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The good, the bad and the ugly of cat adoption

If you're thinking of bringing a new pet into your home, Wendy shares some lessons learned in "Everything King"
2020-02-15 Wendy and Amos
Wendy and Amos. Photo credit: Anne Tsicos

This is the good, the bad and the ugly of cat adoption.

I intend to be brutally honest in hopes of helping others embarking on the journey of bringing a new cat into the household.

As I shared with you in the summer, I lost my sweet cat Otis.

What went with him was my spark, my joy and my mojo, if you will.

The house seemed like a shell of its former self and so did I. I hadn’t felt lonely in years, but I was.

I would find excuses to visit people with pets just to be around a sweet little living creature again.

I knew I would get a cat again, but I certainly didn’t expect to do it quite this soon.

As fate would have it, a friend had just adopted a new fur baby from Street Cats Rescue in Barrie. She couldn’t take two at once, so she was telling me about the one she had to leave behind.

And then she sent his picture.

Within four hours, I was a mom again.

How do I know I was a mom? Well, the level of guilt, insecurity, indecision and angst led me to believe I was a real mother.

Here’s some more truth: If you have lost a cat previously and you bring a new one home, you are going to feel terrible guilt.

  1. Am I being disloyal to my other pet?
  2. What if this cat isn’t the same as my other one? (And he isn’t, nor should he be.)
  3. What if I don’t bond with him? (You won’t… not right away… it's going to take a bit of time.)
  4. Am I ready to do this again? (Who is ever ready for any big life change? Just do it!)

I had never adopted from an animal rescue before, as my cats had always been either strays or come from a friend. 

Then comes the procedure. Expect to feel like you are signing your life away. This is a great thing. I was so impressed with the intensity and amount of detail the volunteers at Street Cat Rescue went to to ensure I was in the right state of mine, of credible character and could provide a happy home. 

You will be asked a lot of questions. You will give a lot of identification. This is a commitment and not to be done on a whim.

In return, you will get as much background of your pet as they have. You will get a cat who's has been microchipped and with its up-to-date shots, had a flea treatment and a file of helpful hints.

Above and beyond, I got some sample foods to get us started. And his little hand-knitted blanket.

Here comes the bad part. This is all on me. Do what they tell you!

They are in the cat rescue business. They are smarter than you. I was told not to give the new pet full freedom at first, because they are coming from a cage/shelter reality for who knows how long. Letting them out in a strange atmosphere with new people, sounds and smells is like sensation overload.

I didn’t listen and let Amos out of his cage while I got him some food. I never saw him again for the next two days. I had no clue where he had gone. Trust me, you have no idea how many hiding spots there are in a townhouse until you start searching. 

I had already failed him. I had traumatized him even more. I was a basket case. What if he gets hurt? What if he’s not eating? Drinking? Using the litterbox?

Street Cats to the rescue. They do a follow-up with all clients to make sure all is going well.

My hysterical wails suggested it wasn’t.

I got a home visit with the promise “Don’t worry, this is normal. We will find him and start back at square one and get on track.”

Here’s me being truthful. I did not want a stranger to come try to find a cat in my messy house. The thought of her having to enter into the deepest reaches of my too full basement made me ill. 

I was petrified she might take Amos away from this horrible person who has too many knickknacks and who doesn’t listen to good advice. I was beyond scared. I was sweating and feeling ill.

Again, totally unnecessary.

The woman could not have been more compassionate. There was no judgment. She showed up with kindness and empathy and a hug.

Thankfully, before she arrived and in his own time, Amos had come out of hiding and has been at ease and at home ever since.  I can barely write this with him climbing me like a tree.

So, to recap... 

The good is the fact that your life after adoption will be fully and happier and with greater purpose. 

The bad is that it's all a process. You need to do what you are told. Don’t rush the love, it's coming.

Oh, and the ugly? As far as I can tell there is absolutely no ugly at all. Just beauty, life-changing, heart-sharing, soul-mending beauty.

Welcome home, Amos.


About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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