We Adopted a Shelter Cat

We now have a cat; we call him Waldo.

I have immense respect for the people that work and volunteer at animal shelters. I can not do it. I am even unable to watch the advertisements on TV asking for help to support the shelters. As soon as that first sad looking puppy appears on screen, I mute the sound and look away. The thought of an unloved, homeless animal tears me apart emotionally like nothing else does. I am not happy to admit, but it has taken us longer to adopt a cat than was necessary because I wasn’t sure I could bring myself to enter a shelter, to see all the desperate animals.

I even hesitated to call up the page of available cats on the Virginia Beach SPCA website. I did not know how I would be able to read their sad stories. Fortunately, we had some criteria for the cat we desired and that reduced the number I had to read. We wanted an older cat who was less likely to be adopted and one that had experience living with dogs. Superficially, and because I have become enamored of several for whom I care in my pet sitting business, I picked on only orange faces peering out at me.

It didn’t take long to find our cat. A squinty-eyed face, displaying some attitude, belonged to a five-year-old ginger tabby named Garfield. I had a gut feeling he was the one for us.

It was then time for the difficult part—actually driving to the SPCA and going inside. We quickly walked to a small room where a volunteer was to bring Garfield to meet us. Heading there I kept my head down and tried to ignore my husband who kept commenting on the funny antics of the cats we were passing.

Garfield is a big guy at 15 pounds and purred from the moment he entered the room. He displayed no fear when introduced to our two large Labradors, soon rubbing up against Cole, who seemed bemused by the action and sniffed his back end, in the typical dog meet-and-greet fashion. When Baxter gave a less friendly reaction to this rubbing, Garfield showed only a look of, “What’s your problem?” on his face, unperturbed by the rumble coming from the 90 pound canine.

Having lived a couple decades with large dogs, it has been an adjustment to have a small, quickly moving, and often disappearing critter in our home. He could beat Superman in a leaping contest. This cat has been known to leave our loft room—not through the door—but by leaping down into the living room, stopping briefly on the cornice of the window treatments, and safely arriving on the back of a chair or sofa.

Unlike the dogs, we never know where we will find him—behind a drape, curled up on a dining room chair, or snoozing on a pile of Pet Tails in the closet. I was constantly asking, “Where’s Garfield?” which soon became “Where’s the cat?” and ultimately morphed into “Where’s Waldo?” Thus the name change.

This adoption has been a great success and Waldo is the perfect cat for us.

I asked the volunteers who processed his adoption, how do they stop themselves from taking many of the animals home. Each smiled; it turned out that both of whom I asked were living with several dogs and cats that they had grown to love while caring for them at the shelter.

[This is the “Editor’s Notes” column from the December/January issue of Pet Tails.]