I had made the decision to get a pet. Recently reunited with my two children after a hiatus away from them, I thought that it could be a mutually beneficial bonding catalyst. Cat being the operative noun in this case, as I have always been a cat person, rather than a dog person. It’s funny how many of us fall clearly into one camp or the other. The pet demarcation divide remains relevant, whilst other differences have dropped away. The Catholic vs Protestant thing has lost its power in most western communities these days. The Holden vs Ford things has, also, faded from view with so many Japanese, Asian and European manufactured vehicles populating the carports of our suburban homes in 2018. Anyhow I decided to get a cat for my new home, so, this is Adopting Sweetie: A cat’s tale.
The Local Animal Shelter Cats
Initially I considered something exotic, like a pure-bred Persian kitten or some such thing, but the lack of access to breeders and the expensive price tags cured me of this approach to getting a pet. Next, in consultation with my two kids, we checked out what was online and found the local animal refuge. Their website was cleverly written, with engaging photos and rap sheets for the various caged felines. After some consideration we chose Molly, a 9 YO fluffy female long haired cat of indeterminate breeding. We decided to visit the shelter in person the following Sunday after my son’s football game.
A New Addition to the Family
Arriving at the animal shelter we were all excited to meet some cats and see if we could come home with a new addition to the family. Positive relationships with animals have always seemed an enriching experience in my life, both as a parent and when I was a kid myself. I hoped that we would hit it off with Molly in the flesh, after enjoying the digital introduction to her. Alas, it was not to be, Molly was locked in her own cage, because she did not get on with other cats, and she looked cranky and unwell in my view. Together with my children, we agreed Molly was not for us. Next, I saw Sweetie in her basket bed at the back of a large caged enclosure. Immediately, her green eyes honed in on mine and I liked what I saw.
Dedication & Sensitivity to the Animals
The vibe at the shelter was one of dedication and sensitivity to the animals. The refuge attracted plenty of volunteers and donations of pet food and associated useful stuff. All the staff and volunteers that I observed were all women. There was a general feeling of protectiveness toward the animals, which is not surprising really. Many of these cats and dogs have been rescued from potentially harmful situations and death row at the pound in some cases. Sweetie herself was facing the chop, the big sleep, at her last place of incarceration. This refuge does not destroy any animals, unless the health of the animal demands it.
Funnily enough I was informed by the senior volunteer on the cat wing that Sweetie did not get on with men. It seems that she may have had a run in with a bad man in her past. Personally, I did not feel that Sweetie had a problem with me. We were instructed to visit a number of cats in the enclosures to make sure that we made an informed decision about which cat to adopt. Every time a person entered or exited a cat enclosure they were directed to wipe their hands with a supplied disinfectant. Not passing on germs between animals and humans was, obviously, a smart preventative idea.
I was on a Hatrick of hand washing by the time I had perused a dozen cats, the odour from the antiseptic solution was acute, to say the least. If I was a cat I wouldn’t want anyone touching me who smelt like this. Institutions have to be careful though and the rules are there for a good reason. My kids enjoyed interacting with all the cats and we had a good time. We, even, went over to the dog enclosures and visited some good-looking canines. Good natured barking filled the air waves, as these doggies communicated their intention to find a new human companion. More returns on your investment were promised by these predominantly Staffordshire terrier crosses. The dogs were considerably more expensive to adopt, however, than the cats.
I was informed by the animal shelter staff that, as I was renting I would need approval from the owner of the property. Annoying as this was I could understand the logic behind it. Greater responsibility by pet owners for their pets, per se, is, obviously, required, or why else would there be a need for establishments like this in the first place. We went away empty handed on that first visit, which was disappointing for us all. A couple of days later, with the necessary approvals in hand, we returned to pick up Sweetie. A last-minute communication from the manager telling us that Sweetie had bitten a family member and pissed in inappropriate places at her last domestic situation, and which had caused her second return to the refuge, did not sway us in our endeavour to adopt Sweetie.
The fact that three volunteers were needed to chase Sweetie around the enclosure, with one being scratched by her, before we were able to get her into the animal carrier, did have me pondering if I had made the right call. We were piled up with cat litter, cat beds, trays and associated stuff. I filled out a 10-page contract, which included microchipping, sterilisation, and vaccination certificates. The manger assured me that I could bring Sweetie back via a 28-day cooling off period, if things did not work out. I am pleased to say that we are finding our feet with the new addition to the family and things are working out so far. Sweetie is a lovely cat, who needs a bit of TLC, and we are all doing our best to comply.