I’ve always been a cat lover – give me a basket full of kittens and I’d be the happiest person on the planet. I’ve always had cats, even when I was a student, when a trip to the pet store to buy a rabbit resulted in me coming home with a kitten, partly out of love for the animals but also because of the bad condition the kittens were being kept in.
A few years ago when I moved from London back to Bournemouth and into my parents’ house, my pet-store-rescue-cat Noah bonded with my mum’s new Birman kitten. So when it came to me moving out and into my own house, it wasn’t fair to part them. It broke my heart that I’d have to leave my much-loved cat but it was the best thing for him and I was only moving 20 minutes away and could pay him frequent visits.
We made the decision not to rush into buying a new cat as we planned to do a lot of work to our new house that would have been unsettling and noisy. I also felt I was betraying Noah!
A year and a half passed and I was missing having a furry companion around the place. It just wasn’t the same without a little face greeting me at the door when I returned home from work. We decided it was time to complete the ‘family’ and it was a no-brainer that we’d adopt a cat in need of a good home.
The only problem was my heart couldn’t bear to choose between all the cats desperate for the comfort and love of a new home! It took me a while to be able to look at the cat rehoming websites without bursting into tears, reading all the sad stories about how they came up for adoption (this may sound a tab ridiculous but for those of you as crazy about cats as I am I’m sure you’ll understand). There was no way I was going to be able to visit a rehoming centre and pick a cat like you would a new sofa or kitchen appliance, so I decided to give the RSPCA a call to see if they could recommend a cat that would be suitable for us.
Our only preference was to adopt a ‘challenging’ cat that was less likely to find a new owner, be it for medical reasons or purely because it wasn’t deemed to be ‘attractive’. I just wanted to give the cat in most need a loving new family. The lady on the phone recommended a cat that had been rescued as a stray a couple of months ago in a bad condition but wasn’t quite ready for rehoming as was still undergoing treatment. Her name was Davina.
Davina had been hanging around someone’s house for a few weeks and the homeowner noticed she was in a bad way and took her to the local vet. She was diagnosed with severe eye ulcers that had caused significant damage to her eyes, most likely caused by Feline Herpes Virus (FHP) and her ears had significant sun damage. The RSPCA took her in and nursed her back to health, gave her a warm bed and lots of love. The ulcers on her eyes left scarring which meant her vision was impaired and it was recommended to keep her as an indoor cat.
But there was a part of Davina’s story that was missing. The vet found she had already been neutered so she must have had a previous owner. She was also very affectionate, uncommon for a stray, and the staff called her their rabbit as she would sit on their laps, desperate for cuddles. They presumed she was around 6 years old and had been living as a stray for a while.
We collected Davina a few weeks later and from the moment we got her into her pet carrier she was desperate to get out and receive affection. When we got her home she took about 15 minutes to sniff around the bedroom and then came for the longest, most affectionate cuddle. She wouldn’t leave us alone, snuggling as close to us as she could, and when we stopped stroking her she would bash her little head against us as if to say ‘please don’t stop!’. This cat was clearly missing the love of a home and an owner. Maybe her previous owner passed away or maybe she got left behind when they moved home. We’ll never know but we couldn’t be happier as she brings us so much joy and it’s clear we make her very happy too. Her FHP does flare up at times giving her eye irritation and a sniffly nose, and we need to watch her ears in case they turn cancerous but right now she’s well and enjoying her new life inside and has absolutely no interest in the outdoors!
The moral of our story? Well, there’s a few. The thing that shocked me the most is that the majority of cats up for adoption find themselves in the situation because their owners moved into rented accommodation that wouldn’t allow pets. Cats are a long term responsibility and I urge anyone considering getting a cat to really consider whether they can provide a long term stable home. Cats can live to around 20 years after all.
The second reason I was keen to share my story is that instead of buying a cat or a pure bred (unless for allergy reasons) do consider adoption! It’s a sad fact that some rehoming centres have to euthanise some cats if they can’t find a home; the centres are overcrowded and the staff and volunteers are doing an amazing job but they simply can’t care for all the animals in need! It was a no-brainer for us to adopt and it should be for everyone.
If you are thinking of getting a cat and can care for one for the long term, get in touch with your local animal centre. The RSPCA and the Cats Protection are great organisations that have many cats in their care but there are many independent rescue centres too, filled with cats in desperate need of a home, a garden to prowl around and lots of love.