Sunday, December 19, 2010

PK: My Ray Of Sunshine

PK's story begins 11 years ago, when a friend who volunteered at Howard County Animal Control was leaving the shelter and saw a woman walking across the parking lot carrying a box. Despite the woman's best efforts to hold on, the box was squirming, and orange legs were forcing their way out through the top. Anne suggested the woman return the box to her car before the contents escaped. Then, she gave the woman the Howard County Cat Club's phone number.
PK trying out the harness and leashhe wore to Walk For Paws

The next day, the woman brought Peanut, the orange cat in the box, and his housemate, Lucky, to our adoption show. They were her daughter's cats, she said, and her daughter had just moved back home with her husband, new baby, her unneutered male cats, an unspayed female and many kittens. The kittens were all Peanut's and Lucky's fault, she said, and they had to go. We agreed I would keep the cats overnight and get them neutered the next day. She would pick them up from the spay/neuter clinic and keep them until they got adopted. I never heard from her again.

On his first night as a foster cat at my house, Peanut befriended all the other cats who lived here. His personality was as sunny as his bright orange fur. Lucky, meanwhile, was hiding in a closet, and that's where he stayed until he got adopted. Although we never separate litter mates and lifelong friends, Lucky and Peanut clearly disliked each other, and I didn't even give a second thought to sending Lucky to his new home alone. Peanut was a dilemma though, because my wonderful, elderly Van Gogh adored him.

It wasn't long before I decided Van Gogh should be able to keep his cat. But we couldn't have a cat with a name like Peanut. He needed something more dignified. Maybe PK, for Perfect Kat or Pretty Kat, depending on the mood we were in.

For 11 years, the foster cat who quickly became a member of my family went for walks with me and rubbed around my legs and rolled on my feet while I was talking with neighbors. He slept with me every night, kneading my arm but being very careful to keep his claws in. When I was upset, he was upset and tried to comfort me. When I was especially unhappy about a cat who desperately needed help, I'd cry on his shoulder.

The week after Thanksgiving, we lost PK to cancer. It was very sudden and totally unexpected. But when I think about him and remember him, that bright ray of sunshine returns to my life, if only for a few minutes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Patches and Lea: 'Dogs Have Masters; Cats Have Staff'


College cats have a way of getting left behind when their young humans finish school. Patches and her daughter, Lea, were no exception, but with a slight difference. Their new graduate took them home to live with her dad, even though he despised cats and shared his home with a dog who hated cats almost as much as he did.

When she left home for a new job in Pennsylvania, Dad wasted no time handing her cats over to the first rescue that would take them -- us.

Over the years, I've noticed that cats in no-kill shelters tend to wait for the perfect family to come along. Patches and Lea waited two years. Every Sunday, they attended an adoption show at PetCo, and people would be drawn to the beautiful Patches like a magnet. Some people wanted to make her a "safe" indoor cat (she loves to be outside), and some people wondered if we would declaw her before they adopted her (cats have claws for a reason, and our contract stipulates that under no circumstances are our cats to be declawed). Everyone wanted Patches, but no one wanted Lea. So they waited, and waited and waited some more.

Then one of my clients who had lost her two cats and was ready to adopt again stopped by our show at PetCo. She, too, was drawn to the magnetic Patches. My heart sank. But then Lea reached out and touched her gently with one paw. Carol and her husband, Drew, had just met the perfect cat, and they wanted her mother, too. Patches and Lea went home after the show.

Today, Patches and Lea are Phoebe and Princess Leia, and they give new meaning to the saying, "Dogs have masters. Cats have staff." They have two huge, beautiful cat tress to climb and window seats at every window with a view. When they're home, Carol and Drew spend much of their time opening the door so Phoebe can go out and then opening it again so she can come back in because she wouldn't dream of using the cat door that leads to the deck and woods where she loves to hunt. They also have a wonderful cat friend named Franny. But most important, they have humans who adore them, and that's really all they wanted all along.

You can help us save more cats like Patches and Lea. Please help us find a new location in the Columbia area for our group home.