Tag Archive | adoption

The unadoptable senior shelter cat – Tony’s story

I missed “Adopt a Senior Pet Month” by a couple of days but here’s my story.

After I put my cat, Simon, to sleep in January of 2011, I wanted to wait to adopt another cat until i found the right one. I didn’t begin my search for a cat until 8 months later. My criteria was:

  • An orange or beige cat to match my carpet (less vacuuming!)
  • An older cat since they are frequently overlooked
  • A cat that wouldn’t be scooped up right away because it was overly cute
  • Already declawed (yes, I know it’s terrible but I wanted a cat that had it done already. I have not and do not plan to declaw Milo for the record.)

I reached out to a few shelters that had cats that might fit the bill but for whatever reason they weren’t the right one. Some of them didn’t get along with other dogs or cats, some were already adopted, etc.

Even though I no longer lived with my parents I discussed the idea with them. My dad, an animal lover, thought every cat was a great cat.  My mom, an animal tolerater, was not keen on the idea of me getting another cat and shot down every cat i showed her (not literally shot! I realize the phrasing of that sentence sounds bad, lol.) Anyway, my mom did not approve of any cat until i showed her Tony’s picture on Petfinder. Only then did she say “Oh, maybe you should call about him.” I figured that was a sign that Tony was the right one for me. tony2

Tony was a 22lb cat that had been dumped at a New Jersey shelter by someone claiming a neighbor had left him behind when they moved. The problem with that story was that they knew too much about the cat.  I think the cat was theirs, and they got tired of dealing with his issues, which of course they neglected to tell the shelter about.

When I visited Tony that same night (the shelter stayed open late to accommodate my availability) he was squished in a tiny cage as that was the only option they had for him. He took one look at me and gave me the evil eye. They took him out of the cage, put him on the floor, and he promptly ran under the row of cages. I offered to sit and wait for him to come out which he eventually did when he smelled the treats I brought him. However, he wouldn’t eat any. He just sat there hissing at me.

I liked his attitude and knew not many other people would, so I said I would take him. The staff thought I was nuts but agreed to let me take him home that night (they didn’t even charge me, but I gave them a donation anyway).  I guess any person who had that much patience for an angry cat must be a good person.

I adopted Tony without knowing if he was friendly with other cats or dogs. I also didn’t know about his issues.  I didn’t find out about those until a few months later. Initially, all seemed okay. When we arrived home, I barricaded Tony in the hallway so that he could assimilate into the family at a slow pace. Well, he wasn’t having any of it. He sat there a bit and let the Chihuahua and the other cat smell him through the gate then pushed past it and entered the main area. No one fought, so I let it be.IMG_0484

He wasn’t the friendliest cat, but I learned his quirks like he only likes to be petted with your feet (I’m guessing he was abused at some point) unless he comes to sit or lay on top of you.  I need to let him do his thing otherwise he gets upset.

The only real issue he has is marking with a lot of urine which started once I introduced Milo to the mix. Milo wants to play and Tony wants no part in it. I believe Tony is just trying to show he’s upset. Because he doesn’t have claws, when he swats at someone or another animal, they aren’t too bothered by it, so I think he gets frustrated.

Lately, Tony has been slowly integrating himself into the group. I find that he now sleeps on the couches even when other pets are on them. He has slept in cat beds that are laying around – even if they are way too small for him. 2014-12-02 11.17.34 He even sprawls out on the floor when Eli and I play fetch in the hallway. However, if anyone gets too close to him or if he gets spooked, he springs up and runs away.

 

It’s taken three years but Tony is finally starting to act like he’s part of the family. I am still the only one he lets pet him, but that’s okay; I know he’s happier here than in the shelter, and I believe that I saved him from being returned back to the shelter once he started marking. We work through his issues and make accommodations for the situations that cause him stress like getting stalked by Milo when using the litter box – I’ve added a litter box in the bedroom so that he can usually do his business without another animal in his face, also that litter box is huge which allows his giant body to easily fit in and turn around without feeling squished helped the problem a bit.

Tony is now 15 years old. He has lost a few pounds but is still a giant cat. While he still doesn’t fully trust me, I have gained his trust enough to know he’s living a great life and is overall content.

