Thursday, April 13, 2006
From Austin to Dublin...This is from our "Paws to Consider" column every other week in ANG Newspapers. It ran on 3/11/06.
The long journey: A tale of two kitties
WE TAKE OUR obligation to the homeless cats and dogs of this community seriously, including those who passed through our doors previously.
Adopters sign a contract saying if, for any reason, they cannot keep their pets, they must return them to us so we can find them a new home or make other appropriate decisions for the animals. We feel that our animals, if they need to be rehomed, continue to be our responsibility.
Last month, we received a call from a public animal control facility in Texas. They informed us that clients of ours who now lived in Austin had surrendered their two young cats.
The folks in Austin told us the cats were originally adopted from our Tri-Valley shelter. They also said the two cats were shy, not welcoming and had hissed at them from the cage. As a busy, open-admission shelter, they didn't feel they could do much for these two. They were overly full of many, much friendlier cats, so these were not going to be put up for adoption. They were slated for euthanasia over the weekend and the shelter was giving us a call in case there was anything we could, or would, do.
Boo Boo is a petite tortie with a stubby tail, perhaps from a run-in with a car door. Muffin is a sleek, panther-like feline, perfectly proportioned with long, strong limbs. They were housed in a small cage together. They hissed at anyone who approached, sending the universal cat signal for "stay away."
Of course, two unfriendly, stressed-out cats wouldn't get adopted any more easily here than in Austin. Was it fair to bring them back to California only to have them potentially sit in a habitat for the rest of their lives?
A former supporter of the East Bay SPCA had recently moved to Austin with her own menagerie of assorted adopted cats and dogs. One of our staff members called and asked her to check these two out and report back to us.
The reconnaissance mission was successful. She reported that while they were both clearly depressed at losing their home and family, and were a little scared, they warmed up to her quickly and seemed fairly affectionate.
The decision was made to spring these two and bring them back to Dublin. It wasn't in the budget, and there are many cats right here in our community that need our resources, but we owed it to these guys to make good on our original promise to find them a home.
On our behalf, the shelter in Austin released the pair of cats to our good Samaritan. She brought them home. She fed them, brushed them and introduced them to her dogs with no incidents. And she fell in love.
"The black cat came completely out of his shell. He owns the place. He is rubbing up against me and does little dolphin jumps to my hand so his head gets petted. He does this while purring and is very at home as a lap cat. He completely shed his depression. The little one is 'Velcro-kitty.' After her initial shyness, she follows me around everywhere. They aren't even particularly upset by the dogs."
She then woke up before dawn on Monday to put them on a plane to Oakland. With luck this would be their second-to-last scary trip before finding their forever home.
So Boo Boo and Muffin are back in our Dublin facility. They have settled in and are enjoying their cat tree cubbyhole, high off the ground. Despite their spacious habitat, they cuddle in this small space together, watching the sometimes-harsh world from their hideaway perch. But don't let this fool you. Walk inside their habitat and visit, and the most unlikely pair of feline friends will unfold themselves from their nest and come out to say "hi."
One large, one petite. One black, the other a panoply of color. One independent and confident, the other insecure and needy. One with a long, graceful tail; the other with a short, stubby, broken one.
The last time they were here they were kittens. I hope they remember the sounds and smells of the shelter so that this feels a little like home. Boo Boo and Muffin need a happy ending, but it feels like we already have one.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article appeared, Boo Boo and Muffin came down with a little cold and needed a little time away from the shelter. One of our favorite fosters, VM, took them home for a while until they recovered, and now they are back just in time for Black and White Cat Adoption Week!