OPINION PIECE: Adopt Don’t Shop – A Tale of Two Kitties

Peanut on Left, Castiel on Right

You’ve heard the slogan a million times, “Adopt don’t shop!” in reference to bringing a furry friend home, and of course, you think that’s exactly what you want. You know you’re the kind of person that wants to save a cat or kitten that needs a home, not just someone looking for the perfect pedigree. But in the back of your mind, you already have some pre-determined qualifications for a cat. Maybe you’d prefer a kitten, or you find Ragdoll cats particularly precious. These criteria can subconsciously narrow down your search for a feline, whether you’re aware of it or not. And though you should always make sure that yourself and your new pet are a personality match, here are 2 stories that prove that your perfect cat may not always be what you were looking for.  

Peanut – Nighttime Attacker to All Day Love Fest

When Peanut first arrived in our home, he greeted us in much the usual way of a stray cat; he was wary of us and hid under my parents bed all day. We knew that this was going to be the case, and my Stepmom was fine with it. While my Dad pushed through his cat allergy his entire adulthood to own as many cats as possible, my Stepmom was a tried and true dog person. Having just suffered the loss of her dog Shiloh, she wasn’t ready for another dog, but knew the house felt too quiet without a furry companion. And when my Aunt found a stray cat tangled in a piece of plastic in her neighborhood, she thought she knew of the perfect home for him. I was enthusiastic for another cat in the home, but my enthusiasm quickly subsided when Peanut proved to be a bit different from other cats I had lived with in my childhood. Peanut was very much a loner. He spent his days hiding in various locations in our home, and spent the nights chasing shadows throughout the house along with any unsuspecting legs that wandered downstairs for a bathroom trip. He would jump on your bed while you were sleeping just to wake you up, hiss at you, and then leave. I quickly learned to limit my bathroom trips at night, and to sleep in the middle of the bed lest a large cat end up on my face.

Throughout all this, my Dad was never daunted. He would approach Peanut cautiously, taking the time to prove he could be trusted, and would pet him until Peanut would lash back with a scratch or bite, or just by running away altogether. Still, my Dad persisted, and little by little he taught me to be patient with Peanut and show him careful kindness, something he was surely unused to. It took time for Peanut to fully trust us, but eventually Peanut turned into the biggest love bug you would ever find. The cat who I was once afraid to walk downstairs and confront in the night, would now sleep between my feet. I learned that he loved hair, so before showers I would lay my hair down on the floor so he could roll in it and knead it. I taught him how to give high-fives, and I still glory in them. Now, whenever I visit my parents, Peanut comes running to greet me and hold out his paw until I give him his much-deserved ear scritches. He is a complete mush who purrs easily and will jump right in your lap if you give him the chance.

Ultimately, the cat that a lot of people would not have taken the time to show love, never mind adopt at all, proved to be one of the most loving companions my family had ever had. Once you show an animal that you can be trusted and the love they’ve never known, it is amazing the transformations that can happen.

Castiel – Homeless to Having the Run of the House

When I first met Castiel his name was Dave. My Auntie had once again, rescued a cat that had been abandoned not once, but twice by neighbors who moved from her neighborhood. (I know, and yes, my Aunt is the Cat Whisperer). My Aunt had known and fed the outdoor cat for years before he was cruelly left behind by owners that moved. She was heartbroken for him and vowed to take him in and finally give him a good home. There was one issue though. After taking Dave to the vet, it was confirmed that he had Feline HIV. My aunt, having 3 other cats already, could not put them at risk, but no easier could she just leave Dave to fend for himself. So, she kept Dave separated from her other cats and went on the lookout for a good home.

I had recently gotten married and bought my own home and was facing the same problem my Stepmom had all those years ago; my house was too quiet. I wanted a kitten, but research had me paralyzed. I definitely wanted a young cat, but what kind? Well of course I wanted whichever was the least likely to get adopted. Another hurdle to jump was the fact that my husband was allergic to Peanut (though other cats not so much), so I wanted to meet the cat before applying for adoption to know to what extent the cat would impact my husband’s allergies. There were so many needy cats and doing most of my research online left me with more questions than answers and I wanted to make the right choice for my family and for a cat in need.

When my Aunt asked if I had any pets, I thought she was poking fun at me for taking so long to make a decision about cat adoption. What I soon learned, was that she was looking to me for a potential home for Dave. Initially I was wary. Dave was 10 years old and had Feline HIV and though I had spent years telling myself I wanted to give a good home to a cat in need, I learned I was a hypocrite. Yes, I wanted to help, but I wanted a black kitten, not a tabby cat well on in years with an illness. Quickly though, I realized how selfish I was being. If I really wanted to help a cat in need, there was one right in front of me that would surely get lost in the adoption system if I did nothing. So we met Dave. We took him home a week later. I renamed him Castiel after an angel in one of my favorite shows because I quickly learned that I did not save Cas, he saved me.

I don’t know how anyone could have ever abandoned Castiel because he is the sweetest cat I have ever met. Cas doesn’t scratch, doesn’t bite, doesn’t have a single mean bone in his body. All Cas wants to do is cuddle. If you’re on the couch with Cas, that’s also where he is, and as long as some part of him is touching you, he is happy. He of course prefers to lay with his front paws on your lap, with your hand resting on his back, but he will find any way to make sure cuddle time is possible. If you lay with your head on the couch, he will lay next to you, his head on top of yours. He’ll look into your eyes like you are the greatest person he’s ever seen, and I almost swear he smiles at you. If you put your hand on the couch, he will lay his paw on top of it because he loves holding hands. Every morning, even after being fed, he greets me outside of the bathroom with a good morning meow and leg twisties and accompanies me to my desk. He is at his happiest, curled up with you in a sunbeam, napping and purring away.

I did not want an older cat. I did not want a cat with feline HIV. I did not want a tabby cat. Now, I can’t imagine my life without him.

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