Today I would like to write about something that I am sure I have written about previously. A few hours on Saturday brought the topic back to me. The second Saturday of each month, the rescue-group of which I am a member, the Lethbridge PAW Society, brings a cat, available for adoption, to a local pet-supply shop, to show him off, and to generate interest in him, the group, and cat-rescue in general. We rarely have an adoption result directly from the event, but it is good for publicity. If people don’t know about us and the cats seeking homes, nothing will happen.
Most of the time, the three hours the cat spends in his roomy cage in the shop are neither good nor bad for him. He rarely wants to be there, but usually puts up with it. The cat is often anxious at first, then settles down reluctantly, to await his return to his foster-home. Now and then, a feline reaction is cheerful; periodically it is fearful for the whole time. That was, unfortunately, the case with Rika this past Saturday.
This illustrates a ‘sub-cause’, as it were, that I like to promote whenever possible, and that is the consideration for adoption of the less likely cats. Rika spent most of her time under the cat-bed provided for her. She did not want to come out and interact with people, she did not respond to petting and soft words. Normally, she is an extrovert, entertaining humans and herself with playful antics and trying to involve the other animals in her foster-home in games. No one would have known that from her time at the pet-supply shop.
Other cats are not outgoing at the best of times. Like Ali - currently featured in my sidebar - they are shy, and that makes them reclusive, especially with new people. They unfortunately create a circle of apathy: few humans want to take the chance with a cat who won’t even come out to sniff them, let alone play or talk with them, so the cat remains unadopted and becomes more of an introvert.
But that doesn’t mean he will always be so. What it means is that what qualities he has will be hidden in the short time a prospective family spends with him in a foster-home or shelter. He will emerge from his cocoon of shyness only over a long time, weeks, perhaps months. That is what it will take to come to know him.
That cocoon of shyness is also a cocoon of loneliness and fear. He doesn’t trust or like the possibilities offered by change, so he remains as he is, even if it means never having a home. But I suggest that these are not only the cats who need the chance of a home the most, but those who will give the greatest return on an investment of patience and affection.
There is nothing wrong with adopting the cat who reaches out for you through the bars of his cage. He may be meant for you. But he will also have an excellent chance of charming someone else. While your heart may melt at the cries of a little fellow who clearly wants to come with you, consider those who are too despondent, too disappointed to try anymore. Consider the ones with their backs to you, who hide at the rear of their kennels. You won’t have a lap-cat that evening, and you won’t have a cat sleeping on your bed that night. But you will some day, and when you do, you will have the most faithful of friends, a new family member who will love and trust you like no other.
We all have qualities for which we search in those we want as friends, whether they are human or animal. We don’t want to risk being stuck with someone who annoys, bores or frightens us. But every new relationship is a risk. The next time you are searching for a cat to adopt, it may pay in any number of ways to ask the shelter or rescue-group, “Who needs a home the most? Who has been waiting the longest? Who will never be chosen?”
The answer to those questions may surprise and delight you.