What I Owe to a Cat Named Patti

Patti was one of those cats that came to the shelter, stayed a couple months, and then left, without my hardly knowing it. I knew which cat she was, but it never crossed my mind to really interact with her.

Then, a couple months after that, she was returned for house-soiling. House-soiling is one of the worst reasons for a return (in my opinion) because if a cat can’t use its litter box, it can’t live in a house—it’s as simple as that. The adopters had tried different types of litter, different boxes, etc., but something was making her not want to urinate in the proper location and they eventually gave up.

She was a pretty cat—about a year old, tortoise shell coat, and she was shy, but friendly. Upon her return, I took notice and was sympathetic. But again, it didn’t go much further than that.

The first time Patti was in cat playgroup during her second stint in the shelter, she hated it. She sat under the bench in the adoption center and hissed any time a cat came near her. She was a nice cat on her own, but all she did all day was sleep, or sit. Mostly sleep. But I went to visit her now and then, giving her pets and attention. I liked her, definitely. But she didn’t stand out much more than any of the other cats.

Then something happened, which made me take notice.

A Cat Named Murdock

It was the summer of 2011, and I was single, worked part-time, and was spending as much time at the shelter as I could. I was quickly becoming the “cat lady” among my friends, so it wasn’t so much of a surprise when I received a text message from Sonja telling me she had found a stray cat outside her apartment and didn’t know what to do with it.

I was coming back from a work event all dressed up, and called her back.

“Let me get home so I can put on some pants, and I’ll be right over with a carrier.” Continue reading “What I Owe to a Cat Named Patti”

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”