We have been thinking and talking about it for a couple of months, so this weekend we finally went to the SPCA of Northern Nevada to look at adopting a cat.
Because my son doesn’t deal well with disappointment or changing plans, I kept reminding him, “We might not get a cat today.” I was sure we would, but I didn’t want to deal with the emotional breakdown he might have if we had to wait another day, week, month. Plus, I wasn’t sure how the whole thing worked. If we found one we liked, could we take him home that same day? Was there a waiting period on adopting a cat?
We went to the SPCA and were told that we could just walk into the rooms and visit with the cats. If a room was locked, we couldn’t go in. Um. Obviously? The first room we walked into was just full of cats in cages. So we could look at them, read their names and ages, but we couldn’t actually interact with them. It felt strange looking at that row of cages with mostly sleeping cats who didn’t seem to give a crap about us being there. I felt sad for them, like maybe they had just been there too long to think a human would actually pick them.
I felt even worse when I realized how old they were, and that I was one of those horrible humans who would not pick them.
The next room was actually an open room with litter boxes and scratch posts and places to climb for the dozen or so cats. Some were chilling in their window beds, others were walking the room. Before we even entered the room, I saw one of them staring at the door. She knew where the humans came from, and she would be waiting.
The set up of the rooms was such that there was an entry room where you sanitized your hands before actually walking into the room. I made sure the first door was closed before opening the door to the room, because I knew no matter how careful I was, that little one was getting out.
And of course she did. She went straight for the second door, and then looked at me like, “Well, aren’t you going to open it for me?” I picked her up gently and took her back into the room. She stared at me.
T walked around the room, letting the cats sniff his hand and talking to them in a soft voice. He remarked how cute they all were and then ended up back by the cat guarding the door. She walked right up to him and nudged her head under his hand.
Her name was Kiki and she was just under a year old. The short bio said that she had been found wandering the streets in January and an owner was never found. She was friendly, but was definitely an escape artist. They didn’t know her relationship with dogs or kids, but that she would probably be okay with older kids.
She liked to hide under my almost-floor-length skirt if I was standing up. We sat with her for a while, the other cats ignoring us completely. She didn’t want to play with any of the toys. She just wanted to sniff our faces and rub her head in our hands. She stuck her face in T’s face numerous times, making him giggle and ask if we could take her home.
So we left the room to find someone to ask about adopting Kiki. As we walked past the window again, I saw her watching the door. She was standing guard, just waiting for the next unsuspecting human to let her out.
The young man working behind the desk informed us that there was already a young woman filling out an application to adopt Kiki. T was disappointed to the point of tears welling up in his eyes, so I walked him back around the corner to sit on a bench so we could talk. There were still a couple other rooms we could visit. Plus, we could go to the Humane Society. And, as I’d said earlier, we didn’t have to get a cat today.
As I was telling him all of this, the young man joined us at the bench and asked to talk to me. T went to the window of Kiki’s room and stood there, watching her watching the door.
“I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I overheard one of the other workers talking about the girl applying to adopt Kiki. I guess there are a couple of red flags in her application. I just wanted to tell you. Just…stick around for a little bit and I’ll let you know what happens.”
So we went into another room of cats, but T just didn’t find one who would connect with him like Kiki did. They were aloof in the way you hear cats typically are. So we returned to the bench.
Minutes later, another young man approached us and asked if we were the ones inquiring about adopting Kiki. T’s eyes lit up briefly. The man told us that the other young woman’s application had been denied because her landlord had not given permission to have a pet. Did we want to apply for adoption?
T couldn’t say yes fast enough.
As I filled out the application, I started to think about what was happening. I have never been a “pet person.” We didn’t have them growing up, and I never really thought I would ever have one. But here I was, filling out an application to adopt a cat who would stay with us for the rest of her life.
I worried over every question. How much are you willing to spend on medical care, food, supplies, etc.? Under what circumstances would you need to surrender the pet? Why are you adopting a pet?
The young man talked me through the application, the care of a cat, what to expect during the transition from shelter to our home. He was very informative and obviously cared a great deal about matching the animals to a home where they would be loved and cared for. He answered all of T’s questions, and mine.
Our application was approved. I signed the contract. And soon we were driving home with a cat in a cardboard box.
Because I had bought stuff in preparation, but not a carrier. So the SPCA will give you a cardboard carrier to bring home your pet in.
An animal with sharp claws in a cardboard box.
Halfway home, she had clawed her way through that box, crawled out a little hole, and hidden herself under one of the seats in the car.
Knowing she loves to run away, it was a little bit of a trick to get her out of the car when we got home. We couldn’t open a single door until she was in my arms. But we managed it. Eventually. Without even getting clawed ourselves.
We changed her name to Molly (after Molly Weasley). T wanted to play with her so much, but resigned himself to sitting on the couch with a book while allowing her to explore the house to her heart’s content. Eventually she made her way to him. She curled up next to him and he set his hand on her as he continued to read.
I never really believed people who told me that when we found the cat we wanted, we would just know. I thought choosing a pet from a shelter seemed so strange. “You’re not good enough to join our family, but you’ll be okay.” But maybe we did kind of fall in love with Kiki-Molly right away. Maybe she was kind of meant to be ours.
She’s still cautious around us, but the fact that she spent an hour sleeping on my chest this evening tells me that she’s getting more comfortable.
We left the house for a couple of hours today, just to give her a chance to see that we might leave her alone, but we’ll come back. For an hour or two after we came home, she slept under the couch as if she was pouting about us leaving her. But then she came back out. Tomorrow we’ll be gone longer–work and school–so it will be interesting to see how she responds when we come back.
She really is an escape artist, so we’ll have to be careful when opening our front door. For now I’m keeping her in my bedroom when we leave the house to lessen the chance of her running out the front door as soon as we get home. I don’t know if that is sustainable. I second-guess myself on everything when it comes to her. I don’t know about pets. I don’t know if it’s acceptable to lock her in my room while we’re gone. She has food and a big comfy bed to hang out on. I’ll keep the blinds open so she can look outside (she seems to like that).
It’s a lot like parenthood I guess. Just finding what works for our family and doing what’s best to keep her safe and happy.
And, really, I am so glad I made the choice to bring Miss Molly into our family.