, would you believe he prefers the smaller box near the oil tank???? He barely fits in that one. I bought the smaller box for my other rescue: Mother Teresa. She’s a tiny little cat and prefers the smaller, lower sides litter box… evidently, Buddy does too. Go figure. I will try the tray trick to see if that makes a difference.

        What are your thoughts on Pee Pads for dogs? I thought about using those to see if Buddy would be willing to poop on them.

      1. My advice would be to try putting a third litter box where Tigger is going in the garage (unless it’s a *super* inconvenient place). Get him at least consistently going in a box… it could be territorial issues with your other cat, especially if health-wise he’s fine.

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