Shelter Stories

Posted on 29 May 2013

Every week I volunteer a few hours of my time at a local animal shelter, where I specialize in cat adoptions (no surprise there). In addition to changing litter boxes and giving the cats some much-needed attention, my duties include striking up conversations with potential adopters to to help match them with the right pet and to ensure they can provide happy, healthy homes for the cats.

It didn’t take long before I learned that the question “Why are you interested in adopting a cat at this time?” will, more often than not, result in a story surrounding the adopter’s previous beloved cat and/or a loss.

We had Sampson for 18 years before he got sick.
I lost Crunchers in 2010 and finally feel ready to adopt another.
My other cat has been lonely ever since Tinkerbell died.
I grew up with a wonderful black cat and have wanted another for years now — and my recent divorce finally makes that possible.

No, I’m not trying to give you even more evidence that I’m a cat lady. All I’m saying is that stories surface everywhere. That kid is drawn to the three-legged kitty because he had a dog who was injured in a car crash. That man misses the calico who kept him company during better times. And that woman ended up with a black-and-white cat because she once shared a writing room with a similarly colored cat named Edith Wharton (ahem).

What’s your pet story?

Photo: yui*

9 responses to Shelter Stories

  • Teri says:

    I can’t start, lest I never never stop. But I recall Amy Hempel reading a long story about working at a shelter — from a shelter dog’s point of view — at AWP a few years ago and it was so painful, so powerful, I sat in the audience and cried and cried.

    How great that you’re working there, Laura. I’m proud of you.

    P.S. Thanks for this post. It led me this morning to read Hempel’s Paris Review interview, which is fantastic.

  • Averil says:

    My little Izzy was a last-hour rescue before she went to the shelter (where she would have been adopted immediately, I’m sure, but it makes me feel better about myself to imagine her in peril).

    • Teri says:

      She was in peril. Believe it. And now she’s living the good life with you.

    • One thing about volunteering in the shelter is seeing just how many amazing pets are homeless. They’re adorable, friendly, well-behaved, everything…there are just so many of them. You made all the difference in Izzy’s life.

    • Averil says:

      My son was holding her belly-up in his arms the other day, and she tilted her little head with one ear flopping down, for all the world like a damsel in distress. We laughed and laughed.

  • I received my stripy overlord (i.e., the cat) from an ex. Best thing I got out of that relationship. The dog was fetched out of a southern shelter the very second I went freelance and thought I could take care of one. My friend trained him with her passel of retrievers until we could come pick him up.

  • lisahgolden says:

    From one crazy cat lady to another, a giant hug.

  • Catherine says:

    My cats are all handmedowns and offspring. I am amazed at how anyone could contemplate leaving their animals behind when they move. My favourite cat Lena (red country tabby – mice beware!) was rescued four summers ago on the beach with two straggly siblings who are now much plumper city cats.

    We chose our old setter from the rescue centre but all came away crying because the others had no homes..

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