Senior pets make the best pets. Try it; you won’t regret it.

Tony making himself at home on the table while I sewed.

Tony making himself at home on the table while I sewed.

Mimi and Milo – A match made in heaven – Interspecies love

Two years ago this month, I became mom to an interesting couple of animals – Mimi the dog and Milo the cat. However, their story started 5 months before I even came into the picture. You see, I belong to a Chihuahua meetup group that also assists in rescuing Chihuahuas in need. A Facebook post by Ada Nieves about a Chihuahua and kitten that needed a home caught my eye. My family already consisted of two 12 year old cats – one with chronic sinusitis and the other an anti-social 22 pounder, a 5 year old Chihuahua and an 18 year old turtle. Most people would think my house was full, but I knew there was a piece missing. I debated on adopting a playmate for the dog or a social cat for my lonely cat but was having trouble deciding. When I read Ada’s post, I thought that it may be the answer to my problem. I could help keep the pair together and finally stop worrying about making the wrong choice.

The story of why Mimi and Milo needed to stay together is more than just animals getting along. Mimi had become a surrogate mother for Milo (then named Rover). I will start from the beginning…..

In the Spring of 2012, a lady named Jen took in two little furbabies as she is known to do; however, this time she didn’t realize what an adventure she was setting out on. Mimi was taken in by Jen and her husband after her original mom became critically ill while Mimi was pregnant and was no longer able to care for her. She had a c-section because she only had one puppy in the womb, and unfortunately her puppy was not born alive. The week before they brought Mimi home, Rover was brought into her sister’s grooming salon by a man who said his Mastiffs brought him the kitten! Rover barely had his eyes open, so they hand-fed him until the next week when Mimi arrived. Mimi seemed very depressed, so they offered her the tiny kitten. It was instant love – proven when she started to nurse him. Rover played so gently with her and their bond was amazing…they truly loved each other. It was then that Jen knew that this pair could never be separated. She set on a quest to find them a furever home. Through Ada, she searched high and low to find them the perfect placement.

Meme&Rover

First pic of Mimi and Milo together

Baby Milo

Baby Milo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, Mimi’s troubles were far from over. Later during her spay surgery in August, she developed a hernia along her spay incision, so yet another surgery was required. She actually developed an additional hernia right after I adopted her and needed another surgery then as well – that’s 3 surgeries in one month if you’re counting!

Anyway, while Mimi healed from the first hernia surgery, Jen and I had many conversations to make sure my home was the right one for Mimi and Rover. Fortunately for me, she thought we would fit well together, and I was able to complete my furry family! We each drove many hours to meet halfway between our homes and ended up meeting in a McDonald’s parking lot! Yup… I’m lovin’ it!

When I finally arrived back home, I was worried about how they would adapt to their new surroundings and siblings and vice versa but everyone tolerated each other well right from the start. I could tell that Mimi and Milo (Rover was a good name for the tough guy at the beginning but now he was a mush and needed a mushy name like Milo!) were completely bonded and inseparable. They would sleep in the same bed and many nights I was woken up by the sounds of Milo still nursing on Mimi – 5 months later!

It’s two years later, and their bond is as strong as ever. Milo is now twice as big as Mimi, but he plays with her like they are the same size. Mimi and Milo have completely settled into their new digs. Milo has taken his place as the bratty little brother and chases around the older cats, and Mimi has taught her Chihuahua brother how to be a nicer guy.  In Jen’s words: Milo is like the perfect mix of cat and dog, and Mimi is just a ray of sunshine.


Mimi is now a therapy dog bringing smiles to residents of physical rehabilitation centers, and Milo helps raise money for animal charities by starring in the annual cat fashion show at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.

 Bonus pictures!

They love to cuddle and sleep near each other.

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I love this pic of them sleeping with Milo's feet on Mimi's face!

I love this pic of them sleeping with Milo’s feet on Mimi’s face!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 out of 5 of the furry zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus videos!

