When it comes to Ivy the cat, I have to say, I am incredibly lucky. She is a happy cat, relaxed, content, healthy as can be and a delight to have around. She is clearly an extrovert as she loves to be around people and she appears pretty calm around other animals.
After 7 months, she has no doubt of who her adoptive daddy is. I am always here to ensure her needs are met, including a lot of time for play and for chilling together. When I head out the door, she is sad to see me go, even if it is just to put her poop bag in the garbage outside, and she always greets me with open paws when I get home from work.
But every once in a while, she will do a little something out of character that has me asking, “Where did that come from?” Aside from meowing like an ambulance from time to time, she really is perfect in every way which makes a rare quirk easy to disregard, but still makes me very curious as to why.
When she ran into that little feline parasite thing about 4 months ago, I called the Ottawa Humane Society to check into her immunization and treatment history to confirm what else she may require to be completely up to date. At the same time, I had a chance to ask a bit more about her back story from her life as a stray and how long she had been living life “on the streets”.
I teared up to think about little Miss Ivy (currently Queen of this household) living a life of rooting through people’s garbage, looking for shelter, living outside through a winter that seemingly never ended, with no place to call home or a human to call her own to offer her affection whenever she wanted. Who knows how she was able to survive.
I get images of her standing on the street corner, posing by a cardboard recycling bin, with a cigarette in her right paw, seductively meowing to crusty old tomcats, “You wanna date?” just to find warmth and shelter, even if just for a few minutes. How was she able to sustain her catnip habit? Did she have to turn to a life of “pet”-ty crime? It must have been a very dark and lonely life.
As I am writing this, Ivy is galloping by, reminding me of her speed and sharp reflexes, but still, it freaks me out to think that during that period, she could have been hit by a car or something worse could have happened to her.
When I look into her big green eyes, I wonder how anyone could have let this perfect little companion go.
But it is those formative years that remain a bit of a wild card where I wonder if a life of instability, fending for herself, or having an unhappy home life might be the cause of those rare out-of-character moments.
For example, if I stand up too quickly or make a forward gesture too quickly, she sometimes shows signs of feeling threatened and runs. What is she afraid of? One would think that by now she would have made the connection that my aim is to always make her feel happy, comfortable and safe as I do my best to maintain a calm, peaceful and serene home for my own benefit.
Obviously, I cannot turn back time and follow her around for the period before she came into my life – and frankly it might just be more upsetting than anything else. All I can do is offer her all the love, support and understanding I can when those weird little out-of-character quirks come up. Hopefully over time, she will forget her time on the streets and be 100% comfortable in her forever home.
Sadly Ivy’s stray story is not that rare and I completely understand now why Bob Barker and Drew Carey close off every episode of “The Price is Right” urging people to “help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered”.
The 2014 Animal Shelter Statistics Report by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is an eye opener and makes a compelling case in stressing the importance of spaying and neutering pets. The simple fact is that supply exceeds demand. Even though adoptions were up in 2014 (great news!), the fact is that “11% of dogs and 27% of cats were euthanized relative to intake”. Companion animal overpopulation is a gut wrenching issue.
February is spay and neuter awareness month and many Canadian humane societies have campaigns to get the word out. I get a chuckle out of the Winnipeg Humane Society’s campaign name “Fix ‘Em February”.
With increased awareness, increased affordable access and more owners spaying and neutering their pets, hopefully we can get the companion animal population under control, and then offer humane societies a fighting chance in getting every pet into a loving and supportive home… like Ivy!
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