Purrfect Picks: Xela

XelaNAME: XELA
AGE: 10 years old
GENDER: female (spayed)
DESCRIPTION: black and white short-haired MIXED breed

Xela is an unusual-looking older lady who, in any other shelter, might have been adopted ages ago. But she’s still with us at Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles and deserves a great home!

Xela is very sweet, calm and loves to lounge around. She’s not a huge fan of other cats, although she could probably tolerate living with another calm feline who gives her space. She has fur that needs to be brushed now and then, and she enjoys short brushing sessions. She only gets a little fussy around her hips and legs but gives you fair warning if she starts to get uncomfortable.

The staff at BFLA debate Xela’s breed, because she’s certainly more than just a domestic medium-hair. I think she’s part British short-hair, while others have said she’s part exotic, and still others think she might be part Persian (because of her slightly squished, round face). Who knows, but she’s certainly a cute cat!

Overall, Xela is a pretty healthy girl. She recently started some Cosequin for possible arthritis, which also means she may be a little older than ten (but who’s counting?). As with any older cat, an adopter should think about getting a bloodwork panel done just to be sure there’s no underlying condition.

Xela is one of my favorite cats, not only because of her beauty, but because she’s a mellow, gentle girl who can be picked up, and doesn’t require too much maintenance. She’s spent the day in our marketing office, and makes a wonderful office cat!

Xela has been at the shelter since May of 2013. This sweet girl deserves to be in a home where she can lounge in a sunny window and enjoy her golden years!

You can read Xela’s Petango profile here.

To adopt Xela, visit bestfriends.org/la.

>>>I am happy to report that my previous Purrfect Picks cat, Phantom, has been adopted!! Yay, Phantom!!

The Alcohol Cats Are in a Book

RESCUEPETSbook_coverLast summer, I received an awesome opportunity to be part of a coffee book project, headed by local entrepreneur, Brittany Bang, and local pet/wedding photographer Li Ward. After Brittany’s boutique pet shop had to close due to rent increase on Newbury Street, she and Li had the idea to create a photography book that celebrates rescued pets of Boston.

I had met Brittany many times when the Animal Rescue League of Boston did adoption events at her store, and she and her husband took care of Smirnoff and Bacardi a few times when I was away. Brittany (and Li) have always been huge proponents of rescue pets and adoption, which is why 100% of the proceeds from this book are being given to local Boston rescues!

These rescues include:

The book, now published, is aptly named Rescue Pets of Boston. You can purchase this book online: http://www.rescuepetsofboston.bigcartel.com/

It makes a wonderful holiday gift, and again, all proceeds go to some really great charities! And you’ll get to have a little piece of the alcohol cats in your home 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Buy a copy!

photo 1

Everything in Mint Condition

KirbyThe Business of Animal Sheltering
An animal shelter is, in fact, a business. (Arguably, a public service. But we’ll go with business for now.) There is “product” (the animals), that people pay for (the adoption fee), and the business is interested in creating high turnover and “moving” product (adoptions).

An animal shelter is unique, however, in that the shelter often puts way more money into its products than it earns back from actually selling them. Often times, one particular item (say, a sick or injured dog) will cost the shelter a lot more money than another animal, but ultimately all the product will be sold at the advertised price regardless (i.e. an injured dog that costs the shelter $1,000 in vet care will be sold for $200, while a dog that came in healthy and was already neutered and cost the shelter only $60 in vaccinations will also be sold for $200).

Sometimes a shelter asks for more money based on age (puppies and kittens are sometimes more expensive than adults). This is true at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, but untrue at Best Friends in LA. Even then, a kitten who needs a fracture repair will still be sold at the same price as a healthy kitten, so the price scale is very rigid. But since puppies and kittens get adopted at a much faster rate, and (generally) cost the shelter less in vet care, the money the shelter makes on those animals helps to off-set the cost of the older animals that the shelter loses money on (the senior cat who stays for seven months before being adopted and needs medication).

It seems a little weird when you think about an animal shelter this way: in cost and product. But the fact is, even though almost all shelters (if not 100% of them) are non-profit, they still need to be able to pay for things and not go into debt, and therefore must be able to function as a business, albeit most of their revenue comes from donations and grants.

Another unique thing about an animal shelter though, is that the product is living creatures. Creatures that get sick, or have quirks, or have special needs. This makes everything quite unpredictable. Even an animal that seems to behave perfectly and is in wonderful health can suddenly become ill or develop behavioral issues once it’s in someone’s home. Animal shelters do their best to tell people everything they know about an individual animal, but often times they don’t know the animal’s past, and because an animal shelter is such a bizarre environment, an animal may not act the same or even show the same health signs as it would in a home setting*.

*It’s important to keep in mind though, that this is really true of animals in general, and not just the shelters. There are plenty of horror stories about people buying animals from pet stores and ending up with huge vet bills. Even animals purchased from small-scale high-quality breeders can still develop health or behavioral issues.

The point I’m getting at (or at least trying to get at), is that in an animal shelter, there’s no such thing as “bad product”. Even an animal with behavioral or medical concerns can be wonderful, loving pets. In fact, often times they’re more wonderful and more loving, because taking care of their special needs creates a stronger bond. And even a dog in “mint condition” can get sick or develop issues further down the line.

The Heart of Animal Sheltering
My favorite cat at Best Friends LA right now is Kirby. He’s fourteen, has three teeth, arthritis, and recently developed a skin issue (most likely some type of stress-induced allergies). He’s somewhat lethargic. He doesn’t play with toys. He doesn’t make a fuss when a younger cat gets in his face. He lets you pick him up and flop him onto your lap.

He purrs when you pet him. When you brush him and wipe down his fur and give a little relief to his scabs, he gives you a look of deep gratitude.

The shelter takes good care of Kirby, even though he’s only going to lose them money. Their loss, but also their gain, because he’s a wonderful cat.

And maybe one day soon, some kind soul will take pity on this cat in less-than-mint condition. And when they do, they can pay the full price for him. Because he’s worth it.