At BlogPaws West this month, the Be the Change panel put out a new challenge: Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week. Scheduled for September 19-25, 2010, this week aims to focus on some of the shelter pets that have a very difficult time being adopted: senior pets, pets with medical challenges, pit bulls, black dogs and cats, shy dogs, and others.
From a personal standpoint, we would like to share the story of one less adoptable pet who came into our lives 10 years ago. Felix was a feral cat; he’d been trapped by animal control and resisted any human contact. He was just over six months old when we first saw him and brought him to our home.
Felix wasn’t adopted, as some ferals are, as a barn cat or an outdoor cat. All of our cats have always been strictly indoor cats so Felix would be no different.
It wasn’t an easy transition. Felix’s first interaction was to slap Paris with a paw whose claw span seemed impossibly wide for a cat (we didn’t accidentally adopt a bobcat, did we??) He then promptly ran and hid in the back of the closet for over a week, coming out only at night when everyone was in bed.
Little by little, leaving a trail of treats like breadcrumbs through the house, we got Felix to leave the security of the closet. He’d start to peek at us from the most distant room in the house. Maybe he saw us sitting and watching TV with the other cats, maybe the other cats told him all was OK, but slowly, slowly, Felix started working his way closer to us. After several weeks without direct contact with him, he started edging closer to check us out and finally one day he let us touch him. Over time, a touch became a pet, a pet became a purr.
When Irie and Tiki came into our lives, we were worried that a cat who had once had to make his own way would never accept a dog. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Felix didn’t just accept the dogs, he became a dog buddy. He plays with them.
He sleeps with them.
And, most of all, he just hangs out with them.
Because that’s what family does.
If you’re at a shelter, please take a second look at those less adoptable pets like Felix. Once won, their love is all that much sweeter. It just takes time, patience, understanding (and a good supply of treats). It’s a small price to pay for the difference you can make in a pet’s life!