For today, August 12, 2009, the 1st annual Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Day, we would like to share with you the story of the adoption of one of our less adoptable pets that was published in "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul."
Lindsey's white Persian head - a snowball with huge golden eyes and a flat, upturned nose - gave her a look of perpetual sourness. Her fluffy feathered tail and paws were worthy of a pedigreed show cat. But everything in between - her skinny little torso and legs - had been shorn to the skin, ridding her of years of heavily matted fur. Still, with a wiggle of her rear and her head held high, she approached everyone as if she were a fashion model sauntering up the runway and displaying the latest in designer feline styles.
She didn't care that the sight of her caused people to giggle. She felt no shame or humiliation, nor did it cause her to think less of any human - all humans were her friends and deserved her affection. I, too, was a guilty party: She made me laugh, that spunky little sprite.
Lindsey, a rescued cat I was fostering, didn't realize my halfway house for homeless animals was not her real home. It was the best she had ever known. She had spent eight years in a shopping cart topped with fencing. Her former people, elderly themselves, meant well and often took in homeless cats. They prevented reproduction by housing each cat individually in carriers. The cats never left their cages. The couple had rescued Lindsey as a kitten when she was tossed from a moving car. The white Persian had been lucky to be given the deluxe accommodations - the shopping cart - but now she had been rescued from her rescuers. I promised her daily that the best was yet to come.
At first, Lindsey could barely walk. A lifetime of confinement left her shaky and unsteady on her feet. Her muscles protested. She wobbled and stumbled. But she refused to give up, and, with practice, she soon began jogging and exploring. Lindsey found such glory in being able to run.
She adored the other foster cats and loved to snuggle with them. At long last, she could touch other cats instead of just watching them through bars. She had never seen a dog before, but that didn't matter - they were living creatures. She approached them without fear, confident of a loving reception.
One day, I found Lindsey upstairs in resident cat territory, with cats she had not yet met. Odessa and Abigail sat together, peering down their long alley-cat noses, wondering what the heck this creature was. They had never seen a Persian before, much less a bald Persian - and such a bold one, who would dare to come in and act like she was everyone's lifelong friend. I let them be.
A while later, I returned to investigate. At the sound of my entry, two heads emerged from a cat bed in the window, cheeks fused as one. The white, fluffy Persian head seemed dwarfed by the huge, coal-black head of my anti-social cat, Claude, who, years before, had lost a paw at the hand of a cruel human. The four-eyed, "Do-you-mind?" glare hastened my respectful retreat. Claude had found a new friend.
Then, suddenly, Lindsey became ill. Refusal to eat and drink sent her to the hospital - and a convalescent cage. It was touch-and-go for a while, but, finally, Lindsey regained her appetite. She joyfully returned to her foster home, free once again of the hated confinement. Tests showed some irregularities, possibly the result of past nutritional deficiencies. I was sure her retests would be fine, since Lindsey's appetite was back. In fact, Lindsey acted like her old self. As the adoption applications started rolling in, I felt certain that the best was now within reach.
Her story touched people, and interest in adopting her grew, despite Lindsey's advanced age. My duty as a good foster mom meant careful scrutiny of prospective homes. Not just any home would do, only the right home - a home perfectly suited for Lindsey's needs.
That mounting feeling of excitement, that intuitive knowing this is the one, ran through me as I studied one couple's application. Laura and Mike, who already had Fredo the Himalayan and Penny the Persian, wanted Lindsey to share their quiet, peaceful and loving home, where cats were cherished family members. A call to their veterinarian confirmed them as the best of pet guardians. Lindsey would meet them and go home the very next day!
No sooner had arrangements been made than my vet called with the long-forgotten test results. I knew he would not be calling in person if everything were normal. The news hit me hard. Lindsey had kidney disease, and the prognosis was grim. "Make what time she has left quality time," the doctor advised.
With a heavy heart, I relayed the sad news to Laura. "We would still like to meet her," she told me. The ache in my throat eased at her kind words. Nothing could have lifted my spirits or restored my faith in humans more. Not only were Laura and Mike the committed pet guardians I hoped to find, but their selflessness put Lindsey's needs above their own, even knowing their attachment to her could only last a short time.
Although Laura, Mike and I were strangers, we hugged, linked by our common goal to make Lindsey's remaining time special. They signed the adoption papers, but more important to me was the verbal commitment they made - a promise to call it a day when Lindsey's health started to fail. Suffering was not to be part of the deal.
Lindsey settled nicely into her new home. Fredo fell in love with her, grooming Lindsey at every opportunity. Penny had to adjust, but soon found Lindsey more than willing to share Fredo's attentions. The three became friends. Lindsey spent her days exploring her new home and basking in a bed of sunshine streaming through the windows. She spent her nights sleeping comfortably wrapped around either Laura or Mike's head. This was the best - exactly what I had hoped for when I'd made that promise to Lindsey.
It lasted two months. Lindsey became weaker, and when she no longer rallied with treatments and medication, Laura and Mike lovingly allowed her to leave life, peacefully and with dignity. Tears flowed freely in grief, but also in appreciation for having known her.
Lindsey had emerged from her long years of isolation and confinement miraculously unscathed in spirit. The love and sweetness she radiated enriched the lives of everyone she touched. I was comforted, knowing that she had experienced a life worthy of her, even though only for a short time. Against all odds, she had achieved the best.
© 2004 Daniela Wagstaff