Dispatches From the Adoption Floor chronicles one volunteer’s work with her local shelter and the role it has played in healing the wounds of losing her own pets to an apartment fire.
It was inevitable that I would meet cats at the shelter that would remind me of the pets we lost. Sure enough Kato, one of the first cats we met at HSCC, reminded both Jason and I of Vikter, our late Turkish Van. Vikter had a handsome, angular face with imploring green eyes and big pointy ears that I often likened to artichoke leaves. His fur was full and downy, white with black ears, black markings on each side, and a bushy black tail you could dust furniture with. While Kato’s eyes were the traditional Siamese blue, his fur all-white and his ears less artichoke-like, his face shared a shape and sweetness with Vik that couldn’t be ignored.
Jason and I discussed adopting Kato at length, but ultimately decided that we couldn’t handle falling in love with that face at the risk of losing it again. Although I’ve always advocated for the adoption of senior pets, I felt unready to take on a ten year-old pet. My first cat, Chester, was only nine when she passed away unexpectedly of stomach cancer. Vikter and Baboo were six and three respectively when the fire took them only three months later. I didn’t need a kitten, but I did need to feel like a new pet would come to us with at least a little bit of time on its side. When adopting a pet it’s important to know what you can and can’t afford – both financially and emotionally. We decided instead to visit Kato frequently and advocate for his adoption as best we could.
Months passed by with Kato still at the shelter. I’d go in and visit him regularly and on some days I could sense he was annoyed at the rotation of cats coming and going from his shared socialization room. By December Kato’s roommates had all been adopted out, and he had been enjoying the kitty condo all to himself. I walked in one morning and noticed a new tag on the door. I assumed it was a new roommate, and it took a moment for my synapses to process what I was reading: “Kato is going home!” I felt tears of joy heating up my eyes as I burst into his room, startling him from sleep. I could tell he was less than thrilled by my congratulatory display, but that didn’t stop me from clutching his face and planting kiss after kiss atop his head. As I doted over him it occurred to me how relieved I felt that I was able to see him this last time. I started to consider that he was serving as a surrogate for Vikter.
On the day of the fire Baboo had been sitting on the window sill in the bedroom, and was easy to kiss before leaving. Vikter, on the other hand, was curled in the back corner of the closet. He looked up at me from where he was sleeping and, instead of getting on my knees and crawling over to him, I blew him a kiss and went on my way. I would never see him again. Here, with Kato, I was kissing my Vikter by proxy. I stayed at the shelter socializing cats, walking a dog and folding laundry for an hour or two, and each time I passed Kato I slipped into his condo and smothered him with good-bye kisses.
Kato is now in his new home, but that familiar mug returned again in the form of Ferbie, an enormous love-bug who adores people and lives to snuggle. The first day I met him he ran right up to me, threw himself at my feet and climbed into my lap the instant my butt hit the cat bed. In the few weeks it took for Ferbie to be adopted he quickly became a favorite. Though I miss him already, I know it’s only a matter of time before another familiar face comes around.
Learn more about the adorable adoptables waiting to meet you at the Humane Society of Chittenden County. Check back soon for further Dispatches From the Adoption Floor.
Ferbie and Kato photographs courtesy Mountain Dog Photography.