Penning "Kat Tales 2"
Bad things happen to me when I walk through pet stores. It’s as if I can’t seem to avoid the small animal tanks or the cat cages. This is how I came home with two guinea pigs and a Beta fish. But after my last visit, I came home empty handed.
I love my dogs beyond reason, but I admit that I miss the peace and quiet of a cat. Last winter, my creampoint Persian, Bailey, died from renal failure at the age of 15. I didn’t realize how much company he was until I sat down at my computer and didn’t have that familiar furry face sitting by the lamp, purring along with the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard. And that’s when I started to get that familiar itch…of needing another friend.
As I strolled by the room where the animals are kept in the pet store, I noticed an orange tabby kitten that looked exactly like my childhood cat named Milo. I was hooked from the second he reached through the cage to grab my hand. I asked the sales associate how I would go about adopting the little guy, and he handed me an application. Well, make that a booklet. It was four pages long.
The animal rescue organization that fostered “Jack” asked a lot of questions, such as where we lived and how long we lived there, if we owned or rented that home, and how many hours a day we stayed there. The questions then became more complex if not essay-style.
Who would care for the animal in our absence?
How much money would I be willing to spend each month on the animal’s needs and/or care?
How many animals have I had in the last 10 years and what happened to them?
What would I do if the cat scratched my furniture or shredded my curtains?
How would I handle the animal’s illness or injuries?
My student loan application was shorter. I wasn’t sure if I had applied for a cat or a child from a third world country. But, I loved Jack and I wanted to prove my cat worthiness. Forty-eight hours later, I received a voice mail message stating very bluntly that someone had already adopted Jack, but thanks for trying. Click.
There was no offer to let me choose another kitten. There was no telephone number for a call back. Something smelled fishy.
Three days later, I returned to the pet store to see what else was in the cage. And that’s when I saw Jack. He hadn’t been adopted after all.
I marched outside to the tent where an adoption fair was taking place and I asked one of the volunteers for an update on the kitten. She told me that his new owner must not have picked him up yet. I asked if the decision makers still had my file, or if I needed to fill out another four page application. Within the hour, the “cat lady” arrived to review my papers. She wanted references from people not living in our home and not part of our family. She wanted the name of our veterinarian. She wanted to know more about our cat that died, and she wanted to know about our dogs. Finally, she shook her head no.
“I’m sorry, but we don’t let families adopt kittens if there are children under the age of 9 in the house.”
My jaw fell open. ”My daughter turns 9 on June 10th,” I countered.
“Still, you have a six-year-old.”
My blood began to boil. ”That six-year-old transplants worms off the sidewalk into safer places in the yard,” I replied.
The cat lady wasn’t impressed. ”We see kittens that have been tortured by children,” she began. “We saw one kitten come in that had its head crushed by a motorized truck. We saw another come in that had been thrown like a football.”
“Where were the adults?” I asked.
“We make decisions based on what we feel is in the best interest of the animal. I’m really going to have to think about this. I have your cell number and I’ll call you once we’ve had conversations with your references.” She then checked my application to see if I had agreed to a home inspection and site visit.
I walked off, frustrated. I appreciate that they care so much for their animals, but denying a home to an orphaned kitten because the house contains children (forget the Golden Retriever or the Beagle) seemed outrageous to me. She never asked to meet my daughters or assess how they handled the kitten without adult intervention or supervision.
A friend called to tell me that I was being checked out, but the questions were all about the girls and their behaviors and personalities. My tail bristled.
I walked back into the store and tapped the lady on the shoulder. ”I’m withdrawing my application,” I said. ”You can deny my request to adopt a pet, but you don’t get to insult me as a parent.”
And I cried the whole way home. When I unlocked the door, the phone was ringing. It was the director of the shelter. ”Lots of people don’t like our rules,” she began. ”And we have four: the kittens must be kept indoors, the kittens cannot be declawed, if the kittens can’t be kept then they have to be returned to us, and no kitten will be allowed to go to homes with young children.”
I realize that animal cruelty is a very real problem. I read the newspapers. I’m sure if I worked in a shelter or operated a rescue organization, I’d see the horrible things that are done to innocent animals. I’d understand their fears a little better. But I don’t understand why as a work-at-home mother of two children who takes expert care of her pets — not to mention a published author of a book about animals — I would be stamped as a threat to a stray kitten. Our home was considered unsuitable and that hurt me.
On a brighter note, I did adopt a kitten from the local animal shelter on my birthday. Ironically, he looks exactly like that cat on the cover of my book, Kat Tales, and he’s one of the sweetest animals we’ve ever had. The girls absolutely love the silver and black striped kitten with big blue eyes, and he has become very attached to them in only a week’s time. I don’t know where Jack ended up, but I pray that he got a good home with caring pet parents. He would’ve been very happy here with us…just as Ringo is.