Animal Shelters – Easy ways to make them better

I searched for months to adopt my dog. I saw dog after dog at foster houses and was rejected from all of them for nonsense reasons like I was single, I worked a full-time job, I live in an apartment, I didn’t have a backyard. I wasn’t looking to adopt a huge dog. I wanted a medium to small dog that would have room to run in an apartment. The whole process was long and frustrating. I spent many nights upset over all the time I wasted trying to get people to give me a dog. I was a great candidate with years of dog and cat experience, came with great references, had a good job, owned an apartment in the city and a house in the country…..but that wasn’t good enough. This experience got me thinking about how some shelters are run. Obviously, many of them are overcrowded so fostering is great, and I understand that you get attached to the pet in your care; however, sometimes you have to let them go to their new furever home. The goal of shelters should be to get pets into good homes – not necessarily the absolutely perfect home. Here are some ideas I had that I think would help get more animals adopted. First it’s all about how the animals are presented. Do they have a good name? A great photo?  If not, start there.

  • If you don’t have a great photographer on staff or as a volunteer, post an ad on Craigslist for an amateur photographer looking to get their name out there. Have them photograph your animals. Reward them with credit for the photos and be a great reference for them.
  • Set up a small area with a nice backdrop to be your permanent photo area. Animals do not look their best in cages. Take the extra minute to photograph them elsewhere. Perhaps have them sit on a chair. Get on their level. I am not a photographer so I don’t have lots of tips for this but there are many sites out there that do. Check out this site for a good start.
  • Make sure your listings on Petfinder are awesome…… Use photoshop if you have to
    A hat softens the look of a dog that might not have the happiest expression in a pic

    A hat softens the look of a dog that might not have the happiest expression in a pic

    (or another less complicated program) and throw a hat or caption on a picture – especially if you don’t have a great picture of the animal. Don’t have time for this? Recruit an intern who can work on this task from home.

  • On that same thought, use that intern to spice up your listings. Make them funny and interesting. You have to get the viewer to connect with this animal and all you have is a picture and words. Take the extra time to post something fantastic. You can always recycle verbiage from animals that have already been adopted to save time.
    • Organize! Use your computer. Print as much information about the animal as possible on an index card size paper and attach it to their cage. This way potential adopters will know as much as possible about the animals they are viewing. You can cheaply add and replace information by attaching paper to the cage via a clothespin. Use a border and a nice font. Include language that will connect the animal to your potential adopter instead of just bullet points. Something like  “Hi, My name is Misty. I love other cats and dogs but little children scare me. I’m 8 years old and love to be tickled under the chin. I’d love to become part of your family.” Include a great photo of the animal in case they are hiding in the back of the cage.

Mutts

  • Make it easier for people to volunteer at your shelter. I tried to volunteer at several shelters and had to jump through hoops just to get a response. I never felt like they wanted or needed my help even though their website asked for volunteers. In the end, I chose to volunteer elsewhere where I felt appreciated.
  • Shelter hours – Hours that people can visit pets after work and on the weekend are a must!  Having hoards of people come into your shelter during the couple of hours you are open on a Saturday is just not a great way to get your animals in front of people. I realize that shelters are often short-staffed, but getting people in is how animals get adopted! Make it convenient. Animals will be less stressed when viewed by fewer people at one time as well.
    • Ask your local high schools if they have home economics classes. Perhaps they can sew pet beds for you

      made out of things they already own, or if there is a woodshop class, they can construct some that are even fancier – perhaps for sale at your shelter or for auction at an adoption event. See some options here and here and here!

  • Dog toys are also an option for group projects. If you can’t get local schools on board, perhaps schedule a night out at a bar or restaurant. Have tools and supplies on hand and ask participants to bring supplies as well – old shirts, tennis balls, etc. Here are some ideas for homemade toys. Some of those toys are easy enough for elementary schools to create. Projects are great ways to keep kids occupied on rainy days – instead of just plopping them in front of a television.
  • Make an Amazon wish list to allow people to buy specific items for your shelter. Keep active on social media. Show both success stories and animals still in need of homes. It’s amazing how people will pull together to get your animals adopted; it just has to be easy for them to do so.

Sorry this list was so long. I feel like I have a million more ideas, but I’ll write them up another time. If you have any ideas of your own or thoughts about mine, please leave a note in the comments section. I would love to be able to help shelters in any way I can. dont shop adopt