It has been almost one year since I took home my beautiful cat Ivy and as you can see by the picture, she has made herself quite at home. Frankly, she is just about as perfect as she looks in the picture and I could not have asked for a better little friend.
Yet, I still feel bad when I think about the other cats I met during the “Cat Auditions” last spring. It feels so wrong to be thinking about other cats when I am petting Ivy, but I think it is natural to hope that they all found good forever homes.
One in particular has been on my mind a great deal, I met one day after work at a pet store near my office that carried pets for the Ottawa Humane Society. Just for a point of reference, let’s call her Gloria, even though that was not her real name.
When I got to the store, there was a dog and a dog owner in the store chatting with the two clerks, inquiring about a furniture “investment piece”. From my vantage point, the dog appeared to be a happy and friendly puppy, joyfully playing for her audience and soaking up all of the attention. But from that same vantage point, Gloria’s cage looked empty.
When the dog and his owner left, I asked the clerks where Gloria was. They walked me to the cage saying she was probably just hiding because the dog likely made her nervous.
Sure enough, once we got to the cage, a little head peeped out of the cardboard box in the cage, revealing gorgeous Gloria… but incredibly stressed Gloria as well.
Gloria was an older cat, 7 years old, with a story that tugged at my heartstrings. She was in a home with other pets and was apparently not getting along with the others. Sadly, her family was also moving and decided it might be the best thing to put her up for adoption.
When Gloria finally came out of her little box, she was so timid and so hesitant to come and meet her new visitor, no matter how sweetly and gently I was trying to connect with her.
When she finally got close enough, I slowly reached over and gently petted her back. When I pulled my hand away after a few strokes, I noticed my hand was covered in cat hair. I also noticed that she had quite a few skin flakes throughout her coat. I was afraid to pet her any more firmly for fear of having her drop any essential parts. In some ways, she reminded me of a feline version of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
I reached back in to give her another empathetic petting, to which she let out a soft meow, clearly appreciating the attention, which tugged on my heartstrings even more.
As I chatted with the pet store team and I kept an eye on Gloria, it was increasingly apparent that this was a nervous kitty.
I can appreciate the challenges this must have presented to her family, as chemistry is not something that we can make happen, especially in the animal kingdom. I also appreciate that the decision to take her to the Humane Society must have been a very difficult one, but in the long run, was probably the best thing for her if she was not thriving and if they ran out of options.
After careful consideration, it pained me to admit that the amount of care she would likely require to regain her confidence might be a lot for me to handle as a first time pet owner. In some ways I felt incredibly guilty to think that, but in other ways, I knew it was the right thing for both of us. A more experienced cat owner with time to invest in her care might be the better home for Gloria.
I often wonder what happened next. I really hope that Gloria did end up in the right forever home, getting the care and attention she needed. Maybe her destiny was indeed to be the lone queen of the household. I do hope she found a kingdom of her own to call home and as result, regained her strength, confidence and happiness.
On this first anniversary of Ivy’s adoption I extend my deepest thanks to the Ottawa Humane Society for all the great work they do. I really don’t know how OHS workers can do that job without falling in love with all of the pets and taking them all home, but I genuinely appreciate the important role that they play, caring for all of the animals regardless of their circumstances, making matches that enrich the lives of so many and in offering a voice for the little ones who cannot.
In conclusion, friends, help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered.
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