The Fallibility of Cats

Cats, like humans, are fallible. People who come into a shelter—or a pet store or a breeder—looking for the perfect animal, are asking too much. Even the best cats have their own preferences, their own personalities, their own way of doing things.

I like to think that our shelter has some of the best cats around. We take care of them with food, and medicine, and most importantly love. Sometimes an adopter comes in to look at one cat and soon finds themselves swarmed by volunteers who all have something to say about that animal and its personality. I like to think that we know these cats like old friends.

We can’t know everything. So when a cat that we’ve spent hours of time with passes away before we’re able to find it a home, it’s hard to deal with. I’m not talking about a cat that had major behavioral issues. I’m not talking about a cat that had known medical issues. (I’ll save the no-kill debate for another day, because now’s not the time.) I’m talking about an adoptable cat, one that was on its way to going home, that suddenly gives up before we can fulfill our promise of giving it a better life.

I’m sending this email to just let all of you know, that unfortunately our beloved [cat] passed away last night, we found her after adoption closed during our evening closing procedures. The cause is unknown, but she was SNAP test negative. A necropsy was performed, and it was likely due to some underlying heart condition.

[The cat] will be missed, just know that prior to adoption closing she did receive multiple head rubs and lots of chin scratches. Continue reading “The Fallibility of Cats”

Foster Failure

I always thought that fostering would be easy. I know, I know. But in my head, it always seemed like the perfect set-up, especially for people who go on vacation a lot or don’t have a ton of money to take care of an animal of their own. You simply take a cat (or dog, or small animal) home for a week or two, or perhaps six months at the longest—you can set your own time frame—and then you return it to the shelter to be adopted into a wonderful home. It’s like rent-a-pet, only you’re doing a great deed for an animal in need.

Still, I had never fostered because I was at work or in evening classes, plus my roommates who’ve filtered in throughout the years would have killed me. That, and I wasn’t sure how Smirnoff and Bacardi would handle another cat. My current apartment is too small for a third adult cat and its layout is too open to introduce a new cat properly, but I figured a kitten would be ideal since they’re so small and require very little room (to begin with). So when I finally made the decision to move apartments, and with the possibility of fostering in the new apartment blossoming, I figured I would give it a test run before the actual move to see if it was even a good idea. Mostly, it was to test Smirnoff and Bacardi.

Raymond was a cute little two-month-old kitten who was on quarantine (Q) at the shelter. He was on Q because he had scratched the person who found him as a stray, and legally he wasn’t adoptable for 10 days. I’m not sure of the reason for this law (it might have something to do with rabies?), but when blood is drawn, the cat in question is put on Q. No exceptions. When I saw Raymond, he only had two days left, but since he wasn’t adoptable during that time, I asked if I could take him home to foster. Again, as a test. Continue reading “Foster Failure”

Whiskers, the “Old” Cat

Whiskers at Shelter“How do you not want to take them all home?”

It’s a common question I get while working in the adoption center. And truth of the matter is, I just don’t.

Maybe it’s because I know that they’re all going to get adopted eventually, most of them going to homes far better than my own. It’s not sad for me, seeing all the caged cats in adoption. For me, it’s a place of transition. Once a cat is in adoption, they’ve gone through the worst of it—abandonment by a previous owner, or a heartbreaking farewell, or life on the streets, or abuse, or whatever led them to be in a shelter. Things can only get better from here. So I don’t feel the need to take every animal home, because they’re already on their way home.

Sure, there are always favorites—cats that you try extra hard to get adopted (currently, mine is Princess;  update: Princess has finally been adopted!)—and it’s always extra satisfying when they finally make it out the door.

But then there are the select few, the ones that really take your breath away, the ones that you’d take home with you in a heartbeat, if only you could take them home. It’s different than the cats that I would happily adopt, if I didn’t already have two cats. (Between Smirnoff’s hatred of all cats other than Bacardi and my own allergies, as well as being a poor graduate student, two is all I can manage.) Those are cats you miss when they’re gone, but in a happy way. No, what I’m talking about is something else: the cats whose lives really touch you, who you’ll never ever forget for as long as you work at the shelter. Cats that you try really hard in your head to figure out a way to take them home and make it work, even though it’s impossible. There have only been two of these cats for me over the past two years, and they both hold special places in my heart. Continue reading “Whiskers, the “Old” Cat”