This last week has been one of the most challenging in a while. Our family cat went missing the day before Halloween and we searched far and wide for her for days. It was only when someone kindly called with a tip, five days later, after seeing one of our “Missing” posters, that we found the body. She had been hit by a car and died in some dense bushes only twenty feet from our house. I was crushed. She was a beautiful cat, and although she was with us for only a few months, she had captured all of our hearts. It wasn’t until I buried her, under the bird bath in our garden, that the tears finally subsided. There’s something to be said for the ritual of burial. It seems to soothe the heart somehow.
The kids’ way of dealing with the tragedy was to contemplate getting another cat. At first, this idea didn’t settle with me very well. They are so used to being able to replace anything broken, with another one from the store; an attitude unfortunately firmly ingrained in our society of plenty. I hesitated because I didn’t want them to have the same attitude toward a living being (I really don’t want them to think this way at all about anything, but they learn it very easily). At the same time, however, I could see how having a new pet might breathe life and happiness back into the void that was left by Charlotte, our first cat, so I agreed.
Charlotte was purchased at PetSmart, one of the large pet stores here in Ottawa. But she was not the product of a kitty-mill. She had been rescued by the SPCA in Quebec and offered for adoption in the store. She had been spayed and cost a hefty $245. They claimed that she was four months old (which I always doubted, she looked older) and that enabled them to charge more. Up to six months is considered a kitten, older is an adult. Adults cost less. But how do you argue the age of a stray cat? Regardless, we were so happy to bring her home, I forgot about the inconsistency. Besides, I had nothing to compare their service to. That was, until yesterday.
During my time searching for the missing Charlotte, I had made several visits to the Ottawa Humane Society in their Lost and Found section. While I was visiting I had a chance to witness the hustle and bustle of the people working there and the sheer volume of animals being sheltered there. All those I dealt with were extremely friendly, helpful, sympathetic and very professional. The animals (cats) were confined to cages but looked comfortable and well fed. They had extensive charts attached to each cage which outline the health and status of each animal. Although my heart went out to each and every one, I was comforted knowing they were in good hands. Many would be adopted or fostered until they could be adopted.
When the decision was made to adopt another cat, I would go nowhere else except the Humane Society’s Adoption Centre and I’m so glad I did. They have well trained adoption counselors who fully investigate the adopter through an extensive questionnaire. I was also able to question them about anything I was unclear about and they answered me comprehensively. What impressed me the most, mainly because I compared this experience to that of PetSmart, was what I got for my money. The total cost for adoption, with taxes, was $216. That included spaying, microchipping, a six week coverage of pet insurance, and a City of Ottawa pet license – oh and a collar which the animals are not allowed to leave without. All in all, it was an excellent experience that far surpassed that of a pet store purchase.
Best of all, we saved a cat’s life. Minerva is a common barn cat variety – a shorthair tabby – but she has already made us fall in love. She’s playful and affectionate…the perfect combination for a house with young children. With her sweet, inquisitive, little face and kitten mischievousness, she brought happiness into a home that had been stricken with sadness. If you are thinking about adopting a pet, and don’t necessarily need a purebred, consider the humane society or SPCA wherever you live. I highly recommend it and your new pet will thank you with furry affection. Also, you might consider supporting your local shelter by donation or volunteering. I am definitely thinking about both options…they are a worthwhile investment in time and/or money. ♥